A Winnipeg team that has been wildly inconsistent all season currently finds itself in a predicament. Should Kevin Cheveldayoff be buying or selling? What a serious question for the first-year GM.
With 68 points in the standings, the Jets are slotted in the #8 seed, one point ahead of Washington and two points behind Florida, who lead the Southeast Division and have the #3 seed. About a month ago, you would probably lean more towards the argument of the Jets being sellers, but now the thinking has to be different.
After a hot start, the Panthers have come back down to earth and the Capitals have never really broken out of their season-long funk, even after they fired Bruce Boudreau. After limping into the All-Star break, the Jets have had a pretty solid month since, going 7-4-2 up to this point. They’ve done it with Blake Wheeler leading the way on a 6-game point streak and some strong performances from Ondrej Pavelec.
We learned recently that the Jets may just be looking to add some pieces as Darren Dreger reported recently that the Jets were looking for a defenseman. This is interesting considering Winnipeg boasts a defensive corps that while unspectacular, is pretty reliable including Dustin Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom, Mark Stuart, Johnny Oduya, Ron Hainsey and Zach Bogosian.
Could it be that Oduya, who is a UFA at season’s end, is being shopped and might need a replacement?
It’s quite possible Cheveldayoff is looking to add some firepower up front and he could find some suitors willing to part with NHL-ready prospects. But this doesn’t really help Winnipeg in the short term.
Moving Oduya for a prospect or two, while acquiring a defenseman to replace him may mean the Jets are looking to improve for the long term while also not giving up on their playoff aspirations.
Normally you would expect a team on the bubble to go one way or the other in terms of buying or selling, but Cheveldayoff has a unique situation in Winnipeg. It’s clear the Jets are not a Stanley Cup contender as they don’t really have a bona-fide scorer (Evander Kane isn’t there yet) but making the playoffs provides valuable experience to the players on this team, particularly the younger guys, who haven’t been there yet.
Not to mention how important that making the playoffs in the Jets’ inaugural season would be to the fans, True North and the NHL.
If Cheveldayoff can swing a few deals that set up the Jets for the future while not scrapping their playoff hopes, he has done his job in his first year as General Manager.