Saturday, February 4, 2012

Buying, Selling and Horse Trading

By: Mike "BCMike" Fraser
Edited By: Mike "The Deuce" Bailey

Deuce has officially banned me from making any comment about player personnel. After being sold on a Parise for Kane trade by a friend of mine, I betrayed my non expert status by going on line with it.  I was promptly handed my hat with the news that Parise was about to become a UFA next year and therefore the idea was beyond ridiculous.  The muzzle was slapped on and I was told to stick with opinion pieces and leave the fantasy GMing to my betters.

So how does one write anything about the Jets in the time running up to the trade deadline without pontificating about a trade? I wasn’t sure, so I mulled it over. While mulling, I of course monitored Twitter and read the various postings on the message boards. Trade debate flew through the ether and I sat on the sidelines humbly observing the faithful. It was during this time that I noticed something peculiar; the debate was polarizing into two camps.

The ‘tank the season’ crowd is looking hungrily at next year’s crop of draft picks. Their line of thinking is that if we throw in the towel right now and sell off some spare parts we can get some high picks and build from a promising crop of prospects. Admittedly the Jets current prospect cupboard aside from Scheifele is looking a little bare. Common wisdom would suggest that long term winning is a product of building through the draft. A few strategic high round picks could stock this club with talent for years going forward. This crowd dreams of long term dynasties. A little short term pain for some long term gain.

This brings us to the ‘make the play-offs at all costs’ crowd. These fans are in favour of bold moves which could add that infamous missing piece that would help us break through the glass ceiling and into eighth place. They argue that this team has a great young core and that the addition of a proven goal scorer can take us to the Promised Land right now. They suggest dangling draft picks and personnel in front of the leagues sellers in preparation for a playoff push that could lead to who knows where! Their mantra is ‘the time is now!’, and they dream of an inaugural season Stanley Cup. They say bet it all and roll the dice.

I of course I say there must be a third way. Mr. Chipman has often said that he would like to model this club after the storied Detroit Red Wings. If you look at the Red Wings they manage to do something that very few other clubs can: They win and always bring awesome players up through their system.  There is no reason why Winnipeg can’t follow this model, although executing this philosophy is easier said than done. I believe that throwing in the towel and simply rolling over half way into the season would be a huge mistake. This club needs to start out with a philosophy of achievement, and a determination to set up a culture of winning. Making the playoffs should be expected and it should always be the minimum goal of any Winnipeg Jets team no matter how hard they’re struggling to get there. While the play-offs are still attainable, that should be the focus.

Now the question is, do we give anything up to get there? If we’re talking high round draft picks or promising prospects, I say no. Making the playoffs is important, but so too is holding on to our future. Trading parts may be acceptable, if it makes sense, but trading the future is just a little too risky for a club that desperately needs to get some kids into the system.

So what do we do as we approach the deadline? We use common sense. The faithful need to believe that this young corps of players can get them to the playoffs and management needs to identify the baggage. Swapping out the under performers is what the powers that be should be focussed on as we move into the stretch. Add character veterans, or if you can launch a few plumbers in favour of some offense up front.   We all know the Jets have their share of plumbers. But then again trading out parts that don't work for ones that do is the real trick isn’t it?

When looking at the future there should be an extraordinary emphasis on scouting . We need not only to draft high but draft smart. Some of the biggest and brightest stars of the game where drafted late or not drafted at all. Dynasties are built on smart hockey people identifying talent, not just securing high picks. Smart hockey people are the key and I believe True North fully appreciates that.

So there you have it. I’ve managed to get through the Blog without moving any players out of town in favour of end of the season UFA’s .  I believe in this young team and I believe in the organization. Do they need another piece to be great? Yes. Should they trade away the future in search of that piece? Probably not.  At the same time the Jets should still put a winning product on the ice without fearing the loss of a draft pick.

The Jets can have their cake and eat it too. Why not? Detroit manages to.

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