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Choose Your Own Adventure

The Jets will be a different team in 24 hours. The question is "how different?"

Bruce Bennett
I live in an NHL ‘14 world.  When I sit down to play the game I love the offseason.  There are times where I will simulate the entire season just so I can enjoy the process of drafting, signing and trading.  That process begins tonight and I think it is safe to say that hockey fans heads are all spinning with excitement and confusion.  We all have our own individual ideas what we want our teams to do and we all have our own reasons that they should do this.

Today has already brought it fair share of excitement with the Vancouver Canucks finding a way to appease Ryan Kesler and move him to Anaheim as well shipping off the somewhat disappointing Jason Garrison.  All that did was stoke the fires burning inside of fans of every other team.
The names have come up the most with the Jets are Dustin Byfuglien and Evander Kane.  I am not surprised as these names have been coming up in trade rumours ever since the Thrashers moved north.  This time just seems more real though.  I’m not sure what it is, but it seems like a distinct possibility that one of those two could be moved in the next 24 hours.
The Jets are in a really weird position right now.  They are stuck in hockey purgatory.  When the Thrashers moved north, we heard a lot of talk about the "core" of the team.  That core included Andrew Ladd, Blake Wheeler, Bryan Little, Tobias Enstrom, Evander Kane, Zach Bogosian, and Dustin Byfuglien.  This core has had decent production but have not produced any real results in terms of team success.  The Jets have toiled away in that position where they are not good enough to reach the playoffs, but they haven’t been bad enough to acquire any of those top notch, blue chip prospects.  Don’t get me wrong, I like Josh Morrissey, but he is no Nathan McKinnon. They have done a decent job of drafting though and have managed to form a new young core.  That core includes Mark Scheifele, Jacob Trouba, Josh Morrissey, and Adam Lowry, Scott Kosmachuk, and Nic Petan.

It’s true that some of these guys have yet to make any difference with the big club but they have done enough with the opportunities that they have been given on their respective clubs that Jets brass has reason to feel confident that they are going to be a part of the future core.

This leaves the Jets with a real conundrum though.  The team that they have in place is not good enough.  They have glaring holes in net and in terms of depth all over the ice.  These holes have all been discussed to no end.
Starting today, the Jets find themselves at a real trident in the road.  There are really only 3 options and the Jets need to choose one tonight.

1) Stay the course.  This option will drive fans crazy, but I see this as the most likely.  This option means that the Jets pick where they sit and re-sign a few of there existing free agents like Michael Frolik.  This means that the Jets pick up the scraps from the free agent pile and hope that they fill the gap until some of their youth develops and hope that they can find some real studs over the next few years in the 7-12 range of the draft and hope that the young core can carry the team to the playoffs in the next few years.

2) Completely rebuild.  I don’t know if Winnipeg is patient enough for this.  The Jets have a decent young core in place.  If the Jets find a way to dump a few of the Atlanta core and turn them into prospects while mastering the art of productive losing, the Jets could find their way into a lottery pick over the next 3 years.  They would need to keep a couple of members from the veteran core to help groom the young guys, but it would essentially waste a large chunk of their prime.  You risk instilling a culture of losing into your system, but the reward could be high.  

3) Supplement the current team.  This is the option that most fans seem to want.  There are some decent players out there that could really fill the issue of depth on the ice for the Jets.  If the Jets could find a way to add players like Jussi Jokinen and Paul Statsny to the team without shedding assets, it could pay huge dividends.  The Jets may risk handing out contracts that they aren’t necessarily fond of, but it is a real push that shows they are trying to find a way to break the cycle.  This is a real risky way to go about things but it could lead the team towards a playoff birth.  I’m not sure what kind of sustainability this path could offer though.

Those are three scary options and I’m sure that we all have an idea what we would decide.  We are yet to know if the Jets are going to move one of Byfuglien or Kane tonight but my only fear is that they move only one of the two and they don‘t move them for roster players.  All that move does is make the Jets slightly worse in the near future but not bad enough to be productive losers.  I for one hope that if Chevy decides to move one of the veteran pieces, he decides to move 2 more.  At least that way he will be picking a path and he will quit trying to forge his own.