As Tessa Bonhomme pointed out on Tuesday night’s “Insider Trading” segment on TSN, the Winnipeg Jets are in the unenviable position of needing help at center and on defense, often hard positions to replace in-season. Injuries down the middle have caused center to become an issue for the Jets, but few will be surprised to hear that Darren Dreger says that addressing the blue line remains Winnipeg’s priority ahead of the NHL Trade Deadline. Defense was an obvious weak point for Winnipeg from day one of the 2019-20 season, following the departures of Jacob Trouba, Tyler Myers, and Ben Chiarot this off-season and the unexpected absence of Dustin Byfuglien as well. While Josh Morrissey and Neal Pionk have played well this season, the rest of the D corps remains underwhelming and ill-equipped to handle the pressures of the postseason. Dreger confirms that the Jets are specifically looking for a top-four defenseman, as they need more than just depth additions to fix the blue line. He says that the team will consider both rentals and term players when evaluating trade options but will have to keep in mind the team’s salary cap situation, both this year and moving forward.
- One player being targeted by the Jets as a possible stopgap to their defensive woes is San Jose Sharks rearguard Brenden Dillon, according to Pierre LeBrun. Dillon has been one of the most talked about trade candidates in recent weeks, as the Sharks are eager to sell, but short on impending free agents, making the big defenseman a near certainty to move. LeBrun believes that at least six NHL teams are firmly in on Dillon, which is a number likely to increase as the trade deadline grows closer. LeBrun speculates that the asking price for Dillon, who is strictly a stay-at-home, shutdown defender, could rise to a second-round pick and prospect. Other than Winnipeg, two other teams that LeBrun named as suitors are the Boston Bruins, who are looking to add physicality and grit to their lineup, and the Carolina Hurricanes, who lost Dougie Hamilton to injury but have the cap space to replace him regardless of their blue line depth.
- Another player sure to have a number of suitors is Ottawa Senators center Jean-Gabriel Pageau. The Senators will try to re-sign him, but Pageau is enjoying a breakout year and the market for centremen is very thin. LeBrun states that Pageau is the top pivot available and Ottawa could command a first-round pick. Whether they opt to re-sign him or not could depend on how far the bidding war reaches for his services. LeBrun does note that a number of teams with obvious needs down the middle are also not locks for the postseason, which could influence Pageau’s price and possibly convince the Senators to pull him off the market. The teams specifically named by LeBrun include the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, New York Islanders, and Philadelphia Flyers. Of course, the Jets could also be contenders if they decide to load up.