With less than two months left until the trade deadline, the Winnipeg Jets find themselves in unfamiliar territory. Unlike the last two seasons where the team position in the standings left them quite comfortable that they would make it into the postseason, it’s a different story this year as they ain a dog fight for a playoff spot.
Unlike the past two seasons, a second line center is no longer their biggest need. With Blake Wheeler moving to center (as we have been promoting for the past 2.5 seasons), the defence needs some help even if Dustin Byfuglien returns. Also some grit/depth to the bottom lines wouldn’t hurt either.
The following players are scheduled to become UFAs at the end of this season and should, for the most part, cost the team no more than a 2nd round pick and/or prospect which is very palatable just in case the fall short of the playoffs…
1) Kyle Clifford, LW (LAK) – Clifford is tough-as-nails forward that can help with the PK and has Stanley Cup winning experience with the LA Kings. He would bring much needed energy and grit to the 4th line.
2) Alec Martinez, D (LAK) – Martinez will always be remembered for scoring the dramatic Stanley Cup GWG for the Kings in 2014. He is a stay-at-home defenceman, who would bring much needed stability to the blue line for the Jets. A Martinez-Byfuglien pairing would look really good going into the playoffs.
3) Wayne Simmonds, RW (NJD) – The Jets were rumored to have been interested in Simmonds at last year’s trade deadline, who instead went to Nashville. While Simmonds has lost a step or two, he could still be a valuable depth forward, with a nose for the net and can help on the PP, and may not cost as much.
4) Erik Gustafsson, D (CHI) – Gustafsson scored 17 goals last season for the Black Hawks. He would provide some much needed offence and puck moving ability on the left side of the defence for the Jets. A player like this could come at a premium cost, even for a rental. Maybe Chevy can pull some strings with his old team.
5) Jesper Fast, RW (NYR) – Just as his last name alludes, Fast is a speedy, versatile forward who can play all three forward positions. He could help some of the void left after the departure of Brandon Tanev. TFC line, anyone?
6) Brendon Dillon, D (SJS) – At 6’4, Dillon would add some toughness and size on the bank end for the Jets. He is a defensive defenceman, who led the Sharks in hits last season and can log some big minutes.
7) Vladislav Namestnikov RW (OTT) – A solid two-way forward, who can score goals and could really help the Jets on the PK. Had 20 goals with Tampa Bay two seasons ago.
8) Trevor Lewis LW (LAK) – A hard working, energy player, Lewis would fit in well on the 4thline and has valuable playoff experience, having played for and won the Stanley Cup. Could be backup option if the price for Clifford is too high.