New-look Panthers, Jets meet in Winnipeg

WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Just a day after bolstering their lineups for what they hope is a lengthy playoff run, both the Winnipeg Jets and Nashville Predators will unveil their new additions Tuesday night at Bell MTS Place.

The Jets made one of the biggest splashes on the NHL’s trade deadline day, landing veteran center Paul Stastny from the quickly fading St. Louis Blues in exchange for their 2018 first-round draft pick, prospect Erik Foley and a conditional fourth-round pick in 2020.

The Predators, meanwhile, picked up forward Ryan Hartman from the Chicago Blackhawks plus a fifth-round pick in this year’s draft for forward Victor Ejdsell and a first-round and fourth-round pick.

Both teams have taken turns leading the Central Division during the season, but it’s the Predators who sit in the catbird’s seat right now with 85 points in 61 games, right in front of the Jets, who have 83 points in 62 games.

The 32-year-old Stastny, son of Hall of Famer and Czechoslovakian star Peter Stastny, is expected to center the Jets’ third line between snipers Patrik Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers. A pending unrestricted free agent who is making $7 million this season, he had 12 goals and 28 assists with the Blues.

Laine, who leads the Jets in goals with 31, told The Winnipeg Free Press he was excited after hearing about general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff’s handiwork.

“It looks like we’re now really wanting to win the Stanley Cup and now we have a really good chance to do it. We were happy with this team we had, but now we’re even happier.”

The 19-year-old Finn said Stastny will make the Jets even stronger up the middle, where they already have Mark Scheifele, Bryan Little, Andrew Copp, Matt Hendricks and Adam Lowry, who is injured but expected to return to the team shortly.

“All our centermen are really good. Now, when Stastny comes in, it looks really good. It really doesn’t matter who I’m playing with. I didn’t know that he had so many points this year. I just checked it. So, he’s really good in the (offensive)-zone and he’s just overall a really good player. He can play defense and he’s good at faceoffs. He’s going to be a really good centerman on this team.”

Predators coach Peter Laviolette said he was looking forward to seeing what Hartman and his eight goals and 25 points in 57 games will bring to his squad.

“He’s a young player, he’s got a lot of grit, lot of sandpaper, good skill level and he’s a playoff type of player. He’s somebody we feel can fit in with our group here,” he said.

“We know what the playoffs are all about. It’s about playing the game fast and executing but it’s also about grit and determination and it becomes more physical and more competitive. I think those work to his strengths. He’s still a skilled player but yet he’s got a lot of determination the way he plays the game.”

The Predators made another addition on Monday, signing forward Mike Fisher, who had retired after 17 seasons last year, to a prorated contract.

The Jets also picked up defenseman Joe Morrow from the Montreal Canadiens for a 2018 fourth-round pick but he’s not expected to step into the lineup right away.