The Winnipeg Jets are well on their way to the playoffs. In the stretch run and ahead of the trade deadline they may be buyers for the first time in years.
With the Jets as deep as they’ve ever been at all positions, the question is what could they add? The consensus among most observers is the Jets will be buyers. So what might they buy?
Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun was the first to float the idea. He pointed out in his article that the Senators are a long way outside the playoff picture and Brassard is not a rental player due to his contract. With Mark Scheifele out for a while yet, the Jets could use a bit of help up front.
You don't replace a Mark Scheifele but Jets do have terrific depth up front. And while internal options are obviously there, I do believe GM Kevin Cheveldayoff will start making calls around the league just to see what's going on… Only makes sense https://t.co/11XFVpU1NB
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) December 28, 2017
Wanting to trade for a player is not enough, however. There are a lot of questions that need answering before a trade can be completed. The first of which is, do the Senators even want to move Brassard?
In a year where the Sens haven’t even ruled out trading the NHL’s best defenseman, no one is totally safe. Brassard’s playoff pedigree and veteran presence, may make him tough to move.
Brassard’s 28 points in 47 games and lengthy playoff resume (he was part of the Rangers’ run to the cup finals in 2014 and the Sens impressive showing last year) will make him a tempting target. The Sens will doubtless get calls on him.
A bidding war for Brassard would only drive his potential cost up. So what might Brassard bring to the Jets, and would he be worth what he’ll cost?
Brassard Could Steady Young Jets
As good as this Winnipeg Jets team has been, they have virtually zero playoff experience. Not making the playoffs since 2015 has that effect. It’s been a long time for many Jets, and some have never seen the postseason at all.
The Jets playoff rookies include Patrik Laine, Nikolaj Ehlers, Kyle Connor, Josh Morrissey and Joel Armia. Scheifele, Jacob Trouba, Adam Lowry and Bryan Little have fewer games between all of them than Brassard had just last year.
Dustin Byfuglien has a Stanley Cup ring, but he’s eight years removed from that cup run with Chicago. Blake Wheeler’s 21 postseason games with the Boston Bruins also ended in 2010 and he’s played just four since.
Brassard has 78 playoff games to his name in his NHL career. Impressively, the former sixth overall pick has 55 points in those games. He’s one of those rare and important players that steps it up in the playoffs.
Even when Scheifele returns, the Jets could still use some veteran help up front. Between injuries and inexperience, the bottom six has been ugly at times. Brassard could be a calming influence and another weapon up front for a Jets team with plenty of them.
The other nice thing about Brassard is he’s not just a rental. His contract is worth $5 million dollars, but it expires after next year, meaning he’s not just a rental.
Of course, $5 million is not cheap, and Brassard may not be cheap in another sense as well. Just because the Senators aren’t likely to use Brassard in the playoffs doesn’t mean they’ll give him away.
Brassard Could be Costly
Last year the trade deadline market for forwards wasn’t earth-shattering. It’s tough to find a comparable for Brassard in last year’s shuffles, but if Viktor Stalberg cost Ottawa a third-rounder, you can bet Brassard won’t come cheaply. At that same deadline, the Sens paid the steep price of Jonathan Dahlen for Alex Burrows.
The Senators also had some say in the forward market of last year, paying a steep price for Matt Duchene. Now, no one is confusing Brassard with Duchene, but the premium the Senators paid did set something of a precedent for this year.
In that same vein, Adam Henrique, who has similar numbers to Brassard, cost Anaheim Sami Vatanen. So the market for forwards is high.
The Jets do have a surplus of forward prospects and someone is going to have to go because there simply isn’t enough ice time to go around. But who? Jets fans might riot if the Jets move Nic Petan, but Petan might be what it takes.
The Jets have shown themselves to be loath to trade draft picks. The Senators, who are seemingly about to enter a rebuild, may insist on it, however.
No doubt some will be upset by the notion of trading Petan, but among Jets forward prospects (Connor is not among this number anymore) the only untouchable forward is Jack Roslovic. Mason Appleton and Brendan Lemieux are unlikely to move either.
Jets fans can take comfort from one thing, however. When Kevin Cheveldayoff makes a trade, which hasn’t been often in recent years, he usually does well. Getting Marko Dano and a first rounder for two months of Andrew Ladd was brilliant. And the Evander Kane trade looks better for the Jets every day.
Injuries and mounting pressure to win are going to force Cheveldayoff’s hand this year. A move is coming. It might be a move for Derick Brassard, and the Jets would be better for it. Just don’t expect to get him for pennies.