Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Cautious free-agent approach paying off

As a result, Jets could be buyers this summer

  • Print

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- While many of his GM brethren were blowing their brains out in free agency last July, Jets boss Kevin Cheveldayoff determined caution was required.

Cheveldayoff had a few determining factors that led him that way. First and foremost was a lack of intimacy with his own roster. But there were also many questions about the future.

The future, in particular how the salary cap will be altered by a yet-to-be-negotiated collective bargaining agreement, is still entirely unknown.

Whether salary spending goes up or down, Cheveldayoff finds himself in a comfortable position and not tied to any of the poorly constructed deals of last summer. Can you spell James Wisniewski? Great. Now try and swallow $5.5 million a year for five more seasons.

Along with the rest of the NHL's general managers, Cheveldayoff is here in South Florida for the next couple of days to mull the state of the game but the answers the game's bosses want aren't readily available.

Priority No. 1 for most GMs is how much money will they be able to spend when and if a new CBA is signed. For Cheveldayoff, being in charge of a less-than mid-cap organization gives him lots of flexibility going forward. If the cap does indeed come down as many expect it will, Cheveldayoff isn't tied to numerous deals with salary heft, which in theory could allow him to be a buyer in a new and less rich market.

Teams that are already committed to spending near the cap for the next couple of years will have trouble finding money to sign their own young players. Cheveldayoff will have no such worries.

The Jets have a number of unrestricted free agents they may or may not want to re-sign and two of the team's young stars, goalie Ondrej Pavelec and sniper Evander Kane are at the end of their entry-level deals and in line for major raises.

Cheveldayoff will be able to handle these expenditures and perhaps have room in his budget and the cap to try and improve his roster through free agency.

The Jets are a budget team but are far better positioned than others near the bottom of the league in salary. Winnipeg has ticket-revenue certainty for years to come and has exceeded its own revenue expectations.

If the right opportunity comes along to score a franchise-type player in a down market -- as this summer could well be -- Cheveldayoff may have less trouble getting the green light than some of his counterparts.

A lot will depend on the market. Last summer it grew hot as both the floor and cap rose and teams, depending on their station in life, rushed to meet a threshold.

There is speculation this summer's market will be much cooler. That favours an outfit like the Jets.

The salary floor and cap, which govern how GMs structure their rosters, are dictated by league revenues. This past season the players' share of hockey revenue was 57 per cent translating into a cap of $64.3 million per team.

Ownership wants to shrink that percentage and if the NFL and NBA can be used as examples, they'll be aiming for a number much closer to 50 per cent.

The yearly cap is normally announced just prior to the NHL Entry Draft in late June giving GMs a framework under which they can spend for the coming season and in free agency, which begins on July 1st.

This summer, the cap is expected to rise to somewhere in the neighbourhood of $69 million. That would give Cheveldayoff, with just over $51 million on the books this season, lots of room to manoeuvre. Twitter: @garylawless

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 12, 2012 C1

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Jets This Week: Crunching the playoff numbers

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
  • MIKE.DEAL@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 100615 - Tuesday, June 15th, 2010 The Mane Attraction - Lions are back at the Assiniboine Park Zoo. Xerxes a 3-year-old male African Lion rests in the shade of a tree in his new enclosure at the old Giant Panda building.  MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

View More Gallery Photos

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
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.


Who has been the Jets' most valuable player this season?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google