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Fehr excited about trade to hometown Jets

by Brian Hunter
Eric Fehr was already home in Manitoba for the summer, rehabbing after offseason shoulder surgery and helping organize a charity golf tournament in his hometown of Winkler. That's where he got the call Friday and found out he'll be staying local for the 2011-12 NHL season.

The Winnipeg Jets acquired Fehr from the Washington Capitals in exchange for minor-league forward Danick Paquette and a fourth-round pick in the 2012 Entry Draft.

"I'm definitely excited, and a little bit sad at the same time," Fehr said during a conference call later Friday. "This is my first time being traded, so I have mixed emotions, but to be able to come back to Winnipeg and be able to play as close to my hometown as I am, it's going to be a great feeling."

The trade is conditional on Fehr passing a physical with Winnipeg by 5 p.m. ET on Monday. He said he's set to see his doctors in the next few days to make sure everything in his rehabilitation is going as expected, and while he doesn't expect to be ready right at the start of training camp, he's determined to come back 100-percent healthy and ready to help the Jets win hockey games in what figures to be an improved Southeast Division.

"I know a couple of players on the team already, which will help," Fehr said. "It's funny, as it is we were pretty good in Washington but Atlanta always seemed to give us trouble. They were a team we thought was up and coming, and had good core players. They've done a good job getting the team ready for next season."

While getting the opportunity to play close to home is something to look forward to for Fehr, perhaps even more exciting is the chance to see more ice time than he had with the Capitals -- and the additional offensive production that could accompany it.

Fehr scored 43 goals for the Capitals over the past three seasons despite playing mostly on the third and fourth lines. He scored a career-high 21 goals during the 2009-10 season and 10 in just 52 games this past season, even though he rarely saw big minutes on a team with a wealth of talented forwards like Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander Semin and Brooks Laich.

"I definitely hope to be able to contribute on the score sheet," Fehr said. "There might be a little more opportunity in Winnipeg. Washington does have a high-powered offense, and it's a little bit difficult to get out in situations with those guys getting their minutes. I'm hoping to be used in some different situations and definitely excited for the challenge that presents and being part of getting the team winning games in Winnipeg."

During his days playing junior hockey for the Brandon Wheat Kings, Fehr put up consecutive 50-goal seasons, including a banner 2004-05 season in which he finished with 59 goals and 111 points. Clearly, the offensive upside is there and an expanded role might allow him to capitalize on it.

"I definitely believe I've got a lot more to give," Fehr said. "I think I've shown spurts of it throughout my career, but I've struggled with injuries a lot. I truly feel that once the injuries are behind me I can show more of the player I was in juniors."

Fehr is a former first-round pick of the Capitals, taken with the 18th pick in the 2003 Entry Draft. He has compiled 46 goals, 93 points and a plus-33 rating in 230 regular-season games, plus 5 goals and 6 points in 26 playoff contests.

Paquette is a third-round pick by the Atlanta Thrashers in the 2008 Entry Draft who played this past season for the Gwinnett Gladiators of the East Coast Hockey League, finishing with 13 goals and 20 points in 59 games. He scored 36 goals during the 2009-10 season while playing for the Quebec Remparts in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Fehr said that at the end of this past season he was expecting to return to Washington, but he took notice when the team added some depth at right wing through the draft and free agency. Still, it was a bit of a surprise when Capitals General Manager George McPhee called him while he was between holes of a putting competition to inform him of the deal. Not long after that, Fehr was on the phone with new Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff.

"It's just so hard to believe I'm going to be in Winnipeg," he said. "With the whole team coming back, my family and friends were saying, 'It would be so cool if you played there,' but you don't think it's a possibility -- and then it happens. My world is flipped upside down right now. It's going to be a whirlwind summer."

Of course, Jets tickets are already a bit of a hot commodity around Manitoba, but it appears Fehr will have to do his best to scrounge up a few extras during the upcoming season.

"I told all my family and friends, and they were really excited," he said. "They enjoyed coming to watch me during my time in Washington. They're going to really like the fact they only have to drive a little over an hour to come watch games now. I'm excited for the new opportunity this is going to give me."
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