Everyone seems to assume that the Winnipeg Jets will be buyers today as deadline day rolls around. That's an obvious assumption to come to; the Jets are hanging on to western conference Wild Card spot by a thread as they battle injuries in their forward core and continue to be active on the trade market. But the Jets have a tricky situation on their hands today. Upcoming UFA Michael Frolik remains unsigned by the Jets and his status with the team after this season is foggy.
The Jets are going to be looking to acquire reinforcements right until the deadline arrives, that is for sure. They have already started wheeling and dealing a little early this trade season. Acquiring Jiri Tlusty from the Carolina Hurricanes for a third round draft pick and a sixth round conditional draft pick. In the blockbuster deal with the Buffalo Sabres, the Jets acquired another "rental" player in Drew Stafford. Along with a recent deal with the New York Rangers that sent forward Carl Klingberg to the New York Rangers
So the Jets seem to be in it to win it, that is for sure. But with the uncertainty surrounding Michael Frolik's future with the Jets, could the Jets trade one of their key pieces?
Reasoning behind trading Frolik
I'm sure trading Frolik is not at all what the Jets intend to do. Frolik seems like a player that could fit in to the Jets fold for quite a long time. But with the common theme in today's NHL about overpaying at free agency and Frolik could be offered some hefty deals if he became an Unrestricted Free Agent. While he is in the midst of negotiations with the Jets, Frolik's asking price could be a little too much for a budget team like the Jets. He is a great energy player and a superb player on the penalty kill. He can be slotted anywhere in to NHL a top nine and provide good energy and a strong two way game. Those kind of players dont roll around often. If the Jets cannot strike a deal before deadline day, there are no guarantees Frolik will return. In fact, the odds would be against the Jets to land Frolik while competing with 29 other teams for him. If Frolik gets lucrative offers from markets that are sexier, what would stop him from taking the first plane out of Winnipeg? If the Jets don't have a deal in place with Frolik prior to the deadline, should they at least to attempt to get a return of some sort rather than letting him walk away without getting anything in return?
It is a plausible theory. Anyone without a deal for next year is certified as trade bait at the deadline. Losing Frolik might not be that bad for the Winnipeg Jets in the long term.
The Jets are geared for the future and they continue to follow the draft and develop approach. They have quite the group of players developing in the pipeline. Prospects such as Nikolaj Ehlers and Nic Petan could be vying for top nine spots as soon as next year. Along with the fact that the Jets will most likely be committing a large sum of cap space to captain Andrew Ladd and all star defenceman Dustin Byfuglien when they are set to become free agents at the end of next season. Along with the fact that Mark Scheifele and Jacob Trouba will be due for large pay day's in the near future. What if Frolik demands a 3-5 year contract with a 4-5 mil cap hit per year? He certainly could ask for that. The books could become quite tight in the prairies and it could cause the Jets quite the strain.
The Kladno Kids
Clients Michael Frolik, Ondrej Pavelec from Kladno, Czech Republic joined now with Jiri Tlusty from Kladno, Czech Republic. #PoldiKladnoJets— Allan Walsh (@walsha) February 25, 2015
Amazing that 3 kids growing up together in Kladno as best friends all playing together on the same NHL team. #KladnoKonnection— Allan Walsh (@walsha) February 25, 2015
Frolik's close friendship with teammates Jiri Tlusty and Ondrej Pavelec, could entice him along with Tlusty who is a pending UFA, to stay in Winnipeg for years to come. Maybe the acquisition of Jiri Tlusty was a tactic by Chevy to help re-sign Frolik along with the obvious motivation behind the deal in acquiring a top nine player.
Bottom Line, Frolik wont be dealt.
The Jets are in it to win it. Kevin Cheveldayoff has made that clear while acquiring pieces like Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford, Jiri Tlusty and Lee Stempniak. So why would they shoot themselves in the foot and trade away such an important piece to the puzzle like Frolik? You can't find many players like Michael Frolik in today's NHL, so the Jets should hang on to the Czech native for as long as they can. Having someone with a Stanley cup ring in their possession wont hurt either, come playoff time.
Not much light has been shed on the Frolik contract negotiations and because of that the possibility of a trade will be brought up, but all signs point to the Jets being set on retaining Frolik. He could become too expensive for the Jets in the offseason and if Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff comes to that realization, Frolik could become a cap causality and be dealt today. But that would be very unlikely. A return for a free agent that might walk is very smart, but the Jets appear to be all in to make some noise in the playoffs and Michael Frolik will be a big part of that.