Bargain Shopping on UFA day for the Winnipeg Jets
It doesn't take much to see that the Jets are not going to be big spenders when free agency opens today for the NHL. They have been linked to almost no one and certainly not any of the big names out there nor should they be, but the Jets have an opportunity.
With the new that Tyler Myers is all but certain to join the Canucks with a rumored 6 year 30 million dollar offer today that leaves an opening on the right side of the defense. Can he fill that spot via a smart, cost friendly acquisition?
Perhaps looking at Andjrej Sekera who was recently bought out by the Oilers as a one year deal could be an option. Sekera has not been healthy the past two year playing only 36 and 24 games the past two seasons but he does have some defensive upside that may have been missing in Myer's game. One can always be suspect of a player coming out of the Oilers but Sekera might not be too risky at the right term (1 year) and cost (2 million or less) if the right role for him can be found. At age 33 he might a have a few kilometers left in him but proceed with caution.
Another RD that might fall into the same category is Anton Stralman. He is an RD which helps and he might be affordable but also not so easy to entice. Coming out of Tampa Bay the climate adjustment to Winnipeg could be tough but the Jets do offer an interesting opportunity of role and talented team. Stralman would bring some defensive stability without being too risky but again at age 33 as of August 1- father time is knocking on the door.
Another player who might be on the Jets radar due to simply being affordable is Michael Del Zotto. This is by far the biggest buyer beware situation as if the goal is simply to put a body in the place of Myers' former roaming territory then Del Zotto fits that role but does not bring much else. Del Zotto would be a guy who is not as proficient on offense as Myers and brings even more liability on defense. He might be a slight improvement over Ben Chiarot but that's about it.
It would make sense that Kevin Cheveldayoff would want to see where some of his UFAs end up such as Tanev and Chiarot before jumping into the UFA pool, if he does decide to get wet, and he will have time to test the waters. What has to be considered in any shopping spree for the Jets is that they have five roster RFAs to sign and Eric Comrie with 23.872 million to do so and the need to add a few more players as well to have that 23 man roster.
It's not an easy task but it's not impossible either and the Jets did not arrive here without understanding this situation and how to budget for it with their own players and ones they might be interested in adding. The fact that 2 players will likely consume close to 15 million in cap space is where the concern comes and the Jets likely have an idea where they are heading with both Laine and Connor.
Fans will not see those contracts announced today but I suspect Cheveldayoff will be asked about the two in his day-end press conference. Will he be answering any questions about forward acquisitions though?
Should Brandon Tanev move on it seems he's either replaced from within the organization or like the defense scenario, with affordable short term deals. A player to consider might be Markus Granlund who is 'Tanev light' with a bit more competent defensive play. Considering the role that might be open would he be a poor option?
*Edit likely going to the Oilers*
Another player that could be on the Jets radar is Nick Cousins. He has an interesting stat line when it comes to his game, not particularly offensively gifted but does a few thing swell to minimize shot attempts against and plays a bit of heavier feisty game. It might be what the Jets are looking for considering how they Blues played them this past playoffs. He did not receive a qualifying offer from the Coyotes. Some suggest he's that hybrid talent that is good enough to do 4th line time for a team but might be only just above AHL calibre. An affordable deal for him could be exactly in the wheelhouse for Chevy.
Another name that pops up as intriguing to Jets fans is Donskoi who is coming off a 14 goal 37 point season and a 1.9 million salary. Some one is going to throw some money at him and would that be the Jets. Given that Donskoi has a more well-rounded game than Tanev he will likely cost as much but have a bigger impact. It's probably wishful thinking for the Jets but if there is a move that involves shedding salary then he might be the best option for the Jets in terms of value and impact.
*Edit likely going to the Avs*
If the Jets were trying to replace Tanev with a similar player than look no further than Riley Sheahan who is almost identical to Tanev but without the speed. Again this is a tough one because paying Sheahan his current expiring deal 2.1 million or more would be dangerous especially with term but that is also something the Jets have done in the past. Two years ago the Jets offered Mason and Kulikov the exact same contracts that had just expired so perhaps they look at that strategy again with any UFAs they hope to entice.
If the Jets are to make any significant moves or signings a trade to shed some salary will be coming and the two most obvious deals to move are Perreault and Kulikov who make a combined 8.33 million. Add in Roslovic as a trade possibility too, he would be attractive to many teams due to his skill, apparent mis-use or under-use by the Jets, having a new agent, and an entry-level deal. There are some options for the Jets here but it will require some deft moves and perhaps Chevy is waiting on his counterparts to pull the trigger on anything.
The one thing that Jets fans should consider is that there was not much turnover from the roster from 17-18 to 18-19 and the team did not progress past it's high water mark of success. That alone is reason to change some things. Given contracts it appears that change is coming but right now it's rather difficult to project what comes in versus who might go out. There might be the old 'addition by subtraction' scenario but there will be addition to the roster to fill it out. How the Jets add to the roster today and in coming days that could be the only critical factor in change for next season.
As things get set to unfold later today it's like the old Dodge Hemi commercials, 'you're about to find out'.