WINNIPEG - Johnny Oduya already knows what it’s like to have his world turned upside down.
The Winnipeg Jets defenceman was involved in one of the biggest trades in Atlanta Thrashers franchise history, the one that sent sniper Ilya Kovalchuk to the New Jersey Devils in February of 2010 after contract talks broke down.
It took place well before the NHL trade deadline, but didn’t make the move any easier to digest.
“Obviously, I wasn’t prepared at all,” Oduya said earlier this week.
“I had just signed a three-year deal in Jersey and I thought I was going to stay there. It’s tough. I can’t really explain it.
“You’re kind of paralyzed for a while, but you move on.”
Oduya is one of eight pending unrestricted free agents on the Jets’ roster and is attracting interest from teams in the market for a mobile blue-liner.
When the subject of the trade deadline was raised last week, Oduya made it clear that his bags weren’t packed and his focus was on helping the Jets try to make the playoffs.
“I’m having a lot of fun,” said Oduya. “Now you know (a trade) is something that is a possibility. At the same time, it’s something you don’t really have control over. The decision comes down to a lot of things, other than just wanting to stay.”
Another guy Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff may be taking calls about is versatile forward Kyle Wellwood.
The last free agent signed by the Jets during the off-season turned into quite a find.
Wellwood seems to have found a home on the second line. He’s creative, clever and defensively responsible, chipping in 12 goals and 36 points in 62 games.
With 40 games of playoff experience, he’d be the type of guy who could help one of the favourites in the Stanley Cup chase.
However, Wellwood hopes he doesn’t go anywhere.
“It’s been my favourite NHL year,” said Wellwood. “(The organization) has done a good job with making everyone comfortable here.
“With the way the team has handled adversity, it shows there seems to be good character in the room and that guys are developing and pulling for each other. There doesn’t seem to be a push to make a change because we seem to be playing up to our talent level.”
Linemates Jim Slater and Tanner Glass fall in a similar category.
Both are pending unrestricted free agents who play a vital role on the penalty kill and are checking-line guys who provide energy and play with an edge, while chipping in a bit offensively.
Slater and Glass bring the type of character that the Jets’ organization values and can be kept at a reasonable salary.
So while we expect other teams to be calling with their interest, it’s much more likely that Slater and Glass — who are on record saying they’d like to sign extensions — will stay put and keep the G-S-T line in tact, with Chris Thorburn.
Randy Jones is a guy who could be of interest to a contender looking for another defenceman they can count on.
The Jets have Mark Flood (another UFA) in reserve, so moving Jones for a prospect or draft pick makes sense.
“You understand this is a business and if trades happen, they happen,” said Jones. “You kind of suck it up, bite your lip and move on. If it doesn’t happen, you keep working hard and striving to what your goal is.”
We’re not expecting the Jets to take the plunge and come up with a big splash on Monday, but a ripple or two wouldn’t be surprising either.
By mid-afternoon, we’ll know for sure.
CALL-UPS ARE AT THE READY
Should a little roster room open up after Monday’s NHL trade deadline passes, several St. John’s IceCaps appear to be ready to answer the call.
Although the Winnipeg Jets aren’t expected to be overly busy on Monday, there’s always a chance a recall or two could be required.
After a strong showing during a stint last month, Aaron Gagnon looks like a logical fit for a fourth line that has struggled to provide much in terms of production this season.
A variety of players have been used to this point, but Gagnon — who signed a two-year deal with the Jets last summer — could be given another shot in an attempt to give the fourth unit a boost.
Other forward options garnering consideration at this stage would include Jason Jaffray (15 goals, 30 points), Spencer Machacek (12 goals, 38 points) and Patrice Cormier (10 goals, 18 points in 38 games), depending on the type of player the Jets were looking for.
Jaffray’s strong play down the stretch for the Manitoba Moose last spring could hold him in good standing with head coach Claude Noel.
Arturs Kulda is the most likely player to be summoned if a defenceman is moved.
Kulda has four goals and 15 points in 40 games this season and is a team-best plus-12 in plus/minus ranking.
Kulda played in nine games with the Jets, recording no points while posting a plus-3 rating and playing a safe, physical style of play.
Paul Postma is making strides with the IceCaps and is having a strong offensive season, with 11 goals and 37 points in 45 games to sit second in team scoring.
Postma had no points in three games with the Jets and the thinking is that playing big minutes for the IceCaps during the stretch drive and into the playoffs would be better for his development before he tries to become a full-time NHLer next season.
Rookie blue-liner Zach Redmond (five goals, 21 points) is also playing well but it’s likely he’ll require some more seasoning before he gets his first NHL shot.
Same goes for second-year winger Carl Klingberg, who has 14 goals and 31 points in 45 games but was pointless in six games with the Jets.