WINNIPEG – If there was ever a reminder that July 1 is only the opening of the National Hockey League’s free agency period, the constant buzzing Kevin Cheveldayoff felt in his pocket from his phone was the latest piece of evidence.

The Winnipeg Jets general manager got two goaltenders and one defenceman under contract on Monday – Eric Comrie on a two-year deal with an average annual value of $825,000, and Kaapo Kahkonen on a one-year contract carrying an AAV of $1 million, and blue liner Colin Miller returning on a two-year deal (AAV of $1.5 million) – but the work isn’t done yet.

“Don’t think that sitting here today is where we’re going to be at,” Cheveldayoff said.

“There is always going to be moving parts up until training camp and beyond.”

The other piece of business that Cheveldayoff and the Jets completed was the process of buying out the contract of defenceman Nate Schmidt. The 32-year-old had 13 goals and 55 points in three seasons with the Jets and was a popular teammate in the room, even when the veteran was in and out of the line-up down the stretch.

“I want to extend my gratitude and appreciation to Nate and what he brought to our organization. When we made the trade for Nate, he had the opportunity to have a no-trade in his contract and he waived it to come here,” said Cheveldayoff.

“For us, it was a tough decision, but we wanted to open up some opportunities within the organization for some of the players that have been here. Even more so, I didn’t want to put Nate through the situation as a veteran guy getting scratched. It just wasn’t right.”

Kevin Cheveldayoff on the opening day of Free Agency

Along with Schmidt’s departure, Brenden Dillon was signed by the New Jersey Devils, Sean Monahan inked a five-year deal in Columbus, Tyler Toffoli went to San Jose, and Laurent Brossoit stayed in the Central Division with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Cheveldayoff said the Jets were in on those conversations with comparable offers, specifically those of Dillon and Monahan. The extra cap space available to the Jets after Schmidt’s buyout (along with the departures of those four players) affords the club some flexibility in the free agent market.

On top of that, there is also opportunity for younger players within the organization to grab a role in camp.

“If I’m a young player in the Jets organization today, I’m pretty excited about the opportunities in front of me. I’m working hard in the off-season to make sure I can take full advantage,” said Cheveldayoff. “If you want to try and move forward in this league, you have to take different opportunities that are in front of you - whether you’re a team or whether you’re a player. It’s about seizing that moment. Everybody talks about wanting more. This is the opportunity for some of them to get that.”

Cheveldayoff has seen growth in players like Brad Lambert and Nikita Chibrikov, with both players making their NHL debuts last year. He credits the players in that regard, as well as the Manitoba Moose coaching staff, for all the work involved in that development in the American Hockey League.

“All those guys that get the opportunity to go over the boards on a regular basis, I think that’s important. You need to grow,” Cheveldayoff said.

“You try and develop the young players to the American Hockey League level to get them to the point where they force you to make decisions - whether that’s at training camp or throughout the year.”

Outside of the available unrestricted free agents, Cheveldayoff also has restricted free agents within the organization to consider. Qualifying offers were made on Sunday to Cole Perfetti, Ville Heinola, Logan Stanley, David Gustafsson, and Simon Lundmark.

The timeline on those negotiations is somewhat dependent on where the players are at in their careers.

“Logan and Gus, they both have arbitration rights so we don’t know whether they’ll file or not. If they do, there is kind of a definitive time frame when those things happen,” said Cheveldayoff. “The RFA ones in different circumstances can take on different nuances as we’ve seen. We’ll continue to work at it and go from there.”

It was after that part of the conversation that Cheveldayoff’s media availability came to a close.

No doubt, as soon as he returned to the office to make calls, send messages, and perhaps add to the evolving Jets roster.

“For us, we’re sitting here July 1, there is a little ways from training camp,” said Cheveldayoff. “There are lots of different thought processes that we’ll take a look at. There have been capable people that have stepped up in our organization and we expect them to step up again.”