Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Chevy's commandments

Jets willing to be deadline buyers, but...

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There are very few guarantees in this world -- death, taxes and the fact Steven Seagal will never, ever utter the words 'I'd like to thank the Academy for this award' being the exceptions -- but this is almost a given:

Right about now Winnipeg Jets' GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is thinking about pulling the trigger on a possible trade, pulling the plug on a possible trade or pulling the battery out of his cellphone for a brief respite from the trade talk madness.

The NHL trade deadline is a little over a month away -- Feb. 27, to be exact -- and the Jets' boss has some serious pondering to do with his team 10th in the Eastern Conference, five points out of a playoff spot and 3-8-1 in January.

Does he deal for immediate help in an attempt to stop the bleeding?

Does he deal for long-term help, be it a prospect or draft picks?

Or does he do a little bit of both, effectively making the Jets both buyers AND sellers before the deadline?

"We've been very open and candid about our situation: We're always going to be buyers for things that are going to help us in the future," Cheveldayoff told the Free Press. "That's the approach we've taken and that's the approach we're going to continue to take.

"But that's an astute way to look at it: when you move an asset you are essentially a buyer and a seller. Everything comes at a cost and that's where you have to determine if you want to pay the cost and if the price is reasonable."

Now, if you're looking for some sort deep, trade-talk revelation here from the Jets GM, you're about to be disappointed. Cheveldayoff, like most of his counterparts, is an outstanding poker player. In fact, he's mastered the art of conducting interviews but revealing diddly squat.

Instead, what Cheveldayoff did provide in a recent chat is an affirmation of what could be called his team-building/trade deadline commandments.

They are:

Thou shalt not get an itchy trading finger:

"For me, it's not about making a deal for the sake of it," Cheveldayoff said. "I don't approach this deadline or any other deadline sitting here thinking, 'I MUST do something.' My must is I must spend each and every day doing everything I can to help this team both short and long term. That's my only 'must.' If that means making a trade today, tomorrow, at the trade deadline or at the draft table or July 1st, then you do it.

"But we're not going to do something just to see the transaction on the board."

Thou shalt remember the best move is often to fold, rather than go all in:

"Just because you make a deal doesn't necessarily mean you're going to have instant success. Just because you don't make a deal doesn't mean you're going to flounder. There's so many different things that happen throughout the year... sometimes getting a player back from injury is as good as making any kind of deal you could possibly make.

"Every team has different wants, needs, pressure points, willingness and philosophy. It is a supply and demand market, no question about it. If you don't need a defenceman, then you're not in that market, but if you need a centre and there's no centre, good luck trying to get one. It just depends on the depth in your organization. I've seen a lot of situations where there are no moves made but a guy in the minors gets an opportunity to play and sometimes those pay dividends as well."

Thou shalt not dismantle a 'good' dressing room:

"We've been around these guys enough to the point where you get a handle of who are the guys that are the glue in the room. These guys go to battle each and every night together. There's a bond. And when you take somebody out of that bond it hurts the family. But it's part of the business and they all know there's a harsher side."

Thou shalt not peddle talented young prospects with upside:

"Are there untouchables? We've talked about it. We're looking to build for the long term and our long term is our young players who are going to continue to grow. We want players that want to be Winnipeg Jets. We want to sign players that want to be Winnipeg Jets. We want to draft players who want to be Jets. That's part of our assessment: Who is part of the big picture and who is going to help you have the greatest success."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

jets hope break helps C2

GENTLEMEN,

START YOUR RUMOURS

Some key facts to consider during the NHL's All-Star Game break and with the trade deadline a month away:

The deadline: Monday, Feb. 27, 2 p.m. CT.

The standings: The Jets are 22-22-6; 10th in the Eastern Conference, 22nd overall.

Jets needs: The team is 22nd in goals for (2.46 per game); 17th in goals against. More top-six forward help would be a plus: Blake Wheeler leads the team with 33 points (9 goals) and, heading into Wednesday's action, there were 26 players with more goals than the Jets' leading goal-scorer -- Evander Kane -- who has 18.

Jets assets: The team has a deep defensive corps, making them attractive to organizations seeking puck-moving defencemen. Consider, too, that two of the best Jet prospects are Zach Redmond and Paul Postma, both offensive D-men heading to the AHL all-star game.

Worth noting: Winnipeg's current salary cap is $53,267,291 or 24th overall according to capgeek.com. (The cap ceiling is $64.3 million). Their average age of 26.7 puts them among the nine youngest teams in the NHL.

Worth noting: Winnipeg's unrestricted free agents, those players who could be rentals for teams making a run at a Cup, are: Johnny Oduya, Jim Slater, Tanner Glass, Kyle Wellwood, Tim Stapleton, Randy Jones, Mark Flood and Chris Mason.

-- Tait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 26, 2012 C1

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