5 Jets Trade Deadline Targets After Niederreiter Trade

The Winnipeg Jets acquired Nino Niederreiter this past weekend to bolster their top six, but if general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff still fancies his team a buyer despite their recent stretch of hapless play, he must make another move with his remaining cap space.

Niederreiter a Good Addition, But More Is Needed

Niederreiter is undoubtedly a good addition to a pass-happy Jets team. The 30-year-old Swiss product, acquired from the Nashville Predators Saturday for a second-round 2024 pick, is speedy play driver who has strong finishing skills and has provided a reliable scoring punch through his 12-year, 788-game career.

He has recorded as many as 25 goals and 57 points in a season and, with 18 goals and 28 points in 56 games this season, will immediately join the Jets’ top six. He played mainly right wing with the Predators this season but shoots left and can play both sides. During Monday’s line rushes, less than 12 hours after arriving in Winnipeg, he skated on first-line right wing Nikolaj Ehlers are Pierre-Luc Dubois.

Related: Jets Get Outstanding Value in Trade for Nino Niederreiter

“It’s going to be a big boost, absolutely. He makes our top-six better,” head coach Rick Bowness said Sunday after the Jets fell 4-0 to the New York Islanders in another anemic performance. “He’s a bigger guy, a strong guy and he’s going to be around the net. And he’s hard to play against. We need that right now.”

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Niederreiter alone is not enough to turn around a Jets team that’s bumbled through the past six weeks and looks nowhere near ready for primetime nor anything like the strong, stout club that has so much success in the first half. They are losers of five of their past six and just 5-10-0 in their past 15 games, and with the Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild continuing to surge in a “anyone’s-game” West Division, have fallen all the way to the first wild-card spot. Their playoff hopes are in serious jeopardy, with the Seattle Kraken and Calgary Flames knocking at the door.

Niederreiter is on the first year of a two-year deal he signed last summer that carries a $4 million AAV. Cheveldayoff still has nearly $5 million of cap space at his disposal, and he needs to use it to improve the roster — either adding more up front or something to the back end — if the team is going to have any chance at turning things around and making some kind of run.

Kevin Cheveldayoff Winnipeg Jets
Kevin Cheveldayoff, general manager of the Winnipeg Jets (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

As the March 3 deadline inches closer, some names are out, such as Timo Meier (traded from the San Jose Sharks to the New Jersey Devils Sunday) Jonathan Toews (stepped away from hockey again due to his ongoing health issues,) and Ivan Barbashev (traded from the St. Louis Blues to the Vegas Golden Knights Sunday.) Despite that, there are some solid players still available on selling teams.


James van Riemsdyk

Van Riemsdyk is a veteran player on an expiring contract, and to make his $7 million AAV fit, Cheveldayoff would have to send a roster player or two the other way. The Philadelphia Flyers’ left-winger has nine goals and 14 assists for 23 points in 40 games this season and has played more than 900 NHL games over 14 seasons.

James van Riemsdyk Philadelphia Flyers
James van Riemsdyk, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Adding van Riemsdyk could provide the team with some additional middle-six scoring and give third-line centre Adam Lowry, who hasn’t scored in two-and-a-half months, some more talent on his wing. Like Lowry, van Riemsdyk has a workmanlike attitude that head coach Rick Bowness values and has stressed to all his players they must possess.

Max Domi

Max Domi is a middle-six option for the left side or middle as he’s capable of playing wing and centre. The 27-year-old — born in Winnipeg during his father Tie Domi’s last season with the Jets 1.0 — is having a nice offensive season with the Blackhawks, leading the team in goals with 18 and points with 47. Like his dad, he’s no shrinking violet as he has 76 penalty minutes.

Max Domi Chicago Blackhawks
Max Domi, Chicago Blackhawks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Domi has been well-traveled over his eight-year NHL career. He suited up for the Arizona Coyotes, Montreal Canadiens, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Carolina Hurricanes before signing a one-year, $3 million deal with the Blackhawks last summer. It was apparent immediately after the signing he’d likely be flipped at the Deadline for further draft picks.

Domi is logging a career-high 18:17 on a Blackhawks club that is at the beginning stages of a massive rebuild. His potential to add to the Jets’ offensive attack and also bring a bit of sandpaper to the proceedings makes him an intriguing possible rental or rent-and-re-sign candidate.

Nick Schmaltz

Schmaltz is a versatile playmaker who has spent the past five seasons quietly producing for the Arizona Coyotes. He’s another player who has potential to move the needle long-term and become part of the core, whatever that core looks like after next season when Dubois and Mark Scheifele become unrestricted free agents. Some pundits have specifically called Schmaltz, who can play centre and wing, “Dubois insurance.”

The 27-year-old has 17 assists and 39 points for the Coyotes this season, and 189 points in his 245-game NHL career. He was originally selected in the first round, 20th overall, by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2014, and is known to post strong possession metrics. He’s playing on the top line next to Clayton Keller and Barrett Hayton and is averaging nearly 20 minutes per game.

Related: Jets & Coyotes Could Be Beneficial Trade Partners

As appealing as Schmaltz’s skillset is his term, always an important consideration for a small market such as Winnipeg that has trouble competing on the open market. He is currently on the fourth year of a seven-year deal that carries a $5.85 million AAV. Cheveldayoff would need to move out at least one roster player to make Schmaltz’s contract fit, but it could be a move that pays great dividends now and in the future.


Jakob Chychrun

The biggest trade bait blueliner of the Deadline is the Coyotes’ Jakob Chychrun, and the Jets have been rumoured for a month to be in the running for his services. His current AAV, a team-friendly $4.6 million, fits just under the Jets’ current projected cap space.

The Coyotes have already sat out Chychrun for weeks due to “trade-related reasons,” which has become the Trade Deadline buzzword of the year. There’s no doubt whoever acquires the 24-year-old after this prolonged saga finally ends will have made a seismic addition of a top-four talent just entering his prime.

Chychrun would immediately claim the second-pairing left-side job if he were to join the Jets, which would allow Bowness to reunite Dylan DeMelo with Josh Morrissey on the top pairing for good and shelter Neal Pionk, who has struggled, on the third pairing.

In 36 games this season, Chychrun has seven goals and 21 assists for 28 points and is logging more than 23 minutes per game. The Coyotes’ asking price is reported to be massive, and the suitors are many, but if Cheveldayoff still feel this is the year to go all-in, no prospect should be untouchable.

Chychrun would also be more than a rental as he has two years on his contract beyond this season.

Luke Schenn

The Jets have also been rugged veteran defenseman Luke Schenn, who like Chychrun, is being held out due to trade-related reasons.

Schenn, 33, has three goals and 15 assists for 18 points this season, which are his best offensive numbers since 2011-12 with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Saskatoon product has logged an average of 17:11, dished out 258 hits, and has blocked 81 shots.

Luke Schenn Vancouver Canucks
Luke Schenn, Vancouver Canucks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Schenn, on the final year of a two-year deal with an $850,000 AAV, shoots right, and with 918-career NHL games under his belt, would bring an additional veteran presence to the third pair that Dylan Samberg or Logan Stanley do not. He’d also be an insurance policy against injury.

Overall, it’ll be interesting to see which, if any, of these players ends up with the Jets. Of course, Cheveldayoff could have a trick up his sleeve and add someone no one expects, but the most important thing is that he doesn’t stop with Niederreiter.

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