Winnipeg Jets coach Claude Noel offered some insights Friday about how the club will approach the trade deadline.
Noel said he will not play an active role in which players, if any, should be traded but he has had some preliminary discussions with Jets’ management about what the team might need.
“Management goes out and does their stuff, they do the scouting and I speak a little bit when they ask. And they’ve asked a little bit,” Noel said Friday in Sunrise, Fla., as the Jets prepared to face the Florida Panthers. Noel said he was asked to give some thought to what the Jets need, where the team is at and what the Jets would miss through a possible trade.
“I have a pretty good handle on the team so that’s a conversation that probably will take place in another week or so,” he said. “I think that they have a pretty good idea and they’ll probably talk to me a little bit about that or our coaching staff just to give us an internal feel on things. And then I don’t really have a real say. I’ve learned before just through experience that my place is to coach the team that I have. Their job is to concern themselves with the big picture and manage that and I think that that’s really the best place.”
Winnipeg General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff has offered few insights into what the team maybe looking for or whether Winnipeg will be active at the trade deadline on Feb. 27.
Noel said part of his role is to determine how a trade would impact the team “from an internal standpoint”. That includes things like how the players will react, “are we with them or not, are we giving up or not, that type of thing.”
He added that “management is very concerned with that too because we’re right there and we want to stay right there.”
And he said he had no idea if the Jets will be active at the trade deadline since trades often involve things like length of contracts and whether a player is an unrestricted free agent (which essentially means any player at least 27 or older whose contract has expired and who has at least seven years in the league).
“I don’t dig into that that much. I don’t get too concerned about that, I got enough stuff to think about.”
His main concern Friday will be the Florida Panthers who are first in the Southeast Division but just three points ahead of Winnipeg. The Jets have won twice this week, 2-1 over Tampa Bay in overtime and 2-1 against the Philadelphia Flyers in a shoot out. But Winnipeg has yet to win the second game of a back to back this season, going 0-8.
“We’ve just got to be better. We’ve got to find a way to get it done,” Noel said. He added that the recent wins have given the players have much more confidence. And the return of defenceman Dustin Byfuglien this week, who had been out since Dec. 27, has helped.
“It just happens that we haven’t won those [back to back]games. I don’t think that there’s something there that we’re afraid of, certainly I never bring it up and I’m not afraid of it.”
One player the Jets will have to corral is Panther forward Kris Versteeg. He scored five goals against the Jets in the last two meetings, including his only career hat trick.
Versteeg has been ill with the flu for the last few days and missed the Panthers 4-2 win Wednesday over the Washington Capitals.
“I’m slowly getting there. Hopefully, tonight I’ll get some more [energy]” Versteeg said Friday.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s an injury or whatever, I always expect myself to go out there and play hard no matter how I feel. You do what you can to get ready for the game.”