With the NHL trade deadline nearly upon us, it's time to look at whom the Winnipeg Jets may want to target as potential acquisitions. But rather than look at the obvious players that may be moved - that is, pending unrestricted free agents - we here at Arctic Ice Hockey have decided to look at a few players flying under the radar that could add value for the Jets and are, for one reason or another, under-appreciated or undervalued in their current environments.
Magnus Paajarvi (LW, Edmonton Oilers)
Why he's Oilers' trash:
Since arriving in Edmonton, Paajarvi has largely been overshadowed by a slew of other high draft picks, including Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and (to a lesser extent) Nail Yakupov. While the other "kids" have displayed their scoring touch right away, similar expectations were placed on Paajarvi. Paajarvi, simply hasn't put up the impressive offensive numbers in line with those expectations, and folks in Edmonton are getting impatient.
Furthermore, it seems that the Oilers don't know where Paajarvi fits into their lineup. With his offensive numbers lacking, Paajarvi has been shuffled all throughout the Oilers' lineup, sat out games as a healthy scratch, and demoted to the AHL on more than one occasion. With $21M in cap space for next season but 11 pending free agents (including #1 defenseman Ladislav Smid and a .93 ppg Sam Gagner), plus more contract extensions next year for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Justin Schultz, Devan Dubnyk, Paajarvi may just be the odd man out.
Why he's Jets' treasure:
Magnus Paajarvi is like the Edmondon Oilers' version of Alexander Burmistrov. A high draft pick (10th overall in 2009) that was rushed into the NHL too soon and has yet to put up flashy offensive numbers, Paajarvi has very quietly become a solid - if unspectacular - hockey player.
|Season||GP||5v5 TOI/60||Goals||Assists||Points||5v5 P/60||Corsi Rel QoC||Corsi Relative||Corsi On||Off Zone Start %|
Take a look at the chart above. The numbers may not look like much on their own, but keep in mind that Paajarvi has been a member of the NHL's worst team the past few seasons. He's routinely posted some of the best possession numbers on the team though, and he's done it at an extremely young age. Even his 2012-2013 Corsi numbers rank 5th among Oilers regulars (20+ games played). While he hasn't done it against particularly difficult competition, Paajarvi isn't a player that needs sheltering either.
And contrary to what the counting stats may say, Paajarvi is actually a pretty decent offensive player too. He may not ever be the 30 goal scorer people had hoped for when he was drafted, but when playing with skilled players, Paajarvi produces at a decent offensive clip. But while Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins have been given every offensive opportunity under the sun over the last 2-3 seasons - talented linemates, soft 5v5 minutes, and plenty of power play time - Paajarvi has had to earn his ice time, often playing a checking role with the likes of Eric Belanger, Lennart Petrell, Shawn Horcoff, and (shudder) Ben Eager. As with Paajarvi's possession numbers, given the context, Paajarvi's offensive numbers aren't too shabby.
Update: Ladislav Smid has been re-signed for 4 years and $16 million.
Christian Ehrhoff and/or Andrej Sekera (D, Buffalo Sabres)
Why they're Sabres' trash:
Okay, so these guys aren't really trash. Sekera is criminally under-rated to be sure, but Ehrhoff plays the most at 5v5 of any Buffalo defenseman. Neither player would come cheap, but with a 13-17-6 record and a youth moment potentially on the horizon, the Buffalo Sabres are likely to be sellers at the trade deadline.
After a disappointing first season in Buffalo, Ehrhoff has turned it around this season while the team as a whole has struggled. Now 30 years old and with eight years remaining on his 10 year, $40M deal, Ehrhoff is a long-term commitment that the Sabres may want to distance themselves from as they build for the future. Sekera, meanwhile, has struggled this season after posting a couple of seasons in Buffalo where he flew under the radar as a solid top 4 defender.
Why they're Jets treasure:
Either Ehrhoff or Sekera would immediately fill one of the Jets biggest needs; that is, a left defenseman who can solidify the top 4 for several seasons to come. While neither is a true top defenseman, they don't need to be because Tobias Enstrom is. Both Ehrhoff and Sekera are positive possession defensemen that move the puck well and eat up a lot of minutes, which is exactly what the Jets need. Furthermore, Ehrhoff (my preference) is a good power play quarterback - another team need - and both guys can play PK minutes.
Sekera is signed for two more seasons at a reasonable $2.75M per season. Ehrhoff's contract, which may initially seem like a turnoff, is actually quite attractive to a team in the Jets' position. While Ehrhoff is a long-term commitment, $18M of his $40M deal will be off the books after this season and Ehrhoff's actual salary will be reasonable for the duration of his contract - $4M until turning 34 years old, then declining significantly. While Ehrhoff's $4M cap hit may not always be good value and may even necessitate a buyout as he gets into his late 30s, it shouldn't be a problem for a team like the Jets that will continually spend less than the cap.
(Update: Robin Regehr has already been dealt for two 2nd round draft picks. Why...the Jets have 2nd round picks galore! Cue the fire sale!)
Mathieu Perreault (C, Washington Capitals)
Why he's Capitals' trash:
Gone are the days of high-flying Capitals hockey, as new coach Adam Oates has instituted a more defensively responsible system. Mathieu Perreault? He was once mistaken for a very good defensive forward; safe to say, that mistake hasn't been made since. Oates has been frustrated with Perreault's play at times this season, including a stretch of five healthy scratches earlier this season. Furthermore, the Capitals have $50 million committed to just 16 players next season, leaving them with just $14 million in cap space. The Capitals' restricted free agents alone - Karl Alzner, Marcus Johansson, Michal Neuvirth, and Tomas Kundratek - will surely take up the majority of that cap space, leaving little room to fill the remaining roster spots. The Caps may need to shed salary, and Perreault has been in and out of the dog house.
Why he's Jets treasure:
Mathieu Perreault is a playmaking centre that possesses plenty of skill and has posted solid scoring numbers at every level at which he's played. At the NHL level, his 82 game point-scoring paces over the past three seasons (including 2012-2013) are as follows 33, 38, 43. Perreault won't handle tough minutes, but he'd be a hell of a third line centre as despite not being a great defensive player, Perreault consistently out-chances his opponents anyway. In fact, he consistently shreds his easier competition, leading the Capitals in Corsi On rating for the past two seasons (and he was 4th in 2010-2011, his rookie season). Perreault is signed for this season and next at a very reasonable $1.05 million cap hit, and will be a restricted free agent when his contract expires, allowing the Jets to keep him in the fold throughout what should be the best years of his career.
Practically anyone under 30 on the New York Rangers
Why they're Rangers' trash:
Carl Hagelin, Brian Boyle, Derek Stepan...okay, so these guys aren't trash at all. Actually, they're pretty good. This is purely a cap space move though, as the Rangers have just $10.5M in cap space for next season and several high-priced restricted free agents to re-sign, including Ryan McDonagh and the aforementioned Hagelin and Stepan. That's pretty much all of the Rangers' remaining cap space right there, but at that point they'll have just 12 forwards and 5 defensemen under contract. Something's got to give, and the Jets should seize the opportunity.
Why they're Jets treasure:
Carl Hagelin, my personal preference as a would-be poacher, can score 40-50 points while consistently playing some of the toughest minutes on the team and out-chancing his opponents by a wide margin. Though his contract expires at season's end, he will be a restricted free agent. At just 24 years old, Hagelin is a potential building block for the future.
Boyle, like Hagelin, faces some of the toughest minutes on the team and handles them admirably. Though he lacks Hagelin's offensive ability, he can still chip in offense from time to time and will come with a lower price tag. Derek Stepan faces easier competition than his counterparts, but produces more offensively in those easier minutes. And should the odd man out be a defenseman - Dan Girardi, Marc Staal, Ryan McDonagh - the Jets ought to jump at the opportunity.
Agree? Disagree? Have someone else that you'd like to see the Jets target this trade deadline? Let us know in the comments!