The Winnipeg Jets will look to go into the 2020-21 season with a better record than the previous year. They finished 2019-20 with a respectable 37-28-6 record, but will need to be better given the roster that they have.
They have one of the best top-six forward groups in the league with players such as Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine. Their defence is highlighted with Josh Morrissey and Neal Pionk, with Vezina Trophy winner Connor Hellebuyck in between the pipes.
Like every team, the Jets can improve as a club with a couple of trades that can benefit them in many areas. The goaltending is set for the team, but what can they do to improve their defence and forward groups?
Below are a couple of trade options for the Jets that will improve their club next season and hopefully for the future as well.
Trades to Consider
Jets Acquire Pavel Zacha; Devils Acquire Jack Roslovic, 2021 3rd-Round Pick
This would help the Jets bottom-six forward group very well, as Zacha would hopefully slot in on the third line with Adam Lowry and Andrew Copp.
Zacha was the sixth-overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft and has never really found his stride with Devils to date. The 23-year-old put up 32 points for the Devils last season giving him his best point production year yet. Last season showed the Devils that he was ready to play higher up in their lineup. He is signed for the next two seasons at a cap hit of just over $2 million per year.
As for Roslovic, he would be a fit on the Devils as they have a young forward group with players such as Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier. He is a restricted free agent and has yet to sign a contract with the Jets, which could be a key factor in why he is traded.
A change of scenery could be beneficial for both of these players, as they are both young and have the potential to be good players in the NHL in the future. Neither Roslovic or Zacha have been given the opportunity to prove themselves and will hopefully be given that option with their new clubs.
Jets Acquire MacKenzie Weegar; Panthers Acquire Jack Roslovic
This would be a great trade for the Jets as it would solidify their top-four defence with Morrissey, Pionk, and Dylan DeMelo. Weegar is a 26-year-old who has had a solid NHL career so far with Panthers.
He just signed a contract that has an average cap hit of $3.25 million per year for the next three seasons. This could be a good piece for the Panthers moving forward, but this also could be a sign and trade scenario if they are given the right deal in return.
Roslovic could be the deal that the Panthers would be looking for. The young forward could potentially fit into their top-six group and provide some scoring on the wing beside a player like Alexander Wennberg or Noel Acciari. They could also be able to sign Roslovic to a cheaper bridge contract and perhaps tap into his potential.
Jets Acquire Aaron Ekblad; Panthers Acquire Nikolaj Ehlers, Sami Niku, 2021 2nd-Round Pick
This would be a blockbuster trade that would shake up both teams roster for the better. The Jets would get the former first-overall pick in Ekblad who will automatically slot in on their first defensive pairing. The 24-year-old had his best season offensively in 2019-20 putting up 41 points in just 67 games with the Panthers.
With the loss of Ehlers, the Jets would need to fill the second-line left-wing spot with either guys in their system, or potentially look at some free agents. If Roslovic is not traded, he could potentially slot beside Laine and Paul Stastny and could give him the opportunity he needs to prove himself. Some other options could include signing a guy like Mike Hoffman or Anthony Duclair in free agency.
The Panthers would also like this trade because it gives them a top-six forward in Ehlers after losing Hoffman and Evegnii Dadonov in free agency. They would also get a young defenceman in Niku who has not had a great shot with the Jets club, as he has been up and down with the Manitoba Moose. Niku was voted the American Hockey League’s most outstanding defenceman in the 2018-19 season, so he has some potential.
Jets Acquire Victor Olofsson, Rasmus Ristolainen, Casey Fitzgerald, and 2021 2nd-Round Pick; Sabres Acquire Patrik Laine and Logan Stanley
This would be a trade that both teams would definitely consider as it would fill some needs for both of them. Winnipeg would be trading Laine who may be on his way out sometime soon if a deal could not be made for the 2021-22 season. They would be replacing him with a very capable last year rookie in Olofsson who put up 42 points in 54 games and is a great sniper, like Laine.
The Jets would also be getting a solid defensemen in Ristolainen who would slot into their top-four right away. He is a very big man and is also a Finnish player, who the Jets love to have on their squad. Fitzgerald is a great defensive prospect who has played at Boston College and a short stint in the AHL.
The Sabres would be getting a player to play with Jack Eichel and Taylor Hall, which would make up one of the best lines in the league. A Laine trade and sign could make Hall want to stay in Buffalo and sign a longer extension with the club. It may also give the Sabres fans some hope for a bright future.
All of these trades are something the Jets may be willing to do to boost their roster for this coming up season, but also for the future to come. A Laine trade would be a big one for the squad but may need to happen to be successful. Ehlers and Roslovic are both young wingers who they would like to hold on to, but they may need to be sacrificed for some defensive help for the 2020-21 season.