Winnipeg Jets: Time to Stay Put or Add More Experience Via Free Agency?

Anthony Capocci@CapocciJETSContributor IJuly 14, 2012

WINNIPEG, CANADA - DECEMBER 1: Ondrej Pavelec #31 of the Winnipeg Jets blocks a shot on goal by Shane Doan #19 of the Phoenix Coyotes in NHL action at the MTS Centre on December 1, 2011 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Marianne Helm/Getty Images)
Marianne Helm/Getty Images

It’s the middle of the offseason and the Winnipeg Jets are still looking to reach the cap floor. And in the process, they have a lot of money to spend and some roster spots to fill. With that in mind, their initiative next season is to make the playoffs as has been made clear by GM Kevin Cheveldayoff.

The Jets have already brought in some experienced veteran players, but with some roster spots still up for debate, should they look for additional experience and leadership via free agency? Leadership and experience will help the Jets get closer to the playoffs next season as well as brush off leadership on the younger players.

It wouldn’t hurt the Jets to continue to improve in the short-term by signing some more veteran depth that brings in the much-needed leadership to help contend for the playoffs. Money and cap space become irrelevant for one-year deals, so put those figures aside. It should make sense if they want to reach the floor in a way that helps them progress toward the short-term goal.

There are a few notable names out there in free agency that fit into the category of veteran/experienced players that the Jets could use. One of those players is the highly-touted and beloved former Winnipeg Jet, Shane Doan.

Doan’s all-around game paired with leadership and offensive ability could help make the Jets more than just a playoff contender next season. Doan’s history with Winnipeg makes him one of the fan favorites, which probably intrigues the Jets all the more. However, there are other teams that want him and he’d probably choose them over Winnipeg simply because of contention. It doesn’t hurt to try though. Money isn’t an issue here.

An under-the-radar signing could be the acquisition of Andrew Brunette. The soon-to-be 39-year-old still has some game left in him. Brunette is a hard-working forward who never takes a shift off, and he’ll make himself noticeable in every situation. Plus, his experience bodes well for the younger forwards.

There's also the debate whether or not it would be a good idea to sign an old vet or bring up a younger player instead. The Jets don't have many readily-available forwards to come in and play. Another short-term signing wouldn't hurt the organization at all especially since the cap isn't an issue. The Jets still have to spend roughly $3.3 million to reach the cap floor.

The careers of these veterans are winding down and there’s not much time left for them to get what they want—which is usually why they only want to go to a contender so that they can seize the opportunity for a Stanley Cup. The Jets aren’t looked upon as one of those contending teams, but if the management does a good job at convincing a player otherwise, that player might buy into it.

The Jets have a good amount of leadership and experience as they stand right now, but bringing in just one more player wouldn't hurt. Even with all the recent signings the Jets have made, I still don’t think they’re done “shopping around” just yet.

The Jets might not be contending for the Cup next season, but they’ll certainly be contending for a playoff spot. With the addition of another veteran forward, getting over the hump will be that much easier.