It is hardly the kind of news that is going to make headlines across the National Hockey League, nor will it surprise anyone that the Winnipeg Jets didn’t add or subtract at the NHL trade deadline.
But the club did lock up the 29-year-old Mark Stuart, one of their assistant captains, to a four-year contract extenstion worth $10.5 million.
"He’s a big part of our leadership group," said Jets’ GM Kevin Cheveldayoff today. "He had a desire to stay in Winnipeg and wanted to be a part of our organization moving forward.
"The leadership he provides, the type of person he is, he is what the Winnipeg Jets are about when it comes to having a character-type person."
Stuart wasn’t available to the media to speak of his extenstion but Jacob Trouba, his defence partner, tweeted this after the news became official:
"Jacob Trouba (@JacobTrouba)
Couldn't be happier to see Stuey is staying in Winnipeg for 4 more years. Great partner and even better teammate. #stuuuuuu"
Cheveldayoff said the Jets did kick the tires on a number of deals but didn’t sign off on any of them. And their approach to the deadline was affected by the loss of Mark Scheifele, who is out likely for six-to-eight weeks with an MCL sprain in his right knee.
"This year we really targeted some areas that we felt if we could shore up it was going to be something we were going to do," said Cheveldayoff. "We always talked about one day or one incident could certainly change how things could go. The Scheifele injury last night did throw a little bit of a wrench into some of the things that we had been targeting and forced us to focus on maybe some other areas."
The Jets did consider pursuing another team’s unrestricted free agent as a possible stop-gap move to offset the loss of Scheifele, but opted instead to spread his minutes out with their current corps.
"We were very active on several fronts on rental markets," said Cheveldayoff. "We had some based on some internal parameters on where things were going to go for the various ones, focussing on the forward position and then certainly today very extensively on the centre position.
"It wasn't so much the prices, it was the availability. Not a lot of centres of the quality we were going to need to replace Mark's production or fit into the mix and the type of player we were going to look for. There could have been opportunities to pick up some different players, but we wanted to know for sure that it was going to be a player that was going to fit into the roles they would have had to have been used."
Cheveldayoff said the Jets were in until the 11th hour on some deals, but no trades were consummated for a variety of reasons, including the possibility of a rival offering a higher draft pick for a player.
But, in the end, the Jets opted to show more faith in their current roster and haven’t given up on a push to the playoffs -- even without Scheifele.
"We're very proud of the job these guys have done in getting themselves back into this," Cheveldayoff said. "We're excited to see the level of enthusiasm from the guys, the level of care. When you get a curve ball thrown at you like yesterday it will be an interesting testament to their will and their character moving forward on how they're going to react and how it will affect the group."
Asked if he thought the inability to improve the team through a team should be viewed as a failure, Cheveldayoff said:
"I guess it depends on how you want to look at it. A lot of people would love to look at the fact that we didn’t make a big deadline acquisition as a failure. A lot of them would look at the glass half full and say they didn’t sit there and sell.
"They believe that this group has earned the opportunity to try to move forward. So I guess I’ll have to let you decide on how you think that is. I certainly feel very comfortable standing here today knowing the options that were in front of me, knowing the decisions I made to move forward with and seeing how the guys have played over the last period of time, I would view that as failure, I’d view that as an opportunity for the fans here to have a level of excitement and expectation that we’re going to try to get in this thing."