COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 20: Antoine Vermette #50 of the Columbus Blue Jackets checks Zach Redmond #59 of the Winnipeg Jets during their game on September 20, 2011. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
Hey all and welcome to the Arctic Ice Hockey Mailbag! This will be a regular feature on the site, covering any questions you may have pertaining to the Winnipeg Jets. In order to kick your work weeks off right, join us every Monday for the publication of your comments along with the thought provoking responses of Tim and the snarky retorts of yours truly. Unforunately, we were late getting our act together this week and are running on Wednesday instead. Sorry dudes, our bad!
In this weeks premiere edition, we discuss on the NHL future of University of Omaha-Nebraska forward Jason Megna, the logjam of right-handed defensemen in the system and the possibility of a playoff appearance next spring.
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FlashJet: Will Jayson Megna sign with the Winnipeg Jets, given their ties with the University of Omaha-Nebraska?
Trevor: At this juncture, I would predict the front runner on Megna to be the Pittsburgh Penguins. I say this because he has a familiarity with the franchise after spending his first week in July at their Development Camp. While with the Penguins, Jayson decided he was ready to turn pro, so there’s going to be some comfortability with that franchise. I also factor in that Megna was only a Maverick for one season, so I’m not sure if the opportunity to play with other former alumni would be that alluring of a situation for him.
chewybaccawooki: Do you think our Jets are going to make the playoffs this year? I like the chances. Thoughts?
Tim: I think there is a very good chance that the Jets make the playoffs this year. At minimum, they should be on the precipice of the playoff bubble come April. Yes, the Carolina Hurricanes and Tampa Bay Lightning have improved, but I still see the Jets as one of the most improved teams in the NHL since the end of the year. Five more wins over the course of the season (a 10 point improvement) should be attainable. If the Jets don't improve, it will be a major let down as it will likely be the result of the team’s younger players regressing significantly.
I see Ondrej Pavelec as the Jets most polarizing player. The difference between the team’s success or failure likely rides with him. If he can rebound to his 2010-11 form -- or better yet improve upon it -- the Jets will be in the playoffs. Should they fall short, I think even the most staunch Pavelec apologists may be worried about his future.
Garret H.: Would you consider this to be year two of a rebuild due to change in management, or has the process been a continuation of what began in Atlanta? What steps does TNSE need to take to get this team to the next level?
Trevor: I think the contract extensions of Ondrej Pavelec, Andrew Ladd and Tobias Enstrom portray that current management is satisfied with many of the pieces Don Waddell and Rick Dudley had put in place before the sale of the franchise. Had Kevin Cheveldayoff made a significant overhaul to the core of this roster, I think that your former assertion would be correct. TNSE has made a few free agent signings the past two offseasons to bolster their line-up and put their own stamp on the roster, but that can hardly be seen as restarting a rebuild.
I’d say the current rebuild is coming into its fourth year, given what we know about how this team was structured when it came here. As for what the team needs to take the next step in their rebuild, the Jets have come a long way in solidifying their roster the recent additions of Olli Jokinen and Alexei Ponikarovsky, as well as the retention of Kyle Wellwood. What they will need in order to become a perennial contender is for prospects the likes of Mark Scheifele and Jacob Trouba to pan out so they can fill the remaining holes in their roster in a cost effective manner, keeping them out of the fiduciary harm of their self imposed soft cap.
Paul P.: What do you think the Jets will do with their plethora of right handed defensemen (Dustin Byfuglien, Zach Bogosian, Paul Postma, Zach Redmond, Jacob Trouba)? That’s five top level players all at the same position.
Tim: This is an interesting question that may present a dilemma for the Jets going forward. Unless Claude Noel can shift one of these guys to the left side, I could easily see one, if not two of these defensemen being moved at some point. If the Jets decide they need to make a move sooner rather than later, Postma would be the most logical player to discard. NHL clubs seem to value offensive upside, even if that talent comes with defensive let downs. Moreover, I can't see a player like Redmond having immense value outside of the organization making it worthless to move him. That said, I don't see TNSE rushing to make any major moves with any of their current stable of defensemen. Postma and Redmond are currently unknown quantities and Trouba is still a couple years away. When Trouba is ready, it may be time to move Big Buff and give Bogosian a spot on the first pairing. Then again, a lot can change in two years.