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The Art Of Window Management (Part 2)

The Jets are in their window – their opportunity to do something in the playoffs. Perhaps your memories are better than mine… I can only think of one team that made a whole bunch of deadline deals in order to shore up their potential to win in the playoffs, future be damned.

The 2006-07 Atlanta Thrashers finished atop the Southeast Division during the regular season. Their young stars, Ilya Kovalchuk and Marian Hossa both broke the 40-goal mark. They were supported by some veterans like Bobby Holik, Scott Mellanby, Vyacheslav Kozlov. The team was a bit thin but in a weak division, they had enough to win it. However, at the trade deadline, their GM – Don Waddell decided to shore up the team to give them the best chance of making noise in what was their first playoff appearance.

In a big trade, he acquired Keith Tkachuk in exchange for Glen Metropolit, a first and third-round pick in 2007 and a second-round pick in 2008. Alexei Zhitnik was a veteran smooth-skating, steady defenseman that was acquired in exchange for a very young Braydon Coburn (a very old Braydon Coburn was traded in 2021’s deadline day). A few other complementary pieces were added to shore up depth. Looking at hockeydb website, there were five additions by trade that season; roughly ¼ of the team and they had a few off-season acquisitions before the season started as well.

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They thought they were ready – until the playoffs started. They were beaten in four straight games by the New York Rangers who had finished the season with a similar regular-season record.

After that, it fell apart. They never got close to the playoffs in the years following. Players at the end of their contract left and their trade deadline deals did not yield much. The window that the franchise had thought was opening was just a mirage that lasted four games.

Glen Waddell eventually gave the GM job to Rick Dudley and it was Dudley in his last season that triggered a few trades with Chicago that brought in many players but most notably, Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd.

What does this tell us about window management? I’m not sure… Perhaps overreliance on rentals to fill major holes is a bad thing? (#1 D Zhitnik lasted one more season before returning to Russia. Tkachuk re-signed with the Blues). Maybe it’s goaltending? Lehtonen was pronounced “let one in” on many sports broadcasts over the years. Maybe mixing and matching so many different players in such a short time just doesn’t work. Or maybe management misjudged just how ready the team was given the weak division in which they were playing. But it fell apart rapidly. And Winnipeg Jets fans 2.0 got to see the leftovers from that.

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