The 2019 NHL Trade Deadline is less than three weeks away. Like any NHL team, the Winnipeg Jets have some assets and pieces to offer. As a legitimate threat to take the Stanley Cup this spring, let’s take a look at who or what the Jets might trade in exchange for someone who can bolster their team down the stretch or in the future.
Their 2019 First-Round Pick
First-round picks are the currency with which Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff has built the powerhouse that exists today. He’s used them to select Mark Schiefele, Jacob Trouba, Josh Morrissey, Nikolaj Ehlers, Kyle Connor, Jack Roslovic, Patrik Laine, Logan Stanley and Kristian Vesalainen, in that order, turning his team from destitute to dominant in the process.
However, sometimes even valuable currency needs to be exchanged.
Cheveldayoff parted with his first-rounder for the first time prior to the 2018 NHL Trade Deadline, flipping it to the St. Louis Blues along with Erik Foley for Paul Stastny. The deal gave the Jets the NHL’s best attack and worked out tremendously — Stastny put up 13 points in 19 regular-season games and 15 more during the Jets’ run to the Western Conference Final.
TSN recently reported that the Jets’ first-rounder is in play once again this season. It would have to be the key piece in any trade for a player of Stastny’s echelon, such as Matt Duchene, Wayne Simmonds or Kevin Hayes.
“How many kicks at the can are the Jets going to get?” asked TSN’s Frank Seravalli, a proponent of the Jets dealing their first-rounder. “The time is now to strike.”
The Jets are third-best in the NHL and their first-rounder would be 29th if they stay in that spot. However, it should still attract great interest — plenty of potentially impactful players are still on the board by that point. As an example, the Toronto Maple Leafs (to whom the Blues traded the Jets’ 2018 pick) used it to select dynamic defenseman Rasmus Sandin.
What else is there to say about Nic Petan? Over the past nine months, we’ve outlined possible trade partners in a hypothetical offseason deal that didn’t materialize, explored how summer roster turnover presented him with a new lease on life and analyzed how he was given a vote of confidence in October after the Jets waived Marko Dano.
Most recently, we explored how he’s become the Jets’ outside man once again, vaulted time after time by other top prospects such as Connor and Roslovic last season and Brendan Lemieux and Mason Appleton this season.
Petan has no future in Winnipeg. He has been a healthy scratch for 17 straight games dating back to Dec. 22 and has just two assists this season. Head coach Paul Maurice has made it clear Petan will only be play if others get injured, saying “he’s got some guys that are maybe a little bit younger than he is that can do a lot of what he does,” and “he’s behind a bunch of guys that he’s not taking their jobs.” (from ‘Petan still waiting for next opportunity’ – Winnipeg Free Press- 01/13/19.)
Petan’s agent, Joe Oliver, recently said Cheveldayoff “has committed to moving” the 23-year-old in advance of the deadline from ‘Jets shopping Petan, fending off offers for Roslovic’ – Winnipeg Free Press – 02/01/19.)
Even though Petan’s been professional about his situation — he didn’t even complain when he participated in two recent warm-ups due to doubt in Roslovic and Bryan Little’s availability but ended up scratched both times anyway — it’s high time the Jets move on from the B.C. product and let him start over somewhere else. Having so much focus on someone who isn’t in the plans is a distraction the Jets just don’t need.
It would appear Nic Petan will be a healthy scratch for a 17th straight game — despite taking the #NHLJets pre-game warm-up for a 2nd straight game. Sami Niku also a healthy scratch, likely heading back to the #MBMoose once Dustin Byfuglien is ready to go, as early as Thursday.
— Mike McIntyre (@mikemcintyrewpg) February 6, 2019
Petan is not without upside — he possesses great playmaking ability and offensive intelligence — but with just 23 points in his NHL career and his 24th birthday fast approaching, the return for him alone would be low. However, the Jets could choose to include him as part of a larger deal involving the aforementioned first-rounder.
Another player not likely in the Jets’ long-term plans is goaltender Eric Comrie. The 23-year-old goaltender, like Petan, is aging out of his prospect tag and has been unable to establish himself at the NHL level. He’s made just four big-league starts since he was chosen 59th overall in 2013.
Many thought Comrie would battle hard with the newly-acquired Laurent Brossoit to be Connor Hellebuyck’s backup in September. However, Brossoit impressed out of the gate and his simply-incredible play has kept Comrie firmly in the AHL.
Comrie is having a strong season with the Manitoba Moose and has been key to keeping the mediocre and oft-transient club somewhat respectable. He is 16-13-4 with a 2.62 goals-against average, a .922 save percentage and a pair of shutouts. He’s made 30-plus stops on 20 occasions.
— American Hockey League (@TheAHL) January 21, 2019
This makes Comrie a trade chip. As the Winnipeg Free Press’ Mike McIntyre recently noted: “The rest of the league is noticing (Comrie’s play). And you’d have to think NHL general managers are taking notice as well, especially ones from teams looking to improve their goaltending depth.” (from ‘Comrie’s NHL future looks increasingly like it’ll happen in another city’ – Winnipeg Free Press – 01/21/19.)
The Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks are among the teams that could be seeking a new netminder. While Comrie could be on the move to one of those locales or somewhere else, trading him could also backfire if Hellebuyck or Brossoit gets injured. Moose backup Ken Appleby and the aggressively unorthodox Mikhail Berdin — currently with the ECHL’s Jacksonville Icemen — are nowhere near capable of shouldering NHL backup duties.
Cheveldayoff Could Surprise
These are only three of the main assets the Jets possess. There’s potential for other pieces to go as well: the organization has a number of prospects on the Moose such as Michael Spacek and Jansen Harkins and other draft picks both this year and beyond. There’s also potential for the ever-connected Cheveldayoff to acquire someone no one’s even mentioned or knows is being shopped, as he did with Stastny last season.
While it’s unclear exactly who will go and who will stay, it’s clear the Jets are worth keeping a close eye on as the deadline nears.
Declan Schroeder is a 26-year-old communications specialist and freelance journalist in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He holds a diploma in Creative Communications with a major in journalism from Red River College and a bachelors in Rhetoric and Communications from the University of Winnipeg.
Deeply rooted in the city’s hockey culture, the original Jets skipped town when he was two and the 2.0 version came onto the scene when he was 17.