Jets add Setoguchi in trade

- July 5th, 2013

The media room inside the MTS Centre was a quiet place on Friday, as members of the media waited for word of a potential free agent signing by the Winnipeg Jets that simply didn’t come.

Arriving shortly after 10 a.m. and departing around just after 6 p.m., I was mulling over a column about the lack of activity by Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff during Day 1 of unrestricted free agency and how he was either going to turn his attention to a UFA from the bargain bin or perhaps raid one of those cap-strapped clubs that was in need of getting under the $64.3 million teams can spend next season.

Wouldn’t you know it, as I pulled into my garage, an e-mail from the Jets arrived in my in-box, saying they had picked up RW Devin Setoguchi from the Minnesota Wild for a second pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.

The Jets trading a valuable draft pick for someone whose contract expires at the end of next season?

Now this was an interesting development. After biding his time and assessing what he has in the organization, Cheveldayoff — who said he had substantial talks about Setoguchi with Wild GM Chuck Fletcher during the draft last Sunday — made the kind of move to help improve his team for the now while sacrificing a bit of the future.

For someone who has spoken about trying to be a playoff team next season, this was a positive step in improving the talent level on the roster.

During the past week, Cheveldayoff has turned RW from a position of weakness to one that features a few more higher-end options, provided he can secure RFA Blake Wheeler on a new, long-term deal.

Setoguchi, who was in Mexico attending a wedding, is joining his third NHL organization, after getting drafted by the San Jose Sharks 8th overall in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft and moving to the Minnesota Wild with Dany Heatley at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft in St. Paul in a deal that sent Brent Burns to California.

The 26-year-old from Taber, Alta. scored 31 goals for the Sharks and has hit double digits in each of his six NHL seasons, eclipsing 20 on two other occasions, piling up 19 one other year.

Last season, Setoguchi started slow but a torrid hot streak helped push the Wild into the playoffs before bowing out the Chicago Blackhawks in five games during the first round.

Setoguchi brings playoff experience and has been a clutch performer, delivering three OT goals in 53 playoff contests.

Cheveldayoff said it would be up to head coach Claude Noel to decide where Setoguchi slots in, but it’s not hard to imagine him skating alongside Evander Kane and creating a pretty dynamic duo.

Here’s how I see the depth chart shaping up as of July 5, keeping in mind that restricted free agents marked with an asterisk have to be re-signed and several players could be traded to teams looking to add players with cap-friendly contracts (since the Alex Burmistrov to the KHL rumours remain, I’m going to leave him on the sidelines for now).

Jets potential combos/pairings for 2013-14
Andrew Ladd-Bryan Little*-Blake Wheeler*
Evander Kane-Mark Scheifele-Devin Setoguchi
James Wright-Olli Jokinen-Michael Frolik
Eric Tangradi*-Jim Slater-Anthony Peluso*/Chris Thorburn
Eric O’Dell*-Patrice Cormer*

Toby Enstrom-Dustin Byfuglien
Grant Clitsome-Zach Bogosian
Mark Stuart-Jacob Trouba
Arturs Kuld*-Zach Redmond*/Paul Postma*

Ondrej Pavelec
Al Montoya

What do you think of those units?

Back to today’s proceedings, it’s impossible to know who the Jets got close on in terms of pitching to unrestricted free agents.

As I pointed out in my free agency piece, given what they got on the open market, I was a bit surprised that Clarke MacArthur (2 years, $6.5 million, Ottawa Senators) and Viktor Stalberg (4 years, 12 million, Nashville Predators) didn’t end up here.

The only RWs on the UFA board that still made sense late Friday were Damien Brunner (looking for substantial dollars), Brad Boyes (similar to Kyle Wellwood) and possibly Nathan Gerbe on a short-term, cheaper deal.

As it turns out, those options won’t need to be explored after Cheveldayoff pulled the trigger to get Setoguchi from the Wild.

Of course, there are some risks associated with picking up a guy with only one year left on his current contract that carried a $3 million cap hit but Setoguchi could end up being a steal for a 2nd rounder if he plays up to his potential.

For those scoring at home, the Jets have added Michael Frolik and Setoguchi for three draft picks and retained the services of G Al Montoya and D Grant Clitsome.

When I asked Cheveldayoff is he was still considering bringing back any of the remaining UFAs that were on last year’s roster, he wasn’t sounding too interested at this stage, though Mike Santorelli could still fit here.

“Had the conversations, dialogue (with agents) has been very good, very cordial. Can’t say I’m looking at anything in those regards,” said Cheveldayoff.

As for whether he had any more irons in the fire, Cheveldayoff made it clear his priority from the beginning was to nail down contracts with his RFAs, with Zach Bogosian, Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little standing at the front of that line.

In terms of what some other teams did, plenty of cash was being tossed around. More than that was the length of some of the deals.

“There’s the dollar cost and opportunity cost. If you can get the right player and lock him in for seven years, then that is something you would not turn away,” said Cheveldayoff. “But the free agency day is a difficult day when it comes to those situations. For one, you’re bidding with 29 other teams. Two, depending on maretplace and your team needs and then obviously, there are so many other factors. It is an interesting time when it comes to it.

“For players in their prime, looking at those kind of terms are a little bit easier. As players start to get older, you have to look and see where are we going to be in a couple of years. It might be the perfect fit or a good fit right now, but when you need to transition some younger guys into your lineup to allow them to become impact players, you have to be able to have those opportunities as well.”

Cheveldayoff said the Jets had many conversations during the 48-hour window to talk to players before free agency officially began, though no players were flown in for a visit this time around.

“We were very active on the interview side,” said Cheveldayoff. “We had some good conversations which led to some action on some players as the day progressed. Looking at different opportunities that were there, we were very, very much in on some things but the players (that) are free agents, they get to make the decisions on their opportunities.”

On the local front, Winnipegger Frazer McLaren signed a two-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs, while St. Malo product Travis Hamonic signed a seven-year deal worth $27 million with the New York Islanders.

I spoke with Hamonic this afternoon and he was thrilled about the deal itself and the direction the Isles are heading.

While there were some uninformed folks making comparisons to the Rick DiPietro deal, Hamonic plays on the top pairing and is one of the young leaders on the Islanders so it’s good value for both sides and he’s only 22-years-old.

Speaking of Hamonic, I wonder how close Bogosian’s new deal is going to be to this one.

Originally I figured Bogosian would be signed for up to eight years for close to $50 million but that projection seems a bit high.

But he plays a very similar role to Hamonic, both are strong puck movers who play a physical game, line up against the opposition’s top line and have some offensive upside and are part of the leadership core.

Hamonic, a 2nd rounder (53rd overall) in 2008, has 10G, 60P, 204PIM in 183GP over three seasons, while Bogosian, the third overall pick in 2008, has 34G, 103P, 237PIM in 297GP over five seasons.

When you consider what Roman Josi of the Predators (seven years, 28 million), Slava Voynov of the Los Angeles Kings (six years, $25 million) and Kevin Shattenkirk of the St. Louis Blues (four years, $17 million) also received, I think Bogosian will now end up with a seven-year deal worth $30 to 35 million.

Categories: Hockey

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