Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Doing deals priority No. 1

Chevy's focus now on Little, Wheeler, Bogo

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Two pretty important weeks are coming up for Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff but he wasn't showing any of his angst on Friday.

Cheveldayoff met with reporters at the conclusion of the team's summer development camp and said he remains focused on getting new contract agreements with restricted free agents Zach Bogosian, Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler, who all have salary arbitration hearings scheduled by Aug. 2.

"Our focus is on trying to come to deals with all of these players," Cheveldayoff said. "We've been fortunate to come to deals with two of them (Eric Tangradi and Paul Postma, who also filed). We're continuing talking.

"Each and every deal falls into place differently, whether the arbitration process is involved or not."

Little's hearing is slated for next Wednesday, while Wheeler is set to go July 29 and Bogosian on Aug. 2.

Wheeler tweeted Friday that he'd had a "productive" week without saying how and Cheveldayoff was asked if it had anything to do with him.

"Geez, I don't know," the GM said. "I'm not sure."

As of Friday, capgeek.com had the Jets with nearly $47.2 million of committed cap space for 2013-14, with those three major components to sign.

The cap-space cost to get Bogosian, Little and Wheeler on contracts could push the Jets higher than their past stated goal of being a "mid-range" team in the cap world, possibly closer to the 2013-14 maximum of $64.3 million.

Cheveldayoff said the Jets have no worry on the matter.

"I think by nature we're going to be closer to the cap," he said. "It is something that again, we've always said when the different needs within the organization warrant, our budget will fluctuate as it becomes more apparent.

"Certainly if you look where we're at right now, people will say there's a tremendous amount of cap space, but we do have three key players who are going to get locked up, through whatever process, long-term or the process that's in front of us."

He added that the team is "in good shape" that way.

One subtraction the Jets will have in 2013-14 is forward Alex Burmistrov, a restricted free agent who has chosen to go to the KHL. At the announcement of his contract with Ak-Bars Kazan, one of Burmistrov's agents blamed Jets coach Claude Noel for the poor relationship with the young forward.

The GM defended his coach, albeit in a roundabout way.

"It's an emotional game, a game that everybody is in it to compete," Cheveldayoff said. "Everyone's in it to win. If some of those things came out and were said, I guess it makes for good news and good headlines, but the reality is that what happens within the confines of the room, it's all done for the purposes of trying to help the Jets move forward and to win. Both sides, Alex and Claude, are very passionate people that work extremely hard at their crafts."

The GM said he was more than pleased with the week's development camp, which saw 43 players attend, including each of the club's 10 newest draft picks.

"It's truly a development camp for us, development in all aspects, both on the ice and off the ice," Cheveldayoff said.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 20, 2013 C2

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