The trade deadline has come and gone, and the dust has begun to settle inside the locker room and around the offices of True North Sports & Entertainment. The Winnipeg Jets didn’t exactly break major headlines across the media world at the deadline, but what’s done is done, and now they move forward with what they have in place.
The Jets moved 30-year-old defenceman Johnny Oduya to the Chicago Blackhawks, for a second and a third-round selection at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. They also acquired defenceman Grant Clitsome
, 26, off waivers from the Columbus Blue Jackets. Clitsome had four goals and 10 assists in 51 games with the Blue Jackets this year.
“The Blackhawks were very aggressive from the onset as to them wanting Johnny if he was going to be made available, and stayed very aggressive for quite a period of time,” explained GM Kevin Cheveldayoff.
“It's tough when you see a player leave your organization, your family, but I wish Johnny all the best. I can't say enough about him as a person and his contributions to the organization."
Many speculated that the Jets management would be on the hunt for a forward who could provide instant scoring to the roster at this crucial time of the season but that was not the case. Working on the future and leaving the current roster intact, was much more of the intent.
"We had other irons in the fire in different avenues and perspectives that we were looking at,” said Cheveldayoff. “But what we wanted to try accomplish a couple things heading into this deadline: take care of ourselves right now and also be able to look towards the future and try and build.
“I think if you look at some of the deals that moved and some of the pieces that were in play we probably were not in the same ballpark as some of the deals that did happen. We might have been in the ballpark in a couple of deals that actually never came to fruition.”
The Jets have been playing some very good hockey as of late going 4-1-2 in their last seven games. They are right on the brink of the top seed in the Southeast Division for third in the Eastern Conference.
"These guys here, they've played very, very well and very, very hard down the stretch,” he said. "I'd be lying if I said there wasn't more opportunity to maybe make some deals, but at the end of the day this was something we felt comfortable doing and we certainly felt comfortable moving forward with the group of guys that we have.
"The fan in me has enjoyed watching these guys play as well. It is an exciting time for this franchise to be in this race that we're in. We added a piece to our puzzle that we hope is going to help us now and in the future.”
Jets head coach Claude Noel coached Clitsome in Columbus. He and Cheveldayoff are convinced he will be a great addition to this group.
“We’re extremely excited about getting Grant into the organization,” said Cheveldayoff. “We’ve heard some phenomenal things about his character and about him as a person. I think he’ll fit in very nicely with what we’re trying to build upon here in Winnipeg.”
"I like him," said Noel. "He's a smart player, he shoots the puck real well, he's got good hockey intelligence, moves the puck tape to tape, understands how to play, he's reliable defensively. He’s a 5’11 defenceman but to me he looked like a player that was able play in the league. From what I remember, I like what he brought to the table.”