Should the Winnipeg Jets be sellers at the deadline?

The arrival of Paul Maurice, and the improved play of the Jets, has prompted Jets fans to shift their attention from the Draft Lottery to a possible wild card spot in the Western Conference. According to after the loss to the Nashville Predators the other night the Jets playoff chances declined from 8.7% to 4.4%. So it’s hard for the Jets not to be Sellers at the deadline

Winnipeg Jets upcoming UFA’s

Olli Jokinen (4.5 mil Cap hit)
Devin Setoguchi (3 mil cap hit)
Chris Thorburn ( 866K cap hit)
Mark Stuart ( 1.7 mil cap hit)
Adam Pardy ( 600k cap hit)
Al Montoya ( 600K cap hit)

Out of all the UFA’s listed, Jokinen, Setoguchi and Stuart have the most trade value at the deadline. All three players could be valuable to a contender.

Mark Stuart

Stuart is a defensive defenseman. He works extremely hard and isn’t afraid to sacrifice his body. He is a leader on this team, he will do anything for the team. Stuart is paired with Jacob Trouba, and is mentoring the stud 19 year old defenseman. Mark Stuart would be a depth D on a contending team and he could bring a return of a 4-7th round pick.

Would the Jets be better served keeping Stuart and trying to sign him in the offseason? Or would they be better served trading him and getting a later draft pick?

Well, it all depends if Mark Stuart is part of the Jets future plans. Paul Maurice right now is evaluating this team with Kevin Cheveldayoff, and they are listing players that they want next season and for the future. If the Jets don’t want Mark Stuart, they will trade him. But if they have interest in signing him, they will keep him and not trade him.

Personally I would keep him, the Jets are a very young team and a veteran like Stuart, is a valuable part to this young core.

Devin Setoguchi

When the Jets traded for Devin Setoguchi, it was assumed he would occupy the second line right wing spot playing with Evander Kane and Mark Scheifele. Setoguchi showed throughout his 6 full NHL seasons that he had the ability to put the puck in the net. But this year with the Jets, he has been nothing close to an offensive weapon for the Jets.

His work ethic has been poor, he has 21 points in 54 games. He is now a 3rd line player that has not been effective especially as of late. He currently is on a 7 game point drought. He was a healthy scratch once and he can’t seem to do many things right.

People would say; “If he’s this bad, who would trade for him?”

If you put Devin Setoguchi on a contending team, he could be a depth forward with some offensive upside, and you don’t have to play him much at all.

I would trade him, I don’t see a scenario where Chevy would bring him back next season, so the Jets should get at least something back for him, but unfortunately the Jets would most likely get a later round pick back than the second round pick the Jets gave up for him.

Olli Jokinen

The Jets are probably getting a lot of calls for Olli Jokinen. Olli Jokinen was signed by the Jets two summers ago. It looked like Jokinen was going to be the new second line centre.

In his first season as a Jet, he played below expectations. He recorded 14 points in 45 games, not exactly second line centre numbers. A lot of that was because during the lockout he didn’t play overseas. It’s hard for 34 year old hockey player to stay in game shape when he isn’t playing in games.

This year, Olli Jokinen has had a bounce back year. In 55 games, he has recorded 31 points. They aren’t amazing numbers, but they are much better than last year’s, and they are pretty good numbers for a 3rd line centre. A contender could take interest in the 35 year old centre that has played over 1,000 NHL games.

A team like the Chicago Blackhawks could have interest in the 35 year old Centre who could play in the Hawks bottom six and provide some leadership on and off the ice.

I’m not sure if I would trade Jokinen, it’s a tough decision. It all depends if the Jets were to sign Jokinen in the offseason.

Is Eric O’Dell ready to step in to that 3rd line centre role full time? Is Jets prospect Adam Lowry ready to step in to that role?

I don’t think so at this point. So it could benefit the Jets to sign Jokinen to a one year deal so he can be a fill in until the Jets develop.

Who else could be traded?

Besides Scheifele, Trouba and Kane, I would trade anyone on this team. The Jets need to trade a core piece. It’s time to add some people to this core and also trade some people in it. The Jets shouldn’t need to rebuild. They have established a good amount of talent that they don’t need to trade everyone. The problem is, Winnipeg isn’t the most desired market for a Free Agent, so if the Jets want to upgrade this team, they are going to need to draft and develop young prospects. They also need to be acquiring talent. Most likely if the Jets were to trade a core piece to this team, the return would be for draft picks. And if the Jets wanted to acquire a very good player via trade, they would need to give up draft picks, and prospects. It’s very rare in today’s NHL for there to be a basic hockey trade, one player in return for another.

Dustin Byfuglien

Byfuglien has been brought up in trade talks for a little while now. Byfuglien started out the year at Defenseman and had been very successful at scoring points from the back end. Throughout the year he has been terrible defensively and a liability for the Jets.

The Jets converted Byfuglien to a forward and he has been playing on a line with Setouguchi and Jokinen. If a contender were to be interested in Buff, they could have a very versatile player that could be a key part to a team able to use him on both ends of the ice. When Byfuglien played for the Chicago Blackhawks in their 2010 Stanley Cup Playoff run, he converted from forward, to defenseman.

At 6’5″ 265 lbs, Byfuglien is an immoveable object. He recorded 16 points in 22 games during the 2010 Playoffs.

A contender could have interest in Buff and possibly give the Jets a substantial offer at the deadline. But most likely if the Jets were to trade Big Buff, it would be in the offseason.

I say the Jets should trade Byfuglien while his value is still high.

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A High School Student who loves the game of hockey but especially the Winnipeg Jets, you can follow me on twitter at @officialjetfuel.