Jets increase playoff odds by adding Jiri Tlusty

Jiri Tlusty is familiar to Jets head coach Paul Maurice from their days first in Toronto and then in Carolina. Andre Ringuette/NHLI/Getty Images

The Winnipeg Jets' addition of skilled forward Jiri Tlusty from Carolina is the second significant move by Winnipeg GM Kevin Cheveldayoff in the past two weeks.

The Winnipeg GM was basically forced to trade star winger Evander Kane after a falling out with teammates earlier this month. He got good value in defenseman Tyler Myers and forward Drew Stafford, along with two prospects and a first-round pick, while Zach Bogosian also ended up going to Buffalo with Kane.

Shortly after that deal, the Jets lost Mathieu Perreault, who had become a pivotal scoring weapon, to a lower-body injury.

Historically, Cheveldayoff has been criticized for his conservatism when it comes to making deals to try to improve a Jets franchise that dating back to its time in Atlanta has appeared in only one playoff series and has never won a playoff game.

But in acquiring Tlusty, who is familiar to head coach Paul Maurice from their days first in Toronto and then in Carolina, the Jets have moved quickly to add a player who has 20-goal potential. He should add depth to a power play that currently ranks 10th in the NHL.

The Jets, who were also interested in Daniel Winnik but didn’t want to pay the asking price, gave up a third-round pick in 2016 and either a sixth-round pick (which becomes a fifth-round pick if the Jets make the playoffs) in this year’s draft for Tlusty, who can become an unrestricted free agent in July.

Was Tlusty the most skilled of the small group of offensive forwards believed to be available heading into March 2? Maybe not, but he’s not far off.

Most importantly, the Jets did not allow themselves to be frozen out of the market, and it’s a move that has the potential to increase the odds that Jets fans see some playoff action in mid-April.

Not sure you can ask for much more than that.