Time for the Winnipeg Jets to Swim in the Trading Pool

Apparently it was all the rage this week for young players to request trades from the teams that drafted them, and if the Winnipeg Jets play their cards right they stand to benefit in a big way.

Not a day after it emerged that Jonathan Drouin had requested a trade out of Tampa Bay, news emerged that all wasn’t well in Columbus either, as Kerby Rychel followed Drouin’s lead and requested a trade of his own as far back as the summer. For their respective franchises, this represents a conundrum. For the Winnipeg Jets, it represents an opportunity.

Is this the mentality of an opportunistic cutthroat? Perhaps, but the fact remains that the Winnipeg Jets need help, and while I wouldn’t claim either player is the answer to the prayers of Jets nation, I will say that both players would represent an upgrade up front, and a great investment for the future.

A Long Time Coming

In neither case was the request for a trade a complete shock. Drouin has been decidedly unhappy in Tampa Bay with his lack of ice time, and many fantasy hockey aficionados have been disappointed that power play time and opportunities to play with Steven Stamkos (supposedly the reason the Lightning drafted Drouin in the first place) haven’t come yet.

The Winnipeg Jets cannot offer Drouin a chance to play with Stamkos, but they can offer a chance to reunite with former Halifax Mooseheads teammate Nikolaj Ehlers, and they can certainly offer him a chance on the power play. Indeed the Jets power play could use an injection of life from just about anywhere at this point, and Drouin is capable of providing it.

As for Kerby Rychel, if the young collects frequent flyer miles then he’ll be able to take one heck of a nice vacation sometime soon, as he’s bounced between the minors and the NHL like a ping pong ball in a clothes dryer. He’s been up and down several times this season, sometimes even in the same day. Needless to say, this is not an ideal arrangement.

Rychel’s record in junior and the AHL seem to indicate he deserves better. His 18 points in 20 AHL games this season represent excellent production, and as an OHL’er he twice scored forty goals in a season, and would have done it a third time had he not missed games to play for Canada at the World Juniors. Rychel’s physical style lends itself to the type of game the Jets want to play, and he hasn’t been getting the chances he should be getting in Columbus.

Speculate away as to why this is (his agent is Kurt Overhardt, the same agent representing Ryan Johansen, and Johansen’s last contract negotiation grew extremely contentious thanks in large part to Overhardt) but the fact remains, he’s done with the Blue Jackets organization. For the Winnipeg Jets, this represents what Captain Jack Sparrow would no doubt call the opportune moment.

Expensive but Worth Every Penny

Just because these players have requested trades does not mean their teams are under any obligation to move them, and if either of Drouin or Rychel is moved it will be at a steep price. While neither has accomplished much at the NHL level as of yet, there is no denying the talent level or immense potential of each player either, Rychel as a power forward, Drouin as a top six power play specialist or more. Rychel’s potential was shown throughout his junior and AHL careers, as discussed above, and as for Drouin, well, for those of you that need reminding, there are probably still former QMJHL goalies who have nightmares about the phenom.

And of course everybody remembers the goal so spectacular it is simply known as “The  Shift”.

That kind of skill simply can’t be taught, and though it may be buried by disappointment it will never truly disappear. Tampa Bay must know this, and the price for Drouin will as such be through the roof. I’ve heard Dustin Byfuglien’s name floating around on Twitter as part of a trade for Drouin. The skill set and potential upside on Drouin is so good I would gladly take that deal.

Kevin Cheveldayoff doesn’t need to be afraid of making trades anymore. He proved last season he can get the Winnipeg Jets just the players they need to compete. His team needs a boost now, and there’s none better available than these two young future stars. Make it happen, Chevy.