Friday, February 24, 2012

Trade Bait 3: The Trade Winds Are Blowing

By: Tim "Bones" Bonnar

The trade winds are blowing. We have already seen a few moves, the most recent of which makes Jeff Carter a King. The Jets have been quiet so far, but that doesn’t mean any of our pending UFAs are out of the woods. Let’s continue our look at players who may or may not move at the deadline. This time we will look at defense and goaltending.

Pending UFAs:

Johnny Oduya – Oduya is probably the Jets’ most moveable player at the deadline. He has had some major highs and lows this season, but he’s settled in as a very solid bottom pairing defenseman.  Oduya is a very smooth skater and while he doesn’t score at an elite level, he is a solid puck mover. He has also been arguably the Jets most effective penalty killer.

Defensemen have been a hot commodity at the deadline and Oduya could spark the interest of a couple teams. That said, Johnny isn’t the typical deadline D man. Most teams look to add either an offensive defenseman or a large physical presence the will help them grind in the playoffs. Oduya doesn’t quite fit either of those descriptions, which will limit the market and thus limit his value.

Will the Jets resign Johnny Oduya? Realistically, I can’t see it happening. I have nothing against Johnny Oduya, I like his game, but he’s overpaid and the Jets have a number of prospects that they would like to give a shot in the bigs. Short term, Mark Flood or Randy Jones would be the most likely to fill in, but next season is anybody’s guess. Paul Postma and Zach Redmond were both AHL All Stars this season. Additionally Arturs Kulda and Brett Festerling have spent time playing for the Jets and done an admirable job.

Moving Oduya might represent a small let down for the Jets on ice product, but it wouldn’t be a major drop off. The Jets have shown the ability to weather losses of their big three defensemen, they surely could survive the loss of a bottom pairing player. The Jets have proven they have multiple players capable of stepping up and doing a good job.  If a team is willing to send the Jets a 2nd round pick in exchange for Oduya’s services, I think they have to take it.

Randy Jones - Jones is firmly entrenched as the Jets 7th defenseman, but he is also a pending UFA. Jones is a serviceable and versatile player. He has good size and he can play in all situations. That said Jones isn’t the kind of player that a playoff team would add to bolster their top six. If a team made a move to add Jones it would be all about depth.

Will the Jets resign Randy Jones? Jones is in a similar situation to Johnny Oduya. He has played well, but he won’t likely be back with the Jets. The Jets simply have too many players in the pipeline that can fill the 7th defenseman role. If they Jets can land anything in exchange for Jones they will definitely have to consider the possibility.
Mark Flood – Mark Flood is another interesting deadline piece. He has played 29 games for the Jets this season and he has played well in those games. He has also been trusted with a decent amount of playoff time in those games (more that Hainsey or Oduya). I like Flood and I am truthfully not sure what Jones has done to usurp him. Combine that with his tiny tiny contract and he could be a commodity.
Will the Jets resign Mark Flood? Mark has reportedly been told that he should look for a permanent home in Winnipeg, so chances are he won’t be moved at the deadline. You also have to think this means he is part of the Jets long term plans.  I am really curious to see how things play out with Flood, the Jets do have a number of players who will be pushing him for his roster spot. I like his game, but am surprised they aren’t looking at Flood as a movable asset.

Chris Mason – Chris Mason has been an ideal backup goaltender this season. He has been solid if not spectacular in most of his showings and is numbers / win percentage are one par with what Pavi has done. Additionally, Mason really enjoys being a Jet. He was one of the first Thrasher players to vocally support the idea and he is a good locker room guy.  There are a few teams on the playoff bubble that are looking to strengthen their goal tending, could one of them look to the Jets and Mason as their cure? 

Will the Jets resign Chris Mason? I think there is a very good chance that the Jets bring back Mason for the next couple of seasons. Most teams that are looking for goalies are looking for starters. I am not sure anybody will want Mason for that role. Additionally, the Jets don’t have a ready replacement if they move Mason. 

Peter Mannino was called up for one game earlier this season, but he was sent down form the Ice Caps to the ECHL. He is also a pending UFA, he isn’t the answer either short term or long term. Aside from Mannino the Jets have Eddie Pasquale and David Aebischer. Aebesher is an NHL flame out and he is not putting up great AHL numbers. Pasquale is a promising prospect who is probably a year or two away from assuming an NHL backup role. He may eventually replace Chris Mason, but he isn’t ready to do so right now. I am not sure trading Mason would be a wise move.

Non UFAs:

Ron Hainsey – Jets fans are taken aback by Hainsey’s contract and have been holding him to unfair and standard. Yes he is over paid, but he is a solid two way defender. His contract also makes him really hard to move. A playoff team that is looking for a short term rental won’t look at Hainsey. He could however be a prime candidate for a deadline move next season.

Derrick Meech – Meech is a pending UFA, but I didn’t include him in the first grouping because he isn’t a candidate for trade. Injuries have derailed his season and potentially his career. I would like to wish upon him a quick recovery.

Paul Postma/ Brett Festerling / Arturs Kulda / John Negrin – These are all prospects that have been or are considered NHL caliber prospects. Negrin was a recent addition via trade, but the other three have all been called up to the big team this season. They are also pending RFAs. To be clear I don’t believe the Jets will be looking to trade any of these players, they will probably resign them all. That said, if the Jets do make a move to buy a player… one of these three will likely be part of the deal.

What do I think the Jets will do?

I don’t see the Jets being too active in the coming days. If they make any trades, they will likely be for picks or prospects. The most likely player to move is probably Oduya. If they could move him for a second round draft pick, that would be a win for the team. If they could move Oduya and Fehr for a young player that is close to NHL ready, that would be a big win.  Doing nothing wouldn’t be a loss. 

Are you guys ready to hurry up and wait?

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