TSN published their top 25 UFA listing recently. Glancing at a list like this as a fan brings up feelings of dread and excitement. Dread if your team is facing the almost certain loss of one of your top players. Excitement dreaming of how certain UFA’s would look wearing your team’s jersey next season. The list of Jets UFA’s is well known to fans of the team, and the general consensus is pretty neutral. While it may be nice to keep any combination of Tyler Myers, Ben Chiarot, Brandon Tanev or Par Lindholm at the right price, I doubt many Jets’ fans would lose a minute of sleep if they all end up playing elsewhere next season.
So, let’s focus on excitement and think about which UFA’s from the top 25 list could be potential Jets in 2019/20. I specify dreaming “a little”. I’m not going to allow myself to dream crazy big and think that the Jets have a shot at some of the marquee names on the list like Artemi Panarin, Erik Karlsson, or Matt Duchene. Winnipeg will always face challenges attracting free agents. As much as the city has its charms, there are still players who want to play in a larger, more exciting market. It’s a tired narrative, but, sadly true.
But, hey, let’s dream a little. Chevy’s job as a GM is to check in with players’ agents to gauge their interest in becoming a Jet. So, I’m suggesting that the names below are “realistic” options that Chevy may want to consider. One caveat is that I am only considering salary to some extent. I’m not considering players who will be looking for crazy money (hello Mr. Bread Man Panarin), but, I don’t want to get bogged down in the math too much. If I’m listing a player I’m assuming that in order to fit that player, cap surgery may need to happen, and that it will. I’m also assuming that the Jets won’t overpay, because generally, we don’t.
Brock Nelson NYI Center
The New York Islanders have three relatively high profile UFA forwards this year with Nelson, Anders Lee and Jordan Eberle. They are in pretty good shape in terms of cap space, but, all three of those forwards will be looking for raises. Perhaps something has to give. Brock Nelson is from Warroad, MN, so he’s practically a Manitoban, and he had a career season. He’s a possible number two center, or at worst a 2b center, barring any other player additions.
Micheal Ferland Carolina LW
I don’t think the Hurricanes are going to let him leave, but, I’d certainly inquire if I were Chevy. Again, the Hurricanes are not currently in salary cap trouble, but, who knows what his agent will ask for. He’s a tough, physical winger, with back-to-back 40 point seasons. He’s what we hoped Brendan Lemieux would become. Plus, he’s from Swan River, MB! No need to sell him on the charms of Winnipeg.
Jake Gardiner Toronto LD
Yup, I went there. Leafs fans scape goat number one. Hear me out. On the current Jets roster, other than Josh Morrissey, who is a better LHD than Gardiner? Assuming Tyler Myers walks, wouldn’t you feel better with another veteran on the blue line? Yes, he’s had a few well publicized on ice gaffes. That’s partly because he plays in the center of the hockey universe where every miscue gets dissected by the hockey central panel and subsequently causes Bill Barilko to turn over in his grave. Here’s my other rationale – pretty sure he wants to leave Toronto, so he truly is available.
Braydon Coburn Tampa Bay LD
He’s a bit long in the tooth, and was a healthy scratch at times this season. However when he did play, he was serviceable. He ended up being a shocking plus two in the game four 7 – 3 playoff beat down to the Columbus Blue Jackets. After the Lightning playoff implosion this year, I’m pretty sure he’s going to be looking for employment elsewhere. How about him as a third pair LHD, for veteran third pair money? Let’s say you replace Dmitri Kulikov with him. Do I have your attention now? It also allows for either Joe Morrow or Nathan Beaulieu to move down in the depth chart, which is also a good thing.
Agree? Disagree? Better options for the Jets from the TSN UFA list? Let us know in the comments.