PHILADELPHIA — Late in the season after another Evander Kane mini-crisis had passed, the talented Winnipeg Jets’ left-winger was asked if he’d ask to be traded.
Kane’s response? He was answering only hockey questions that day.
A few months after Kane sidestepped the question, the idea found its way to Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff a day before the beginning of the annual NHL draft.
Kane’s name has been bandied about frequently throughout the league heading into the draft.
"Again, these kinds of questions are really unfair," Cheveldayoff said this morning at the team’s downtown Philadelphia hotel, addressing reporters. "There are lots of conversations that go on. I’m sure there were levels of frustration at different points in time for individual players. From our standpoint, Evander is a Winnipeg Jet and I know that there’s obviously been lots of different rumours out there. At this point in time, that’s how we’re going to proceed. As far as any demands, we’re working as normal here."
The GM did say this morning that he’s being an attentive listener, no matter who on the Jets’ roster his colleagues may be asking about.
"I’ve been pretty open that from an organization standpoint we’re going to listen to everybody," he said. "If there’s a guy that a team has an interest in, then my phone is open for a phone call. That shouldn’t be characterized that anything is imminent or that I’ve got deals on the table or not, and if I do, there’s certain things that have to happen."
Cheveldayoff did acknowledge that trade speculation during draft week is the normal course of business.
"The trade talk is always ramped up around this time of the year," he said. "I think the uniqueness of the free-agency period where you can actually speak to potential UFAs is a little bit different than in past years. I think there’s a lot of conversations that are going on by general managers on different fronts.
"Trades sometimes happen at the draft because it seems that that’s where the appetite is, but a lot of times those are involving picks. If they’re just straight hockey deals and players, then certainly there’s other times that those things can happen, as well."
It might be normal every year, but this year, the Jets seem to be more in the market for change.
Is it because Cheveldayoff’s been in his post for three years now?
"I think that what we also have is we have a couple of young players that we’ve drafted that are making impacts on our franchise and starting to grow our franchise," he said. "I think I’ve been pretty consistent that you’re trying to gain depth in an organization, so that if you have other assets that other people covet, then you can maybe make those kind of moves. But until you have the assets that allow you to be competitive in the short term and maybe make long-term moves, you have to keep building."