The Winnipeg Jets have added some veteran depth to a line-up sorely in need of it. Oft-travelled center Kyle Wellwood has inked a one-year, $700,000 deal with the team after splitting last season between Mytishchi Atlant and the San Jose Sharks.
Wellwood forged his reputation as an offensive forward on the back of some superb work on the Toronto Maple Leafs’ power play just after the NHL lockout. He’s had a few rougher years since then – he didn’t put up those numbers in his last season with the Leafs or in his last season with Vancouver, and he didn’t spend much time on the man advantage with the Sharks last year.
At even-strength though, Wellwood’s never really been able to match his offensive achievements on the power play. He did a decent job in 2010-11 with San Jose but his numbers from years prior leave a lot to be desired. He’s not bad otherwise – he holds his own in carefully managed minutes and situations – but he’s not really a positive difference maker either.
Beyond that, Wellwood wins face-offs at a decent clip, doesn’t kill penalties, and doesn’t add a physical dimension to the line-up. In summation, at his best he’s a power play specialist who can hold his own and chip in a few points at even-strength, and at his worst he’s a marginal depth forward.
Still, it’s a good signing for Winnipeg. The reborn Jets have opted for a slow, steady build-up from the ashes of the expansion Thrashers rather than splashing around deeply in the free agent pool, but they’re perilously thin down the middle and need a stopgap. Wellwood fits the bill rather nicely.
An interesting side point to this transaction is raised by the excellent Robert Cleave of Jets Nation:
I suppose the one other item of note is that there was absolutely no hint of Wellwood signing until it happened, which appears to reinforce the notion that the Jets are very good at keeping hockey-related information to themselves.