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Should The Winnipeg Jets Tank For A Better Draft Position

The Winnipeg Jets are out of the playoffs but came up with an inspiring win last night over the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2.  They out played the Leafs by a wide margin even considering sitting Evander Kane as a healthy scratch.  I think Kane is a great player and had a tough year injury wise but if he had been in every game he would be on pace for about 25 goals this year.  That’s a pretty good year for a player 22 years old.

There’s a few ways to look at the last few games for the reason why Kane was scratched last night.  They want to send a message that he has to be better, they want to see some of their young players play or they want to tank to get a better draft pick.

Of course any player would not tank a game for a better draft pick because first of all they’re professionals and they didn’t get to where they are by not wanting to win.  Secondly, why would players want to lose on purpose for a better draft pick considering this draft pick could take their job some day.  Thirdly the young players in the lineup like Eric O’Dell, Zach Redmond, Paul Postma, Anthony Peluso and Eric Tangradi who don’t play regularly are not going to tank for a better draft pick.

The idea of tanking for the number one draft pick is not something you can do because of the lottery process now.  This year’s draft has some great picks in the top 6 but the only way you can play to lose is by weakening your lineup, and not having Kane in the lineup could weaken your lineup but players sometimes raise their game like last night and play harder when a good player is out or they play better so they aren’t next, so it does back fire but if that was the intent starting Michael Hutchinson would have been the first move.  So I do not believe the Jets are trying to tank games for a better draft pick.

I remember in 1981 the Winnipeg Jets ended up last over all and got the number one pick which turned out to be Dale Hawerchuk and they had no need to tank because they had the longest losing record in the history of hockey going 30 games without a win.  Players like Hawerchuk who at 18 years old can take you from last to the playoffs in one season are extremely rare especially in this day and age.  There are so many players out there and you never know when it comes to drafting players what you’re really going to get.  Hawerchuk was one of those rare can’t miss number one overall draft picks.

The Ottawa Senators had 2 such can’t miss draft picks in Alexander Daigle and Alexei Yashin, and those didn’t turn out so well.

Tanking for can’t miss draft picks is not worth it in my mind.  The next can’t miss draft pick is Connor McDavid in the 2015 entry draft.  But that’s another season away.

Let’s go over our top players in today’s game and see where they were drafted.  Corey Perry was drafted 28th overall and selected ahead of him were big names like Nikolai Zherdev, Hugh Jessiman, Eric Fehr and Anthony StewartRyan Getzlaff was selected 19th overall in the same draft.  Superstars are not always drafted high.

Patrice Bergeron was selected 45th overall in the same 2003 draft year.  Good drafting can come at any time in a draft and if you are looking to build through the draft getting a higher pick doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to get the best.  Take a look at the Edmonton Oilers, they have had the number 1 draft pick for 3 consecutive years from 2010-2012, number 7 last year and number 10 in 2009 and their best pick arguably was Jordan Eberle taken 22nd overall in 2008 who is ranked 4th in points in that draft behind Steve Stamkos, Erik Karlsson and Drew Doughty and only one point behind Taylor Hall who has played 60 less games than Eberle.  And the Oilers can’t get out of the basement.

Playing for draft order is a mistake because you’re cheating your fans that pay good money to see the best team you can ice and doesn’t guarantee anything with the picks I showed you above.  I can understand the reason behind tanking to get a better draft pick but with the lottery there are no guarantees anymore.  A great player like Perry could be there at 11th just as easy as 6th.

The best bet is if you think a player is a can’t miss prospect, trade up in the draft to guarantee that pick.  Mark Scheifele looks like a gem and he was taken 7th overall when scouts had him listed at 15th or higher, the way he’s played this year, it looks like Kevin Cheveldayoff made the right choice.  I like where this team is headed and if they don’t make the playoffs next year, then you can look at making some changes.  Three years is not enough to start making blockbuster moves to simply get into the playoffs.  I could be wrong and we might see a big move this summer but don’t bet on it.  The way this team has improved this year at such a young age, they are only going to get better when that young team starts to mature big things could happen.  If we’re having the same conversation next spring you might see a change or two, but my advice is to give Chevy 5 years and see where we are.  The Jets are young, let’s see how they grow.

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Tags: Winnipeg Jets

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