Sunday, March 6, 2016

Why I don't like Joel Armia

I don't like Joel Armia.

It's really nothing personal. I wish him the best. I'll cheer for him 100%. And those dangles? Who can't be down with those.

But for me Joel Armia - more particularly the darling status he receives - is a symbol for the disappointment and disillusionment I currently feel with respect to the Winnipeg Jets in general.

In my conversations with fellow fans, in listening to TSN 1290, Joel Armia comes up often. He's a "bright spot" - a player we can look to that is outperforming our expectations: "Well, at least Joel Armia looks pretty good." That kind of thing. He's the kind of player we want to like: He's 22, a former 1st round draft pick, and part of the package we received for Evander Kane and Zach Bogosian. More than that, he has good size and hands, will play for cheap, and generally looks like an NHL player. These things are all fine - some, in fact, pretty good.

But for Armia becoming an effective NHL third liner would have to be seen as a positive outcome. Feel free to call him a "top-9 forward" so long as you know he'll be in the bottom third of that vague category. Anyone who feels he will regularly outperform 2nd line opposition is as an optimist. Frankly, a solid 4th liner who can play 10 minutes a night isn't unrealistic or even particularly disappointing.

The point is, this "bright spot" is not all that remarkable. He represents marginal gains at a spot in the depth chart that is the easiest to improve. And Armia's "emergence" as a potential third line forward comes in the shadow of trading Andrew Ladd, a legitimate first line player for the Jets. Did Ladd need to be traded? Yes. Did the Jets get maximum value for him? Pretty much for sure. But that still represents a big hole in the roster and right now Armia is a reminder of how hard that will be to replace.

Armia's increased role is also a reminder of how low the team sits in the standings. Treating NHL games like nothing more than learning opportunities for AHL call-ups is not exactly awesome. When we as fans talk about how Armia is kind of a pleasant surprise I think about how great it was to make the playoffs last year and be picked as a dark horse to make it to the Conference Finals.

No, it's not Armia's fault that he's not a first liner. It's not his fault that Ladd got traded. It's not his fault that the team is having a lousy year.

But dammit he reminds me of all these things.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Quick post-trade Ladd thoughts

Stan Bowman, lustfully staring at Andrew Ladd's hot body from across the room.

On the day when the Jets trade Andrew Ladd is traded I am reminded that it sure seems a lot easier to trade a good hockey player than it is to acquire one.

Our team has traded it's best left-winger, a bonafide first line NHL forward. We sometimes took that for granted. In his four full seasons in Winnipeg, Ladd performed admirably and ranked highly among forwards. Here's a reminder of how good he was for us:

- In 2011-12 he was the 91st highest-scoring forward (50 points, tied with Shane Doan, Jiri Hudler, 2 others) 
- In 2012-13 he was the 18th highest-scoring forward (46 points, tied with Jakub Voracek, ahead of Henrik Sedin and others) 
- In 2013-14 he was the 62nd highest-scoring forward (54 points, tied with Logan Couture, Mikko Koivu, 2 others) 
- In 2014-15 he was the 39th highest-scoring forward (62 points, tied with Jeff Carter, Jason Spezza, 4 others)

Considering that there are, by definition, 90 first line forwards in the league, Ladd easily cleared that bench mark and then some. He was a strong two-way player, too, earning Selke votes in his 2012-13 and 2014-15 seasons, and averaged a Corsi rating of 53.7% over his tenure in Winnipeg. This season was not measuring quite up, but coming off off-season surgery and heating up post-Christmas, he's still the same player... except now he sucks... because he plays for the Chicago Blackhawks.

Judging by what I'm seeing on Twitter, most of the smarter accounts I follow seem happy with the return, so that's good. Marko Dano was the Blackhawks' top prospect and that first round pick... well, that could be anything! My formative hockey trade was in Grade 5 when we traded Teemu Selanne away for Chad Kilger and Oleg Tverdovsky so I won't actually be getting too worked up over this.

We'll see how this goes. Does anybody else get the feeling there's another Jet to be moved before the deadline?

Monday, February 22, 2016

Alexander... the terrible

Nautical metaphor forthcoming.

When a man is loses his boat and is swept into the sea the decent thing to is to throw him a life preserver. Throwing him a dead weight disguised as a life preserver would be perverse in the extreme.

In the summer of 2015 many Jets fans, swept into a sea of disappointment after losing Michael Frolik, looked to soon-to-be 24-year-old Alex Burmistrov to help stave off sinking into the NHL's basement. The Winnipeg Jets are now near the bottom and Alex Burmistrov is one of the reasons why. The Burmistrov that left the Jets for Russia in 2013 was a good player: a player who, though did leave scoring to be desired, excelled at pushing the play to the opponents' zone. Visually not your granddad's shut down 3rd liner but a statistical Rob Zamuner (Rob Zamuner being the most famous checking forward that came to mind at this time, and I’m speaking generally). Besides Burmistrov was a former sixth overall pick possessing skill that pleased the eyes and the Jets’ now had a coach who really understood the reality for Russian players. Perhaps he would return from Russia better than before?

ENHHNHHNGH. Wrong. Actually Alex Burmistrov is much worse than the player who left to don the amazing “69” for his hometown Kazan; Now he basically sucks - and is not even wearing “69”.

(Sorry about the formatting.) These graphs show Burmistrov’s point production, shot generation and suppression, and overall affect on goals scored compared to average numbers from 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th line NHLers. Go to Own The Puck and see for yourself. His 2013 numbers are on the left. His 2016 numbers on the right.

His point production, which was once considered his Achilles heel, is now the only thing (along with his ice time) that gives him a chance against a disturbingly decent comparable: Chris Thorburn:

If we would have known prior to the season that we were, in part, replacing Michael Frolik with a player as bad as Burmistrov would be, we would be less surprised to be as lousy as we are. Looking closely, Chris Thorburn actually out-performs Burmistrov on shot generation and suppression by a small margin.

Where do thins go from here? I assume that Alex Burmistrov will read this blog, become emboldened to take his game to new heights, (force management to let him wear “69”) and leave this 2015-16 season as a strange aberration that ultimately left us with a high draft pick. Hopefully he was just having a rough year re-adjusting to North America. He's definitely better than this.

There are other problems with this year’s Jets but Burmistrov better make sure he’s not one of them… even the Jets may toss a dead weight off the boat sooner or later.

PS I still love Burmi!!!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Jets should tank... but probably not get all crazy about it

They have 26 games left and we already know the Winnipeg Jets are will making the playoffs.

This has most Jets fans talking about tanking: trying to lose in order to get a higher draft pick. There are varying degrees of tanking. A moderate tank would include trading a pending-UFA or two and giving a little extra ice time to your young but not-quite-good-yet players. A more dramatic tank would be more extreme and include trading good players who are signed beyond next season for futures in an effort to be really bad.

A moderate tank doesn't sound as exciting in the short term but my worry is throwing away the next 3+ years. Trading away Andrew Ladd (a pending UFA who seems unlikely to re-sign) will already leave a hole in the Jets' top-6 and leave the Jets attempting to replace his production. But Ladd is likely gone regardless and his loss can be overcome. Trading one or more of Bryan Little, Blake Wheeler, or Tobias Enstrom would make the team bad for years. Would it be worth it? I think we would be waiting a long time to find out.

Believe it or not, the Jets are still a top-10 Corsi team at 5 on 5, meaning at 5 on 5 they're more often than not outshooting their opponents. It's a good big-picture predictor of future results. What's sinking this team is very poor special teams (particularly the penalty kill) below average goaltending (last year was actually above average) and some of it is just plain luck (look up the Jets' PDO).

Don't get me wrong - this team is not functioning and is way out of a playoff race. But differences in the NHL are small and I believe things will be better next season. Re-signing or replacing Ladd will be the trick, but the Jets figure to have better goaltending with Hellebuyck and Pavelec in goal. Powerplay and penalty kill should can be improved. Bounce back years from players like Lowry and Burmistrov seem likelier than not. Chevy can take his first real crack at building a useful fourth line. Maybe this wish list seems hard to obtain but to me what's far trickier is building a core of actually good NHLers on decent to good contracts.

If the Jets were like the Maple Leafs of a few years ago with an under-performing team loaded with bad contracts I'd be more likely to want to hit the reset button. Instead a moderate tank is what I prefer. Do a few things to improve your chances at getting Auston Matthews like trading Ladd, returning your best goalie to the Moose and giving veterans the odd "maintenance day". That's not to say a shakeup isn't in order. I just think the collection of present and near-future assets collected by the Jets is not insignificant and should not be tossed aside. Trading Myers or Trouba for similar age/ability/potential players at forward or left-side defence could work wonders.

A moderate tank is what I propose. It's a bummer to be out of it this early and while we want it to be worth it I don't think it's time to throw multiple seasons down the drain. 26 games is 32% of the season. If you're a P6 season ticket holders will be paying $858 to watch the team play for little more than pride - and that number increases to $2056 at the P1 level.

Those numbers start to feel worse and worse the sooner the team is out of it. Let's keep it simple and hope that things get better... just after we get through these next 26 games.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Thoughts on mediocrity and progress

Anyone with access to a blog - or newspaper column for that matter - has written or will write something with a headline like, "Should the Jets tank?" or, "What the hell is Chevy going to do?" in the coming weeks. The article will probably be some combination of frustration, angst, and pessimism, and almost assuredly utilize an image like the one below:

Bottom half of NHL standings, Jan. 4th, 2016

Things are going poorly. Five points out of last place poorly. The Jets are better than their record, but not that much better than their record. Add to this the unresolved contract statuses of Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien, the growing pains or disappointing first halves of most of their younger players, and a GM that only emerges once a year to make personnel moves by drafting 18-year-olds (the exception being if a roster player demands a trade multiple times and has his track suit thrown into the shower by the team's prom king / father figure). Suffice to say that it is not a comfortable time to be a Jets fan.

And more unpleasant buzz-kill is available for those who desire to look for it. One HockeyDB image and one Microsoft Word table should do the trick:

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

Draft Position
Player First Selected
Mark Scheifele
Jacob Trouba
Josh Morrissey
Nikolai Ehlers
Kyle Connor

It would not be hard to argue that the Jets have been caught in a trap of mediocrity. In their fifth season under current management, the Jets have made the playoffs once and have never drafted higher than the 7th overall pick inherited from Atlanta. This is a problem if you believe that while Nik Ehlers (9th overall) is very good, odds are that Aaron Ekblad (1st overall), Sam Reinhart (2nd overall), Leon Draisaitl (3rd overall), and Sam Bennett (4th overall) will be a little bit better. The same could be said of every draft year. This is not to critique the Jets' drafting, which according to outside sources have left the Jets well-stocked relative to their peers. However it remains to be seen whether even above-average drafting (if this is even true, and if so, how repeatable it is) in the middle third of the first round will be enough to lift the Jets past both the NHL's established upper class and the ones who have added generational talents like Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel, or Auston Matthews to the fold. 

What should the Jets do, you ask? Since we can't go back in time and somehow force Chevy to avert the Stafford/Frolik downgrade, re-sign Stempniak, acquire a second actual NHL left-handed defenceman behind Toby Enstrom, and (of course) injure Ondrej Pavelec earlier in the season, one answer is to embrace the tank. Trade Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd for a combination of draft picks and players with term beyond this season. Put your best goalie back in the AHL and see what can be done to inch closer to Auston Matthews or another worthy consolation prize.

Tkachuk 2.0: hopefully less of an asshole!

Any combination of those moves, while rational, does not guarantee progress. Before this season it was generally accepted by fans that the Jets' struggles should be placed within the context of a general upward progression: Chipman & Co. bought a very bad team but would gradually transform it into a team that would consistently be a multi-round threat come playoff time. Following up their first playoff berth with a 6th or 7th place divisional finish while potentially losing two of their best players is a stinging setback - one that may linger next year as well, depending how Ladd and Byfuglien are replaced. If the Jets are still making progress under capable management, fans' patience is being tested at the very least.

But while the difficulties faced now are real we should also keep in mind that they will be fairly typical moving forward. Yes, the Jets are caught in a mediocrity trap. And so is every single other team in the NHL. While the degrees of ensnarement vary by team - and there are a few outliers such as the Chicago Blackhawks, 2014/15 Buffalo Sabres or the Edmonton Oilers, 2010 to 2015 TBD -  the differences are not all that stark.  Every team wants to be that consistent, multi-round playoff threat, but every team spends about the same amount on player salaries to do so. Every team says their plan is to "draft and develop", but how many scouting departments out-draft their peers with consistency? The standings reflect these small differences. Five points fewer and the Jets would be in last place. Seven additional points would put them in the playoffs.1 Things are close but... if you're hoping for either extreme, odds are you're not going to get it this year.

Connor Hellebuyck alone could reduce angst by 1000%.

Success in the NHL is an inefficiency that the market is quick to correct for. Even the Jets, with their limited successes so far, now must come to grips with this on the contract front. The Jets drafted two good players in Mark Scheifele and Jacob Trouba but beginning next season both players complete their team-friendly entry level deals and will be paid closer to market rates. These raises will require one or both of Andrew Ladd or Dustin Byfuglien - better players - to be jettisoned. That this we have reached this point with only one 4-game playoff appearance should certainly be a disappointment.

What is the direction of the Winnipeg Jets then? Onward and upward, or more seasons of missing the playoffs? Are Chevy & Co. shrewd managers outsmarting the rest of the league with regularity? Can't say that from this spot in the standings. Are they fools running the team into the ground? They've apparently drafted very well and their dumbest move was not re-signing one middle-six forward.2 Either extreme is a stretch. What the Jets are, is simply one of thirty teams trying to draft well, sign good contracts, avoid signing bad ones, and praying for a goaltending saviour. It's not the most dramatic story line but it'll still be fun, even if it isn't cheap.

I would expect the Jets to continue to be caught somewhere in the mediocrity trap. We can only hope that they can settle in above the playoff line sooner than later.

1 Wonder if playoff races are good for business?
2 That was the dumbest move. Worst move was Pavelec's 5-year contract.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Will the 2015-16 Winnipeg Jets make the playoffs?

Holy shit. All the other teams have gotten better. Dallas traded for Patrick Sharp and signed a goalie who's actually okay. Edmonton finally drafted Connor McDavid, Calgary added Dougie Hamilton and pried even our very own Michael Frolik away from us. Other teams have done other crap.

Meanwhile the Jets have done seemingly nothing.1

As Jets fans, this is concerning and leads us to wonder if our inevitable rise to become Stanley Cup Champions in 2019 will entail more hardship in the short term. After their long-awaited first playoff appearance, the few moves that the Jets have made can be summed up as "lateral" - and even that probably requires some optimism. Then again the Jets were considered a strong team on the rise as last regular season drew to a close.

Which teams will miss?

For starters, we'since the Western Conference has only 14 teams we'll work at the question from it's negative: "Will the 2015-16 Winnipeg Jets miss the playoffs?" Six teams in the West will miss the playoffs. Same as last year. And... y'know... could be anyone, right, San Jose, Dallas, and LA?

"Very, very Likely" To Miss:

Phoenix Arizona Coyotes. They were really, really bad last year. They signed Antoine Vermette and drafted Dylan Strome 3rd overall. Probably they'll keep sucking.

Shit it starts getting close already... after one team!?!?

"Could make it but let's allow ourselves to pencil them in as missing":

Colorado Avalanche. They weren't off by that much last year and their goalie is crazy good and have some high-end young forwards.... but they only signed Carl Soderberg, Francois Beauchemin. They traded away more "now" than they got back in the Ryan O'Reilly trade. Let's say they'll miss!

Edmonton Oilers. Also signed some help for the blue line this summer. They don't have a crazy good goalie but they actually have a good coach now oh and Sidney Crosby scored 102 points in his rookie season... Connor McDavid will make a difference. But not enough. Let's say they miss!

Vancouver Canucks. Same goal differential as the Jets last year and had two more points. Thankfully for us they've had a bad off-season so far. The Canucks traded Kevin Bieksa and Eddie Lack for draft picks, Zach Kassian for Brandon Prust - all amounting to a likely downgrade this year. Still, not a bad team or anything... but man it would be so sweet for Jets fans for this team to finish 10th or 11th. Let's say they miss!

Hell no I'm not putting the Jets here!

"Unfortunately one of us is going to miss the playoffs: Pacific edition!":

Calgary Flames. They were supposed to be the easy pick for "team that made the playoffs last year but won't this year" but then they added Dougie Hamilton and Michael Frolik which are pretty nice. Still, they made the playoffs with really bad underlying stats. Who knows?

San Jose Sharks. They were supposed to win the Stanley Cup the last few years but instead had no success. They're taking a risk on their new goalie, Martin Jones, but risks can pay off. Also they signed notable "good players" Joel Ward and Paul Martin. Who knows?

LA Kings. They did win the Stanley Cup the year before last but last year the drugs got out of hand and their second-best defenceman was suspended by the league for some pretty horrible shit (violence against his wife). There's a few things up in the air with this team (what happens with that defenceman, if they can get out of Mike Richard's contract, etc) and the fact remains that they were below average last year - but it won't take much to get them into a playoff spot. Who knows?

"Unfortunately one of us is going to miss the playoffs: Central edition!":

Dallas Stars. Let's see: They added Patrick Sharp, Johnny Oduya, and Antti Niemi, who are good. They lost... not that much. Damn. They're probably going to be better. Especially considering that they received a .903 save percentage from their starting goalie last year. That's Pavelecian... and therefore scary for Winnipeg Jets fans for two reasons....

Winnipeg Jets. Michael Frolik, out. Alex Burmistrov, in. The Jets would have to be pleased if Burmistrov equalled Frolik's 2014-15 level of play. The rest is a mess as far as predictions go: Evander Kane? He only scored 10 goals in 37 games for the Jets before the injury/trade. Drew Stafford - who is still ultimately a downgrade on even crappy 2014-15 Evander Kane - will probably at least replace that unimpressive level of offensive production. The bottom six has question marks, such as will Nikolai Ehlers make the team and will he be any good in his first year? What else... a full season of Tyler Myers is an upgrade over Zach Bogosian. But all this doesn't matter unless the Jets get goaltending very close to Ondrej Pavelec's .920utlier save percentage last year; he had a .905 and .901 the previous two years. Thankfully rookie Michael Hutchinson posted a respectable .914, meaning the Jets' goaltending situation is better heading into this season than any other, although that isn't saying much.

Those other teams that we will pencil into making the playoffs:

Now we return to our stunningly detailed league-wide perspective. While it would be awesome if one of the remaining teams had a shitty year and missed - and it is possible - it's not exactly the likeliest thing in the world. Winnipeg could finish better than Chicago, Nashville, Minnesota, or St. Louis....(Anaheim doesn't really matter to us) and it wouldn't take a surprise team-wide cocaine addiction to make it so. One of these teams may miss. Still, once we get to the point of picking these teams to miss the playoffs, things just start to feel a little more unlikely. Cross our fingers and hope for a Cup hangover or a lengthier Pekka Rinne injury I suppose.


In order to make the playoffs, the Jets need to finish at least 5th in the Central Division. According to the borderline infallible logic above, that means being better than Dallas, Colorado, and one of LA, San Jose, and Calgary. The mix could be different - Chicago or Nashville instead of Dallas, say. Or if a team from the Pacific Division takes one of the Wild Card spots, the Jets would need to finish 4th or better in the Central. This shows that the playoffs are attainable once again but will require being better than a team like Dallas, which seems likely to rebound.

As a Jets fan, this would be far easier if the Jets had added Patrick Sharp or a legitimate top-4 left-handed defenceman. Put differently, if we had been handed an easy "yes" to the "will the Jets be better than last year?" question we could at least pencil them in to a playoff spot based on the fact they made it last year... and improved. Instead, the Jets replaced a good player (Michael Frolik) with a potentially good player (Alex Burmistrov). Youngsters Nik Ehlers, Joel Armia, Nic Petan, and Josh Morrissey might improve the Jets' depth. Perhaps most importantly, the specter of a return to Pavelec's career average save percentage (very bad) haunts any prediction involving the Jets returning to the playoffs.

This is all very difficult to predict. Flip a coin?

1 This is like that bad dream where I'm the one white kid in a Chinese Grade 5 class where all the other kids study day and night with their insane parents yell at them "COMPETE GLOBALLY OR GET LEFT BEHIND ECONOMICALLY!" and then remind them how they actually had an older sister but didn't want an older sister... every night. House of Cards-style. Man... competition is rough I tell ya.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Did the Jets lose Michael Frolik for nothing?

Let's get one thing out of the way: Michael Frolik is a good hockey player and I for one am disappointed that he will not be playing for the Jets for the next several years.Like, he's even better than Drew Stafford. So that's a bummer. And in a likely close playoff race ahead, not having Frolik may just be the difference between a playoff berth or not.

But Frolik is now gone and some are suggesting that the Jets have "lost him for nothing" or otherwise wasted him as an asset. I'd agree with this, except, y'know... the Jets made the playoffs, thanks in part to Frolik's help. Making the playoffs and competing for the Stanley Cup has value (for me at least), so I'm pleased in general with the value we got out of Frolik. That's pretty much it but since my editor wants a higher word count I'll go into more detail below.

History, and a few details

The Jets traded for Michael Frolik in the summer of 2013 from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for a 3rd round pick (74th overall) and a 5th round pick (134th overall). Frolik, 25 at the time, would be under team control for two more seasons.

Frolik played well his first year, scoring 15 goals and 42 points with excellent underlying numbers. Unfortunately, the Jets finished last in the Central and 9th worst in the league. He received a pay raise as an RFA during the summer of 2014 but he and the Jets did not agree to a long-term deal.2 He would earn $3-million and enter the 2014-15 season as a pending unrestricted free agent. The consternation began.

Frolik, the before-the-season pending-UFA

Having failed to sign Frolik to a multi-year extension and knowing that asset management is critical to a successful NHL franchise, what should the Jets have done heading into the 2014-15 season? How about halfway through the season when still no deal had been reached?

Entering the season, Frolik seemed a likely trade candidate since the Jets finished the previous season seven points out of a playoff spot and seemed determined to continue the insane Frontal Assault On All That Is Good And Holy by continuing to call Ondrej Pavelec an NHL starting goalie. The Jets were a near-consensus to miss the playoffs. If you believed the Jets season would be dismal, getting ready to field offers on Frolik would make sense.

However, even a shit-show like the 2014-15 Edmonton Oilers didn't begin to jettison good players until January 2nd, trading David Perron to the Penguins in the first "Good-Player-for-Future-Hope" swap of the season. Fans spending money on tickets need some modicum of excitement before flushing the season down the toilet - even Oiler fans. So it's unsurprising that the Jets did not trade Frolik before or very early in the season. Still, one could make an argument for trading him before the season if a good deal was out there, depending on if you thought the Jets would be good/bad. The consternation continued.

Frolik, the "the-trade-deadline-is-looming" pending-UFA

By the time January 2nd rolled around it turns out that the Jets were... good. They were getting the goaltending that had eluded them for years and had survived lengthy injuries - OR DRUG REHABS! - to pretty much every one of their defencemen. Two weeks later, James Mirtle wrote an article titled, "Yes, The Jets Are The Real Deal". And that felt pretty nice. As for Frolik, he was a valued contributor and was a notable part of this success.

The Jets' strong play continued and on the eve of the trade deadline, they destroyed the L.A. Kings and found themselves comfortably in a playoff spot. Already with the 7th-best score adjusted Corsi in the NHL, the Jets added depth forwards Jiri Tlusty and Lee Stempniak. This was considered by many smart hockey people to be a team that could do some damage in the playoffs and became a popular "dark horse" pick. Trading Frolik at this point would have lessened the Jets chances at going deep or even making the playoffs - which aren't really that different anymore, given the parity in the NHL. The consternation... abated because we began buying white t-shirts.

Having not been traded, was Frolik a wasted asset?

Of course, getting swept adding an exclamation mark to the Jets' eventual first round playoff exit (which was a definite buzzkill) but I don't think we should get all "the Jets are worse than Hitler" over it. The Jets were banged up. Our goaltending picked a bad time to wear off. Whatever. Luck happens. The better team won. That happened to other teams, too, and it doesn't mean that St. Louis, Nashville, or the Islanders, should have sold all expiring assets on March 2nd, either.

Whether or not you consider Frolik a wasted (or, more defensibly, "underutilized") asset depends in part on how much you value "higher playoff odds now" or "higher playoff odds later". Unless Frolik was some kind of surprise cancer in the dressing room, any realistic trade would have meant hurting the Jets' playoff chances now and helping them later. Draft picks, or the compromise option: a roster player with more term remaining - would have logically made the Jets weaker last season. On a well above-average possession team in a playoff spot, an equally valid question would be, "Would trading Frolik have wasted an opportunity?"

Clearly not all 8th seeds are the 2014 L.A. Kings and making a regular habit of trading/passing up future assets in order to squeak into the playoffs would likely not be good for an organization. But this was a chance to make their first playoff appearance and the Jets had a hungry core in their primes. If this were an underachieving team with only a slim chance at the playoffs at the trade deadline then you might as well trade him. However in the context described above, missing out on a couple draft picks seems a cheap price to pay to be a playoff "dark horse" and give your players playoff experience in the process.


If you find yourself disagreeing with this and having visions of that second and third round draft pick haunting your sleep I have to ask... just what exactly would those draft picks be for? To me at least, the correct answer is "to make the playoffs and compete for the Stanley Cup". And the Jets did that this spring. Maybe your standards such that we should always look to trade pending UFAs unless we are in a divisional playoff spot. Or we need to feel 60% sure we can make the Conference Finals or something. Those standards are unnecessarily high to me.

While things could have worked out better, such as via a team-friendly extension or longer playoff run, the Jets still made off well enough in their acquisition and employment of Michael Frolik. Costing the team only a 3rd and 5th round draft pick, Frolik played an important role in giving the Jets their first playoff berth, which is a notable accomplishment. His two years of service capped by the playoff experience was solid value received.

NOTE:  I'd like all rebuttals to my argument to refrain from using the Curtis Glencross trade and how it somehow got Calgary draft picks and a playoff series win and how Brad Treliving spent the entire 2014-15 shoving horseshoes up his ass. Thanks.

1 There really needs to be a "ceterus paribus" (all things being equal) NHL equivalent... like "without thinking about his cap hit and the implications of that cap hit on signing other good players and other complicated shit like that.... he's a good player".
2 If the 4 years, $16-million rumors are true, the Jets missed out.