It’s no question that the Winnipeg Jets need help on the blue line in order to be considered a serious contender this season. Although this is true, they may only need to make a few in-house moves to allow this to happen. This all starts with the benching of Nathan Beaulieu.
Although Beaulieu provides a spark to the Jets team when he hits or when he fights, he is a defensive liability who also does not produce offensively. This article takes a look at why he should be scratched even when healthy and who could replace him presently in the Jets’ lineup.
A Defensive Liability
Beaulieu has played 25 games for the Jets so far this season but has not played particularly well. The former first-round pick has a plus-minus of minus-5 on a high-scoring Jets team. He makes mistakes with the puck in his own zone and constantly is missing his assignments.
Even with the Jets being an offensively great team, he has only put up one point in his 25 games this season. The 28-year-old has missed the past couple of games due to injury, but he could have seen his last game as a Jet this season with some other guys who can step up and play well.
Stanley is the first name that comes to mind when thinking about replacing Beaulieu. The young Jets defenseman has played in 19 games so far this season and has also only put up one point. But the difference between Stanley and Beaulieu is that Stanley is a plus-minus of plus-8, and he does not make as many costly mistakes. I believe that Stanley has played well enough to stick in the lineup. (from ‘BILLECK: Jets’ Stanley sticking out for all the right reasons,’ Winnipeg Sun, 03/14/2021)
The 6-foot-7 Stanley also uses his size to his advantage in the defensive zone. He is great at separating the man from the puck and has the ability to stand up for a team if necessary. With a little bit of experience, he could be the next Tyler Myers for the Jets.
I would love to see Stanley stay in the lineup for the Jets if it means that he gains more experience and is ready to be a regular for the team next season.
Niku has had so much potential for the Jets ever since they drafted him, but he has never really panned out. I would not like the Jets to put him in the lineup, but I would prefer him over Beaulieu. It is very important to have some excitement, and that is exactly what Niku provides. He is great offensively, but if you pair him with a player like Dylan DeMelo, he may not be too much of a liability.
Niku has only played in six games for the Jets so far this season, but he has not looked too far out of place. It will be interesting to see what they do with him at the trade deadline. He may be a key piece in a deal that would send a defenseman back to the Jets if they choose that route instead.
The young Finnish player has the potential to be a top-two pairing defenseman for the Jets one day. And I believe that it would be beneficial to see him in the lineup to end the season. He is currently with the Manitoba Moose but can be called up at any moment and step in to make an impact.
Heinola is potentially one of two Jets’ prospects who are untouchable because what he can do on the ice is mesmerizing. He has a great offensive ability, and his vision is next level. Although Jets’ management probably won’t put him in the lineup until next season, it would be really cool for fans to see him finish the season with the squad.
Trade for a Defenseman
This could be exactly what the Jets need at this point in the season. Maybe a guy like Mattias Ekholm from the Nashville Predators or David Savard from the Columbus Blue Jackets, both of who would be great fits for the team.
Ekholm would provide the Jets with a solid top-four defenseman who has plenty of experience. He also has two more years left on his team-friendly contract. The price may be steep, but a player of his caliber would help the Jets out tremendously. A first-round draft pick and a player would probably be the price to pay.
Savard would be a cheaper option for the Jets but would also be able to do the job they need on the blue line. He is a great defensive player who could slot into the lineup right away and be impactful. A first-round pick may be the price to pay for a rental player like Savard.
What do you guys think that the Jets should do to replace Beaulieu? Do you think he deserves to stay in the lineup, or do you think they should replace him in-house? Or via trade?