Lots of ink, both literally and digitally, has been spilled on dissecting today's mega-blockbuster involving the Winnipeg Jets and the Buffalo Sabres. Evander Kane, Zach Bogosian and Jason Kasdorf head to the NHL basement while Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford, Joel Armia, Brendan Lemieux and a late 2015 1st return to the River City. The takes have been hot, and the #taeks have been hotter, but I felt that I'd do my best to answer the age old question: #whatdidchevydotoday?
Lets take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly of it.
- The Circus Has Left Town: And believe me, it was a circus, regardless of where you place the blame (which should be on every actor involved in this play). The Evander/Jets marriage seemed destined to fail from the beginning, and with today's move we likely won't hear more about what really went wrong until Evander's tell-all biography comes out in 20 years. But today, the dressing room has replaced the elephant in the corner with a giraffe on the blue-line, and I have to imagine that the air is a touch fresher in there. Perhaps it's because some of the "Atlanta Association" just walked out the door...
- Reinforcements For The Stretch Drive: As a season-ticket holder, I've been critical in the past about the product that was being put on the ice at the time while all the attention was towards the future. And the fact that Jim Slater and Chris Thorburn were 3rd-liners and Dustin Byfuglien was a forward only two games ago was an indictment of the team's situation and depth. But by bringing in Stafford to replace the injured Kane, and having an almost-NHLer in Armia a phone-call away, the Jets are able to move Buff back to the blue-line and have other players slide back down to where they should be.
- A Penny Saved Is A Penny Earned: The Jets saved a TON of actual money in this trade. Not only do they move Evander's big ticket for all of the futures, but they inherit one of those crazy back-diving deals that's been outlawed in the new CBA. While Myers has a cap-hit of $5.5M, he took $22m (!!!) of his deal in the first two years and will be getting paid much less in actual dollars in each of the remaining years. I don't have the exact numbers (I MISS YOU CAPGEEK!), but I think it was said that Winnipeg cleared out $30M+ of guaranteed salary. Maybe enough to sign Taters later this spring?
- Armia of Darkess: Joel Armia was enough to spawn the below meme, which alone is a positive. But he was also a 2011 1st-rounder, just 8 picks after Mark Scheifele (and 7 after Sean Couturier…) and he's been trending up. Brenden Lemieux is a solid player in Barrie who's currently learning under the tutelage of Chuck Hawerdale (yes, I spelled it that way on purpose) and another 1st in this summer's draft is another lottery ticket to keep drafting and developing. The future got strengthened.
(h/t to @cavsanada)
- The Best Player In The Deal: The old saying goes that the team that acquires the best player in the trade wins the trade, and if that's the case then by definition the Jets lost. Kane is the best player in this deal, hands down. That's not to say that that Evander shouldn't have been traded, as the glimpse into the room that PoMo clearly wasn't happy about showed a dressing room divided. But while Armia, Lemeiux and whoever gets taken with the 1st-rounder acquired are nice pieces going forward, there's a decent chance that none of them will reach the heights that Kane has already achieved.
- A PR Nightmare: This deal had to be made eventually, and Chevy made the best out of a bad situation, but wow did this saga ever come to a sad and ugly ending. In my opinion, the Jets PR team absolutely bungled this situation', as the few days between the healthy scratch and Chris Johnston's expose on Sportsnet resulted in endless speculation, numerous flip-flops of opinions in the media, and a Jets' PR team that was nowhere to be found. This was at least the third time that Scott Brown et al failed to get out in front of a story involving Kane. But boy were they quick to get out and control the message when Ladd "accidentally" favourited that tweet by our pal @sliiiiip. This got way uglier than it should have, and the overall value that Kane brought back may have been effected.
- Draft and Develop? Chevy's mantra has been to "Draft and Develop". But after this trade, none of the Atlanta 1st-round picks from 2008-2010, which were all top-10 selections, are here. Kane, Bogo and Alex Burmistrov are no longer on the current roster, and two of them were due to less than optimal circumstances where they apparently wanted out of town while "off-ice rumours" dogged the third. Now, these three players were all drafted by a different management crew in a different city, so we can't just blame Chevy and co., but it doesn't say good things about the local club that all of these young players were unable to develop properly here and have since been deemed expendable.