As the trade deadline approaches every year, contending teams must take stock of all the assets they have at their disposal. Perhaps there is a struggling prospect who could still be of some value to a rebuilding team, or an excess roster player not being used to his full potential. Usually, the asset most commonly discussed is a draft pick, specifically a first-round draft pick.
Every year it is written at some point that teams are loath to part with their first-round selection. The draft is deep, and giving up your first crack at a top prospect is a tough decision. Just today, Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford said on radio that he is trying to avoid trading his first-round pick given the exceptional talent available in June. That might not be the case for the Winnipeg Jets. Today in an update of the TSN Trade Bait board, reporter Frank Seravalli writes that the Jets’ first-round pick is “in play” for the deadline again this year.
The Jets moved a first-round pick last season to acquire Paul Stastny, and Seravalli notes that this time around the team is still looking for an answer in that second-line center spot. Still, the team has being inquiring about names like Mark Stone, Wayne Simmonds and Micheal Ferland, all natural wingers and all pending unrestricted free agents.
Winnipeg is in an obvious win-now situation, given their position in the Western Conference standings. Now four points ahead of the Nashville Predators and 12 points clear of the Dallas Stars in the Central Division, the Jets look as ready as any team to compete for the Stanley Cup this season. Their depth is already an incredible strength of the team, shown blatantly by the recent play of young Jack Roslovic. The barely 22-year old forward was seeing fewer than ten minutes of ice time on most nights before a recent move up the lineup card, and now is fresh off taking home first star of the week honors.
Players like Roslovic are exactly why the Jets are able to move their first-round pick if they so choose. The team has hit on so many of their draft picks the last few years that another season without a top selection is acceptable. It’s not ideal, and certainly not something you want to make a habit of, but obviously an acceptable risk the team will take over the next few weeks.