As the Olympic Break sets in, some players are enjoying hot weather on vacations during this 18 game break. Others such as Jets players Michael Frolik, Blake Wheeler, Olli Jokinen and goaltender Ondrej Pavelec are playing for their respective countries in the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. On February 27 all the players on the Jets roster will shift their thoughts back to their NHL duties and focus on the Jets quest to earn a spot in the playoffs.
Since the arrival of new Head Coach Paul Maurice, the Jets have gained some serious ground on their quest for the post season. In their last 10 games the Jets have recorded a 6-3-1 record. Under the guidance of Paul Maurice, the team has seemed to gain more confidence in their game and have started to produce a very satisfying effort every game.
According to Sportsclubstats.com the Winnipeg Jets have a 12.9% chance of making the playoffs. You could say numbers never lie but it’s easy to wonder why the chances are so low when the Jets are two points out of a Wild Card spot in the Western Conference.
The Jets are very close to a playoff spot in the standings but there are many teams in the hunt for the spot.
The Predators, Coyotes, Canucks, Stars and the Jets are all competing for a Wild Card spot. When the Jets return from the break, they will start out with four very crucial points on the line. The Jets play the Coyotes (64 points) followed up by a match up against the Predators (60 points).
The Jets have Evander Kane, Grant Clitsome, Matt Halischuk and Jim Slater on the IR. Aside from Clitsome, all players are scheduled to return this season.
Kane, Halischuk and Slater will be very key players for the Jets if they want to take a run at the playoffs. Even with a full lineup the Jets lack depth. With no superstars leading the way for the Jets, the team needs a collective effort from all four of their lines. Unfortunately, the way it looks now, the Jets can only roll three lines every night. The fourth line has just not gotten the job done.
Right now the Jets fourth line is a rotation of James Wright, Eric Tangradi, Anthony Peluso, Eric O’Dell and Chris Thorburn (currently filling in for Evander Kane on the second line).
These five players have a combined -15 and have not been able to contribute positively to the team. To be successful in the playoffs and even on the journey to get a playoff spot, a team needs depth. Hopefully the Jets can get Evander Kane back after the break. Jim Slater and Matt Halischuk could work well on the 4th line if and when they get healthy. Until then the Jets will need to try to work with what they have.
The Olympic Break comes at a perfect time for the Jets. The team is hot but these 18 days off provide some players with some well needed rest, and injured players some extra time to heal up mid-season.
I previously wrote an article on whether the Winnipeg Jets should be sellers at the deadline or not.
Since the publishing of the article, the Wild Card race has changed in a positive way for the Jets. The Jets have 6 UFA this offseason.
Olli Jokinen, Devin Setoguchi and Mark Stuart are some of the notable ones.
The Jets have a conflict on their hands.
Do they want to make a push for the playoffs this year? Or get a higher pick so they can focus on drafting and developing?
There are pros and cons.
If the Jets decide to stick with Setoguchi, Jokinen and Stuart instead of trading them, the players could potentially leave in Free Agency and the Jets would have no return for their UFA players. This situation happened with the Jets last season with veteran D Ron Hainsey.
Hainsey was mentioned quite frequently in trade talks. Contending teams had interest in the D man but the Jets kept Hainsey through the deadline and later Hainsey went to the Hurricanes in Free Agency. It doesn’t matter whether he was offered a contract by the Jets or not. The Jets lost Hainsey and they didn’t get anything in return.
I don’t see the Jets acquiring much talent for a playoff run of their own. If the Jets were to trade some of their UFA players, they could be pulling themselves out of the playoff race. The move could better serve the team in the future with acquiring some picks to build the Jets impressive and deep pool of prospects.
If the Jets make the playoffs, it will be great for the city and the organization itself. The team would show they can get over the hump and finally not be on the outside looking in.
That being said, the chances of the Jets even getting past the first round of the playoffs are very slim, let alone a Stanley Cup run. I have a feeling that Chevy isn’t “all in” this year. The Jets aren’t making a big run for the playoffs this year.
As they have said for the last two and a half years, this team is building for the future.
It would most likely better serve the Jets to trade their UFA players in exchange for draft picks.
This offseason I expect big things from management. The Jets cannot keep making small deals to build this club. Drafting indeed is the way to go but these prospects the Jets have need a foundation to enter the league upon.
First of all the Jets bottom 6 needs a facelift. And personally I think the Jets should try to acquire another defenceman.
Also I think its time the Jets trade a piece of the “Core.”
The top players for the Jets haven’t got it done for the last three years and it’s time for a change. People need to leave and reinforcements need to be acquired. The success of the Jets is a great thing for the organization but why put all your eggs in to one basket? No reason for the Jets to focus on the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs when they can focus on the many playoff runs they will be having for the years to come.
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