Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Postma most likely candidate for trade

But it would require a lot to entice Chevy

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Paul Postma is the most attractive and moveable asset the Winnipeg Jets own, so expect to hear his name quite a bit as NHL trade talks heat up.

For what the Jets want -- a forward adding size and skill -- GM Kevin Cheveldayoff will have to dangle serious bait. Postma, at this stage, best fits that description.

The caveat, however, is Cheveldayoff won't send off a promising young blue-liner like Postma unless there's a lot coming back. He doesn't have to win the deal, but he must get equal value. That will be a tall order and likely where trade talk concerning Postma will begin and eventually end.

Cheveldayoff, if he elects to do so, will want to trade from a position of strength, which eliminates the forward and goaltending positions.

But Winnipeg's blue-line does have some depth and Postma is the one moveable asset with market value.

Toby Enstrom, Dustin Byfuglien and Zach Bogosian aren't going anywhere. The same can be said, to a lesser degree, about Mark Stuart.

Veteran Ron Hainsey might garner some attention at the deadline for teams looking to add playoff depth, but his upcoming UFA status makes him a rental player and that market has yet to open.

Grant Clitsome won't bring the value required and Zach Redmond is still too much of an unknown.

That leaves Postma. He's got upside and tangible skills. Teams will want him and be willing to part with a "today" player and not just picks. He's inexpensive at $550,000 and is a RFA at the end of this season. There's lots to like about getting Paul Postma. One can argue the same about keeping him.

There are under 40 games remaining on this condensed schedule and GMs will soon begin to make moves.

The Jets were rumoured to be chatting with a number of teams on the weekend and Postma's name is the one that keeps surfacing.

A smooth skater with a big shot and offensive instincts, Postma is attractive for his upside. He's a potential top-four D-man down the road, if and when he figures out how to balance his game. But right now, Postma is a little more risk than reward.

The Jets may decide they don't want to move Postma and wait out his developmental stage. But if Cheveldayoff determines he needs to shake up his lineup, Postma is the most likely candidate for departure.

 

Cheveldayoff, with the impending return of all-star Byfuglien and the burgeoning Bogosian, is on the precipice of having eight NHL-calibre defencemen at his disposal and the rest of the league has started to sniff around his roster.

"The ascension of (Zach) Redmond puts the Jets in a strong position. Chevy is going to have some options," said one NHL executive over the weekend.

But, as Jets assistant GM Craig Heisinger is fond of saying, it takes 10 defencemen to get through a season. Injuries have a way of adding up. Last season Winnipeg lost 154 man-games on the blue-line alone.

Moving Postma could be rash if the Jets once again come up injured on the back end.

Redmond was the organization's best defenceman not playing in Winnipeg last season and early injuries to the Jets gave him an opportunity. He's run with it and gone from a prospect to a contributor, averaging more than 20 minutes of ice time per game. He's moved past Postma on the depth chart.

Cheveldayoff will first want everyone healthy and then see how his team reacts to having three top-end defencemen in the lineup.

Cheveldayoff has a quandary. He's trying to build for tomorrow while having a modicum of success today. No one is expecting a Stanley Cup, but a playoff series wouldn't be viewed as a terrible occurrence.

Cheveldayoff must be judicious as he weighs both priorities, but the future is far more critical than the here and now for the Winnipeg Jets. Let's be real. The Jets are barely a playoff team, if at all. Wasting Postma for a glimmer of hope would be ridiculous.

Cheveldayoff would need to get equal value in return, a player that helps now and has term on his contract.

The fit will have to be near perfect for Cheveldayoff to pull the trigger. Maybe that will try the patience of those in the stands, but Cheveldayoff knows better than anyone the road to success in Winnipeg is going to take time.

Dealing Postma at this juncture won't markedly speed up that timeline and could prove imprudent.

Don't expect a deal for the sake of a deal.

A trade will only come if it answers all of Cheveldayoff's needs.

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @garylawless

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 12, 2013 C3

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About Gary Lawless

Gary Lawless is the Free Press sports columnist and co-host of the Hustler and Lawless show on TSN 1290 Winnipeg and www.winnipegfreepress.com
Lawless began covering sports as a rookie reporter at The Chronicle-Journal in Thunder Bay after graduating from journalism school at Durham College in Ontario.
After a Grey Cup winning stint with the Toronto Argonauts in the communications department, Lawless returned to Thunder Bay as sports editor.
In 1999 he joined the Free Press and after working on the night sports desk moved back into the field where he covered pro hockey, baseball and football beats prior to being named columnist.

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