Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Chevy open to draft manoeuvres

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WINNIPEG Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said Monday he's open to moving his first-round pick in the June entry draft.

"One thing I will not do is mortgage the future but if I can accelerate the future, I will gladly do that," Cheveldayoff said on a season-ending radio program with the team's own broadcasters.

Winnipeg, heading into tonight's draft lottery, has the ninth pick in the June draft in Pittsburgh.

Cheveldayoff said also that he won't make a trade in the coming weeks just to make one, saying he wasn't simply a trade junkie.

The GM also said you won't hear excuses for the team's terrible start to its first season in Winnipeg -- 5-9-3 in the first 17 -- even though the club's exhibition schedule was discombobulated because of the relocation from Atlanta to Winnipeg. The Jets basically inherited Atlanta's travel-intense schedule.

"I'm not in the business of excuses," Cheveldayoff said. "And to Claude's (coach Claude Noel's) credit, no one ever used it as an excuse."

Cheveldayoff has promised that the 2012 exhibition schedule will be far more favourable to Winnipeg's geography.

Also asked Monday about the organization's overall depth this season, the GM wasn't sugar-coating anything.

"Adequate," Cheveldayoff said.

The GM said he didn't want to be caught being too positive on the matter since the team did not make the playoffs, but he did point out that for a stretch of the season, the club had $20 million out of its $52-million worth of salary out of the lineup with injuries.

"We stayed in it (the playoff race), though," he added.

As for next season, Cheveldayoff said AHL first-team all-star defenceman Paul Postma of the St. John's IceCaps has earned a chance for a serious look at cracking the lineup next fall.

"We were hoping to bring him up to play some games once we were mathematically out of the playoffs, but he was nursing an injury," Cheveldayoff said. "But our plan in the beginning was to let him go there and play a lot."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 10, 2012 D3

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