The NHL trade deadline has come and gone and general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff decided that the Winnipeg Jets were good enough as is. Or at least he saw nothing that intrigued him enough to pull the trigger on a deal Wednesday afternoon.
Going into Wednesday, it was speculated that the Jets could have been both buyers and sellers. As it turns out, they did neither. Many thought the Jets would make at least one move, but in the end, the organization stood pat.
The Jets are in a weird position. While it’s no secret the Jets are a rebuilding team with the future being their No. 1 priority, they’re also in prime position to make the playoffs right now. With just 10 games remaining on the season, the Jets are currently in third place in the Eastern Conference.
Can the third-placed team really just forget about the present with playoffs staring them in the face?
The Jets didn’t do anything to further their push, but they didn’t do anything that made it seem like they’re waving the white flag either. It seems like the organization is having a difficult time trying to establish an identity.
Do the Jets want to make the playoffs this season? Do they want to continue rebuilding for the future? Do they want both? Standing pat doesn’t really answer any of those questions. It just says the organization is happy with what they have and believe they’ll be playing meaningful games this postseason regardless.
We can only hope.
With the way things are going in Winnipeg, I’d have to question that, however. Clearly there is room for improvement. But if management believes the team can overcome the struggles down the stretch, then who am I to judge their decision?
There are a couple of possible scenarios that could occur as a result of standing pat at the deadline. The Jets could catch fire and finish off strong with the talent they already possess on their roster. That means that they would win their division. Or they could continue struggling, fall down the standings as fast as they climbed them and end up drafting in the top 10 again.
We all want the former, but the latter isn’t out reach just yet. And if it's going to be top 10, it might as well be lottery.
With the Jets roster as is, it’ll be a tough task for them to get back on track. They’re slumping while other teams are surging. The Jets are going to have the same lineup on Thursday night in Montreal as they had in the previous four losses. In essence, nothing has changed.
On the other hand, if the Jets miss the playoffs, standing pat instead of selling some players will come back to haunt them. Ron Hainsey, Nik Antropov, Kyle Wellwood and a few other unrestricted free agents are likely walking away in the offseason. The Jets could have sold some of these players to acquire draft picks, but instead they could lose them for nothing.
OK, with some of the negatives out of the way, what positives come from this?
For starters, the Jets didn’t lose anything significant. They’re indeed a rebuilding team and they didn’t do anything to hurt that today. But also, they didn’t lose anything that would hurt their playoff chances now. Hainsey, as well as other UFAs, remain Jets.
If the Jets are truly happy with the play of some of their UFAs, the possibility of re-signing them in the offseason isn't out of the question.
Also, if the Jets do indeed make the playoffs, they would have done so without any additional deadline help. They now have the leverage to acquire players via trade, and can do so around draft day with the high number of draft picks they own.
Would rushing an Alex Burmistrov trade been that much of a benefit right now? Certainly if the Jets want him traded, they could wait until the offseason.
All in all, I don’t necessarily agree with the Jets' decision of standing pat. There are bargains out there that would have upgraded the top six and wouldn’t have been too cost effective. You don’t have to give up the farm to get better now.
It is true that some playoff-ready teams usually overpay in desperate times. And while the Jets aren’t desperate or really "playoff ready," they probably wouldn’t have had to give up much to acquire a scoring presence.
Take the Columbus Blue Jackets for example. They improved their team tenfold and kept all of their first-round picks for this year’s draft. Did I mention they have three of them? Also, they didn’t have to give up a single noticeable prospect in any deal. Almost forgot, they acquired Marian Gaborik in the process (Yahoo! Sports).
If the Jets miss out on playoff hockey, a lot of fans are going to be bummed. The Jets have blown plenty of opportunities and the management have let some slip. If the Jets do miss the playoffs, there’s going to be a lot of questions surrounding this year’s trade deadline, especially if players walk for nothing.
Maybe we're just not ready to see playoff hockey in Winnipeg.