The Winnipeg Jets and asset management

Marianne Helm

Asset management is a key piece to building a successful franchise, as is signing and drafting players. How does Winnipeg stack up against two other teams in the league and who should they try to emulate?

Method: I took three teams: the Winnipeg Jets, the Chicago Blackhawks, and the Detroit Red Wings and looked at players that they had brought in and players that they had lost since the 2011-2012. I chose Detroit because they are often talked about as the best team in regards to both player development and free agency. I chose Chicago because they have won two Stanley Cups in four years and are consistently making moves that are lauded by the Fancy Stats community.

Data:

Winnipeg Jets: Player Recruitment (all ages are current)

Player Age Acquired For
Eric Fehr 28 Trade (Danick Paquette and a fourth)
Kyle Wellwood 27 Free Agent Signing
Mark Flood 29 Free Agent Signing
Tanner Glass 30 Free Agent Signing
Randy Jones 32 Free Agent Signing
Grant Clitsome 28 Waivers
Antti Miettinen 33 Waivers
Alexei Ponikarovsky 34 Free Agent Signing
Anthony Peluso 24 Waivers
Al Montoya 29 Free Agent
Eric Tangradi 25 Trade (seventh round pick)
Mike Santorelli 28 Waivers
Michael Frolik 26 Trade(third and fifth round picks)
Devin Setoguchi 27 Trade (second round pick)
James Wright 24 Waivers

The Jets have signed a lot of bad free agents (the best being Al Montoya and Alexei Ponikarovsky) and have acquired five players off of waivers.

Player Retention

Player Age Asset Received/Current League
Nik Antropov 34 Nothing/KHL
Alexander Burmistrov 22 Nothing/KHL (could return)
Eric Fehr 28 Nothing/NHL
Kyle Wellwood 28 Nothing/DEL
Mark Flood 29 Nothing/AHL
Tanner Glass 30 Nothing/NHL
Ron Hainsey 33 Nothing/NHL
Randy Jones 32 Nothing/AHL
Arturs Kulda 25 Nothing/KHL (Jets property)
Chris Mason 37 Nothing/Italy-A
Antti Miettinen 33 Nothing/Swiss-A
Johnny Oduya 32 Trade/NHL(2nd and 3rd round picks)
Tim Stapleton 31 Nothing/KHL
Alexei Ponikarovsky 34 Trade/KHL (7th and 4th round picks)
Mike Santorelli 28 Nothing/NHL

*included by accident, but he played NHL games for the Jets!!!!

Next up is the Pantheon of player development and asset management; the Detroit Red Wings. Before showing this a couple of caveats: a) they have 11 players this year who are 30 or older and b) I am a big Mike Babcock fan, but have cooled off considerably to Ken Holland. You will see why.

Detroit Red Wings: Player Recruitment

Player Age Acquired For
David Legwand 33 Trade (Calle Jankork, Patrick Eaves, pick)
Kyle Quincey 28 First Round Pick
Fabian Brunnstrom 29 Free Agent Signing
Mike Commodore 34 Free Agent Signing
Ty Conklin 38 Free Agent Signing
Chris Conner 30 Free Agent Signing
Damian Brunner 28 Free Agent Signing
Kent Huskins 34 Free Agent Signing
Ian White 29 Free Agent Signing
Daniel Alfredsson 41 Free Agent Signing

Player Retention

Player Age Asset Received/Current League
Fabian Brunnstrom 29 Nothing/Swedish Hockey League
Mike Commodore 34 Nothing/KHL
Ty Conklin 38 Nothing/Retired
Cris Conner 30 Nothing/AHL
Kent Huskins 34 Nothing/AHL
Ian White 29 Nothing/KHL
Damian Brunner 28 Nothing/NHL

The Detroit Red Wings only let one NHL player go without compensation, but that leaves me to question how good they are at signing players in the first place.

The Chicago Blackhawks: Player Recruitment

Player Age Acquired For
Johnny Oduya 32 Second and third round picks
David Rundblad 23 Second round pick
Kris Versteeg 27 Jimmy Hayes and Dylan Olsen
Michal Handzus 37 Fourth round pick
Brendan Morrison 38 Brian Connelly
Peter Regin* 27 Fourth round pick
Rostislav Olesz^ 28 Brian Campbell
Sheldon Brookbank 33 Free Agent Signing
Antti Raanta 24 Free Agent Signing
Nikolai Khabibulin 41 Free Agent Signing

*Pierre-Marc Bouchard was included in this trade as well

^Salary dump of the contract that Tallon signed Campbell to.

Player Retention

Player Age Asset Received/Current League
David Bolland 27 Second and two fourth round picks
Brandon Pirri 23 Third and fifth round picks
Jimmy Hayes/Dylan Olsen 24/23 Kris Versteeg
Michael Frolik 26 Jack Skille/Hugh Jessiman/David Pacan
Viktor Stalberg 28 Nothing/Nashville
Ryan Stanton 24 Waived
Brian Campbell 34 Rostislav Olesz
John Scott 31 Fifth round pick
Sami Lepisto 29 Nothing/KHL
Rostislav Olesz 28 Nothing/Swiss-A
Jamal Mayers 39 Retired
Steve Montador 34 Bought Out/KHL
Sean O'Donnell 42 Retired
Brendan Morrison 38 Retired*

*has not filed his papers, but is not playing anywhere

This is where Chicago really stands out. While they struggle with free agent signings for the most part, Stan Bowman has begun to avoid those and instead will draft and develop players who will then either make the Blackhawks like Brandon Saad or be traded away for players that will help them right now like Kris Versteeg. Smart trades and good drafting is what makes the Hawks who they are.

Analysis: Free Agency is not a place to make hay. For any team. Where Chicago really separates themselves from both Winnipeg and Detroit is trades. Without giving up a first round pick they have made some savvy moves for depth players that are skilled. One thing that should be noticed is that a team lacking depth should go after Chicago for players like Brandon Pirri, who is performing well in Florida. Bowman is willing to move players to fit both the current needs and help the future of the Blackhawks.

Summary: The Detroit Model is often used when talking about building a winning franchise and while in the past Detroit has dominated the NHL, Chicago seems to have a better model for building a consistently strong team. From little moves, like acquiring Michael Frolik or Peter Regin, to drafting well enough that trading a couple of prospects for picks is something that needs to be done in order to allow that player to play at the level that they deserve to, Chicago leads the way in this regard. Chicago's trump card is drafting. Much of their depth players were drafted and developed by them, as are many of their top players.

Instead of trying to build off of the Nashville Model or the Detroit Model, Kevin Cheveldayoff should look to where he came from and start making small, savvy moves to build up the Jets and not worry about any top end players. Also, avoid the Sheldon Brookbank's and Mark Stuart's. Wait. it's too late for that one.

In brief, for low risk trades and less waiver wire.

*Disclaimer: I know that some moves are missing. There are some players who I either missed or simply played one or two games. There are also players that played under 10 games on this list. I believe I managed to include all the key moves as well as some fringe ones.

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