Unwise trade would be un-Chevy

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Be true to yourself, Chevy. Don't fall prey to trade deadline madness.

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Opinion

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 25/02/2015 (2841 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Be true to yourself, Chevy. Don’t fall prey to trade deadline madness.

 

The reported trade request that would see the Winnipeg Jets send 23-year-old centre Alex Burmistrov and a second- or third-round pick for pending unrestricted free agent Toronto winger Daniel Winnik is crazy talk.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS John Woods / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Dustin Byfuglien makes his presence felt by putting Dallas centre Ryan Garbutt on his... er, butt, in front of Jets goaltender Michael Hutchinson Tuesday night at the MTS Centre.

So is paying a first-round pick for a four-month rental property such as Antoine Vermette.

Winnik is a useful player, and he would help the Jets today, that is for certain. Vermette is the best of the rental players available with a proven scoring touch and a 200-foot game learned under Coyotes coach Dave Tippet.

Both would be nice adds for a reasonable cost. But not for what the current market prices are being set.

This Jets team isn’t good enough for Cheveldayoff to be viewing trades through a microscope. He still needs to use binoculars and look farther down the road.

Burmistrov is a centre who can play at both ends of the rink and may be just as effective a player as Winnik. And unlike a rental, who will be free to walk on July 1, the Jets control Burmistrov for at least three more seasons.

Burmistrov has more offensive upside, and with veteran centre Jim Slater coming to the end of his contract, he could be an easy and inexpensive solution for the Jets next season.

Burmistrov’s agent Mike Liut said Tuesday his player is considering a return to North America and has no reservations about signing with the Jets.

Burmistrov ran afoul of former Jets head coach Claude Noel, but is not averse to playing for Paul Maurice. A contract, likely a one-year deal somewhere near $1.5 million would get Burmistrov back in the fold. If he performs and proves himself worthy of more, great. If it’s determined he’s still not a fit, then move on.

But get value for him and don’t give him away in the NHL’s annual garage sale where GMs try to force one another into desperate acts.

Cheveldayoff, to a degree, finds himself in no man’s land. He can be burned for adding to his team prior to the deadline just as easily as he can be singed for not making a trade to improve his roster.

Imagine the emptiness of trading a pick and Burmistrov for Winnik, only to have the Jets miss the playoffs and watch Winnik walk in July. Big cost for no return.

Were the Jets a clear-cut playoff team, it would be far easier for Cheveldayoff to spend assets and futures on rental players who may or may not re-sign in Winnipeg.

And if the Jets were obviously going to be outsiders once again, Cheveldayoff could confidently ship out pending UFAs such as Michael Frolik and Drew Stafford for prospects and picks.

Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff

But Cheveldayoff’s Jets are banged up, their goaltending has gone south and they’ve won just five of their last 15 games. They remain in a playoff spot, but prior to Tuesday’s action sportsclubstats.ca gave them a 51.8 per cent chance of reaching the post-season with 20 games remaining on the schedule.

There’s an argument for Cheveldayoff rolling up his sleeves and swinging a deal to try and help his team get into the post-season. But is Winnik going to be a saviour for the Jets? Vermette?

The Jets in a nosedive do one of two things: crash or pull out of it. The Jets have seven weeks left to write their story. They’ll be a smoking, gnarled mess of metal or a gleaming, streaking airborne thing of beauty.

A late-season swoon by the Jets is something we’ve seen before. What we have yet to witness is a mid-dive correction. We’ve watched them crash into the ocean or mountains or forest or whatever picture your mind draws up when the Jets falter and miss the post-season.

What we haven’t seen is this group wrap their hands around the controls and yank back to pull up the nose and level off their flight for a safe landing in the playoffs.

Cheveldayoff should try to help them. But he’s not bringing in the solution. Only some materials to help patch a hole or two. Cheveldayoff has done fine work building up his foundation, and for him to go and overpay for a disposable light bulb that will only burn for a short time seems incongruous with everything he’s done. That time just hasn’t arrived for this organization. Not yet.

The players he’s already assembled will have to do the heavy lifting. They’re the Jets of record. They’ll determine the outcome.

For good or bad, the die is already cast.

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

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