MINNEAPOLIS -- Winnipeg GM Kevin Cheveldayoff wasn't budging Wednesday when asked to comment on the state of his coaching search.
He said simply that the "process is continuing."
The coaching derby is believed to be down to Manitoba Moose coach Claude Noel and Chicago assistant coach Mike Haviland.
Cheveldayoff wouldn't say either name but said he's been doing due diligence on the candidates, talking with former players and colleagues who may have worked with them.
He also said he hasn't yet begun the process of identifying who will be the coach of the franchise's AHL affiliate team in St. John's, N.L., but said he's had lots of calls about that job and this list will be long.
There's a strong chance the new coach of the NHL team could be announced before the draft is complete this weekend.
There's also a growing sentiment here that the team's name is going to be announced sometime on Friday, possibly just before the first round begins.
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The Winnipeg franchise has more on its plate here this week than Friday's and Saturday's entry draft.
The team has three unrestricted free agents (Eric Boulton, Radek Dvorak and Freddy Meyer) and at least six restricted free agents as of June 30.
Asked if he's going to pursue any of the UFA's, Cheveldayoff said: "I've had conversations with their agents but I've told them until I can get my pro staff in place and have a meeting with them, that it was pretty premature to see if we were going to go in those directions. That'll be brought up in the pro meeting (today)."
Meyer is reported to have already signed in Sweden for next season.
Cheveldayoff plans to meet today for the first time with his pro scouting staff.
As for the restricted free agents, who must receive a qualifying offer by Monday in order to maintain their rights, Cheveldayoff was vague, saying the deadline for those offers hasn't arrived yet.
The GM did say that he still plans to meet with team captain Andrew Ladd's agent J.P. Barry here this week to start talking about the Group 2 free agent's future and a new contract.
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Cheveldayoff, in chatting with reporters late Wednesday at the team's downtown hotel, revealed another future plan for the organization.
He said that the Winnipeg team will soon be expanding its scouting staff.
"The ownership group is adamant that drafting and developing from within is an investment, not an expense," he said.