As the trade deadline approaches and Winnipeg remains in the basement of the standings, it looks like this year's deadline could be one of the most interesting in Jets 2.0 history. As it stands now, little has changed; Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien remain unsigned and this team's core has been mediocre for the last few years. One would think all possible scenarios might be considered leading up to this year's trade deadline.
A scenario that could unfold which hasn't been brought up as much of late is the possibility of trading Jets defenceman Toby Enstrom. Over the years, there has been talk here and there of Winnipeg possibly moving the 31-year-old D-man, but lately those talks have been relatively quiet.
Let's bring up the subject again.
Before we dive into this, something which complicates matters regarding an Enstrom trade is that he has a no movement clause attached to his fairly lucrative contract. This could complicate things if the Jets wish to explore moving him. Enstrom would have to waive his no movement clause and agree to any trade, which could throw a wrench into GM Kevin Cheveldayoff's plans. Even if he finds a deal he likes, there's no guarantee Enstrom will agree to being traded.
But looking at it from Winnipeg's point of view, trading Enstrom could be in the Jets' best interests, especially with all the decisions they need to make. The Jets have to either sign or trade their star defenceman and their captain, along with needing to sign young, prominent pending RFAs Jacob Trouba and Mark Scheifele.
Dreger: "I heard Toby Enstrom's name tossed out as potentially being a guy they would consider parting w/ in some sort of a deal." #NHLJets— Chris Nichols (@NicholsOnHockey) November 17, 2015
Dreger: #Pens "kicked tires" on Tobias Enstrom trade. #NHLJets. https://t.co/9b1dAwMWMj— Chris Nichols (@NicholsOnHockey) December 17, 2015
There is certainly interest in Enstrom amongst the 29 other NHL GMs. Enstrom plays a stay-at-home game on the backend, the kind which any team could use. He has played with Tyler Myers this year and it has paid off greatly for the 6'8" defenceman. Enstrom's defensive stability allows Myers to pinch up, provide offence and play his game. With Enstrom often covering up for the defensive lapses of his partners during his tenure with the Jets (Byfuglien and Myers), he has shown what he can bring to a team craving someone to play alongside an offensive defenceman.
Enstrom has received lots of criticism over the years while he quarterbacked the Jets power play, accused of being too passive when prime scoring opportunities were presented to him. All too often, he would opt to pass when a shot would have been the better option. This year, it appears Enstrom noticed this flaw in his game. He has been much better on the power play when it comes to moving the puck and shooting when appropriate.
There is plenty to like about Toby Enstrom. But I wouldn't say there is enough where he warrants the $5.75 million cap hit to his name. Shedding that kind of dollar figure off the payroll could provide serious dividends for the Jets in tough negotiations.
If the Jets are going to keep Ladd and Byfuglien, or even just one or the other, they are going to be committing some serious money. Each player is going to haul in north of 6 million dollars AAV and money doesn't grow on trees, especially for a budget team like the Winnipeg Jets.
In addition, with the money Jacob Trouba is demanding and what the Jets will inevitably have to give to Mark Scheifele, 5.75 million dollars off the books could go a long way.
Dreger: If numbers we're hearing on Trouba are close, probably six-year term. Around $7M per. Maybe just under; better than $6.5M. #NHLJets— Chris Nichols (@NicholsOnHockey) January 26, 2016
Jacob Trouba is looking to get paid and he's looking to get paid now. If he is set on this, rather than banking on himself and signing a bridge contact, then the Jets could have some tough negotiations on their hands. If Winnipeg is going to give Trouba what he wants, they will have to make room.
It is also worth mentioning that trading Enstrom could provide a pretty decent return. The Jets could acquire a high pick and maybe even a prospect from a team looking for D help and willing to overpay at the deadline. Enstrom has two more years remaining on his deal after this season; they wouldn't be giving him away for nothing.
Toby Enstrom is not worth the $5.75 million cap hit he carries to his name. The Jets have plenty of work to do in reconstructing a winning lineup. If they keep Enstrom's contract on the books, they may have to sacrifice a young and valuable player due to possible constraints on spending. If Winnipeg were to re-sign Ladd or Buff, Scheifele and Trouba without getting rid of Enstrom, the team might not be left with much to spend on reinforcements. This team has much more work to do, and they can't expect to win if they are a cap team with this core.
Trading Enstrom could lighten the financial load on Cheveldayoff's back, and give him more wiggle room as he begins a flurry of negotiations. It's a move worth considering.