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  • Rick Haley

The 5 1/2 Greatest Jet Trades of All Time

Updated: Feb 16, 2021

If you know me, you know that I am not crazy that the Coyotes hold our old Jet record and that Atlanta team #2 (#1 Flames, #2 Thrashers) contributes to current Jet numbers. When I think of all time Winnipeg Jet stats, I like to include the WHA, 1.0 and the current team. Is it valid or accurate? Maybe not. While the WHA Jets could have competed at the NHL level, the same cannot be said for many of the other teams. The play was very mediocre at times and may have contributed to inflated numbers for the better players. Regardless, it was pro hockey and it was the Winnipeg Jets!

My criteria for greatest trades made by the Jets focus mainly on the impact the incoming player or players had for our team. There were some very big trades through the years, but if we gave away more than we got, I did not include those (Christian, Draper, Selanne, Babych). Most teams have made blockbuster deals through the years. Though there have been some really big steals, not all teams get them. Bottom line, it is hard to win a trade at the NHL level. So, with the recent acquisition of Pierre Luc Dubois, I bring you the greatest 5.5 trades in franchise history.

Number 5: What the Hell is a Pionk?

This trade may suffer from a bit of recency bias but the early returns appear to lean towards a win for Winnipeg. Jacob Trouba never appeared totally happy in Winnipeg. First he complained about not getting enough top 4 or even top 2 minutes. With a blueline that included Dustin Byfuglien, Ben Chiarot, Josh Morrisey and Tyler Myers, it was hard to find time to squeeze in the talented Trouba. Once he began increasing his minutes, it was then the fact that he had to play on his off wing. Eventually Troubs was getting top pairing minute with Josh Morrisey but still wanted to be moved. He eventually said that it was because his partner needed to study medicine in the United States. Kevin Chevaldayoff pulled the trigger and initially, Winnipeg fans were, “Who the hell is Neal Pionk?!? And when where was he drafted?" A year and a bit later, fans are warming up to the 25 year old defender. His numbers, last year and so far this year are eclipsing Trouba in most categories. Trouba finished last year with 27 points and a -12 while Pionk put up 45 points and a plus 10.

While Trouba was a little more physical, he was also more apt to cough up a pizza or two in his own end. Pionk plays on the Jets number 1 PP unit and has the ability to skate the puck north and make heads-up break out passes on a regular basis. Oh, and by the way, The Rangers also threw in a pick with Pionk. The Jets chose a very mobile skating defenceman named Ville Heinola. Maybe too soon to tell but I feel good about this one.

Number 4.5 : Twelve Assets Gained

While not technically a trade, it is hard to argue this deal didn’t pay off for the Jets. I’ll call this one a half trade. With the Houston Aeros struggling in the spring of 1978, Jet owner and president Michael Gobuty purchased 12 player contracts for a reported $500,000 from the soon to be defunct Aeros. Of the 12 players, 7 chose Winnipeg over other offers: Terry Ruskowski, Morris Lukowich, Rich Preston, Scott Campbell, Paul Terbenche, Steve West and John Gray. The other 5 chose greener pastures: Andre Lacroix (Whalers), Cam Connor (Canadiens), Dan Larway (Racers), John Hughes (Oilers) and Allan McCleod (Racers). Ruskowski, Lukowich, Preston and Campbell were the real assets and along with Jets Willy Lindstrom, Kent Nilsson, Peter Sullivan and Barry Long were able to beat Wayne Gretzky and the Oilers to snag their third Avco Cup. Without this deal, it is very likely it doesnt happen.

Number 4: Goodbye to the Duckster

It was draft day in the summer of 1990. Fan favourite and superstar Dale Hawerchuk had just come of his lowest offensive year (26 – 55 – 81) and was publicly not happy with coach Bob Murdoch or GM Michael Smith. Smith engineered a trade that saw Hawerchuk head to the Buffalo Sabres for Jeff Parker, Scott Arniel and Phil Housley. Arniel was a Jet returnee and Jeff Parker ended up in Hartford. Housley was the key piece and though he only played 3 seasons for the Jets, (Hawerchuk stayed with the Sabres for 5) he put up inhuman numbers for a defenceman. Averaging 86 points a year, he amassed a whopping 79 assists in 1992-93. That was the year that Teemu Selanne scored 76 and I cannot tell you how many of Housley's stretch passes from the Winnipeg zone found a streaking Selanne at the other team’s blue line. Not unmissed in this trade was the fact that the Sabres and Jets also flipped 1st round picks for the that same draft. The Sabres took Brad May (14th overall) who was a beast of a winger for the next 20 years but the Jets chose Keith Tkachuk (19th) who would go on to score 144 goals for the Jets in 5 seasons and over 1000 points in his career. As much as we missed Hawerchuk, a true franchise player, getting both Housley and Tkachuk together makes this a good trade.

Number 3: The King and Tie

It was late in December 1992 and the Jets were a sad 8-16-3. Coming off a mediocre 1991-92 year and needing some muscle to protect a trio of young new superstars in Teemu Selanne, Alexei Zhamnov and Keith Tkachuk, GM Mike Smith engineered a deal. Eddie Olczyk had produced two point-a-game seasons for the Jets but Smith thought it was wise to move him to the Rangers for tough guy/grinders Kris King and Tie Domi. Domi scored on his very first shift and the Jets went on to enjoy a 40 win season. Though we only kept Domi for three seasons and King for four, both of these players were crowd and fan favourites. Domi would fight all takers and usually come out on top. King eventually became a team captain. Olczyk’s best days were behind him and his numbers never reached where they were previously (and we even brought him back as another fan favourite a few years later).

Number 2: Five for Three

Whether it was wearing a tracksuit instead of a $2000 suit, posing with blocks of money or dining and dashing once too often, in the dark cold days of February, 2015, it was time for the Jets to move on from Evander Kane. GM Cheveldayoff packaged up Kane and former first round, third overall pick Zach Bogosian to once again, pluck some skill from the Buffalo Sabres. Kane could hit and shoot, but didn’t seem to have a lot of other tools in his toolbox. “The Natural” was causing some disturbance in the dressing room and “Bogo” was oft injured. They were packaged up with Winnipegger and goaltender Jason Kasdorf. Coming back from the Sabres was Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford, Joel Armia, Brendan Lemieux and a 2015 first round pick (Jack Roslovic).

While all of these players have moved on from the Jets, the same can be said of Bogosian, Kasdorf and Kane. So which players made a bigger impact on their respective teams? Stafford and Armia were regular top 9 forwards for 3 seasons each. Lemieux never found footing on the team but did show promise. Tyler Myers was a steady top 4 defenseman for the Jets for 5 seasons and had we known Dustin Byfuglien was going to retire, would likely have re-signed him. I will argue that Myers for Kane straight up was a win. Stafford, Lemieux and Armia for Bogosian was also a win. Oh, and what about Jack Roslovic? Just ask Columbus. With the recent trade for Pierre Luc Dubois, many saw Roslovic as a throw in but he has responded with 9 points in his first 8 games. The trade doesn’t happen if the Jets don’t sweeten the pot with Rosy. Kane had three 20 goal seasons in Buffalo but was then basically given away to San Jose for some prospects. Bogosian played in 6 injury filled campaigns for the Sabres and did not have his contract renewed. Big win Winnipeg.

Number 1: Hello Kitty

It was March of 1984 and the Jets were finishing up a second consecutive sub .500 season. GM John Ferguson was looking to make a change and was able to acquire Randy Carlyle from the Penguins for Moe Mantha and a first round pick (Doug Bodger). While they were both steady defencemen for years to come (Mantha ended up back in Winnipeg in the late 80s) Carlyle was the gem. Already a Norris trophy winner, Carlyle would anchor the Jets defence for the next ten seasons and then move on to coach both the Jets and the Moose. He was a leader, on and off the ice and a great team guy. He averaged 50 points a season here for the first 5 of 10 years and ultimately became a Jet captain. And hey, he was the last Jet to not wear a bucket!

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