With the Winnipeg Jets already in offseason mode, looking towards who they will draft and which free agents need to be re-signed, they seem to have found a significant issue in their roster for next season.
With seven defensemen already under contract for the 2015-16 season and four more who are becoming free agents come July 1st, the Jets blue line is crowded to say the least. Keeping in mind that they could definitely use some extra and/or upgraded depth players up front, a trade could definitely be brewing in Winnipeg.
Aside from the defensemen they had last year, the Jets also have a few great prospects coming up in Jan Kostalek and Josh Morrissey. Both players won their respective leagues, the QMJHL and the WHL and went on to the Memorial Cup. Each prospect progressed very well this season, with Kostalek being a great surprise. Both players could challenge for a roster spot come September, which further complicates the Winnipeg Jets blueline.
Who Could Be on Their Way Out?
The four safe d-men would seem to be made up of Jacob Trouba, Tobias Enstrom, Tyler Myers and Dustin Byfuglien. Aside from them, no one is safe.
Mark Stuart: $2.625 million through 2017-18.
At 6’2, 213 pounds, Stuart adds some more size on the blueline. He’s an assistant captain for the Winnipeg Jets as well. He won’t ever put up a lot of points, but he understands his role as a defensive defenceman. He’s a top four d-man in the NHL and at 31 years old, he should still have a while to play. He could bring back a solid depth player and an average draft pick.
Grant Clitsome: $2.067 million through 2015-16.
Clitsome didn’t get as much playing time with the Winnipeg Jets as he may have liked last season, only playing in 24 games. Like Stuart, he isn’t a point producing defenceman. He’d also be considered a fairly small guy, standing at 5’11. Although he does have the ability to play in the NHL, there may not be space in Winnipeg, nor a ton of interest from other teams.
Jay Harrison: $1.125 million through 2015-16.
Harrison was acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes in December of 2014 for a 6th round pick. He played in 35 games for the Jets. He became a solid and reliable defenceman in Carolina, and was able to prove his worth in Winnipeg. With a low salary, teams near the cap may be interested. Winnipeg would likely receive a low draft pick.
What Do the Jets Need?
With just seven forwards signed for next season, the Winnipeg Jets desperately need some help up front. Assuming they won’t be able to re-sign every forward they’d like to, the Jets could use an extra forward at the dispense of one of their defensemen.
When they finally brought the playoffs back to Winnipeg this year, they were unable to muster a single win. Many aspects led to this, but a major one was the lack of depth the Jets boasted. All great playoff teams have four lines they can confidently roll, and until Winnipeg has that, they will be unsuccessful.
The guy who most likely seems to be on his way out is Mark Stuart, who could garner lets of interest and a decent return to fill some significant holes up front for the Winnipeg Jets.
Who do you think the Winnipeg Jets will trade? Discuss in the comments below!
Contributor for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Prospects. Scout with the Oakville Blades of the OJHL. For questions, concerns, or comments, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @SlawsonTHW.