The Winnipeg Jets and Kevin Cheveldayoff do not exactly have the league’s largest history. When March 2nd rolls around, the current version of the Jets will have passed their fourth trade deadline. In these four years Chevy has not been one to make large moves, with the recent Evander Kane et al. trade being the only NHL-player-for-player trade in his portfolio.
Still, there are somethings to be learned in regards to Kevin Cheveldayoff, the organization, and how they will likely act out this deadline. Let’s take a look.
The Jets were competing in one of the weakest divisions in the NHL, the South East. They were at the playoff bubble and hoping to make the playoffs in their inaugural season.
The cupboards were quite bare and there Jets were short on assets. Still, Cheveldayoff did have one move up his sleeve.
Most of the Jets expiring contracts that season were minor contributors, like Tanner Glass, Jim Slater, Tim Stapleton, and Randy Jones. The Jets did have two contributors with expiring contracts, Kyle Wellwood and Johnny Oduya.
Chicago was looking to add defensive depth for a potential cup run. According to Cheveldayoff, the Blackhawks were aggressive in obtaining Oduya and paid a second and third round pick for the defender.
What made the move savvy on Cheveldayoff’s end was picking up Grant Clitsome from waivers the same day.
Clitsome was waived to make room for Jack Johnson (a defender actually worse than the previous two mentioned defensemen). Clitsome proved to be a bonafide NHL regular player which earned him a contract extension. He provided decent results while under sheltered minutes or with Dustin Byfuglien. He also performed well under both special teams.
The deadline this year was a bit different due to the shortened lockout season. The lower number of games played caused the spread between top and bottom teams to be significantly lower. This superficially caused more teams to appear “still in the race” with making the playoffs.
There were fewer teams being certain buyers and certain sellers.
The Jets had expiring contracts with Nik Antropov, Kyle Wellwood, and Antti Miettinen for forwards. On defense there was Ron Hainsey, Grant Clitsome, and Derek Meech.
Depth centreman Jim Slater was injured earlier in the season and Nik Antropov also fell to injury just prior to the deadline.
To add to the Jets depth, Cheveldayoff again looked at options beyond the trade market. Mike Santorelli -an underrated middle six forward- was picked up off of waivers. The Jets also added to their defensive depth with signing Arturs Kulda after the expiry of the KHL season.
Yet again, the Jets were near the playoff line trying to push in for their very first time. This time though the Jets were playing in the Central Division, arguably the toughest division in the NHL.
The Jets had quite a few expiring UFA contracts. Olli Jokinen, Devin Setoguchi, Matt Halischuk, Chris Thorburn, James Wright, Keaton Ellerby, and Adam Pardy.
No moves ended up happening in either direction for the Jets that season.
There was however a report about a potential swap of Chris Thorburn and Devin Setoguchi in return for James Sheppard, Tyler Kennedy, and Adam Burish. Essentially two decent bottom six pieces plus a bad contract in return for two expiring free agents.
The Jets have been predominately inactive around, which likely hints that may happen once again.
Kevin Cheveldayoff is looking to build a team in the longterm around the core he already has in place. He may add a rental, but will most likely look for someone who could fit with the Jets longterm without costing much.
As teams add new pieces to make a run, Cheveldayoff may look at the waiver wire in acquiring additional depth with players sometimes underrated by their own teams, like with Grant Clitsome. Another potential possibility is using the acquired longterm pieces to allow the freedom in moving an expiring contract like Michael Frolik or Drew Stafford, like with Johnny Oduya.
There is also the possibility that Cheveldayoff acts differently than in the past. The Jets prospect cupboards are fuller than any previous point. Also, the window for Andrew Ladd, Bryan Little, Blake Wheeler, Tobias Enstrom, and Dustin Byfuglien to be major contributors on a potential contending team grows smaller with each passing year.
Whatever happens, this deadline and the ensuing summer could be a make or break point for the current core.
Note: Originally the article read a third and fifth round pick for Oduya, which has since been corrected.
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