WINNIPEG – General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff was out kicking tires, but when the 3:00pm ET NHL Trade Deadline passed and no further deals were made, he stood with a smile.
“It’s going to be an exciting race to the finish,” he said, addressing the press at the Matt Frost Media Centre.
The GM added that while he was involved in casual discussion throughout the day, there was nothing overly intriguing – and he wasn’t about to make a move based on the activity of the teams around him.
“To try and mimic or to say, ‘Well, they got him, so we better go get him,’ that’s a very dangerous thing,” Cheveldayoff said.
Ultimately, he was satisfied with what he has.
“We were weighing the pros and cons of adding another new body into our room,” Cheveldayoff said. “How many players can you add in a certain period of time before it becomes too much? Those are the conversations that we had today. We added a lot of bodies in a short period of time and those things come into play at this stage.
“We focused a little more on ‘hockey deals’ today so see if there were a couple out there that would have made some sense. At the end of the day, we felt very comfortable with what we have.”
In the last three weeks, Cheveldayoff has acquired four new players as part this playoff push. Asked whether or not if it was beneficial to be one of the more active teams leading up to the deadline, Cheveldayoff couldn’t say for certain.
“Some of that was out of necessity,” he admitted, acknowledging the rather significant loss of Mathieu Perreault (lower body), who was having a career year before colliding with then-Edmonton Oilers defenceman Jeff Petry on Feb. 16.
The dealing began on Feb. 11 when the Jets acquired Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford, Joel Armia and Brendan Lemieux, as well as a first round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, in exchange for Zach Bogosian, Evander Kane and goaltending prospect Jason Kasdorf. Cheveldayoff went back to work late last week, acquiring Jiri Tlusty from the Carolina Hurricanes before rounding out the trading season Sunday night, shipping Carl Klingberg to the New York Rangers in exchange for veteran winger Lee Stempniak.
“With the acquisitions and the eventual return of (Perreault), I think we’re going to be real strong. Matt Halischuk (lower body), same thing,” Cheveldayoff said. “I tried to address some of the holes and some of the needs we had because of injury or situation and circumstance.
“At some point in time you have to say, ‘OK, this is our group and this is who we’re moving forward with.’ At a point in time today I had one last conversation with (Head Coach) Paul (Maurice) and I said, ‘Are you comfortable with our group, where we’re at the players we have in St. John’s?’ He said, ‘Yeah, let’s go.’ That was pretty much all I needed to hear. … Integrating people in and becoming a team that’s going to be hard to play against down the stretch is the task at hand now.”.
— Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com