WINNIPEG – Another development camp came to a close on Sunday at hockey for all centre, and Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff was a big fan of what he saw from the team’s prospects throughout the week.

“These camps are great,” said Cheveldayoff, who joked that these camps didn’t exist back in his playing days.

“It just shows how much the game has evolved. These players are craving knowledge, they’re craving working with coaches, they want to talk to people and they want to learn and grow. That’s what the development camp, that’s the angle or slant for us, isn’t so much about player evaluation as it is player orientation and player education.”

It’s a week that accomplishes a lot, no matter where one sits in the organization. For young prospects like Alfons Freij and the 2024 NHL Draft Class, it’s an opportunity to learn what the organization is about and see what the city has to offer.

Head coach Scott Arniel and the rest of the coaching staff from the Jets and the Manitoba Moose get to expose the players to the fundamentals that separate players at the highest level – like puck retrievals and board play.

And even for players like Brad Lambert, who have been with the organization since being drafted in 2022, there is opportunity.

“Part of the process you want to see how players do grow year over year, not just physically but emotionally and mentally,” said Cheveldayoff.

“It says a lot about a player like Brad Lambert who doesn’t have to come here, but wants to come here and be part of it and take on that leadership role.”

As the players in the organization evolve, so too does what the team offers at development camp. This year, there were off-ice activities including a pickleball tournament – won by 2023 fifth round pick Jacob Julien and camp invitee Graham Sward – a trip to watch the Winnipeg Blue Bombers earn a victory over the Ottawa REDBLACKS, and several off-ice sessions surrounding nutrition and mental health.

“Mental health is something that when we first started doing these, we didn’t really touch on that,” said Cheveldayoff. “Now it’s such a big component of this week is having people come in and talking about social media, handling the pressure of being a young prospect and all that goes into it.”

Kevin Cheveldayoff reflects on Dev Camp and more

So as this year’s version of development camp comes to a close, the players will leave hockey for all centre and go their separate ways, trying to put themselves in the best position they can for when training camps open in the fall.

If there is one regret of the week for Cheveldayoff, it’s that one opportunity to take advantage of the Winnipeg weather just couldn’t happen this year.

“Not a lot of players get to see how wonderful the summers are here,” said Cheveldayoff. “The only unfortunate part is we didn’t get them out on the lakes to get some fish. It’s important for everyone to see the passion of this community, see all the people in the stands in the summer at a development camp. It shows these players that hockey matters here.”


When Free Agency opened on July 1, Cheveldayoff made mention of the fact that not all business that gets done occurs on the first day.

The last six days have shown that, as the Jets have managed to make a few transactions, highlighted by the signings of restricted free agents David Gustafsson (two years, $835,000 average annual value) and Logan Stanley (two years, $1.25 million AAV) on Saturday.

Winnipeg also acquired defenceman Dylan Coghlan from Carolina on Saturday (in exchange for future considerations), and – on top of all that – added three more pieces in defenceman Haydn Fleury, forward Mason Shaw (on one year, two-way deals) and forward Jaret-Anderson Dolan (two year contract).

“Haydn Fleury has been someone that you’ve scouted and seen for a long period of time, has experience in the league, had ups and downs, and it’s a good opportunity for him and Dylan Coghlan to come in and compete and give the organization some depth and options,” said Cheveldayoff.

“Anderson-Dolan is a player that’s right there. We watched him in the LA organization, he got claimed on waivers, didn’t quite play as much he’d wanted. He plays hard, he plays with energy. Mason Shaw plays hard and plays with energy. There will be a lot of competition at those levels.”

There is still more to do, of course, with Cheveldayoff mentioning the need to get pen-to-paper with Ville Heinola and Cole Perfetti as just two of the things on the list.

According to Puck Pedia, the Jets have just over $5.8 million in cap space available.

“You don’t use cap space for the sake of saying ‘I’m going to use cap space.’ There are lots of different avenues and things that could unfold,” said Cheveldayoff. “You talk about some of the opportunities that players in this camp might have, or a player like (Nikita) Chibrikov. Those are the things you don’t know until you know, and that you know comes in September.”