NHL Free Agency: 5 Possible Free Agents the Winnipeg Jets Could Pursue
Free agency is inching closer and the Winnipeg Jets are a team that has to make improvements. There’s no better time to fill in some holes than July 1, the day it all begins.
The Jets have always been a team that built within, via the draft, but they don’t shy away when it comes to free agency (obviously, things have changed since the Atlanta days).
Don’t expect the Jets to target big-name players such as Zach Parise, Shea Weber, or Alex Semin because that’s not going to happen. But that doesn’t mean they’ll be unable to find what they need.
Whether or not Kevin Cheveldayoff agrees, the Jets could pursue a number of free agents who would come in and help the team right away.
The Jets' most pressing need is defense and my list, believe it or not, consists of all but one defensemen. Not because I think the Jets will not pursue a forward, but because pursuing a defenseman greatly outweighs pursuing a forward.
Defensemen seem to be the logical option to pursue and I think there are quite a few the Jets will look at. Whether or not they’re active during the free agency period, we’ll just have to wait and see.
For now, let’s take a look at some possible future Jets.
5: Matt Carle
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Matt Carle is a solid two-way defenseman. He may not have had his best year this past season, but he still put up a number of points.
He puts up a fair amount of points each season, mainly assists, and a lot of them on the power play.
Carle can be reliable defensively, but his overall offensive game may outweigh his defensive abilities. However, he’s a solid option for many teams.
Carle doesn’t get paired on top units, but he’s a plus player. He is 27 years-old and will most likely be playing in a new home come October.
If the Jets are targeting low-priced defensemen, Carle could be one.
4: Brad Stuart
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Brad Stuart is a defenseman with a skill set that suits a defensive-style, but also an offensive-style type of game. He’s a mixture of both, but he’s reliable defensively which sparks interest.
However, it'll be hard to convince him to come to Winnipeg.
He may not be a household name, but he’s a player who does what he’s expected to do. He gets the job done. Besides, who doesn’t want to be constantly confused with a Brad Stuart and Mark Stuart pairing?
Stuart is another veteran defenseman who’s played close to 900 games in the NHL. Stuart’s 32 years-old and was a former third-overall pick in 1998.
3: Bryan Allen
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Bryan Allen is a hard-nosed defenseman who plays a great defensive-style game. He’s exactly what the Jets need, but he may be hard to pursue.
Allen was rumored to be traded at the deadline and garnered interest from many teams, but didn’t find a new home. Allen is expected to be a hot commodity among defensemen in this year’s free agency class.
The veteran defenseman has played with three different teams including the Vancouver Canucks, Florida Panthers, and Carolina Hurricanes. The former fourth-overall pick will turn 32 years-old in August.
2: Barret Jackman
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The addition of Barret Jackman would instantly solidify the Jets defense.
He’s not by any means flashy on the offensive side of play, but that’s not what the Jets need.
Jackman is a defensive work-horse who gives it his all every game. His locker room presence would boost other players’ confidence and his work ethic would never go unnoticed.
Jackman is 31 years-old and was a former first-round, 17th-overall draft pick. He's spent his entire career with the St. Louis Blues which may give them leverage over any other team when it comes down to signing him.
1: Jiri Hudler
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Jiri Hudler is the lone forward on my list. While I don’t think there are many forwards in free agency who suit the Jets, Hudler is one of them who do.
There are rumors that Hudler’s time in Detroit is up and that he’ll be seeking a new team in July. He’s someone who can fit in well with the Jets.
Hudler is well coached and plays in a system which focuses on hard work and defense. He may not be the best defensively, but he’s not the worst. He also has the skills offensively that make him valuable.
There aren’t many forward I think the Jets can land, but Hudler is one they can land and he shouldn’t be too expensive unlike many of the other forwards in free agency.
If the Jets fail to re-sign Kyle Wellwood, going the route of Hudler would be a good idea especially. But I wouldn't be shocked to see him targeted by the Jets this offseason regardless.
Hudler had a career-high of 25 goals this past season. He’s 28 years-old and has spent seven seasons with the Detroit Red Wings.