PITTSBURGH -- Kevin Cheveldayoff scowled at this week's raging speculation that the Winnipeg Jets are ready to unload one or two veteran assets this week at the NHL entry draft because contract negotiations are not going well.
Between meetings Thursday at the Winnipeg Jets' downtown hotel, the team's GM met with reporters to say that he had spoken to Allan Walsh, agent for restricted free-agent goalie Ondrej Pavelec, earlier in the day.
And Cheveldayoff said he had met with Craig Oster, agent for fellow RFA Evander Kane on Wednesday.
Cheveldayoff and Walsh are dancing around over term (three or four years) and money (likely somewhere between $12 million and $17) on a deal for the goalie, with the alleged threat hanging over their talks that Pavelec could bolt to the KHL next season.
Kane, based on some Internet speculation, is said not to want to come back to Winnipeg, but both Oster and Cheveldayoff have quietly torpedoed that notion.
"I met with Allan today and with Evander Kane's representatives yesterday and negotiations are ongoing for both those players," Cheveldayoff said. "Then there are other potential players in our organization on the UFA side (Tanner Glass, Kyle Wellwood, Tim Stapleton, Chris Mason, Randy Jones, Mark Flood) we're negotiating (with) as well."
In Kane's case, the two sides are just beginning the process, even though Kane could entertain an offer sheet as early as a week Sunday.
Cheveldayoff said simply he's being faithful to the process, when asked if he'd consider trading either RFA if talks went poorly.
"I'm always optimistic," the GM said. "Last year at this point in time I never had the opportunity to meet with RFA's representatives, so we've been able to get a jump on that. And things turned out pretty well last year.
"They'll continue. At this point in time, I'm negotiating with them and I'm very hopeful and confident that we'll come to a good resolution."
Cheveldayoff and his staff were huddling again Thursday, trying to finalize their ranking of prospects before tonight's first round of the entry draft begins at 6 p.m.
Winnipeg, as of now, is in the ninth slot in the first round.
This week, the team has been meeting with several prospects, including several projected outside the first round.
"A lot of attention is focused on potential first-round players but the unpredictability of this year's draft, any draft in general, you have to be prepared to know the players in many different areas," Cheveldayoff said.
He also repeated himself about rankings and ratings, asked whether he'd take the best player available when it comes time for the Jets to pick.
"The best player is defined differently in each and every organization," he said.
Cheveldayoff said also repeatedly left open the possibility he could trade the No. 9 selection and said conversations are constant on that subject.
"You talk to a lot of general managers," he said. "Some of them, they're close enough (to the Jets' pick at No. 9) that it's relevant. They may want to jump up or you may want to... move up or down with one of them. I would say there's nothing concrete at this point."
He clearly will take options with him to the draft floor tonight, remembering those conversations.
"I think you know all the different opportunities you've discussed and some of them may become relevant at different points in time and you tend to see if they're maybe there or not," he said. "But it's a very, very fluid situation right up until the time you make a pick."
JETCETERA: Cheveldayoff wouldn't say Thursday if he instigated last week's hiring of Perry Pearn to help his team's coaching staff. "It was something we talked about when Perry's situation arose," the GM said. "When you get an opportunity to have a person like Perry with his experience available, and excited about the opportunity to join your organization, we're just very thankful that it fits."
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