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February 27, 2017 | 9:48am ET
Questions arise as deadline nears

BY JON WALDMAN | TheFourthPeriod.com

WINNIPEG, MB -- With the NHL trade deadline mere days away, there are again going to be a number of eyes on Winnipeg Jets management and questions as to what the team will do.

In the past, deadline day has been fairly quiet for Winnipeg, with any deals -- namely those that involved Andrew Ladd and Evander Kane -- happening in the weeks that lead up to the ballyhooed afternoon.

The result has been disastrous for Winnipeg broadcasters, but more so it has built up impatience with the Jets' fanbase, who constantly hope for the puzzle pieces to fall into place while a playoff spot is still somewhat within reach.

In contrast to past years, though, the Jets not only have numerous holes to fill, but they also have a large number of puzzle pieces for other teams that could be on the table.

Right now, the biggest problems the Jets face are on defense and in goal. While the forwards are as solid as any in the NHL and rank two would-be 30-goal scorers, the depth in the Jets' own zone has been sorely lacking. It's scary to think how much worse this picture would be had Jacob Trouba not been re-signed, especially given that now both Tyler Myers and Toby Enstrom are shelved with injuries.

The simple solution, it would seem as far as defenders go, would be to swap one of the rising prospects, like Nic Petan, for a savvy veteran rearguard.

The depth that the Jets have at forward is phenomenal when you consider that Brendan Lemieux and Jack Roslovic are both candidates to be up with the big squad next year, let alone others like Scott Kosmachuk, who have already had a taste of NHL action.

Also potentially on the trading table, assumedly, is Drew Stafford, who can become an unrestricted free agent July 1.

Goaltenders, however, are a complete other story. Even if the Jets do start to deal on or just before March 1, the team is not likely to move either of its top two netminders -- Michael Hutchinson and Connor Hellebuyck -- with the specter of the NHL Expansion Draft looming, nor are they likely to pursue a new body lest this individual be exposed for grabbing by the Vegas Golden Knights.

But the biggest movement for the Jets may not come amid player personnel; instead, the chatter about the future of Winnipeg's coaching staff is valid.

As this season has shown, great coaches aren't guaranteed to keep their spots, and those with teams ranking higher than the Jets than Paul Maurice's squad have made moves. Just as in jeopardy, if not more so, are the assistant coaches, which include Charlie Huddy, Jamie Kompon and Todd Woodcroft, as well as Goaltending Coach Wade Flaherty.

At this point in the campaign, changes in these areas aren't likely to happen, though nothing is ever a certainty.

Ultimately, Wednesday will be a very heavy day for the Jets. With the club sitting five points out of a playoff spot and teams ahead of them still having games in hand, the likelihood of the team advancing to the playoffs for just the second time in six years isn't looking good; but the future of the team could very well be told once the deadline passes.

Jon Waldman is the Winnipeg Correspondent for The Fourth Period. Follow him on Twitter.

 
 
 

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