3 Rangers’ Trade Targets on the Winnipeg Jets

The Winnipeg Jets have a record of 19-17-7 and are in sixth place in the Central Division. They’ve underachieved after being declared in win-now mode last offseason. Paul Maurice resigned as head coach on Dec. 17, while veteran forward Blake Wheeler was on injured reserve (IR) from mid-December until Jan. 22 with a lower-body injury. He’s only played in 29 of the team’s 43 games and has two goals and 19 assists.

Related: Jets Are Stanley Cup Contenders, But Unanswered Questions Remain

The Jets have some players whom they may trade by the March 21 trade deadline if they fall further out of contention in the playoffs over the next month. The team has some players due to be unrestricted free agents (UFA) that general manager (GM) Kevin Cheveldayoff may attempt to trade in order to offer extensions to young players on the team set to be restricted free agents (RFA) — Kristian Vesalainen, Kristian Reichel, Evgeny Svechnikov, and Eric Comrie are some of the RFA players eligible for contract extensions after the season. Here are three New York Rangers’ trade targets on the Winnipeg Jets.

Andrew Copp

The Ann Arbor, Michigan-native has an average annual value (AAV) of $3.64 million this year before becoming a UFA. Andrew Copp has 12 goals and 16 assists in 43 games played in 2021-22 and will likely surpass his previous career-high in goals and assists he set last season. 

Copp was given a one-year contract extension last offseason. He’s a player who’s versatile in terms of where he can be placed within a lineup, as he’s been on different lines during his time with the Jets. The 27-year-old forward could allow more mixing and matching with line combinations for Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant. 

Andrew Copp Winnipeg Jets
Andrew Copp, Winnipeg Jets (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Winnipeg forward has four goals and three assists over the last 11 games. He has received more time playing on the Jets’ power play in 2021-22. If Chris Drury, the president/GM of the Rangers, were to trade for Copp, Gallant could use him as the second-line center and move Ryan Strome to right wing or place the Jets player on the Blueshirts’ third line.

Copp would increase the forward depth for the Rangers, as the franchise has a good chance of qualifying for the postseason. Acquiring a two-way player would be a good addition for the Blueshirts as his exceptional defensive play would be vital to a successful playoff run. He ranks third in points for the Jets with 28 behind Kyle Connor (47 points) and Mark Scheifele (30 points).

Paul Stastny

The 36-year-old forward has a $3.75 million AAV in 2021-22 before he is scheduled to be a UFA in the offseason. Paul Stastny has played in 32 games and has 11 goals and nine assists. The Quebec City, Quebec-native has a history of durability and would be a depth piece for the Rangers if Drury were to trade for him by the deadline.

Stastny would bring experience to one of the youngest rosters in the league if he were to end up in New York. He is another player who would be adaptable to Gallant’s line changes, given that he has played for many years. During 2020-21, he spent time playing on the Jets’ power play and was the best center for the organization in terms of winning faceoffs — he won 54.7 percent of the faceoffs he took last season.

In preparation for playing in his 1,000th career game, Scheifele said about Stastny, “He’s had a pretty amazing career. He’s a big part of this team, so it’s definitely a huge thing for him, and we’re happy for him and excited to be a part of it. He does all the right things. He knows the spots to go; he’s such an intelligent hockey player, he’s knows the spots to go to, he knows the areas to be. Faceoffs, everything, he’s just a very, very intelligent hockey player, and he means so much to this team. You can plug him in anywhere and he’s going to succeed and make things happen. That’s a very valuable guy to have on your team” (from ‘NHL Journeyman Paul Stastny Ready for Game No. 1,000,’ Full Press Hockey, 5/11/21).

Paul Stastny Winnipeg Jets
Paul Stastny, Winnipeg Jets (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

Connor commented about Stastny as well, saying, “He’s such a great person and very easy to talk to. He speaks on all subjects. Just such a great teammate, knows the game well, hockey sense is off the charts. On the ice, he almost plays that same way. He’s a great passer, so smart, always in the right spots. It’s going to be pretty cool to be a part of that game for him tomorrow.”

Stastny would be another player for young Rangers players such as Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko to learn from. Lafreniere has mentioned before that he has learned from the veteran players he’s had the opportunity to be paired with this season, such as Strome and Barclay Goodrow. The Jets forward would not cost much for the Blueshirts to give up in a trade, given that he is a pending UFA.

Jansen Harkins

The Cleveland, Ohio-native does not contribute much offensively, so he would be acquired for his defensive ability. Jansen Harkins is earning $725,000 and will be an RFA after 2021-22. The 24-year-old would be used in the Rangers’ bottom-six and on the penalty kill.

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Harkins is another two-way player on the Jets who could be of use to a playoff-bound franchise looking to improve its depth. He has played well in the AHL for the Manitoba Moose previously before his time playing in the NHL and could be a trade target for a team looking to take a chance on a young player who is approaching his prime.

The Jets could end up being sellers at the deadline, given their current standing in the Western Conference. The franchise has not lived up to its expectations at the start of the season and has several players who will be RFAs that need to be re-signed this offseason or within the next few years. Copp and Stastny could be good acquisitions to improve the depth of a team such as the Rangers, who are looking to qualify for the postseason.

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