The Winnipeg Jets are currently in first place in the Southeast Division with just 14 games left in the regular season. However, it’s a race that won’t likely be decided until the final week of the season.
A trade-deadline acquisition could be all that is needed to ensure them a spot in the playoffs. Well, nothing is ensured in the NHL, but additional depth would certainly give the Jets a better chance at making the playoffs.
A trade would also solve one of their major needs.
The Jets have a lot of high-quality picks for the coming 2013 NHL entry draft. They have one first-round pick, three second-round picks and two third-round picks—a total of six draft picks in the first three rounds. That’s more than enough firepower to play around with.
The Jets also have some other assets that they could deal in a package, including prospect defenseman Paul Postma, who is already on the roster. It shouldn’t be too difficult to package a player like Postma and a draft pick or two to acquire a player for a playoff push.
I’ll also point out that I’m not one to give up on Jets top prospects Jacob Trouba or Mark Scheifele. Those two are as close to “untouchable” as it gets in my books. It would be counterintuitive to deal such talent away, and the Jets have other prospects and even some roster players that are viable assets.
Clearly, the Jets have ammo. Now the question is, who would be a viable option for the Jets to target?
It would be ideal if they targeted players that can help right now as well as a couple of years down the road.
I’ll just go ahead and name eight players that I think would make a tremendous difference down the stretch. And some would even be difference-makers a few years from now.
The addition of Jason Pominville would be an ideal move. It would give the Jets a true top-line right winger and make their top line more of a legit threat. Currently, the Jets top line consists of Evander Kane, Olli Jokinen and Antti Miettinen. Pominville would likely replace Miettinen.
Pominville is still in his prime. He brings primary scoring and plays the game in all three zones. Also, the move wouldn’t just be for this year, as Pominville would stick around at least until his contract is up after 2013-14.
Acquiring Pominville would boost the Jets' chances at making the playoffs this season, and it would also give them a quality forward for the entire 2013-14 campaign.
Kyle Okposo is an interesting story. He is a former seventh-overall draft pick by the New York Islanders in 2006 but hasn’t quite found his game. In 304 career games, Okposo has only scored 71 times. This season, he only has three goals in 33 games.
Winnipeg loves building their team around players such as Okposo. He’s a strong power forward with goal-scoring abilities. Islanders fans have seen the flashes, but nothing that's lasted for more than a short stretch. It might just be time for a change of scenery.
Okposo is signed through 2015-16. Not only would he give the Jets a much-needed boost on the right wing right now, but there is a chance he finds his game in the ‘Peg as well.
Imagine a line with Evander Kane and Chris Stewart. That’s scary good.
Stewart would be a perfect fit in Winnipeg. He brings everything the Jets build their team around. He’s a strong and physical power forward with goal-scoring abilities.
Not only would this boost the Jets' playoff run, but it would give the Jets another piece for the future. Stewart is an RFA after this season and the Blues have a dilemma: Do they sign him or trade him? If they go with the latter, Kevin Cheveldayoff has to be all over this for the right price.
Another Sabres player that is probably on the block is forward Drew Stafford.
Stafford is an interesting one. He’s an underachiever. In the 2010-11 season, Stafford scored 31 times in 62 games. After breaking out and showing promise in the process, Stafford regressed the following year, scoring 20 times in 80 games. That’s still respectable, though.
This year, Stafford only has four goals on the season in 31 games. Maybe a change of scenery will do some good. Obviously, the potential is there with his 30-goal history. He could find his form again in Winnipeg and help spark the Jets offense.
Another forward the Jets could potentially target is Devin Setoguchi. There’s a trend here with some of these targetable players. Setoguchi is another underachiever.
Setoguchi is a former eighth-overall pick of the San Jose Sharks. He is currently with the Minnesota Wild. He was a one-time 30-goal scorer and has scored 20 goals in a season twice. However, the feel that he should be doing more in the NHL exists.
He would be a unique addition in Winnipeg.
Florida is looking to move a lot of players before the trade deadline. Fleischmann is another forward that is probably available for the right price.
Fleischmann is signed through 2014-15. He broke out last season with 27 goals and 61 points. He’s had a quiet season, but a change out of Florida could fix that.
Fleischmann would help the Jets in their playoff run. He’ll provide the Jets with secondary scoring or even primary scoring. At 29 years of age, he’s in still in the prime of his career and the Jets would benefit from him for another two full seasons.
If the Flames are truly shopping the farm, Curtis Glencross could be a nice addition to the Jets roster.
Glencross has come on in recent years as a goal-scoring forward—something the Jets need. After back-to-back 20-plus goal scoring seasons, Glencross is still finding the back of the net this season. However, he does a lot more than just score goals.
Glencross is 30 years old and is signed through 2014-15. He has a $2.5 million cap hit, which is extremely low for a player like Glencross. He also has a no-movement clause, and he may not want to waive it. He’d be a serviceable player for the Jets now and in the future.
At age 31, Radim Vrbata’s best years are probably behind him. That doesn’t mean he has nothing left to offer.
Vrbata is coming off of a 35-goal season in 2011-12. While he’ll probably never match that production again, all the Jets would want is primary scoring down the stretch and into the playoffs. Vrbata is also signed all the way through next season before he becomes a UFA in 2014-15.
Vrbata is struggling with only four goals this season, but a trade could lift his game again.
The NHL trade deadline is one week from today. However, with time ticking down in the regular season, the Jets may want to go ahead and make a move sooner rather than later.