The pre-emptive strikes have begun and the countdown to the NHL trade deadline is down to nine days.
With centre Dominic Moore heading to the San Jose Sharks, defenceman Hal Gill moving to the Nashville Predators and Nicklas Grossman and Pavel Kubina going to the Philadelphia Flyers over the past few days, it’s only natural to wonder if the race to the checkout line is about to speed up for the teams looking to add big-ticket items or complementary pieces for the stretch drive.
It seems like the buyers continue to outweigh the sellers, but several teams remain on the fence and some other general managers might not want to overpay for rental players.
Some — like the Winnipeg Jets — don’t have any interest in rentals at all, though they will probably be shipping out a few.
With 22 games remaining, the Jets find themselves battling for a playoff spot but with seven potential unrestricted free agents on the roster.
Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff is going to have to determine which guys he wants to keep and which others might not be in the plans.
The seven pending UFAs are forwards Jim Slater, Tanner Glass, Tim Stapleton and Kyle Wellwood, defencemen Johnny Oduya, Randy Jones, Mark Flood and goalie Chris Mason.
We’re almost certain there won’t be a fire sale and the chances for a blockbuster involving the core is slim, but you have to remember that most members of this team were inherited.
Chances are good that several of those players could be on the move as the Jets try to stockpile prospects and draft picks, provided the compensation is adequate.
However, several others are part of the leadership core and would be natural fits to re-sign.
Does that make it a stressful time for players inside the Jets’ dressing room?
“For some guys maybe, but for myself, it’s business as usual,” said Glass. “My focus is to play hockey. Block shots, kill penalties, finish my checks. That’s my task. If the organization feels they’d like to re-sign me, I’d definitely be open to staying here.”
“You hear that Chevy says nobody is untouchable here, anybody can be traded at anytime,” added Slater. “Obviously, you don’t want to pick up and go but sometimes it happens and you have to.
“I don’t know what their plans are for the future, but I’ve really enjoyed my time here and I enjoy the city. As a professional, you come to the rink every day and just play. You can’t worry about that. You come and perform on a nightly basis.”
Jets head coach Claude Noel reiterated his position that he’s not wasting time wondering who might be staying and who might be going, though he is certainly paying attention to the deals that are being made around the league.
“It’s not stressful for me at all,” said Noel. “I try to keep it simple, coach what I have. I don’t lose sleep.
“What interests me when I see those moves is the price, the value. That’s what I look at more.”
You can be sure that the moves — and subsequent cost — have also caught the attention of Cheveldayoff.
So when will he pull the trigger?
Only Cheveldayoff knows for sure.