Winnipeg Jets Hope Slow And Steady Leads To Ultimate Goal

Despite trade rumours swirling around the franchise, the Winnipeg Jets made no big moves at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, this weekend in Philadelphia. General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff was looking to move up in the draft, as well as possibly looking to deal the talented, yet mercurial Evander Kane. However, Cheveldayoff either didn’t see a deal to his liking, or other teams weren’t comfortable with what Cheveldayoff was offering.

Patience Is Required

Which meant the Jets continued to use a slow, patient approach on improving the hockey team. The draft picks the Jets made over the weekend won’t bring immediate help some fans crave, but it does fill up the prospect cupboard, that was pretty empty when the franchise arrived from Atlanta in 2011.

(Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)
(Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)

First round selection Nikolaj Ehlers has plenty of upside, but will need more seasoning as he will play another year with the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL.

Third round pick Jack Glover is headed to the University of Minnesota, to further his education and potential hockey career.

Fourth round pick Chase De Leo also has upside, but one wonders if the 5-9, 178 pound centre is too small for the NHL.

Fourth round pick (the Jets did have 2 fourth round draft picks) Nelson Nogier is a fine skating defenceman, but needs to be a more complete player.

Fifth round pick Clinston Franklin is a potential sleeper and will be one to watch for Team USA at the upcoming World Junior Hockey Championships.

Sixth round pick Pavel Kraskovsky will need to fill out his 6-4 frame.

Seventh round pick Matt Ustaski played in the BCHL, a level below Major Junior Hockey. He will have to succeed at a higher level, if he has any chance of making the NHL.

While all these players have potential, none of them will be in the NHL anytime soon.

Minor Trade

The Jets did make one minor deal on the second day of the draft, shipping goalie Eddie Pasquale and a sixth round pick to the Washington Capitals in exchange for a the Capitals sixth and seventh round picks in the 2014 draft, and a seventh round pick in the 2015 draft. The Jets then subsequently dealt that sixth round pick to the Ottawa Senators for their sixth round pick in the 2015 draft.

With the emergence of Michael Hutchinson as the number one goalie with the St. John’s IceCaps, plus young goalies such as Connor Hellebuyck, Eric Comrie and Jason Kosdorf in the system, Pasquale was deemed expendable by the Jets. A season-ending hip injury and subsequent surgery also weighed heavily in dealing Pasquale.

What’s Next For The Jets

With the compliance buyout timeframe running out, it is highly unlikely the Jets will use one of their two compliance buyouts at this time. Some thought that goalie Ondrej Pavelec would be bought out, as his struggles are well documented. But the Czech Republic Olympian will remain a Jet for the time being.

Then there is free agent frenzy which starts July 1. The Jets have reportedly spoke to the likes of Paul Stastny, Tanner Glass and Brian Boyle about the possibility of signing with the Jets.

Stastny would bring immediate help to the Jets second line, and Boyle would improve the bottom six. But Glass is a player the Jets should avoid.

This isn’t a deep free agent pool this year, so the chances of getting immediate help are slim for the Jets. The building to a contender will be slow. Get used to the long haul Jets fans.