I’ll be honest, the list of potential NHL trade bait is a bit underwhelming. So instead of trading for a current player, let’s think outside the box. Say you’ve mastered time travel. Congratulations! However, instead of using your magical hot tub or DeLorean to help humanity by changing a major historical event (my vote is to stop the formation of the group Chumbawamba), you’re going to use it to help our current Jets. The rules are as follows:
· You are to choose one former Jet player from one season, and put them on the current team. Presumably their peak season, but, your choice.
· The player must be a former Jet – NHL Jets 1.0 version only. No Thrashers, or helmetless WHA Jets allowed.
· Due to the space time continuum rules, they will arrive in our time at the age and ability level they were in the season you chose.
· Marko Dano must be sent back to that time and team to not disrupt history … I can’t explain further, just trust me on this one!
Confused? Try reading the above rules in Doc Brown’s voice from Back to the Future. My top two choices in order are as follows:
Dale Hawerchuk – 1984-85 season:
Ducky ended up with 130 points that season on a Jets team that ended up with 95 points, and a second round elimination to the Edmonton Oilers. How good was he? Well, I liked Paul MacLean, and his vintage Magnum P.I. mustache. But, there’s no way he would have gotten to 101 points without Hawerchuk. The Jets also had no chance in the second round of the playoffs against the Oilers without Hawerchuk, thanks to a dirty cross check in round one by Jamie Macoun.
How would he help the current Jets? A one-two center combination of Mark Scheifele and a prime Hawerchuk would be at worst the third best in the league. Maybe first or second depending on how you view them compared to current Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, or John Tavares and Austin Matthews.
Hawerchuk was a fantastic player. Better than you even likely remember now. There’s a reason why he was on the ice with Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky for the “goal” in the 1987 Canada Cup.
Now, I can hear all of the analytics folks screaming that Hawerchuk would not get 130 points in today’s NHL. I get that. But, 90 – 100 would definitely happen. You either put him with the kids (Nikolaj Ehlers and Patrik Laine), or perhaps Blake Wheeler and Kyle Connor become an upgraded version of what he had in MacLean and Mullen. Bryan Little takes his rightful place as a third line center. Either way, prime Dale Hawerchuk turns us into a true Stanley Cup champion favorite.
Phil Housley – 1992-93 season:
Phil Housley had 97 points in 1992-93 season, including 79 assists. Not coincidently, that was also the year Teemu Selanne scored 76 goals. Housley is still the third highest scoring U.S. born player after Brett Hull and Mike Modano. He is also the fourth highest scoring defenseman ever. His record as highest scoring US born defenseman will likely never be beaten.
If you had the pleasure of watching Housley play you’ll remember that he was a silky smooth skater with passing skills and on ice vision surpassed by very few. As far defenseman I have seen, really only Paul Coffey and Bobby Orr were better on those specific measurements. He would be the best offensive defenseman in the NHL right now. Period. Do not give me an Erik Karlsson or Brent Burns rebuttal lest you speak directly to my hand.
On the current Jets, I’d team him up with Dustin Byfuglien. If there was a criticism of Housley it was his slight stature and ability to play a physical game. So, why not team him with one of the most physically imposing players in the NHL? It’s like Buff – Toby Enstrom, if Enstrom were a million times better (slight hyperbole).
Immediately our first power play unit gets an upgrade, as does our second unit by bumping someone from the first unit down. Goal scorers like Patrick Laine, Nikolaj Ehlers and Kyle Connor all would have so many more opportunities with Housley on the ice. Would Buff – Housley be prone to some defensive lapses? Sure. But we have that now with Buff and (insert current player), without the huge offensive upside.
Have at it in the comments. Am I way off base? Who did I miss? Should we use the time machine to stop Chumbawamba?