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  • December 5, 2017 7:53 PM PST

    One of the big reasons why the Western Conference playoff race is so captivating this year is tied into the emergence of the Winnipeg Jets as a legitimate contender. Montae Nicholson Jersey . Combine that with Nashville’s explosion in the standings, and you’re looking at a quarter of the playoff berths in the West potentially going to teams who many had on the outside looking in last October. Make no mistake, a big reason why Winnipeg has looked better in the standings this year of is tied into improvement in the goaltending department. Michael Hutchinson has been a blessing for Paul Maurice’s team, and even Ondrej Pavelec has turned things around a bit this season. Relatively speaking, it’s the best goaltending the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise has seen. The goaltending has carried things along, but it’s important to note that Winnipeg’s also playing significantly better from a possession standpoint this season, too. At Arctic Ice Hockey, Garret Hohl did an excellent job explaining the team’s spike in Score-Adjusted Corsi% this season (53.3% year-to-date, good for 9th in the NHL), and how three of Winnipeg’s four lines are generally out-playing the opposition. This, of course, brings us to the most important question of all. We know the team can skate with most opponents. We know the goaltending’s improved – although there’s a degree of uncertainty as to whether or not the Hutchinson/Pavelec duo can hold on. If you are Kevin Cheveldayoff and are looking to improve this club at the trade deadline, how do you do it? Winnipeg’s in a fascinating position from a trade deadline perspective, in that they have (a) plenty of future assets; (b) are not in need of a defenceman; and (c) need to be cognizant of their spending short-term, with the likes of Jacob Trouba and Dustin Byfuglien in need of new deals. Byfuglien, of course, has been the talk of Winnipeg over the last couple of months. His return to the blueline has created a crowded back end, in which every-day defenders like Paul Postma have been healthy scratched. So, Winnipeg maybe has an extra defenceman or two, and future assets available, and would probably prefer to acquire a rental type, perhaps a forward or two that can shore up that problematic fourth-line that’s been beaten up rather soundly from a possession and scoring-chance aspect. The good news: finding cheap, quality bottom-six wingers who can drive play and move up in the lineup as needed doesn’t strike me as a difficult task. The key is to hone in on players who have posted strong underlying numbers over many years, yet remain undervalued due to the two things that generally drive contracts – point-scoring and size. Let’s work through some quick criteria to isolate for players with excellent underlying numbers. We will pull out forwards who have logged at least 2000-minutes since 2010. The forwards must have been on the ice for 53% of shot-attempts (we’ll use Corsi%) and 53% of scoring chances. The forward must also have been a quality relative player. That is, his team must have measurably benefited from a possession and scoring chance standpoint with the player on the ice. We’ll set +1.0% Relative Corsi% and 1.0 Relative ScoringChance% as additional parameters. Who are we left with? Just 43 players. Our criteria did an excellent job at qualifying only high-end possession and scoring-chance drivers. There’s only one problem – the list is littered with first-line or top-six talent, a group of either untouchable players or forwards who are going to cost a king’s ransom to acquire. How can we cut this list down further? One way is to create ice-time parameters. We want bottom-six forwards who presumably can be had for cheap. What happens if we only select players from this group who played less than thirteen minutes a night at even-strength? Jaden Schwartz, Reilly Smith, and Brendan Gallagher aren’t going anywhere. Jakub Voracek would cost a ton. Patrik Elias, Viktor Stalberg, and Benoit Pouliot all carry big contracts. I see no reason Detroit would move Darren Helm. Mathieu Perreault? He’s already with Winnipeg, and has been a massive success story. What a surprise! We are left with two players in Florida’s Sean Bergenheim, and Ottawa’s Erik Condra. Both players are on expiring contracts with small cap hits. Both players have been healthy scratched this season. Both have been shopped by their general managers (here and here). And yet, for almost five years running, they fit within a small group of forwards that range from ‘very good’ to ‘elite’. Despite whatever deficiencies the player allegedly possesses, his teams have historically done a fantastic job at beating up on the opposition when they have been on the ice. Over thousands of minutes, dozens of linemates, and deployment in ranging situations, that’s not a fluke. Perhaps, more importantly, these are the exact types of sound two-way forwards you need on a roster in order to build a legitimate contender. They cost pennies on the dollar because they aren’t big scorers, but play an extremely responsible game and generally spend most of their shifts in the offensive zone. Early identification of these players affords a front office the luxury of spending big on the guys who will carry gaudy scoring rates and log a ton of minutes like, say, free-agent-to-be Dustin Byfuglien. I think Winnipeg recognizes their legitimacy as a contender, but I also think they have an eye towards the future in terms of building a true championship contender. Thus, it strikes me as the sensible move to acquire a forward or two who will cost next-to-nothing in terms of current or future assets, yet will certainly improve the team as they head towards the postseason. Fabian Moreau Jersey . Winnipeg trailed by five points in the final minute when quarterback Drew Willy completed a 13-play, 75-yard drive with Feoli-Gudinos 18-yard touchdown catch on third down to lift the Bombers to a 34-33 victory over the Montreal Alouettes on Friday night. Jonathan Allen Jersey . Right-hander Ricky Nolasco and the Twins agreed to terms on a free-agent contract Wednesday, a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press.( - The Toronto Raptors set their sights on a second straight victory with the Oklahoma City Thunder visiting the Air Canada Centre tonight riding a two game streak of their own. The Raptors snapped a two-game losing streak in Wednesdays 107-100 road victory over the New Orleans Pelicans, while the Thunder dispatched the Chicago Bulls on Monday and then bested the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday as part of a three-game road swing. Toronto bested the Thunder in Oklahoma City on Dec. 22 to snap a three-game series losing streak. OKC has won two of its last three in Toronto. DeMar DeRozan poured in a game-high 31 points and Kyle Lowry tallied 23 points, eight rebounds and five assists in Wednesdays win over the Pelicans. Amir Johnson added 17 points and nine boards for the Raptors, who have won three of their last five. Tyler Hansbrough chipped in a game-high 13 rebounds and Greivis Vasquez contributed 14 points. "We understand we needed this game, plus we have a long flight back home that we didnt want to sit on this loss with," DeRozan said. The Raptors will get a boost to their lineup this evening, as centre Jonas Valanciunas will return to the lineup as a starter. Valanciunas, who left Tuesdays loss to the Atlanta Hawks late in the third qquarter with a lower back sprain, participated in the shoot around Friday morning and was declared ready to play about an hour before game time. John Riggins Jersey. nbsp; Kevin Durant had 35 points, 11 rebounds and six assists to lead the Thunder over the Cavaliers on Thursday. It was his 33rd consecutive game with 25-plus points, which is the longest run of his career and the longest in the NBA since Michael Jordan strung 40 straight together during the 1986-87 season. "My shot was a little flat and I missed some easy ones," said Durant, who shot 12-for-21 from the field. "I just tried to play as hard as I can on defense and make winning basketball plays." Serge Ibaka supplied 16 points and 11 boards, while Reggie Jackson added 13 points and six assists for the Thunder, who have won four of their last five games. Star Thunder guard Russell Westbrook did not suit up to rest his surgically- repaired knee. Oklahoma City is 1 1/2 behind the San Antonio Spurs for Western Conference supremacy. The Raptors are 2 1/2 games ahead of the Brooklyn Nets for the lead in the Atlantic Division, but they are only a half-game in front of the Bulls for the third seed in the Eastern Conference. Toronto will play two straight north of the border and will host the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday. Cheap NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys China Cheap Jerseys From China Cheap NFL Jerseys Authentic Wholesale Jerseys China Cheap NFL Jerseys China NFL Cheap Jerseys ' ' '