THE signings of expensive free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter in Minnesota on Wednesday prompted questions to Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff about keeping a team competitive in this market.
Cheveldayoff sidestepped the subject at first, but then verbally raced to defend what he has done and will do.
"You have to look no further than the recent deal with Ondrej Pavelec and the opportunity to have him commit," Cheveldayoff said. "It (this free-agency period) is the last kick at the can before the new CBA. It obviously has some different intrigue. Moving forward, we'll be under a new (CBA) and we'll see how the terms of that one unfold.
"I don't think that there's a lot of players that would dispute they get chills when they come in to play here. This is a pure hockey environment, but I tend not to get caught up in that. There are 29 (other) teams essentially going after the same group of players when it comes to free agency. The player picks one. There are 29 other teams that can potentially have an excuse to lament about why it didn't go in that direction. At the end of the day, we feel that the opportunities that we offer to play here in Winnipeg are second to none."
Asked how he might fill a few remaining spots on the Jets' roster, Cheveldayoff said it could lead to a summer of deals.
"The thin free-agent market is an opportunity to look at trades," he said. "I think teams will continue to talk about those kinds of things."
-- Tim Campbell