The Winnipeg Jets are in a pickle. They only have three draft picks available this year; a second, a fourth, and a fifth. The Jets were eliminated in the first round and they have traded away some young players and prospects along with those picks to try and win in the playoffs. While there is nothing wrong with this strategy, there are also consequences to it and the Jets might be starting to face them.
The Jets do have some good prospects in the AHL and young players in the NHL. However, if those young players are called up and not given a fair chance to play like Sami Niku or Nik Petan, are they worth the time and money the Jets have invested in them? Petan was traded to the Leafs for Par Lindholm and Niku stopped playing once the defence got healthy even though he is better than Joe Morrow and Ben Chiarot.
However, the draft picks might be the bigger issue because the Jets are drafting players like Niku in the later rounds and they are suddenly without many picks. The Jets said they were going to build their team through drafting and developing players and they did, but to sustain their team they have to do this while also realizing who is behind the Jets winning. It is the younger players who were drafted once the team moved to Winnipeg that are pivotal to the Jets success. Not only the big names like Mark Scheifele, Kyle Connor, Patrik Laine, and Nikolaj Ehlers, but players like Adam Lowry and Jack Roslovic are equally important. Depth players are always important to good teams because when the best players cancel each other out, the depth wins the series.
The Jets were right to trade pieces for help two deadlines ago and this past deadline it could have gone either way, but they did not give up that much to get Kevin Hayes and might have even helped their team long-term by trading Brendan Lemieux who does not have the best track record of making the smart play on the ice.
It is not wrong that the Jets have traded for reinforcements in the past and might even continue to. In fact, the Jets could very easily figure out which pending UFAs and RFAs they are going to be able to keep this off-season and then quietly try and trade the ones that they do not have the money to keep in order to recoup some of those picks and prospects.
The Jets are in some trouble due to their lack of draft picks, but it does not mean the end of the world. They can recoup some of those picks by trading away pending UFAs and RFAs and they can also go after some college, CHL, and European free agents to get more young players. It will not replace everything they have traded away the past couple of years, but that is typical for the NHL. If they Jets look elsewhere to sign young players, they will not be in trouble in the long-term.