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Chevy says team better today due to trades

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Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has been able to add 10 prospects and two NHL roster players since the draft and is confident his team is better today for it.

Cheveldayoff made the latest addition late Friday afternoon, sending his second-round pick in the 2014 NHL draft to the Minnesota Wild for right-winger Devin Setoguchi.

Setoguchi had 13 goals and 14 assists last season with the Wild and in 384 NHL games has scored 116 goals and 106 assists. The 26-year-old Taber, Alta., native had his best season in 2008-09, scoring 31 goals and adding 34 assists.

The Jets also flipped draft picks to the Chicago Blackhawks on draft day to pick up right-winger Michael Frolik.

"We feel we're a much better team today than we were entering the NHL entry draft with the two players (Setoguchi and Frolik) we were able to acquire," said Cheveldayoff.

Setoguchi is in the last year of a deal that pays him $3.25 million this season, with a cap hit of $3 million.

Nothing is written in stone but Setoguchi will most likely open training camp on a line with left-winger Evander Kane. The centre position will be up for grabs with the likes of veteran Olli Jokinen and rookie Mark Scheifele vying for the second-line opportunity.

Cheveldayoff said the Setoguchi trade talks also begin on draft day.

"I guess the first time I had a conversation with (Wild GM Chuck Fletcher) was on the draft floor. We were looking to do something with some of the picks we had acquired," said Cheveldayoff.

"At that point in time Chuck wasn't prepared to do anything so we went ahead with the (Michael) Frolik deal but kept in touch as the days transpired and then it kind of came together late this afternoon."

Setoguchi is in Mexico for a friend's wedding and was unavailable to speak with the media on Friday. Cheveldayoff did speak with him for a few minutes on Friday afternoon and said the player was enthused about the deal.

"His cell phone battery was dying but he did get in that he was excited before we hung up and I'm going to speak to him again later (Friday)," said Cheveldayoff. "This is a great opportunity for us and we're real excited to have Devin in our organization."

An NHL pro scout contacted on Friday night described Setoguchi as follows.

"Classic shooter type, will score goals," said the scout via text message. "Real good one-timer on the PP. Not much of a physical element to his game."

Cheveldayoff said the Jets interviewed a number of players prior to the start of free agency and were in on a number of deals but nothing panned out in the end.

"We were in on some things. Very much in on some things. But players are free agents and they get to make their choice," said Cheveldayoff.

Cheveldayoff said he has been in contact with the agents of some of his players that are now unrestricted free agents but said nothing was really cooking on that front.

The eight Jets players that are now restricted free agents are still job No. 1 for the GM.

"They remain the No. 1 priority. Anytime you put one of your RFAs in the books as a signed player that's a good thing," said Cheveldayoff. "We're working on those deals and conversations continue and hopefully we won't have to worry about any (arbitration) deadlines."

The Jets have three high profile RFAs in centre Bryan Little, right wing Blake Wheeler and defenceman Zach Bogosian.

Little's agent Anton Thun said Friday that he and the Jets had traded proposals and both sides were hopeful a multi-year pact could be reached.

Representatives for Bogosian and Wheeler did not immediately respond to emails.

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

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 6, 2013 C1

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