Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Trade deadline could be big for the Jets... or not

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Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has been cryptic about his trade deadline plans but if he's going to add a player to bolster his roster, he should do it now to get the most out of such an addition.

The Jets are currently living with scoring from only one and a half lines and have a pair of veteran blue-liners -- Ron Hainsey and Mark Stuart -- on the shelf.

Evander Kane has just three points in his last 14 games and the argument can be made he's being wasted. I would suggest it's partly Kane's inconsistent finish, but he could use some help. His linemates -- mostly Olli Jokinen and Antti Miettinen -- just haven't generated enough opportunities.

The trade deadline is April 3 and some teams, most noticably the Pittsburgh Penguins, have begun to add for a playoff run. Comparing the situation of Pens GM Ray Shero with Cheveldayoff's is off base. Winnipeg likely isn't winning the Stanley Cup this year but there's no guarantee that's happening for anyone at any time. A team must get in first and foremost.

There's no magic wand for Cheveldayoff to wave for a fix and he's been clear on his stance of not spending futures to try and get into the post-season.

So maybe help just isn't a possibility under management's long-term gameplan.

"I'm not so worried about third or not. If we get into the playoffs, then we deserve to get in there. Third or sixth or eighth or fifth, it would be a great opportunity for our young players to go to the playoffs," Cheveldayoff told the Free Press last week. "That's obviously what you are trying to do. Now you don't sell the farm to do it but in the same breath you don't sit here and look at the opportunity and say, 'nah, we'll wait until next year.' You take what you can get and you run with it."

Cheveldayoff has a plan and he won't be dissuaded. He also has 10 picks in this summer's draft and if he can move a few of them for a roster player with some term going forward, he can help the present and the future. So there are trades he will make. But there are lots of variables and a rental player doesn't seem to be in the cards for the Jets.

So perhaps it'll be up to the men you already know as your Winnipeg Jets to get this done on their own.

Can they? Maybe. That's what the Jets are right now, one big maybe.

But a win tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes, moves them one step closer to being a yes.

The games are all important now and tonight's against the 'Canes is the most significant to date in the new history of the Jets. The same will likely be said about Thursday's match against the Pittsburgh Penguins and then Saturday's game at home against the 'Canes.

With 15 games remaining on the schedule the Jets have put themselves in position to earn a playoff spot. Now, however, is the moment of real doing, the time for them to affirm their growth. To grab a win and stake their claim as the best of a so-so bunch in the Southeast Division. To push the Hurricanes farther down the pole and put doubt into their playoff hopes.

Winnipeg is on top of the Southeast hill. They need to find a way to stay there and the only path is to push others back down. Winnipeg has yet to show any killer instinct. That needs to change if they're going to reach the playoffs.

Winnipeg has three games remaining with the Hurricanes and four points separating them. Carolina holds three games in hand. The Jets have 36 points to Carolina's 32 and a regulation win for Winnipeg tonight would stretch the lead to six points with 14 games left to go. A loss and it's a two-point gap.

The Jets have been saying they control their own destiny since taking over top spot in the Southeast and they're right.

But there's no time for a dip. Winnipeg battled long and hard to get to its current position. They don't have the luxury of being able to slip and then try to climb back.

Sooner or later this will all come down to win and you're in. Maybe it's already here.

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @garylawless

Trouba turning pro? D2

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 26, 2013 D1

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About Gary Lawless

Gary Lawless is the Free Press sports columnist and co-host of the Hustler and Lawless show on TSN 1290 Winnipeg and www.winnipegfreepress.com
Lawless began covering sports as a rookie reporter at The Chronicle-Journal in Thunder Bay after graduating from journalism school at Durham College in Ontario.
After a Grey Cup winning stint with the Toronto Argonauts in the communications department, Lawless returned to Thunder Bay as sports editor.
In 1999 he joined the Free Press and after working on the night sports desk moved back into the field where he covered pro hockey, baseball and football beats prior to being named columnist.

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