As February 27 inches closer and the Jets stay within striking range of the playoffs the deadline dilemma heats up. Winnipeg GM Kevin Chevaldayoff has his first directional decision to make, the choice to sell some assists, buy some players or do nothing at all. He has been adamant that the Jets are not interested in the rental player so let’s cross off any players with expiring contracts unless they are to be acquired and then flipped to another team (aka Quincey deal).
The Jets have several players with expiring contracts and none of them really fall into the core group. Jim Slater, Tanner Glass and Chris Mason are the players that would fall closest to that category; Mason is unlikely to be moved unless an unbelievable offer comes across the lines. Slater and Glass might be the biggest decision for Chevy as they have been integral parts of the Jets third/fourth line this season adding grit, energy and Slater has been the best face off man for the Jets.
Randy Jones and Mark Flood are both capable depth defencemen and when healthy find themselves in the press box. Both have expiring contracts and could be moved without disrupting team chemistry.
Kyle Wellwood, Johnny Oduya and Tim Stapleton are the remaining three players that would be unrestricted at the end of the season. Wellwood and Oduya would provide Winnipeg with the biggest returns out of all their free agent players. Wellwood’s history makes him a bit of a gamble for contending teams and his presence on the second line will likely prevent a trade from taking his place.
Oduya is the most likely player to be moved by the Jets with Chicago and New Jersey having interest in the veteran defender. Kyle Quincey went for a late first round selection so Oduya should be able to get a mid round second pick to early third round. Tim Stapleton is an undervalued player and is unlikely to garner an offer worth moving him.
With that look at the Jets unrestricted free agents done we must ask the real question will Chevy sell or buy? My guess is that he will do a little bit of both, however the players he will look to acquire will be ones that still under contract for next year, that can help the Jets push for the playoffs and grow into a regular contender.
There are several players on the market that fit that mold. The first place to look is Columbus where both Rick Nash and Jeff Carter were being shopped. While Rick Nash is not likely a fit, Jeff Carter could have been on the radar before he ended up in Los Angeles. He would have added some scoring punch and is a player that will get better and is locked up long-term.
Steve Ott who is under contract until the end of 2013 is said to be available from Dallas and would be a player that could help the Jets on face offs (he is among the league leaders in win %) as well as being a player that can get under another teams star player. The Stars are looking towards the future so by moving one of their UFA’s for picks they could use those picks to acquire Ott. If the Jets move Slater, Ott would be an upgrade skill wise on the third line.
Derek Roy of Buffalo is a player that has been bandied about in trade rumors and is also under contract for one more year. It’s very possible the Jets could move a prospect and a UFA to land Roy who would give them some much-needed offensive punch. Buffalo would then flip the UFA to another team for a draft pick or another prospect. Roy’s $4 million cap hit may be more than some teams want to take on so a move to a team like Winnipeg with ample space may be their best option if they are serious about moving him.
There is likely to be little movement however on the Jets front however as they sit in a position of being neither buyers or sellers as the deadline nears. I would classify them as more renters, where they may move a few players out and try to bring them back in the offseason, while using assets they acquire to perhaps add a player that will boost their offense or grit.