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Thursday Thoughts from the Draft

by Mitchell Clinton (@MClinton007) / Winnipeg Jets

BUFFALO, NY - Even though it's NHL Draft week, Winnipeg Jets General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff has a lot on his mind.

The Draft is certainly taking up most of the time. In fact, Cheveldayoff and his staff plans to interview a couple more players today, with a lot of the discussion focused on Winnipeg's 22nd overall selection.

"The amateur guys all kind of convened last night getting into the city here. Today will be the first day that we'll sit down as a group. As management we've been in the board room for a little while here, talking about different things and different scenarios," Cheveldayoff said Thursday morning. "It is a very busy time. It's not even just the Draft, free agency is only a week away. You're dealing with your pro scouts in different aspects of that as well."

HUTCH LOCKED IN

Free agency is certainly on Cheveldayoff's mind, and while the GM has a number of players (like Mark Scheifele , Jacob Trouba, and Adam Lowry ) set to become restricted free agents, he was able to cross Michael Hutchinson off that list.

The netminder signed a two-year deal earlier this week.

"The timing was right. We were able to get a deal that worked for both sides," said Cheveldayoff. "Michael was arbitration eligible, so there's obviously an opportunity that if we qualified him he could have went to arbitration. That process takes a long drawn out affair over the summer, so we're happy that deal is in place."

Over his NHL career, Hutchinson is 32-26-8, with a 2.53 GAA and a .912 save percentage.

WELCOME TO LAS VEGAS!

The National Hockey League announced yesterday the Western Conference, and the Pacific Division, will have a new member in 2017-2018 with the league expanding to Las Vegas, Nevada.

"With Las Vegas entering, it'll be a new wrinkle into the whole planning side of everything. Certainly something that once we know the rules here now, we can sit back and think things through over the next 12 months," said Cheveldayoff. "It will be an interesting time from a hockey operations perspective. It'll be interesting to see a new market, a new place to go, and I think everyone will be excited about it."

With league expansion, comes an expansion draft that Cheveldayoff has to be prepared for.

The Las Vegas team will select one player from each of the 30 NHL clubs. Those existing 30 teams can protect seven forwards, three defencemen, and one goalie; or, alternatively, eight skaters regardless of position, and one goaltender.

"The last general manager's meeting we had in March there was a basis of some rules that they talked about that could be implemented if the expansion was something they were going to do," Cheveldayoff said. "At that point in time your mind is working toward what that means for your own organization and what that means for every team.

"When you're 14 months out like we were at that point in time, or 12 months out now from the actual expansion draft, there's lots of things that could come into play. This game is a very fluid game, from a management perspective you have to be prepared for everything."

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