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New GM meets scouts, days before draft

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This week marks the first time new Winnipeg GM Kevin Cheveldayoff meets his amateur scouting staff — a very unusual occurrence given that it’s now just four days ahead of the NHL’s annual entry draft.

A deal to move the former Atlanta Thrashers franchise wasn’t struck until May 31. Cheveldayoff himself wasn’t hired by the new Winnipeg owners until June 8. Friday, the league conducts the first round of the draft in the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.

Cheveldayoff expects to sit down later today or Tuesday with the scouting staff for the first time.

"We will discuss the type of things we are looking for in a player, the qualities and the attributes we look for both on and off the ice," he said.

Cheveldayoff told reporters today that franchise’s existing head scout Marcel Comeau will run the draft table this week.

"We’re definitely going to be going off of Marcel’s recommendations," Cheveldayoff said. "We’re obviously very comfortable with Marcel running the draft for us this year.

"Any good general manager is going to rely heavily on the scouts."

Cheveldayoff said all the logistics of Friday’s and Saturday’s draft table in the Xcel Energy Center have not been finalized, though he expected it’ll be him who announces Winnipeg’s first pick.

As for a team sweater for that pick and the eight that are expected to follow, Cheveldayoff said he had no answer today.

"Certainly there will be a sweater but whether it will be a team sweater, that remains to be seen," he said. Consensus is that if the franchise hasn’t announced its name by then, it’ll be simply an NHL sweater and/or hat. "There has been different discussions of what to do in case of sweaters not being available. I think the elation for many young kids to hear their name called in the first round will be one of exuberance," Cheveldayoff added.

As for the team’s coaching search, the GM was also vague and wouldn’t put a timetable on any announcement.

"Zinger (assistant GM Craig Heisinger) and I have conducted several interviews and obviously the process is ongoing," Cheveldayoff said. "True to our word, we haven’t given a deadline to anyone yet. Obviously there are different procedures and stuff we’ll conduct internally to get through the process.

"We’re still kind of discussing things internally."

The team has interviews Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay as well as Moose coach Claude Noel, Craig MacTavish and Mike Haviland.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

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