Image courtesy of Sporting News

Winnipeg Jets trade
– 2018 first round pick, lottery protected
– Erik Foley
– 2020 conditional fourth round pick
St Louis Blues trade
– Paul Stastny
– Blues retain 50% of his salary

The 2018 NHL trade deadline was seemingly shaping up to be just another uneventful day for the Winnipeg Jets and this was actually a bit of a surprise. There had been rampant speculation that Kevin Cheveldayoff had been in on a few big deals that fell through. A hard push for Derick Brassard ended up with him in Pittsburgh (under some interesting circumstances) and with players like Rick Nash and Tomas Plekanec staying out East, the options started to look like they were dwindling down for the Jets GM.
With all the names on the trade board either depth forwards or impact wingers (two things the Jets were ripe with) it was hard to imagine a great fit anywhere. The feeling started to creep in that the opportunity to add might have passed.
Then with only 3 hours left a shocking trade announcement hit the airwaves. Paul Stastny had been moved from the division rival St Louis Blues to the Winnipeg Jets (with the Blues agreeing to retain 50% of his salary). The return for Stastny is Winnipeg’s 2018 first round pick, NCAA forward prospect Erik Foley and a conditional fourth round pick in 2020.
The first round pick is lottery protected, meaning if the Jets miss the playoffs and pick anywhere in the top 3, the pick would stay with the Jets and the Blues would get the Jets first round pick in 2019 instead. If Erik Foley chooses not to sign with St Louis before the end of next season (2018-2019) he would become an unrestricted free agent, if this happens the Blues get the Jets fourth round pick in 2020, if he does sign with the Blues, no extra pick is sent from the Jets.
Okay now that we got the technical mumbo-jumbo out of the way, what does this mean for the Winnipeg Jets and their quest to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup? In my opinion it makes them a legitimate Cup contender. The domino effect on the rest of the roster transforms this group from a dangerous one, to an elite one. I don’t use that word lightly, either.

Stastny brings a level of offensive creativity balanced with responsible two way play to the top 9 centre ice position that the Jets were previously missing. His vision and passing ability and experience playing with big time snipers will help him acclimate quickly to setting up players like Laine and Ehlers in scoring situations. The Jets have a history of moving wingers around during games and the centres on the team need to be adaptable and ready to play with new line-mates. Stastny is exactly that kind of player.
Adding the 32-year-old pivot didn’t cost Kevin Cheveldayoff anything off of the NHL roster, and the team is now loaded for what could possibly be a deep playoff run.
With the Jets moving their 2018 first and fourth round picks today, they will have a second, a third, 2 fifths, a sixth and a seventh round draft pick in June for the NHL’s Entry Draft. So they hardly mortgaged the future, as some fans were worried about.
The current roster make up would lead you to believe this is your top 12 forward group:

Kyle Connor – Mark Scheifele – Blake Wheeler
Mathieu Perreault – Bryan Little – Jack Roslovic
Patrik Laine – Paul Stastny – Nikolaj Ehlers
Andrew Copp – Adam Lowry – Joel Armia (Brandon Tanev)

Now you can mix and match the wingers in different fashions depending on chemistry and style of play but having Mark Scheifele, Bryan Little, Paul Stastny and Adam Lowry down the middle is something very few teams can match. Paired up with established NHL stars in Blake Wheeler and Mathieu Perreault, young offensive dynamos in Kyle Connor, Patrik Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers and the shutdown duo of Andrew Copp with Adam Lowry, this roster does not have a hole. Paul Maurice has been given ten players who are “top 6” quality. This will allow for a lineup where the team can consistently roll four lines and not worry about matchups. Home or on the road, we’ll have always have a matchup we can exploit.
The Winnipeg Jets had assembled one of the deepest rosters in the league prior to this trade and they were starting to gain national attention but with this surprise add, pundits and fans across the country have really taken notice.
Coming into February 26th, only two teams in the NHL, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Vegas Golden Knights, averaged more goals per game than the Jets with their 3.32 average. Adding a player the quality of Stastny only works to improve that number.
To get a small peek into Pauls’ mind here are a couple of his quotes after hearing the trade to Winnipeg had been finalized:
“I think because it’s Winnipeg, there is a lot of excitement there,” Stastny told TSN. “When you look at that roster, or playing against them for the 2-3 years, it’s a team that plays a high-quality game, offensively a juggernaut. Looking at the roster top to bottom, that was one of the favorites to come out of the West. When a team like that has an interest, it means a lot. … I don’t know who I’ll be playing with, I’m just there to be myself and make those players better.”

Stastny then said of his relationship with Jets captain Blake Wheeler: “He’s a guy that I’ve been close with, we have a couple mutual friends, and so I’ve known him for a while. I’ve been playing against him and looking at their roster top to bottom, that’s a quality team that has a great chance to go far. Nothing’s guaranteed. I know that, but if I can help in any way, that’s what I’m going to do.”
I don’t know what this trade will mean come April, May, or June. I don’t know if Stastny will re-sign in the summer. I don’t know if Erik Foley or this year’s first round pick will amount to NHL players one day. What I do know, is that one of the best teams in the league just got even better, they are fully stocked for their first real playoff run and the organization showed the fans they are willing to bet on this group and that they’re ready to win.

It’s been a long time running
It’s well worth the wait

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