Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

No untouchable Jets players: Chevy

GM always looking to strengthen squad

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ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said Thursday night he wants there to be no doubt he's a buyer in the approach to the NHL's trade deadline Feb. 27.

"I don't like the terms buyer and seller," Cheveldayoff told the Free Press at the Xcel Energy Center, where his Jets were playing the Minnesota Wild. "A lot of people ask me which I am.

"I'm always going to be trying to acquire assets. I'm always looking to make our team better for the future."

Cheveldayoff said Thursday he's had many conversations with his NHL peers in recent days.

"There are lots of things happening in parallel universes," he said, adding that NHL GMs are discussing these matters 365 days a year, not just in February.

As for what assets might be in play, Cheveldayoff was predictably vague, but he did say he holds no player on a "pedestal," making it clear he has no untouchable players on his current roster.

As for what other teams might be asking for, Cheveldayoff stopped the question.

"It's not just other teams asking about (our young players)," he said. "There are a lot of things that are talked about."

Including the opposite, he seemed to indicate.

Another thing Cheveldayoff was definitive about Thursday was that he won't be involved in any "rental-player" deals, where he might acquire a player whose contract runs out at the end of this season.

On the other end of that matter, Cheveldayoff confirmed that he has not been negotiating with any of his soon-to-be-unrestricted-free-agent players about contract extensions.

Those UFA's are Jim Slater, Tanner Glass, Kyle Wellwood, Tim Stapleton, Johnny Oduya, Randy Jones, Mark Flood and Chris Mason.

The GM said he couldn't project when he'd be making any moves or any major moves to change or improve the team, something that might mark the end of his self-proclaimed assessment period.

"I'm not going to be making any moves just for the sake of making moves," Cheveldayoff said. "And we're always assessing."

Pressed, Cheveldayoff said that the assessment process is well along.

"We have a lot better idea about these guys than we did at the start of the year," he said. "We are results-oriented. We're focused on making the playoffs until Game 82 or until we're not in mathematically."

-- -- --

Three Minnesotans, Blake Wheeler, Dustin Byfuglien and Mark Stuart, returned to play in Xcel Energy Center Thursday,

Wheeler appeared most enthusiastic about it.

And for good reason -- great memories in the building.

"There are almost too many, to be honest," said Wheeler, who's from nearby Robbinsdale. "I think winning the state high school hockey tournament, that's always going to be one of my fondest memories. Your first dream in life is to play in that tournament so to win it was kind of the springboard for my career.

"And the Final Five goal (2007) against North Dakota, that's always going to bring back memories when I come in this building as well."

-- -- --

Jets coach Claude Noel had reporters briefly in stitches with a blunt answer to a sort-of question about a rival's troubles.

It was put to Noel that the Minnesota Wild had lost 21 of 26 games since losing in Winnipeg in December.

"And you want me to cry?" Noel said, clearly trying to be funny.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 17, 2012 C2

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