Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff will be presented with some increasingly tough decisions as the April 3 NHL trade deadline nears. The general public perception has vacillated on whether Winnipeg will be wheelers and dealers at the top of the month thanks to to the roller-coaster nature of their March results. At one point clinging to playoff hopes in the Eastern Conference, the Jets have climbed to the top of the Southeast Division — and are now barely hanging on again.
The Jets started off the month by winning seven of 10 before dropping two straight to rapidly-ascending division foe Washington Capitals. After handling the second-placed Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday, it seems that home-and-home disaster with Washington was a mere anomaly and that the Jets could run away with the Southeast. Then the drought set in, as Winnipeg was shutout by the Pittsburgh Penguins late this week before falling behind 2-0 to Carolina early Saturday.
It’s becoming increasingly difficult to gauge whether the Jets should trade off valuable players with expiring contracts like defenseman Ron Hainsey or make moves to win now. While Winnipeg does lead its division, there’s little guarantee of making the postseason if they fall to second down the stretch, with their 38 points currently tied for just a No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference.
The Winnipeg Sun points to some intriguing assets that the Jets possess for trading purposes, including Hainsey, 21-year-old forward Alexander Burmistrov, Nik Antropov and defenseman Grant Clitsome. Ensuing performances against the New York Rangers and New York Islanders could play a role this week.