Another weekend, another Kevin Cheveldayoff interview. This time it took place during the NHL scouting combine and saw TSN’s Gino Reda asking the questions. As always, it’s a good watch and while Chevy did do his usual “speak without saying much” bit, there were a few interesting things worth noting…
1 – The Jets have no idea what they are going to do at the draft, do they?
Remember last year after the Jets won the right to draft second overall and almost right after that we started hearing speculation about how the Jets should be drafting Patrik Laine, but could also be thinking of Jesse Puljujarvi at that spot as well and/or maybe even Pierre-Luc Dubois, and it wasn’t until moments after Kevin Cheveldayoff announced the pick and went to the media and said “LOL We waz picking Laine the entire time and it took us 3 seconds to decide that”?
I don’t get the sense that the same this is happening this year. Not even close.
This seems like an ideal year for the Jets to trade down a handful of spots and still get a reasonably decent player. As Geno in the video himself suggested, once you get past Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier, the draft becomes a lot more wide open and a player picked at 3 could easily be taken at 15 depending on how GMs feel that day.
Then you remember that Chevy is the same GM who felt (rather inexplicably if we’re being honest) the Jets needed to trade up a handful of spots to make sure they nabbed Logan Stanley with the 18th overall pick, when the truth is Stanley could have fallen to the Jets where they were originally supposed to draft at the 22 spot. So maybe if Chevy has a player or two in mind and if one goes, he could make a panicked move and trade up to at least catch the second before he goes.
But based on his words in that video and a couple of others, it sure does seem like he’s ready to fly by the seat of his pants on this one and willing to let some other hands be played before showing his own cards… And really, that’s not out of character at all for Chevy.
2 – NHL GMs… They draft just like you and me.
We actually already knew this based on past years, but it’s a good reminder than all NHL GMs can fall prey to the same trap that any of us good fantasy hockey GMs fall into. One team will draft a defenseman, then a second team will nab the “second best” d-man, then a third team panics and gets a defenseman even if its not necessarily “best player available” and suddenly after six or seven picks, you look back and it was all defense with a forward or two thrown in just to keep things interesting.
The Jets are likely in the market for a defenseman and the draft market is full of them, so again this could be a case where – as Chevy mentioned – the Jets have their sights set on a certain player that they may have out of reach initially (let’s go with his hypothetical 6th rank) but if he falls a few places down to let’s suppose the 9th spot in the draft, would the Jets have that player ranked so much higher than any of the others available that Kevin feels the need to trade up? Would a “run” of a certain position influence Chevy to make a move?
3 – Don’t be shocked by a deal with Vegas.
Kevin Cheveldayoff mentioned the possibility of a “back room” type deal where the Jets would provide a little extra compensation to the Vegas Golden Knights for leaving a particular player or two alone. This is probably more likely to happen than you think.
The Knights are not about to make a run at a playoff spot in their inaugural season, and while there is pressure for the team to do well to win over fans, it may not be as urgent a need in season one when the novelty of not only a hockey team, but a professional sports franchise of any kind is likely to bring fans out.
With that in mind, the Knights will be looking for younger, less developed players who still have some solid potential in them and the Jets have a handful of those. Dano, Lowry, Armia and Copp seem to be the names that top the list of potentials to be drafted by Vegas GM George McPhee.
Chevy could (and maybe should) try to steer him away from his group of solid forward prospects by offering up a 3rd or even 2nd round pick for say a 5th round pick and an agreement that McPhee leaves a certain player or two unpicked, or picks a player (or goalie?) that Chevy is more willing to part with.
If you’re a fan of trade speculation and putting together hypothetical deals, this may be a fun exercise for you to play with for the next few weeks.
Would the Jets send – and this is just an example – a 2nd round pick to Vegas in exchange for a 6th round pick and the ‘promise’ to not take Adam Lowry?
How about a 1st round pick to Vegas for an agreement that the Knights take Michael Hutchinson off the Jets and the rights to a veteran goalie that Vegas will take in the expansion draft. (Semyon Varlamov? Michal Neuvirth? Manitoba native James Reimer?)
Keep in mind that these types of deals and unspoken agreements to leave certain players alone aren’t exactly looked upon favorably by the NHL, but they will happen and if Chevy is that concerned about losing a good player from his system, he’ll be proactive and work out a golden deal with the Knights.