Let’s be blunt. The Jets have a lot to do this offseason. This past season reached near disaster territory. I mean after all, I did start writing this article in March. Sometimes GM-ing is hard, so I wanted to help Chevy and company out with a little to-do list, followed by some unrealistic things that I want personally. I have a lot of suggestions, so get ready for a lot of reading.
To-Do #1: Re-sign Jacob Trouba
I don’t need to say much about this one. Locking Trouba up was my #1 priority last season, and it still is. This past season, he showed us all why he’s a legit number one defenseman and is a cornerstone to this franchise. Give him the money he wants. You won’t regret it.
To-Do #2: Fire the entire coaching staff
Yes. I’m dead serious. If not everyone, at least fire Paul Maurice, Charlie Huddy, and Wade Flaherty. Huddy and Flaherty have been a part of the coaching staff since day one, and have nothing to show for it. Paul Maurice has one playoff appearance on his Jets resume and not much else for his career. For this team, which is pretty close to becoming something good, to take the next step, a new coaching staff is needed. Now.
I’d certainly be willing to give Paul Maurice one last chance to show he’s the right coach for this team if he had new assistants, but is it really a smart move to bank the future on a well built team on a career .500 coach? I don’t think so.
Two of the weakest aspects of the Jets’ game, special teams and defense, are both coached by Huddy. Watching his highlights from his time in the NHL, it’s no surprise that coaching defense isn’t his specialty. Echoes of Mark Stuart.
The most impressive notch on Flaherty’s resume is the list of goalies’ careers that he’s killed. Ondrej Pavelec and Michael Hutchinson both had decent potential, but after learning the fundamentals from Flaherty, it’s unknown if they can recover. Connor Hellebuyck needs to stick with his private coach, who re-energized Devin Dubynk’s career.
“But what are your solutions” I hear you asking me. Well, my first move is the most obvious. Promote Rick St. Croix to the goalie coach position. He’s done incredibly well with the Moose considering the team his goaltenders are behind.
As for the other two positions, I don’t have names, but the Jets need to hire someone who is not a square peg. Paul Maurice’s low event system, and Charlie Huddy’s man-to-man defense are relics in today’s NHL. With the roster that Chevy has assembled, there is no reason for either of these styles to be anywhere near this team. A team with players as fast as Nikolaj Ehlers and dynamic as Dustin Byfuglien should not be playing a slow, low event game. You coach to your team’s strengths, and that’s something Paul Maurice cannot do. Paul Maurice would be better suited with an older, slower team, not a team who has a ton of skill guys like Ehlers, Patrik Laine, Kyle Connor, Nic Petan, and Mark Scheifele.
To-Do #3: Address the Defensive depth
Obviously, no one could have anticipated the injuries the defense has suffered this year. I’m not going to sit here and act like I did. With forward depth now being a thing that the organization actually has, it’s now time to get some more on the blueline. Another decent defenseman would have worked wonders on this dilapidated defense core. There is no reason for Julian Melchiori to be the “next-up” (or the second or third up for that matter) in the organization when much better options could have been acquired for “free” off of waivers. The signing of Tucker Poolman and Sami Niku, will definitely help, but more still needs to be done. You can’t rely on them to save the empty defense core. There’s certain names I would look into, but I’ll leave those in the wish list half.
To-Do #4: Make up for the last draft’s missteps
Any draft where you can get a player like Patrik Laine isn’t a failure, plain and simple, but there were a few missteps that would have been nice to avoid. I’m not going to harp on the Logan Stanley pick again, but trading up for that pick was a very bad move, mainly due to his low ceiling, which is a common trait among low scoring junior defensemen. A type of player the Jets haven’t had much luck with (Zach Yuen and Brennan Serville). The Luke Green pick was very good, but the Stanley and Jacob Cederholm picks remind us of certain concerns that some Jet fans have about their defenseman evaluation.
This is a really good draft class for high development floors. The class isn’t as good as 2013, 15 and 16, but there are plenty of players who, even if they don’t pan out as well as expected, will still be solid NHLers, even if they top out as bottom pairing defensemen.
To-Do #5: The Expansion Draft
There’s many solutions as to what the Jets could do in regards to Vegas, and mine is rather controversial. I’d recommend that the Jets expose Adam Lowry to Vegas. Each of the suggested to be exposed forwards (Mathieu Perreault, Shawn Matthias, Joel Armia, Andrew Copp, Marko Dano and Adam Lowry) brings something different to the team and if the team takes the 4-4 route for protecting players, the biggest decision has been debated as Perreault or Lowry. This is ridiculous. Perreault is a must keep player, or at least, must not lose for nothing.
If Vegas selects Adam Lowry, (which is likely who they would select) there’s a ton of replacements in the pipeline, Andrew Copp being one of those. Losing a fourth line centre is not catastrophic enough to sacrifice someone like Dano, who is very good, and if he’s not a fit, could fetch other assets in a trade.
The only two forwards I fear the Jets losing are Mathieu Perreault and Marko Dano. If anyone else is taken, the hole is easily replaced. Losing Perreault or Dano for nothing, is a poor asset management move and would be very unwise. Especially to protect someone who is likely topping out as a fourth liner in Copp, Lowry or Armia.
Now that I’ve enraged you a bit with some of my suggestions, here is my small wishlist for things I wish the Jets would do!
My wishlist is really just a bunch of players I’d like to see as Jets, almost none are realistic but here we go.
Elias Lindholm, Leon Draisaitl, Hampus Lindholm, Zach Werenski, and Shayne Gostisbehere. The only one that might be possible for the Jets to get is Gostisbehere. Ghost is constantly in Hakstol’s doghouse again, and there’s no real end in sight. Maybe he would pair well with Jacob Trouba as a Jet?
The Lindholms, Draisaitl and Werenski are merely pipe dreams and will likely never happen due to positional need, or just being too valuable to their team. But dreaming never hurt anyone.
The three players I’d most like to see as Jets are Erik Brannstrom, Cody Glass and Cal Foote. Brannstrom could be the star LHD that the Jets sorely need, adding another right handed forward in Glass wouldn’t hurt, and Cal Foote is mostly for nostalgia.
I told myself I wouldn’t get sucked in by lineage players, but Matthew Tkachuk being really good has me reconsidering. Foote doesn’t have to be a number one guy in Winnipeg and that’s what the appeal is to me. He’d make a solid second pairing guy down the road, and is still worth taking. Also I’ve had a gut feeling for a while that he winds up a Jet and my gut feeling has been right about the Jets getting Kyle Connor, Logan Stanley and Patrik Laine so far. (My feeling about Laine was before the lottery, I’m not taking credit for guessing a gimme pick.)
In addition to those three, many scouts have been reporting that Nic Hague could possibly be dropping out of the first round. If he’s still available with the Jets’ second round pick, absolutely take him. He’s everything the Jets liked in Stanley but better.
The Ultimate Wish:
This one is the biggest pipe dream of all, but if the Jets miss the playoffs again this year, I would absolutely love to see GM Kevin Cheveldayoff replaced with Kyle Dubas. I loved his contributions to the rebuild in Toronto and would like to see what he could do with a pretty good team formed around him.
So, those were my to-do and wish lists for the 2017 Offseason (and one about 2018 as well). I’m sure there’s going to be a ton of disagreement down in the comment section so please let me know what on here you like, what you dislike and what you’re indifferent on.