As great as things have been for the Winnipeg Jets lately, it still feels like their playoff hopes are just that: hopes.
The Jets could make a statement and suddenly become a playoff team, however, if P.A. Parenteau joined the team as part of a trade.
Parenteau’s name wasn’t one expected to be in the rumor mill this season, after leading the humble Colorado Avalanche in scoring just the year previous. Parenteau’s 18 goals in 2013 were just two shy of his career high of 20, in 32 fewer games. Just as the Avalanche themselves did, Parenteau got off to a quick start this season, scoring seven points in his first six games. After that, a six-game point-less drought stopped him in his tracks, and he has been inconsistent since then, currently sitting with 25 points on the season.
The Avalanche sat Parenteau on Monday night against the Dallas Stars, amidst rumors of a trade with the Montreal Canadiens looming. With those rumors now dissipated, it is known that Colorado is looking for a defenseman in return for Parenteau. With the Avalanche on the bubble in the Central Division, and the Jets treading water out of playoff position, both teams could have what each other needs in order to be post-season contenders.
The Jets’ Dustin Byfuglien has been a trade possibility for much of his third season in Winnipeg. Recently, Byfuglien has enjoyed enormous success since moving up to play forward, becoming a huge contributor in the Jets’ recent hot streak. Now that Byfuglien’s trade stock has been significantly boosted, it is time to look at possible destinations for the 28-year old.
Colorado could use Byfuglien’s services on the blue-line immediately, as their defense core has shown their inexperience multiple times this season, and has been prone to injuries. Byfuglien would be an obvious first-pairing defenceman, but would have to curb the turnovers and defensive errors that were all too common before moving up front.
The trade would make sense as a “hockey deal”, compared to a deadline trade that many thought Byfuglien could be a part of this season. The Jets would get some permanent contribution inside the top six, while the Avs would enjoy a physical offensive defenseman that can quarterback their power-play. Byfuglien would be a great complement to the speed of Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon, who could enter the zone, cycle the puck back to the defense, and use his hard shot to create second and third scoring chances.
Parenteau is in the second season of a four-year contract that sees him take in $4 million annually. Byfuglien, who also has two years remaining on his deal, puts $5.2 million against the Salary Cap each year. The Jets could use this trade to free up some much-needed Cap space as the trade deadline gets closer, and the team becomes a buyer/seller (depending on their play until Deadline Day.)
Trading within the division, or even the Western Conference, however, is risky business. A deal like this will make one General Manager look very good, and the other, equally bad. Many Winnipeggers would hate to see Byfuglien go, but hate seeing him play their Jets five times a year even more.
Colorado might not see Winnipeg as a prominent opportunity at the moment, but as options start to fade, the Jets and Byfuglien could become a very reasonable deal for the team. A trade of this magnitude would hinge on other possibilities fizzing out with the Avs first. The next 5-7 days will dictate whether this deal has any legs at all.
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