It appears that the Winnipeg Jets have finally made their first NHL player for NHL player trade and what a huge splash. Since the events in Vancouver the Evander Kane trade was well expected, but I don’t think anyone expected this. The Jets did not wait until the summer as many expected. With Kane hurt there would have been more suitors come summer. The Jets did not even wait until the March 2nd trade deadline. Instead they pulled the trigger today, and it was not a small deal. Lets take a look at what the Jets gave up and more importantly what they gained today.
As a trade destination for Kane, the Jets chose the Buffalo Sabres, a perfect partner. Buffalo is trying to lose now and play for the future. so losing some current NHLers for a guy who can’t play until next year was fine. Rumor was the Jets wanted a top prospect, a first rounder and a an NHL player to help their current push for the playoffs. They got that, and then added in a whole other wrinkle when they also sent Zach Bogosian to the Sabres. The biggest asset the Jets are giving up is of course the Kane contract, 3 years, at an affordable price for a possibly top tier forward was bait for many teams. Kane of course had no future in Winnipeg and the Jets only option was a trade. Bogosian on the other hand has had his struggles in Winnipeg, but has been a pretty steady force on the back end. He is under contract until 2019/2020 with an annual value near 6 million dollars.
The Jets earned quite a package coming back. As the Jets wanted they got an NHL forward to help them now in Drew Stafford. Stafford is set up become a UFA after this season and is clearly just a rental player. This season Stafford has 9 goals and 15 assists in 50 games played. A veteran of 563 games and 20 playoff games, Stafford bring a veteran presence to the team and a viable third line offensive threat. An added bonus is that it appears the Sabres will retain a chunk of Stafford’s salary for the rest of this season. A discount on a rental seems like a good deal.
Unexpected to Jets fans was the addition of another defenseman. Tyler Myers replaces Zach Bogosian on the back end in what looks like the second half of this trade. Myers has been with the Sabres since 2009 and is locked up until 2018/2019 with an annual value of under 3.9 million, his price tag going down year by year. This year in 47 games, Myers has 4 goals and 9 assists, he leads the Sabres in minutes per game, and is their top defenseman even strength, on the powerplay, and the penalty kill. The biggest asset in Myers is his size, 6’8 and near 220lbs, he is a tower of power and will fit in well with the big tough Winnipeg D. He has similar number to Bogosian and is locked up for less money. This is a good swap for the Jets.
Winnipeg also picks up two prospects from the Sabres. Joel Armia is a first round pick who made his NHL debut Tuesday night. The 21 year old Finnish born Armia, was the Sabres top prospect on the right wing. Armia has spent most of this season with the Rochester Americans of the AHL where he has amassed 10 goals and 15 assists in 33 games. Armia will most likely head to the Jets farm team in St. Johns where he will immediately jump to fifth in team scoring, with far less games played than anyone above him.
The Second prospect is Brendan Lemieux. Lemieux was the first pick in the second round of the 2014 NHL entry draft and was the Sabres top ranked left winger. The American is currently playing for the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League, a team that also produced Jets winger Mark Scheifele. Lemieux has 35 goals and 15 assists in 46 games as well as 120 penalty minutes. Lemieux will bring some grit with a bit of a scoring punch, he is a bit of a project but he has the potential to be a bottom 6 forward.
The Jets also received a first round pick from the Sabres, the lowest of the 3 first rounders that they owned before this trade. Winnipeg also sends goaltending prospect Jason Kasdorf to Buffalo. Kasdorf was unsigned but is playing college hockey this season where he has posted a 9-14 record with the RPI Engineer. He has a 2.94 goals against average and .900 save percentage.
Overall, how does this go down for Jets fans? Kane was done in Winnipeg, he had no future here so it was no loss for the Jets. Stafford has similar numbers this year and adds some experience, playoff and otherwise. He is also far less high maintenance and will fit in very well in Winnipeg’s style. Bogosian and Myers are similar players, Myers a little younger and cheaper, with maybe slightly more potential, pretty much a wash. With Connor Hellebuyck and Michael Hutchinson already playing pro hockey and Eric Comrie coming up, the Jets did not need another goalie prospect like Jason Kasdorf. Instead the Jets picked up two prospect with plenty of upside, and another first round pick. The Jets are stocked to the ears with young talent now, and the future looks very bright.
Overall this team has gotten better not just today and for this playoff push, but for many in the future. Chevy finally made the player for player trade all fans were waiting for, and it looks like he won this one by a mile.
Become an MVP with Winnipeg Whiteout and never miss a thing.