The Winnipeg Jets closed out their four game home stand with two low scoring, playoff style games with a 3 – 1 against the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals, and a 2 – 1 shootout loss against the surprising Buffalo Sabres. You cannot really be too stressed out about a team that earns seven out of a possible eight points in four games. However, I’m nervous as they start a tough four game road trip. Let’s check in with how we’re doing using our Weekly Jets Anxiety Check-In using the arbitrary three-level anxiety scale:
Not At All Worried
Panic/Losing Sleep Worried
Tyler Myers – Not at All Worried
Hear me out on this one. I’m not defending Tyler Myers play this year. Against the Washington Capitals in particular he was prone to the defensive lapses and blind passes out of his own end that we’ve become accustomed to. I’m declaring him the early winner of the Ron Hainsey award, for the player who causes people to yell out their name the most while watching a game on TV.
I digress. Here’s why I’m not worried about Tyler Myers. I’ve accepted he’s a bottom pairing defenseman that will likely not be here this year. I think our issue is that we think he “should’ be a second or even first pairing defenseman. He’s not. If he’s your fifth or sixth best defenseman, that’s not bad. The problem is he teases us with more, and we get false expectations.
Also, we start worrying about what type of contract he’s going to demand. Don’t worry about that – the Jets are not going to be paying it. Kevin Cheveldayoff is not going to offer Myers a silly contract. I doubt he even gets a contract offer from us. We’re likely not going to trade him, but I’m not sure we need to. In the salary cap world there are times when it’s okay to lose a player for “nothing” just to get the cap space. Losing a player like John Tavares for nothing hurts. Losing Tyler Myers and gaining the cap space is a win.
Here’s my suggestion – when Myers loses his man in our own end, say out loud to the TV – that’s what a bottom pairing defenseman does. Then have a drink. No need to worry.
Defense Depth – Moderately Worried
It may sound like a contradiction after my Myers comments, but I’m moderately worried overall about our defense depth. You can file this under my tendency to worry about things way too early, but I get a little uneasy thinking about our defense situation say two years from now.
Our top pairing of Josh Morrissey and Jacob Trouba are as good as any top pairing in the NHL. However, they both need new contracts, and we’re still not hundred percent clear Trouba wants to be here. I love Dustin Byfuglien, but he’s 33 years old, and I fear at some point we’re going to see a drop off in his play. I think he’ll continue to be an effective player during his contract, but, is he a true second pair defenseman by the end of it?
The trio of Ben Chairot, Joe Morrow, Dmitri Kulikov – if two out of the three are your sixth and seventh defenseman, you’re okay. If two out of the three are regularly in the lineup, not a great long term strategy. Which leads us to our defense prospects – the man, the myth Sami Niku; the most NHL ready at present, Tucker Poolman; Logan Stanley (hopefully an upgraded Tyler Myers 2.0); and the enigma, but my prediction for biggest positive surprise, Dylan Samberg.
Given the relative lack of depth, the uncertainty of some of our free agents, I’d feel a lot less anxiety if we had one or two more solid prospects. Perhaps we need to start thinking about trading from a position of strength (our young forward prospects), to fill the cupboard with some back end help.
Goaltending – Not at All Worried
Individually Connor Hellebuyck and Laurent Broissot are not tearing up the league in goal against average or save percentage. Yet the Jets sit at second overall in the NHL in goals against per game at 2.4. Both of our goaltenders have held the team in games and I feel better about this pairing than last year with the goaltender formally known as Steve Mason. No worries at all about our goaltending which is a great feeling at this point in the season.
Am I way off base? Does the thought of trading one of our young forwards make you want to storm the offices of Arctic Ice Hockey with pitchforks and torches? Let us know in the comments section.