When you think about it, It's actually quite brilliant.
Losers of four-straight and six of their last eight, the Southeast Division leading Winnipeg Jets stood pat at the trade deadline likely because they realize that this current roster is well on their way to finishing in the basement of the Eastern Conference. After finding out that they have lost Nik Antropov to a lower-body injury for the next two weeks and replacing him with a less-than-capable replacement in waiver-wire pickup Mike Santorelli, the team actually got worse and now have their glance firmly placed on a top-5 draft pick this summer. And they did this without hurting anyone's feelings and trading away any pending UFA's. So good!
Despite holding on to the 3rd-place position in the East, the Jets (18-18-2, 38 points) remain only 6 points ahead of the 14th-place Tampa Bay Lightning who have 3 games in hand and acquired G Ben Bishop to fill a blatant need they had. In fact, the Jets have played the most games in the league and every team has games in hand on them. And instead of making a move to unload some pending UFA's or attempting to fill the need on the right-wing opposite of Evander Kane, the Jets remain virtually devoid of talent and will need to put Dustin Byfuglien up as a forward to make room for 19-year-old Jacob Trouba on the blue-line. I'm not sure if either of these are good ideas.
So, assuming that Buff is a forward for the remainder of the year, that gives us a top-6 of Andrew Ladd, Blake Wheeler, Bryan Little (who have zero points combined in their last 5 games), Evander Kane, Olli Jokinen and Dustin Byfuglien. And with Antro hurt, that leaves a bottom six where Coach Noel can mix-and-match Kyle Wellwood, Mike Santorelli, Eric Tangradi, Alexander Burmistrov, Chris Thorburn, Patrice Cormier, Antti Miettinen, Jim Slater, Anthony Peluso and James Wright. Did I mention that those ten players have combined for 13 goals all season. Yippee!
And if Buff is up front, that leaves Zach Bogosian, Tobias Enstrom, Ron Hainsey, Paul Postma, Mark Stuart, Derek Meech, Arturs Kulda and Jacob Trouba. I have no idea how you put together this mishmash of talent, but I'm sure Coach Noel will mess it up. I can't wait to see Hainsey play even more important minutes...
Oh, and speaking of Hainsey, he's still a pending UFA. Antropov, Wellwood, Miettinen, Meech and now Santorelli are as well. And they could all walk away and give the Jets nothing in return except cap space. Fantastic!
I wish that all of this above was complete satire, but while it is over the top in its delivery it isn't that far off from what I actually think. And with the Capitals getting stronger for the stretch drive by giving up prized prospect Filip Forsberg for Martin Erat, things go from bad to worse. The Capitals, may I remind you, are only two points back with two games in hand. And that guy that the Penguins traded for today, Jussi Jokinen? Yeah, we could have picked him up on waivers last week when all he cost was next years salary. And that would have happened before he scored on us.
So, yes. That's my recap of the deadline for the Jets today. Incredibly sarcastic, mostly disappointing but in my opinion not too far off from being factual. The Jets have 10 games to either turn this ship around and claim a playoff spot, or begin the not-to-far descent to the basement of the Eastern Conference and the high draft pick that will come with it. Which of course would be just fine in the long run, but man that would be a sad way for this season to end.
I'm just worried about what the fan reaction will be at the MTS Centre for the final 7 home games of this season, especially if they lose a bunch of them. That won't be much fun. About the only thing worse would be going 5-5 and finishing 9th...