Though the Winnipeg Jets have been linked to nearly every potential free agent forward including the very best of the best, it might be a smaller move that gets things kicked off for the Western Conference contender. Mike McIntyre of the Winnipeg Free Press reported yesterday that Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has been working to bring in an experienced depth forward in order to “give head coach Paul Maurice more options in his bottom six.” McIntyre notes that the Jets have too often become a three-line team, benching their fourth unit because Maurice can’t quite trust them.
That can be seen perhaps most notably in the ice-time logs of a young player like Jack Roslovic, who until recently had been limited to fewer than ten minutes almost every night. In fact, Roslovic has played fewer than seven minutes in 14 of his 49 games this season, hardly giving the young forward a chance to contribute. While Roslovic has been given an opportunity to play a little more recently, there is obviously a balance issue on the Jets that could be addressed with adding some more experience down in the lineup.
While McIntyre and just about every other media member points out how the Jets could also use a legitimate second-line center for the stretch drive — the role that Paul Stastny filled last season after being acquired from the St. Louis Blues at the deadline — it’s an interesting note that Cheveldayoff seems more focused right now at adding down in the lineup.
Perhaps that is because the Jets believe more names will be put out onto the market in the coming weeks. The Ottawa Senators have seemingly not yet made Matt Duchene available in trade as they continue to try and sign him, and with Kevin Hayes recent comments about wanting to stay with the New York Rangers perhaps he’s not the ideal target. Other names like Mark Stone, Wayne Simmonds and Artemi Panarin are all in complicated situations and don’t fit into the Jets structure perfectly because of their position on the wing.
The Jets will no doubt make a move at some point in the next three-and-a-half weeks, but it’s still not clear how much they want to give up this time around. Remember that Stastny cost them a first-round pick last season meaning they didn’t select until 60th overall, and the team is already without their 2019 third-rounder from an expansion draft trade. Even though Winnipeg has built one of the strongest pipelines of talent in the entire league, they’re not a team that can afford to throw away futures every year. Still, the team looks as dangerous as ever as the playoffs draw closer and Cheveldayoff will have to decide whether it’s worth taking another crack at a top rental to push them over the edge, or just settle for a bottom-six addition in the meantime.