December 11, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
PENTICTON, B.C. -- The start of Jets' training camp is only two days away and GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is staying out of any past, present or possible future debate about star defenceman Dustin Byfuglien and his fitness or weight.
Cheveldayoff was asked over the weekend at the Vancouver Canucks Young Stars Classic if he could offer fans any preview of Byfuglien's condition, given how much chatter there normally is among Jets fans and a summer photo on Twitter that suggested the defenceman may actually have trimmed down significantly from a reported weight of 300 pounds late in the 2013 season.
"I think you hit the nail on the head -- speculation and gossip," Cheveldayoff said. "Training camp is obviously an opportunity for everyone to begin. We'll certainly look forward to all the veteran players being in camp on the 11th and I don't know why Dustin should be any different than anyone else. It's a good opportunity for us to begin a new season."
As he's readying for the new season, Cheveldayoff has been observing all the action at the South Okanagan Events Centre, where five NHL teams are competing at the rookie tournament.
"We tell the players to be themselves, go out and play the way they have played," he said.
Can he make any decisions based on what he sees from his prospects at this tournament?
"It's always part of the scouting process that you make predictions and projections," Cheveldayoff said. "That is part of being a scout. Are they definitive projections or something etched in stone? I don't think they ever are because when you're dealing with development, there is a development curve.
"Sometimes players, at different points in their development, plateau, and sometimes they plateau for a little while and then take off. Everyone is different. To just say 'This guy will be this,' at this point in time, I don't know that anyone can do that. But certainly part of the process is to make evaluations and projections."
Theoret looking good
ONE youngster who may have done enough already to earn a reward is tryout forward Mitch Theoret.
Playing on a line with Jets draft picks Nic Petan and J.C. Lipon, the 20-year-old left-winger from the Barrie Colts of the OHL has been easy to like in the first two games of the prospects tournament.
He had a goal and an assist in each of the first two games, both Jets' wins, and it now sounds likely he's earned an invitation to main training camp.
Theoret was drafted by the New York Islanders in 2011 but went unsigned.
"I came to camp here with the idea of proving the Islanders wrong for not offering me a contract," Theoret said. "I want to turn some heads here, hopefully get a shot in the American League and start my pro career."
Though the Jets have seen plenty of him in the last year because he was a teammate of top prospect Mark Scheifele in Barrie, it's not why he was invited.
"I've heard that," Theoret smiled. "Hopefully it's not the case. I think I can show I can play hockey and I'm not just here because I'm buddies or teammates with the top prospect for the Winnipeg Jets. I'm just trying to do what I do best and that's earn myself a spot."
-- Tim Campbell
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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 9, 2013 C4