When looking at the Winnipeg Jets roster I see a need for a RW to play with Alexander Burmistrov and Evander Kane . The addition of a scoring winger would compliment the slick passing Burmistrov and power game of Kane giving the Jets a potent 2nd line. My perusal of NHL rosters gleaned a possible solution to the issue that also solves a rumored Jets issue. I suggest the Winnipeg Jets trade Nik Antropov to the Montreal Canadians for Andrei Kostitsyn and MB born prospect Brock Trotter.
Why Montreal does it: Kostitsyn has been inconsistent with the Habs since they drafted him 10th overall in the 2003 draft. His time there has been frustrating for both Coaches and fans with him showing flashes of brilliance combined with sporadic effort. Montreal did not make a long-term commitment to him by signing the RFA to only a one year deal for $3.25M, not a raise, giving him UFA status after this coming season.
Three weeks later Montreal signed FA RW Erik Cole to a four year deal at $4.5M a year giving them six top-six forwards under contract for at least two years, five with no-trade clauses. This effectively bumps Kostitsyn out if the top six forwards indefinitely if not (barring teammate injury) permanently. This demotion could lead to his being available, perhaps at his newly appraised (depreciated?) value as a 3rd liner?
Do you think it is a discouraging situation for the 26 year-old, being devalued coming in to his contract year? Lowered ice-time, playing with third line players and less PP minutes (if any) in his UFA season. Do you think it might lower his production and therefore his stock just a wee bit? How much will it cost him in the future if this is how his season in Montreal plays out? Keeping him as injury insurance for the top six forwards isn't very considerate treatment to their former 1st round pick. It may be best if they were to move him prior to training camp since he is indeed disgruntled with his current status. See this article from TSN today expressing his displeasure.
Antropov fits in Montreal well as he can play all three forward positions and brings his 6'6" 240 lb. frame to the rink. The Habs have the smallest group of top-nine forwards in the NHL with five players under 6' tall, adding his size to the line-up would be a welcome addition. They have historically put up similar offensive numbers so there would be little change there. Antropov has two years left with a cap hit of $4,062,500 each year with a salary of $4.25M + $4.75M.
Brock Trotter recently signed a two-way one year deal after a year in the KHL. His departure to Russia for a season might indicate a fresh start in a new organization is in order.
Why Winnipeg Does it: Antropov doesn't fit in with the youth movement in Winnipeg as his ice-time will be scaled back as the young Jets mature. There are also rumors that he's not interested in playing in Winnipeg. If true, he must be moved before training camp and the Habs seem to be a good fit. Trotter is a Manitoba boy that would bust his ass to try to make the Jets. Kostitsyn might benefit from a move to a team with ice-time and PP time available aplenty. His contract status and an opportunity to secure a top-six forward position should be enough motivation to see some more consistent play from him.
With a smooth set-up man like Burmistrov and a gifted bruiser like Kane patrolling the other wing, could Kostitsyn flourish and turn into the 40 goal man Winnipeg desperately needs? Is a new environment all that he needs to find his groove and deliver consistent results? Is trading the versatile Antropov worth it to take a chance Kostitsyn may finally realize his high potential?
Worst case scenario is he doesn't improve and is traded at the deadline or walks away at seasons end. Best case is he gets serious about his game, lights the lamp for 40+ goals and re-signs with Winnipeg long-term. That situation can happen if he realises this is the season he has to shake the enigmatic label he has acquired or he could wind up in the KHL. Simply put, given the Jets need for scoring, would trading a short term asset in Antropov for a winger capable of scoring 30+, maybe 40 goals in Kostitsyn be a good idea? I have to say yes, gifted scorers are rare and Winnipeg wins huge if Kostitsyn decides to man-up and play hard consistently.