Grading Kevin Cheveldayoff’s Off-Season Moves
By Angus Hout2 years ago
General manager Kevin Cheveldayoff has been in damage control ever since former NHL player @Dustin Byfuglien, who was a physical defenseman and was capable of racking up around 50 points per season in his prime, left the Winnipeg Jets in 2019.
Somehow, Cheveldayoff didn’t make any knee-jerk moves to replace Byfuglien, in fact, he risked his own job by waiting but it worked out for the Jets as they’ve remained competitive over the last two seasons. I also can’t forget to mention that attracting free agents to Winnipeg is incredibly hard. Most of us have lived in the long cold winters of this city and know we’d rather be somewhere warmer. So I can’t blame players for wanting to stay away (even though Winnipeg is a fantastic city and I have zero regrets moving here).
So let’s rate how Cheveldayoff and the Jets have performed this off-season.
Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft
I really liked who the Jets left exposed in the expansion draft. When it came down to losing either @Mason Appleton or @Dylan Demelo and protecting young @Logan Stanley, they made the right choice there. Obviously, losing Appleton for nothing sucks but it was inevitable.
Jets Who Became UFAs
Once free-agent frenzy opened, skaters like @Laurent Brossoit, @Trevor Lewis, @Nate Thompson, @Derek Forbort, @Jordie Benn, @Tucker Poolman and @Mathieu Perreault all became unrestricted free agents. Honestly, I really liked who the Jets allowed to leave through free agency.
Lewis, Thompson and Perreault were in the way of letting some of the younger skaters emerge at the NHL level. Poolman and Benn weren’t ideal fits on defense. The only player I was sad to see walk away from the Jets was Brossoit. He was arguably one of the best backup goalies in the NHL and that made the club’s goaltending tandem one of the best in the league.
Skaters Who Were Re-signed By Winnipeg
@Dominic Toninato was the first player to be re-signed by the Jets this off-season. He played two regular season games and scored an assist. In the postseason, he appeared in three games and registered his first career playoff goal.
I think the 6’2″ forward will be a great fit on the wing in a fourth-line role or perhaps as the team’s 13th forward. Signing Toninato to a two-year, league-minimum deal was a low-risk move for Cheveldayoff and could prove to be a solid contract for both sides.
The next skater that re-signed with the Jets was @Paul Stastny. This was a great signing. Stastny will earn $3.75 million for another year and the Jets gain a great second liner who provides plenty of experience. We should expect around 35 points from the veteran forward whether he’s on the second or third line. You know he’s going to bring some dad swagger into the locker room and will also win more than half of his faceoffs once again.
Credit: James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports
@Eric Comrie signed another contract, it’s a one-year deal worth $750,000. That’s a pretty low-risk deal for an unproven NHL backup. If it works the Jets have another quality backup, and if doesn’t work out, @Mikhail Berdin could step up in that spot. But I think Comrie is the better of the two options. He posted a .943 save percentage and a 1.23 goals-against average in four games with the Manitoba Moose last season.
“The Big Man” @Logan Stanley was re-signed to a two-year, $1.8 million contract. This was one of my favorite contract signings of the off-season. It’s a steal for the Jets organization Stanley gets paid very fairly. This is a player any organization would love to have and the front office was smart to reward one of their guys who came up through the ranks slowly.
Cheveldayoff must have made a great pitch to @Neal Pionk to convince him to sign for four years at $23.5 million. Right now, that deal looks a little rough when you take into account his basic results, but Pionk will be playing top-pairing minutes and has proven he can take on the superstars of the league, just like he did against @Connor McDavid in the playoffs.
@Andrew Copp signed for $3.64 million for just one year. This is a risky business gamble but I like it. I hope Copp crushes it next season and earns a $5 million contract over four years next off-season. Copp is reliable on the third line and can sneak up further into the lineup. It just sucks there wasn’t enough cap space to sign him long-term, but it was wise to pay him his value for another year, kicking that can down the road.
Trades of the Off-Season
The @Brenden Dillon trade was solid. I know the Jets are an organization that thrives in the draft, but sometimes the window is now and two second-round picks is a great price to pay for a defenseman of his caliber. Dillion should take some pressure off Pionk and @Josh Morrissey so they don’t have to play perfectly. Dillon won’t bring a ton of scoring, but he’ll block shots and bring a meaner streak to the club’s backend. Another solid move for the Jets’ GM.
The last trade the Jets made, which was an absolute steal, was trading for @Nate Schmidt. They only paid a third-rounder for a guy who’s a spark in the locker room and can play on both sides of the defense, but prefers playing on the right side. This is the exact player the Jets have needed for a while and finally have him, which solidifies the team’s backend.
Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
My Overall Evaluation of Cheveldayoff’s Off-Season
Considering how much cap space the Jets featured at the start of this summer, and the fact it’s very challenging to lure free agents to Winnipeg, I think Cheveldayoff deserves an “A” for the off-season. He kept the band together, for the most part, brought in depth pieces and has created space for younger players to step into the NHL. They don’t have that superstar to push them over the edge, but I like almost everything about this team going into the 2021-22 season.
How would you grade Cheveldayoff’s off-season? Am I giving too high of a grade? Or too low of one? Let me know in the comments below.
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