With the Winnipeg Jets having established themselves unequivocally as a top-five team in the league, they’re firmly in the “buyers” column ahead of the Feb. 26 NHL Trade Deadline.
Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff, instead of waiting for fellow GMs to reach out to him, is making a concerted effort to see if there’s anything out there that could potentially help his team go on a deep playoff run.
“There are a lot of outgoing phone calls in the situation we’re in, more than incoming,” Cheveldayoff told Tim Campbell of NHL.com. “When you’re in a situation like we’re in, that we’ve earned the opportunity to look around to see if you can acquire, you maybe are a little more proactive about the outgoing calls than the incoming ones.”
It’s a relatively unfamiliar position Cheveldayoff finds himself in. The Jets have only qualified for the post-season once, in 2015, and that’s really the only time they’ve been buyers at the deadline. That year they acquired rental players Jiri Tlusty and Lee Stempniak, but the current edition of the Jets is much healthier than the Jets team from three seasons ago.
“At that time, we made some assessments that we needed to add some players to fill in our bottom six, our fourth line, to allow [head coach Paul Maurice] to play four lines,” Cheveldayoff said. “I think if we did nothing from an acquisition standpoint [this year], I think we have a much greater depth within our organization. If you ultimately want to win the prize, you might need more depth because I’m not sure you ever have enough depth so those are things you assess. When the roster is healthy, we have tremendous confidence in it.”
Cheveldayoff was named GM of the Jets in 2011, prior to the franchise’s inaugural season in Winnipeg. He has made 24 total trades since then, but the vast majority of which have been of little consequence.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friendman wrote in his latest 31 Thoughts that no-trade and no-movement clauses have hindered the Jets’ ability to pull off a trade. But either way, Cheveldayoff isn’t desperate to make a move—especially when you consider the talent that will be inserted back into the lineup when a handful of Jets players return from various injuries.
“Our biggest deadline acquisitions may be after March 1 when we get [Jacob] Trouba back and hopefully Adam Lowry and Brandon Tanev and Shawn Matthias back, and Steve Mason and Michael Hutchinson, too,” Cheveldayoff said. “We have guys having success right now, but we have those guys waiting as additions. In approaching the deadline, you keep all options open but you are looking for the right fit.”
Cheveldayoff added: “I really think you have to look at what’s around you and what’s available to you and then you make that assessment. Does it really make you better in an area you think can help you? You don’t just throw caution to the wind to get the perceived most-talented player that’s available because they’ll be a free agent or for whatever reason. It really comes down to it being a good fit in order to make a move and it has to fit the chemistry of your group.”