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Meet the Buyers: The Winnipeg Jets have a strong defence core that could be improved with Chris Tanev or Noah Hanifin

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Photo credit:Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Ryley Delaney
2 months ago
The big question is what does today’s team even need at the deadline?
This is Meet the Buyers, where we look at teams that are contenders for the Stanley Cup, and what they need to improve their chances. The Calgary Flames have two players – Chris Tanev and Noah Hanifin – set to become unrestricted free agents at the end of the season. Moreover, the Flames could flip Andrei Kuzmenko or Yegor Sharangovich for a maximum return at this season’s deadline, but it’s unlikely.
In this edition, we’ll look at the Winnipeg Jets, along with their needs, their assets, and the cap situation of both teams.

The needs of the Winnipeg Jets

Nearly a month ago, Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff released an article highlighting what each Western Conference team needs heading into the deadline. The Jets needed a second line centre, doing so by acquiring Sean Monahan in an early February trade with the Montréal Canadiens.
These two teams would’ve been the perfect match on Jan. 30, as the second line centre hole could’ve been filled with Elias Lindholm, but alas, the two don’t fit in that regard anymore. With that being said, could the Flames and Jets find another trade, perhaps for a defenceman?
Looking at the latest Daily Faceoff line combinations, they have Josh Morrissey and Dylan DeMelo on the first pair, Dylan Samberg and Neal Pionk on the second pair, and Logan Stanley and Nate Schmidt on the third pair. Moreover, Brenden Dillon will be back on Saturday when the Jets head to Vancouver to face the Canucks.
The most obvious upgrade for the Jets would probably be the third pairing, as Nate Schmidt is a left-shot defenceman playing on the right-side. Of any defenceman on the Jets, his 54.29% goal share is the lowest of anyone that has played 10 games. Moreover, he has a 51.67% expected goal share during five on five play, this according to Natural Stat Trick.
By the same token, Stanley has missed most of the season due to injury, playing in just nine games this season and 19 the season prior. In those nine games, he has a 50% goal share and a 51.67% expected goal share during five on five play.
Out of the two soon-to-be unrestricted free agents on the Flames, Hanifin is the better of the two. At five on five player, Hanifin has a 55.95% goal share and a 50.16% expected goal share on a team that hasn’t had as much success as the Jets. Tanev has a 52.31% goal share and a 50.67% expected during five on five play, and would probably be an upgrade over Schmidt.
Hanifin and/or Tanev would make the Jets better in the short term, but the cost would be immense for a position they don’t need (right now). The same can be said for their goaltending situation, as the Jets have Connor Hellebuyck.

What assets do the Winnipeg Jets have to offer

The Jets’ 67 points rank as the eighth-best in the league, but they also have the sixth-best farm system in the league according to The Hockey Writers mid-season update. The Jets top five prospects are Chaz Lucius, Brad Lambert, Elias Salomonsson, Rutger McGroarty and Colby Barlow.
Lucius, who is from the state of Kansas, was selected with the 18th-overall pick in the 2021 draft. This season with the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League, the right-shot centre has two goals and 13 points in 17 games. He’s played all over the place in his young career, in the United States Hockey League, at the University of Minnesota, the AHL, and the Western Hockey League.
Lambert is another right-shot centre (from Finland) who plays for the Moose. This season, he has 15 goals and 30 points in 38 games, and like Lucius, has played all over the place. He spent several years playing in Finland’s top league, while also playing for the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL in 2022-23. Lambert was selected with the 30th-overall pick in the 2022 draft.
Salomonsson is the only defenceman on the list, and he plays for Skellefteå AIK of the Swedish Hockey League. Selected in the second-round of the 2022 draft, the 19-year-old right-shot defenceman has a goal and six points in 20 games this season. He also played for Sweden in the 2024 World Junior Championship, picking up a silver medal, an assist, and 29 penalty minutes, which ranked second in the entire tournament.
McGroarty is a left-handed winger playing for the University of Michigan. This season, he has 10 goals and 36 points in 23 games, needing just three points to match his career-high, but also eight goals. Still, the 19-year-old leads the team in points and helped the United States bring home the gold medal in 2024 with five goals and nine points in seven games.
Barlow is another left-shot winger who plays with the Owen Sound Attack in the Ontario Hockey League. This season, he has 29 goals and 43 points, but missed time due to a back injury. His career-high in goals is 46, and he now has 18 goals in his last 19 games.

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The Jets don’t have their first-round pick in the 2024 draft due to the Monahan deal. Nor do they have their second pick. They do, however, have the Canadiens’ second-round pick that has been traded three times at this point. Winnipeg has the rest of their picks for the 2024 draft, as well as their first, second, and third-round picks in the 2025 draft, according to Puckpedia.

The cap situation of both teams

Winnipeg is one of the rare teams in the playoffs with cap space. As of Feb. 14, they have $2,918,535 in cap space, along with $987,707 in projected cap space by the end of the season. Furthermore, they have no one on the long-term injured reserve, according to Puckpedia.
Even though they don’t use them, the Flames have all three retention spots available, meaning that they can get an even better return if they retain half of a player’s salary. Tanev has a cap hit of $4.5 million and will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, while Hanifin has a cap hit of $4.95 million, and will also be an unrestricted free agent after the season is done.

In conclusion

Realistically, the Flames and Jets aren’t good trade partners… for now. We’re in the middle of February and injuries happen, look no further than Mikhail Sergachev. If, and hopefully it doesn’t happen because injuries suck, the Jets lose a defenceman before the deadline, the two teams suddenly become good partners once again.
Still, it doesn’t seem likely that the two teams will make a trade before this season’s trade deadline.
Thanks for reading! You can follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D.
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