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Winnipeg Jets: Exploring Their Free Agent Shopping List for the Offseason

Matt EichelSenior Writer IOctober 29, 2016

Winnipeg Jets: Exploring Their Free Agent Shopping List for the Offseason

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    Somewhere, Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has a checklist.

    That checklist's next agenda item is July 1st.

    With a few free agents to sign within the organization, including captain Andrew Ladd (RFA), Zach Bogosian (RFA), Black Wheeler (RFA), Rob Schremp (RFA), Anthony Stewart (RFA), and Eric Boulton (RFA), it may not seem as if the Jets are going out to land a big fish in the free agent market.

    This July 1st, the Jets need to focus on their third and fourth lines as well as the need for a top two centre.

    With the likes of Chris Thorburn, Boulton, Schremp, and Jim Slater on the Jets two grinding lines, the team could use some veteran experience on those lines to help shoulder the load as a role player and as a leader.

    As for a two centre, it may take another year or two before Alexander Burmistrov is ready to assume star status as well as 2011 first round pick Mark Scheifele.

    With so many assets to trade from the minors, the Jets are in a very respectable position to be able to deal to fill the needs they must address.

Brooks Laich

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    Signed by Washington Capitals

    Brooks Laich, native of Wawota, Saskatchewan, has seen his fair share of success as an NHL winger with the Washington Capitals in six full seasons.

    A three time 20-goal scorer, including a career high 25 goals in 2009-10, Laich has the components of size, skill, and grit as well as a desire to win at all costs.

    At 6'2", 205 pounds, Laich is a formidable winger who uses his size to make an opposing goalies life as miserable as possible.

    Though a UFA on a divisional rival, Laich could add more size to the Jets forward core.  Adding Laich's 20-goal scoring potential to a team that had only two twenty goal scorers last season could help the franchise's lack of goal scoring.

    Through 475 NHL games, Laich has tallied 100 goals and 137 assists while adding 23 points in 37 career playoff games.

Nicklas Bergfors

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    Signed by Nashville Predators

    While a longshot to not sign in Florida where they need to sign big to reach the salary cap floor, Nicklas Bergfors could add an offensive talent the Jets need.

    A former Thrasher player, Bergfors scored 19 goals and added 27 assists in 79 games when he played for Atlanta in the second half of the 2009-10 season and first half of the 2010-11 season.

    Coming into his third NHL season, Bergfors seemed to struggle in Florida where he collected only seven points (one goal, six assists) in the final 20 games of his season.

    That point production was a far cry from his 21 goals in 2009-10 split with the New Jersey Devils and Atlanta.

    If the Panthers were unable to sign Bergfors, the Jets could use his 20-goal scoring potential as a third line producer or even a second line producer.

Ben Eager

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    Signed by Edmonton Oilers

    Coming into his sixth NHL season, Ben Eager is known more his run-and-gun style and mucking in the corners than for his goal scoring.

    His style of play is something the Atlanta Thrashers missed very much when he was traded away after 34 games last season.

    Though another ex-Thrasher, Eager's Stanley Cup championship experience plus another deep playoff run with the San Jose Sharks in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs shows how valuable he could be to a young team who needs to add to its grit department.

    In 323 NHL games, Eager has racked up 741 penalty minutes.  His playoff experience includes 6 points and 148 penalty minutes in 47 playoff games with the Philadelphia Flyers, Chicago Blackhawks, and Sharks.

    If the Jets still have a hole on the third or fourth lines, Eager would be a perfect fit.

Jeff Tambellini

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    Signed in Europe

    Since being drafted twenty-seventh overall by the Los Angeles Kings in 2003, Jeff Tambellini is still looking to stick to an NHL team full time for a full season.

    Over the past six seasons, Tambellini has split most seasons between the Kings, New York Islanders, Vancouver Canucks, and those teams respective AHL affiliates.

    As an ex-Manitoba Moose in the AHL, Tambellini's stock in Winnipeg is already known very well.  He plays a role on a team very well and could be used as an energy player on a third line in the NHL.  

    In 242 NHL career games, Tambellini has 63 points (27 goals, 36 assists).  He also was able to play six playoff games with the Canucks en route to the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals.

Brad Richards

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    Signed by New York Rangers

    Though on most team's free agent wish list, Brad Richards fits the role of a top two centre for the Jets.

    In 772 NHL games, Richards has 716 points (220 goals, 496 assists), including 62 points in 63 career playoff games.

    Richards best success came in 2004 with a Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy as an integral part of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

    In three full seasons with the Dallas Stars, Richards managed to reach 91 and 77 points in his last two seasons. 

    Though injuries are a risk for Richards, especially when he only played 56 games in 2008-09, he would be not only a top-two centre but also a leader with Stanley Cup experience.

    Even for two or three years, Richards would fill the role until either Burmistrov or Scheifele are able to come in and make an impact.

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