Winnipeg Free Press


Pietrangelos don't grow on trees

Good morning, folks.

Happy Friday!

My goodness, that Alex Pietrangelo is a good player.

I didn't get to see the Vegas Golden Knights play much this season — their games are usually on way past my bedtime — but watching Game 2 of their series versus Montreal on Wednesday night, I was thinking that Pietrangelo is exactly the kind of defenceman Jets fans wish GM Kevin Cheveldayoff would go out and get for their team.

Um, don't hold your breath.

The one constant din I've heard in 2021 — from the start of training camp, to the trade deadline coming and going, to the playoff exit and subsequent season-ending press conferences — is the local hockey team needs to acquire a stud defenceman — stat!

The most recent call for action is the Jets should absolutely target either soon-to-be free agent Dougie Hamilton or Seth Jones, who has requested a trade out of Columbus.

I'm going to try and be gentle here: if you think either of those deals has the slightest chance of happening, you are not living in reality. Delusional, in fact.

OK, I guess I wasn't that gentle.

Those two players — in fact, most players, if given their druthers — have zero interest in coming to play hockey in Winnipeg.

Vegas Golden Knights defenceman Alex Pietrangelo (7) battles with Montreal Canadiens right winger Brendan Gallagher (11). (John Locher / The Associated Press files)

Vegas Golden Knights defenceman Alex Pietrangelo (7) battles with Montreal Canadiens right winger Brendan Gallagher (11). (John Locher / The Associated Press files)

Listen, I've lived here most of my life. I get it — we get defensive when told other people don't want to come here. That does not, however, change the fact that most other people don't want to come here.

Remember how mad we got at Dieter Brock? And he played in the CFL.

The young men who ply their trade in the NHL — again, if given a choice — want to be able to spend their millions in places like Vegas, New York, Tampa, L.A., Boston, Chicago and San Jose. 

Unfortunately for the Jets, they are not attracted to Winnipeg for its afforable housing.

And, it's not like the Jets' Canadian counterparts are attracting top-end D-men, either. The ones who do sign with Canadian teams most often are already playing north of the border: Chris Tanev moving from Vancouver to Calgary; T.J. Brodie leaving Calgary for Toronto; Tyson Barrie moving west from Toronto to Edmonton; Tyler Myers moving from Winnipeg to Vancouver and Ben Chiariot leaving Winnipeg for Montreal.

Side note: I'm betting Chevy wishes he had a do-over on Chiarot.

Fans and plenty of media were up in arms when the Jets GM did not acquire a top defencemen at the trade deadline — only adding a depth guy in Jamie Benn.

My mom used to always say, "Money doesn't grow on trees." Neither do Pietrangelos.

I'm not sure where Chevy was expected to find this elusive unicorn since the only significant D-man to move at the deadline — all season, in fact — was David Savard, and he went to Tampa. Shocking. Have you been to the Gulf Coast?

Paul Stastny waiving his no-trade clause to come to the Jets a few years ago was an anomaly, not the rule.

The reality is this: the only way we will see legitimate Top 4 defenceman on the Jets blue line is either a) the organization drafts and develops them, or b) it trades an equally significant asset for one that doesn't yet have a no-movement clause — ie: Jacob Trouba for Neil Pionk, Evander Kane for Tyler Myers.

Jones, by the way, has a 10-team no-trade list. Think we're on it?

But if you insist Chevy target an upgrade to the blueline in free agency, I'd suggest you set your sights just a tad lower and maybe look at the likes of the Dallas Stars' Jamie Oleksiak or Edmonton Oilers' Adam Larsson.

Oleksiak and Larsson are both 28-year-old pending UFAs, who would add size and steady defensive play on the back end, but both — if not re-signed by their respective teams — will have plenty of suitors.

If you're wondering why the season-ending message from the Jets suggested next season will be status quo and that improvement will likely be required from within — that's because it mostly always will be.

Which means, I expect Morrissey, DeMelo, Pionk, Stanley, Heinola, Samberg and some other Kulikov- or Forbort-type on the Jets blue line next season.

But you never know, maybe the Jets will somehow convince Dougie Hamilton to come to town — and maybe money trees will start spouting in my yard. 

As always, folks, you can reach me by replying to this mailing or by sending me an email here.

Our Coverage

Road to Tokyo: Desiree Scott has been a member of the national women’s team and the face of Manitoba soccer for the better part of a decade and today, in his latest story looking at Manitobans headed to the Summer Olympics, Mike Sawatzky talles the tale of how Scott put her career on hold and returned to Winnipeg a year ago to help her mother in a custody battle over a foster brother who had been taken from their home;

Desiree Scott (Rith Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Desiree Scott (Rith Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Pool party: Mike also has a story on Kelsey Wog’s Linden Woods neighbours having a special sendoff for the U of M swimmer as the medal threat for Canada in the 100- and 200-metre breaststroke, leaves for the Olympic Trials in Toronto today.

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