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Cheveldayoff stands pat on deadline day

by Ryan Dittrick (@ryandittrick) / Winnipeg Jets
WINNIPEG – General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff made a few calls to kick tires on what he called “hockey deals,” but when the NHL Trade Deadline passed at 2:00pm CT, the Winnipeg Jets had chosen to stand pat.

With just nine trades involving only a handful of players, it will officially be scored as the quietest deadline in more than 20 years – a sign that the landscape has changed here in the salary cap era.

The Jets were still one of the biggest players this week, dealing Andrew Ladd, along with Jay Harrison and Matt Fraser, to the Chicago Blackhawks for Marko Dano, a first-round draft choice and a conditional pick in 2018 – a return Cheveldayoff remains pleased with, considering the
increasingly high value of young prospects and first-round picks.

“When we started to solicit offers or at least return calls from teams that had expressed interest in Andrew, it became very apparent to me early on that the market was going to be very different, just by the conversations that I had with numerous general managers,” he said. “There was interest out there, but with respect to the prices that we were looking at – and we were certainly looking at a first-round pick in any return that we were going to get – it became that was going to be a very difficult thing to get in the marketplace as it was setting up.

“When we did decide to move forward with the deal, ultimately in our thoughts and in our process it was the best course of action to take.”

With all the trades that have happened over the past week, the Jets are the only team to acquire a first-round pick

“Whether it was ahead of the market or that it was going to wait, we thought it was the best deal that we were going to make.”

(The Jets have not yet named a new captain, and may not until next season, Cheveldayoff later confirmed.)

In a lengthy press conference earlier today at MTS Centre, Cheveldayoff answered all kinds of questions about the trade market, the draft, free agency and so on. He also fielded queries about why the team didn’t spend to the cap this year, highlighting his earlier point about the importance – or “trend” – of retaining young talent. The Jets, of course, have several core players on expiring contracts, including Mark Scheifele and Jacob Trouba, who are both coming off their entry-
level deals.

Not one of the Jets’ RFAs currently counts for more than $900,000 on the cap. That is likely to change. The space to retain them and create flexibility moving forward is an essential part of Cheveldayoff’s plan, and he wasn’t about to sacrifice the future for any kind of short-term stopgap. That includes – going back to last summer – signing a veteran player to a short-term deal, as it would have impeded the progress of Nikolaj Ehlers and others, who needed the ice time at
this point in their careers.

“Is (the cap) going to go up? Is it going to stay flat? That’s a big thing, especially when it comes to restricted free agents,” Cheveldayoff said. “As a team, you have to be able to sign your young players, and you have to have that cap flexibility. You don’t want to have to be trading a young guy at a point in time where they’re just starting to become good players because you don’t have the cap space.

“We wouldn’t be sitting here talking about the flexibility that we have, to be able to say, ‘Mark Scheifele, Jacob Trouba — we’re going to get these deals done.’ There have been teams that have had to make decisions based on the fact that, ‘We can’t get a deal done here; now we’re going to have to move you,’ and that was not going to be us.”

While the Jets were silent at the trade table, one transaction did have a Winnipeg connection: Veteran defenceman Adam Pardy was claimed off waivers by the Edmonton Oilers, who currently sit last in the conference. Pardy, 31, had spent the past three years with the Jets organization, but only appeared in 14 games this season. Cheveldayoff tried to swing a deal with a team in need, but when one didn’t materialize, he opted for the waiver wire, hoping to see the rugged blueliner land elsewhere where he could play games down the stretch.

He should get that opportunity with the Oilers.

As a result and with Mark Stuart currently injured, Paul Postma will be back in the lineup on a regular basis for the rest of the year.

– Ryan Dittrick,

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