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17 Feb 2018

NHL Trade Rumor: Winnipeg Jets looking to add forward depth

For the first time since 2015, the Winnipeg Jets are poised to make the NHL postseason.

One of the biggest surprises of the year — aside from the expansion Vegas Golden Knights — the Jets currently sit in a tie for first place in the Central with the Nashville Predators at 77 points. And while the Predators have done work to bring in more help in the form of Kyle Turris, the Jets have stood pat this season. But that appears primed to change.

According to The Fourth Period, Winnipeg general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff is in the market to add a top-six forward by the February 26th trade deadline.

Who's Available?

As far as names go, it's extremely unlikely that the top available forward, Buffalo Sabres winger Evander Kane, would be on that list due to how he left town originally. But that doesn't mean there aren't quality forwards available. 

TFP mentions pending free agent Michael Grabner of the New York Rangers, or his Mats Zuccarello as possible targets. Zuccarello would likely cost more due to still having one more year on his deal. A higher cost, however, may be worth it to see how the 30-year-old Zuccarello meshes with the current core in Winnipeg of Blake Wheeler, Patrik Laine, and Mark Scheifele. 

With 40 points in 57 games this season, Zuccarello would provide a playmaking ability that could help Laine produce even more.

Stick with the Rangers, there is the possibility the Rick Nash would also accept a trade to Winnipeg due to their current place in the standings. Should the Jets want to part with the high asking price for the former All-Star, Nash would provide an immediate scoring threat as well as a big body for the larger Western Conference.

Moving away from the Rangers, another player that has been drawing interest around the league is Ottawa Senators forward Mike Hoffman. 

With a cap hit of $5.187 million for the next two seasons, Hoffman would cost the Jets the most out of any potential option. With a solid foundation in place, Winnipeg could afford to part with a number of draft picks and prospects, but the question would then shift to just how much the Senators would demand. As a team that has made it known their plans to refresh and rebuild, clearing the cap hit that Hoffman comes with while also potentially taking on another contract like the recently acquired Marian Gaborik could prove like return enough for Ottawa to make a deal.

There's just two weeks until the trade deadline passes, and there's sure to be no shortage of noise coming from across the league as the days creep closer.