IT was a couple of weeks ago -- back when NHL free agency still had a stranglehold on puck fans -- that Kevin Cheveldayoff offered up what essentially serves as the Winnipeg Jets GM's first commandment in building his hockey club:
"I don't think you ever sit back and put your feet up and say, 'I'm done,' " he said. "It's an ongoing process all the time. You're always looking, you're always trying to see what is out there."
Now, as busy as the Jets have been this month with the additions of Olli Jokinen, Alex Ponikarovsky and Al Montoya while re-signing Toby Enstrom, Ondrej Pavelec and Kyle Wellwood, no doubt the Jets brain trust is forever tossing around names, listening to offers and, perhaps, initiating some trade talk, too.
All of this had us checking in again on what's left of the list of NHL free agents and who might still be of interest to the Jets. At first glance, it is primarily a collection of aging vets trying to land one more deal to extend careers -- hello, Jason Arnott, Mike Knuble, Tomas Holmstrom, Andrew Brunette and Jason Blake -- and that type of player doesn't appear to fit the team's blueprint.
But some names do still offer some intrigue. They aren't the marquee types like Zach Parise or Ryan Suter, but they might look good in Jets colours.
The issue, then, is this: do the Jets potentially spend on an unrestricted free agent or promote from within with a Patrice Cormier, Spencer Machachek or Ben Maxwell?
Do they lock in to older vets knowing youngsters like Ivan Telegin, Mark Scheifele and Carl Klingberg may soon be ready to push for work with the big club?
It's summer. It's slow, so we thought we'd throw this out -- discuss among yourselves whether there is a fit and, more importantly, if any unrestricted free agent listed here might help push Winnipeg into the playoff picture in 2012-13:
Shane Doan, RW
2011-12, Phoenix -- GP: 79 G: 22 A: 28 Pts: 50. Age: 35. Salary: $4.55 million.
It's not just sentimentality that would make his return a great story, it's the fact the man still has game. But his agent told the Free Press earlier this month the Jets had not made an offer and Doan still has his fingers crossed the ownership situation on Phoenix can be resolved.
Milan Jurcina, D
2011-12, NY Islanders -- GP: 65 G: 3 A: 8 Pts: 11. Age: 29. Salary: $1.6 million.
If the Jets still want to augment their overall size, Jurcina -- 6-4, 253 -- can really fill a room. But there are inconsistencies to his game and some concerns about his commitment -- he was an awful -34 last year. That said, he does have a shot than can blast through the end boards.
Kristian Huselius, LW/RW
2011-12, Columbus -- GP: 2 G: 0 A: 0 Pts: 0. Age: 33. Salary: $4.75 million.
A seven-time 20-goal scorer, Huselius has never had his skills questioned. But in a game played by large, quick men in a confined space he is, to twist a phrase, like china in a bull shop.
Carlo Colaiacovo, D
2011-12, St. Louis -- GP: 64 G: 2 A: 17 Pts: 19. Age: 29. Salary: $2.5 million.
Probably no room for him in the Jets organization with the club having seven D-men on one-way contracts but, despite his durability issues, Colaiacovo is steady.
Kurtis Foster, D
2011-12, Minnesota -- GP: 51 G: 4 A: 10 Pts: 14. Age: 30. Salary: $1.8 million.
Much the same as Jurcina. Big dude at 6-5, 225 with a cannon shot.
Mathieu Darche, LW/RW
2011-12, Montreal -- GP: 61 G: 5 A: 7 Pts. 12. Age: 35. Salary: $700,000.
He was productive in the AHL and parlayed that into a respectable NHL career. Point totals were down last year (from 12-14-26 two years ago), but he's a depth guy with big-time will.
Petr Sykora, LW/RW
2011-12, New Jersey -- GP: 82 G: 21 A: 23 Pts: 44. Age: 35. Salary: $650,000
Doesn't fit the Jets blueprint, but was a bargain last year for the Devils in putting up his 11th 20-goal season.
Jonathan Cheechoo, RW/LW
2011-12 (Peoria, AHL) -- GP: 70 G: 25 A: 31 Pts: 56. Age: 32. Salary: $600,000.
How far has this guy's career fallen? Cheechoo led the NHL in goals with 56 in '05-06 and had 37 a year later, but has spent the last two years in the AHL. Worth a look?
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