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Weekly Jets Anxiety Level Check In - Post All Star Break Edition

The Winnipeg Jets are first place in the Central Division, and yet, I’m worried. This is probably why I can’t have nice things 

NHL: San Jose Sharks at Winnipeg Jets Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets were riding a seven game home winning streak before a tough overtime loss to the San Jose Sharks. Trade rumours abound daily with the Jets being seen as a buyer, and willing to move their first round draft pick again. After February 25th we’ll either be settling in to challenge for a Stanley Cup with our current roster, or trying to integrate a new player or two into our line up. Exciting times. Anxious times. Since anxiety is excitement without breathing, let’s check in with how I’m currently doing using our Weekly Jets Anxiety Check-In arbitrary three-level anxiety level scale:

Not At All Worried

Moderately Worried

Panic/Losing Sleep Worried

Patrik Laine – Panic/Losing Sleep/Gil Gunderson at the IRS Worried:

I feel for Laine. He seems like a terrific young man, and has demonstrated all-world scoring ability. But, put aside the commonly shared statistical accomplishments fans retort when questioning Laine’s abilities (seventh player to score 100 goals before age of 21, etc.), and think about the player he is right now. As of right now, he’s the Jets’ worst forward on a nightly basis. Who is he playing better than consistently? Mason Appleton, Brendan Lemieux and certainly Jack Roslovic bring more to the team right now. With a fully healthy roster, and potentially an additional top 6 forward through trade, who do you sit out for game one in the playoffs? If Laine is playing at this level, and your decision is truly based on which players will most help you win, Laine sits out. Coach’s decision.

Now, do I think that will happen? Probably not. Do I know how to reignite his play? No clue, and frankly that’s a problem the coaches and Laine have to decipher in the off season. The march to the Stanley Cup is not about hurt feelings, previous statistics, or future potential. If I’m Paul Maurice or any other player on the team, it’s all about winning. The game, the series, the Stanley Cup. If Laine is not able to currently utilize what is essentially his only elite skill (scoring), he is not a player that will help win a Stanley Cup.

Trade Deadline – Panic/Losing Sleep Worried:

I’m still anxious and uncertain about the direction the Jets should take. I agree with the prevailing opinion by most media members and fans that to truly contend for a Stanley Cup, the Jets could use some upgrades. However, two things trouble me: I’m not thrilled with the available rental players, and I’m struggling with which asset to give up in any trades.

Top prospect Artemi Panarin is not a remote possibility. I think if Chevy trades for a rental, he’d at least like that player to take an end of season meeting to discuss a potential contract. Panarin has been clear that he’s not signing anywhere that isn’t an exciting metropolis (even one where hockey is ignored, but I digress). Matt Duchene worries me from a chemistry perspective, and looks like he may re-sign. Kevin Hayes and Micheal Ferland – nice, but I wouldn’t over pay for either. Mark Stone and Wayne Simmonds would be my choices from the existing list, for vastly different reasons.

The question is what to give up in a trade. I’m fine giving up a late first round pick one more time. Craig Button made an interesting comment in this clip, essentially that the players on the Jets roster likely don’t care about losing a first round pick; they want to win, now. It’s the other assets that are the dilemma. Jack Roslovic basically cemented his future with the Jets with his current play. Looks like Nic Petan is headed out, but, let’s not expect a major return for a player with only 23 points in 108 NHL games. So who are you willing to part with? Kristian Vesalainen? Unlikely. Brendan Lemieux? Maybe, but he’s just developing. Sami Niku? Doubtful. Mason Appleton? Maybe, but it would sting a bit. Marko Dano brings you nothing so let’s not go there. The Leafs gave up a first round pick and two B, borderline A, level prospects for Jake Muzzin. That’s the going price. Are the Jets willing to pay that?

Thoughts, debates, questions? Please join in the comments section.