Like every other Canadian NHL city, Winnipeg Jets fans have been left without a team to cheer for in the NHL playoffs. It is the first time since 1970 that no Canadian team has made the playoffs and it has a lot of fans confused on what series to pay attention to, which teams to watch. Well, thanks to the trade that sent Andrew Ladd to the Chicago Blackhawks earlier this season, Jets fans have an embedded interest in the Blues and Hawks first round series.
For the second season in a row, Kevin Cheveldayoff, and the rest of the Jets management pulled off a blockbuster deal just before the trade deadline. After dealing Evander Kane last year, Cheveldayoff added trading the Jets captain to his resume. With Ladd set to become a free agent at the end of the year, Cheveldayoff shopped the only captain the Jets had ever seen, and eventually was able to make a deal. Ladd was on his way back to Chicago, where he had won his second Stanley Cup, and fans and critics alike praised the deal the Jets GM had made. Winnipeg sent Ladd and minor leaguers Jay Harrison and Matt Fraser in exchange for a former first round pick in Marko Dano, as well as a first round pick this year and a conditional 2018 pick.
Dano was one of the top prospects in the Hawks system, originally drafted by Columbus where he put up some respectable numbers he was just not quite able to break through the Hawks system and play with the big club. Over his 21 games with the Jets Dano managed four goals and four assists. Not crazy numbers but Jets fans were pleased enough. The really interesting part of this trade were the draft picks.
How the Draft Picks Shake Out
After the last month or so, many fans, especially of Canadian teams, understand how the draft lottery works. Each of the 14 teams that missed the playoffs have a chance to pick in the top three, with their odds depending on how they finished. The Jets finished sixth last and will have a 7.5% chance of picking first overall. Every team has a chance of a top three pick and thus teams can move down a maximum of three positions from where they finished. Meaning the Jets can pick no lower than ninth in this years draft.
When it comes to playoff teams, the draft gets far more complicated. More or less however it goes in the order teams get eliminated from the playoffs. Therefore, teams that lose in the first round will get picks 15-22 and so on, up to the Stanley Cup Winner getting the 30th pick.
This is where Jets fans should start paying attention. The Hawks finished with 103 regular season points. Though it was fifth best in the league, it couldn’t buy them home ice advantage as St. Louis and Dallas each finished better than the Hawks in the Central division. Chicago’s first round pick that the Jets now own could end up just about anywhere. A first round match-up with the Blues has opinions divided. Some still have the Hawks as their Cup favorites, while others are picking the Blues to give Chicago an early exit. Jets fans watch close, an early loss for the Hawks will give you a mid first round pick, but if Ladd and his new team go deep, that pick will get later and later. Either way this series is worth tuning into.
Born and raised Winnipeg sports fan and contributor with The Hockey Writers.