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More than Fehr-ly good

Capitals' cap squeeze gets Winkler boy home

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A different situation and good health are the catalysts the Winnipeg Jets hope will shape their good fortune from Friday's trade for right-winger Eric Fehr.

The Jets acquired Fehr, the 25-year-old from Winkler, from the salary-cap-crunched Washington Capitals for 2008 third-round pick Danick Paquette and next year's fourth-round pick at the entry draft.

Having recently acquired right-wingers Joel Ward and Troy Brouwer, shipping Fehr's $2.2-million salary to the Jets helped the Caps at least temporarily get back under the NHL's $64.3-million salary cap.

 

"He's someone who has played in a very, very deep lineup in Washington and obviously was a very, very good junior hockey player, very skilled," said Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff about Fehr, who scored 59 goals for the Brandon Wheat Kings in his final junior year.

"His combination of size, skating and great shot, all those things make us hopeful he finds the next level here."

Fehr's ice time in Washington this past season, when he missed almost two months due to shoulder problems, was just more than 12 minutes per game.

Still, he produced 10 goals and 20 points in 52 games. That followed a 21-goal season in 2009-10, his second as a full-time NHLer.

"I definitely hope to be able to contribute on the scoresheet," Fehr said on a conference call with reporters late Friday. "I think I'll get a little more opportunity in Winnipeg. I know Washington does have the high-powered offence and it's a little bit difficult to get out in a lot of situations with all those guys getting their minutes."

The trade has one last hurdle to pass in the next few days.

Fehr had surgery on his shoulder after the season was over and the Jets will have their medical experts check him over to make sure everything's in order.

Still, Fehr made no secret Friday he's in recovery mode, though he's feeling well.

"(Doctors will check) to make sure everything's going well, which I feel it is," he said. "I doubt I'll be ready for training camp. I think it'll be a little while longer.

"This is something I have to be real careful about. I want to do this properly and not rush back because when I come back, I'm going to be back for good."

Fehr, helping with a putting competition at a charity golf event in his hometown Friday afternoon, said he got a call from Caps GM George McPhee informing him of the trade.

Cheveldayoff followed on the phone a few minutes later.

"I'm definitely excited but a little sad at the same time," Fehr said. "It's my first time being traded.

"But to be able to come back to Winnipeg and play as close to my hometown as I am, it's going to be a great feeling."

He said he knew something might be afoot in the last month.

"I was starting to think about different possibilities about what could happen," he said about Washington's acquisitions of Ward and Brouwer.

He also said he's going to miss Washington, which drafted him in the first round of 2003.

"A great city, really loved it there," he said.

Fehr is the third Manitoban acquired by the Jets since 2011 free agency began last Friday.

Co-incidence, Cheveldayoff said.

"Jason Gregoire (signed Thursday), he chose us," Cheveldayoff said. "We'd have gone after him had this organization been in a different place or he was from a different place.

"With Eric Fehr, for whatever reason, there's a salary-cap crunch and they've made several acquisitions and hopefully we'll be able to benefit."

Fehr will begin the final year of his contract this fall.

The Jets traded away Paquette, a right-winger, who was a third-round Atlanta draft pick in 2008 out of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

He played last season with the ECHL's Gwinnett Gladiators, scoring 13 goals and 20 points in 59 games.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 9, 2011 C2

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