The Winnipeg Jets have a lengthy history of bad asset management going back to their days as the Atlanta Thrashers. This starts with trades like Ilya Kovalchuk for Patrice Cormier, Johnny Oduya, Niklas Bergfors, and a first round pick. While moves like this have not been that common in Winnipeg, the actual management of assets is not very good. There are players who are playing in the NHL when it would be more valuable for them to play in the AHL, players who have lost waiver eligibility when it would be ideal for them to keep it, and then there are the trades.
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The best example of this is Kyle Connor. Connor was coming off of a fantastic Freshman year at the University of Michigan. He was given a spot on the Jets opening night roster and struggled until he was sent down at the end of November. This all came after he struggled through pre-season. Instead of allowing themselves the opportunity to send Connor to the AHL, they made it so they needed him in the NHL in their top nine until it was apparent that he needed more time. This put the player in a tough spot because he was being asked to perform a job he was not ready for. The Jets were also in a bad spot because there was a player who was not ready for the role given to them.
In 30 Thoughts yesterday, Friedman said the Jets like Paul Maurice as a coach because he plays young players. This is not much of a problem for the Jets because they simply do not sign enough veterans to not play those young players. What should be telling is he sees fit to play in lesser roles. Nic Petan is a prime example of this. Petan is a skilled player playing on the fourth line with Chris Thorburn and Andrew Copp. Now, Petan is a NHL player, but he is best served playing in a third line role at the very least. This is also poor asset management because Petan is being played with players who do not allow for him to elevate his game to be at a higher level. While Maurice does play young players, he does not always optimize his usage of them which in turn helps hold both the player and the team back.
The Winnipeg Jets have made some great trades. Way back when they were the Atlanta Thrashers, Rich Peverly and Boris Valabik were turned into Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart. There was also the trading of Evander Kane and Zach Bogosian for Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford, Joel Armia, Brendan Lemieux, and a first round pick that turned into Jack Roslovic. If they Jets had not re-signed Stafford, that trade would have been quite a big win especially if Roslovic continues on his torrid pace that he has set in the AHL.
It is not the big trades where the Jets struggle, it is the small ones. The lack of minor trades have probably hurt the Jets playoff chances when they were close in previous years. The year they made the playoffs for four glorious games, the Jets traded for Jiri Tlusty and Lee Stempniak. These two players made all the difference as the Jets were suddenly able to play a fourth line that did more than hit people.
Besides not trading for help when needed, the Jets have also made some interesting trades involving draft picks that have been negatives for the team. Most recently they traded up to draft Logan Stanley, who is a bad defender on a team for of not good defencemen. Stanley compares rather unfavourably with Mikhail Sergachev, the other first rounder on the Windsor Spitfires defence. Trades like this are poor asset management because they are about acquiring an inferior player to other that are available while also giving up more assets for said player.
In general making fair trades in high stakes situations are not a problem for the Jets. The bigger problem with trades are they come at the wrong time for the team or give up assets needlessly move up at the draft. The other problem with some of the trades the Jets have made is they do not retain the best players. For instance, retaining Lee Stempniak for a year instead of Drew Stafford for two years would have benefited the Jets more than keeping Stafford.
This is a major part of managing assets and one that could come back to bite the Jets soon. The way waivers work in the NHL is a team has 30 days or 10 games played to send a player down who has already been through waivers without putting the player through waivers again. The Jets have put themselves in a tough position with their goalies unless they decide that Pavelec will go back to the AHL within either 10 games or by February 17. This is a problem for a few reasons. Firstly, Hellebuyck will need to play some games within this month even if it is only a couple. Maybe the bigger issue is the fact that the Jets is that they do not have an out to help Hellebuyck get back on track by sending him to the AHL for a couple weeks to play in a lower-pressure environment.
Hellebuyck was able to be sent down without waivers until the last game he played. Because he played 60 NHL games, he is now waiver eligible because he signed his NHL contract at age 21. The Jets should have seen this coming when he entered this slide and decided a course of action before he played game 34. Whether that move was to send him down to the Manitoba Moose for a month and call up Pavelec in his absence or ride out this tough stretch by using the two goalies they have. Instead, the Jets have three goalies and seemingly no plan on what to do with this. This is asset management of the worst kind.
The Winnipeg Jets have made some really good trades since coming to Winnipeg. They have also made some curious decisions when it comes to player usage and using waiver-eligibility to their advantage. While not nearly as bad as the major problems plaguing the Jets, these minor problems add up, especially when combined with the bigger issues the club deals with daily.