Previously, we took a look at the best moves that the Winnipeg Jets and general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff have made since the team returned to the NHL in 2011. So, obviously, it’s only right to look at the other side of the spectrum with the worst moves the team has made since coming back.
From some poor free agent signings to a couple highly questionable trades, the Cheveldayoff hasn’t been able to bat a perfect 1.000 since taking over GM duties. Then again, what General Manager can honestly say he’s never gotten one wrong?
With that being said, there aren’t too many, but let’s take a look at the worst moves in recent Winnipeg Jets history. The list is in no particular order.
Olli Jokinen — 2 years, $9 million
Back during the summer of 2012, the Jets wanted to bring in some veteran leadership for a young team looking to turn things around after a poor first season in Winnipeg. The signing of Jokinen was originally viewed by many to be a nice signing after the Finland native had produced 61 points in 82 games with the Calgary Flames.
Unfortunately, what the Jets wound up getting was a player who never lived up to the contract in his two seasons with the team. Jokinen scored just 14 points (7+7) in 45 games during his first season with Winnipeg. Though his second season was much better than the first, he only produced 43 points in 82 games before leaving during free agency.
Fans have viewed Jokinen as the stereotypical player who just plays well when a new contract is on the line, which makes him one of the worst moves in recent history.
Devin Setoguchi for a 2014 2nd round pick
When Cheveldayoff acquired Setoguchi during the summer of 2013 for a 2014 2nd round pick, fans were pretty excited about what he could potentially bring to the team.
Though it wasn’t expected for him to produce at the level he did in 2008-09 with San Jose when he had 65 points in 81 games, it was expected that he would help offensively on a team that needed it. However, what the Jets and their fans got was a player who just didn’t consistently perform in his only year with the team.
Setoguchi scored just 11 goals and 27 points in 75 games with the Jets, which didn’t even see him crack the top 10 in terms of points for the team. The fact that Cheveldayoff gave up a 2nd round pick for that type of production easily makes this one of the worst moves in recent history.
Alexei Ponikarovsky — 1 year, $1.8 million
In addition to the aforementioned Jokinen signing, Winnipeg also added the veteran power forward. His sixth team in three years, Ponikarovsky was a cheap free agent addition to a Jets team needing veteran players.
Though his production dropped off severely after his 61 point season with Toronto during the 2008-09 season, Ponikarovsky was a player who was given the opportunity on the top lines with the Jets. Sadly, he didn’t return the favor to then-head coach Claude Noel.
In 12 games with the Jets, Ponikarovsky scored just two goals. His lack of ability to “click in” with the team forced the Jets to deal him less than three weeks into the season.
From the outside, this really doesn’t look like it should belong on any “worst moves” list. However, based on what the team expected and what the Jets actually received while he was with them, the argument can be made that this is one of the worst moves Cheveldayoff has made. The only bright spot is that he was able to two draft picks out of New Jersey in a trade.
Eric Fehr for a prospect and a pick
With the Jets set to return to the NHL in October 2011, the newly-hired Cheveldayoff decided to change up the roster a bit before the start of the season. One of the moves the new GM made was acquiring forward Eric Fehr from the Washington Captials for prospect Danick Paquette and a 4th round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft.
In his first, and only, season with the Jets, Fehr was nothing short of a disappointment. In 35 games with the club, the former Capitals winger scored just two goals and added one assist. Not really the best production by a player who was acquired for two pieces.
Sure, Paquette hasn’t panned out for Washington just yet, but Thomas DiPauli, the player picked with the 4th round pick, is still honing his craft at Notre Dame. Once done there, we’ll know exactly what the Capitals have with the young center.
That being said, the fact that it took two pieces to acquire a player who produced just three points makes the Fehr trade one of the worst in recent history.
Michael is a former Managing Editor for The Hockey Writers. He’s covered the Buffalo Sabres, along with the NHL in general, for various outlets since 2009. His work has been featured on outlets such as Yahoo, Sports Illustrated and Fox Sports.