I get the "city of Winnipeg" excuse for premium UFAs ala Statsny, J.Jokinen, etc. It's not hard to find a better Thorburn/Ellerby.
— Garret Hohl (@garrethohl) July 31, 2014
I do not understand the extreme lengths some people will go to defend the Winnipeg Jets' General Manager, Kevin Cheveldayoff. It's even stranger since I'm not actually a negative person or an "anti-fan". I simply form an opinion based off of the information that is available to me. Some of this information is statistical data, as in the on-ice results and how a player influences these.
Whether by radio personalities, news paper articles, or fans taking to message boards and twitter, Winnipeg -the city itself- is mentioned as a negative factor in regards to acquiring talent through free agency. This excuse is often used to justify Cheveldayoff for his lack of success in upgrading the Jets' roster.
Now don't mistake this as saying that location doesn't matter, because it obviously does. However, it is only one of many variables. Attractiveness of city, organization, contract, and opportunity all play a role. Everyone knows that. How much each variable is weighed though is dependent on the individual and the situation.
The big one though tends to be money. "But what about that one guy who took less money for that one city." Well, the largest variable is not the same thing as the only variable. The player did not take league minimum for the team they want, just a little bit less. There was a tradeoff; increase of fulfillment in desire for location for a decrease monetary compensation.
In addition to these variables comes the natural supply and demand of players in free agency. Top players are both desired more and less plentiful in supply; therefore, they have more control over their negotiations, in location as well as salary. At the other extreme are players in the greyscale of NHL and AHL talents. These players are dime in a dozen and without much demand. These players don't have much control over their destinies.
The truth is many of these players who do not make the NHL are likely better than many fourth line regulars in the NHL. Many are even better than some players on Jets. It is just one of the major inefficiencies in the NHL. Two solid articles on the subject are here (by Justin Bourne) and here (by Kent WIlson).
I still stand by my original tweet above.
Location can serve as an excuse on the top free agency players. It is even relevant for discussion in regards for the middle tier.
But, it doesn't have much water for improving the Jets bottom of the roster... the part of the roster -aside from goaltending- holding the Jets back from taking the next step.
It doesn't excuse Cheveldayoff for signing or extending 3 players in the bottom 20 for Corsi%. Two of these bottom players (Halischuk and Thorburn) have not played for bottom rung Corsi teams nor have played in defensive zone specialist roles to excuse their poor numbers.
Hopefully for Jet fans' sakes -and Kevin Cheveldayoff's job security- some of the farm team makes up for this.