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No reasonable offer refused

Jets shopping, but won't force a bad trade: GM

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NEW YORK -- No phone call will go unanswered, no reasonable offer refused as the Winnipeg Jets approach the National Hockey League trade deadline.

All that said, for as much as they'll undoubtedly try, there's also no guarantee GM Kevin Cheveldayoff & Co. will be able to sign off on a deal before the deadline passes at 2 p.m. CT on Wednesday.

"Rest assured we're trying to leave no stone unturned and see what's available and what the prices are," said the Jets GM during Monday night's loss to the New York Rangers. "If there's a match, then we'll take a look at it."

The Jets were said to be in on the trade discussions for centre Michal Handzus, who was shipped from the San Jose Sharks to the Chicago Blackhawks Monday in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick. Cheveldayoff wouldn't comment specifically on the Handzus deal saying only "there's lots of conversations out there. There's lots of different things that get close, may not get close."

Handzus, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, fits the profile of what the Jets are said to be seeking at the deadline: a centre/right-wing who can play with Evander Kane and give the club's second line more offensive punch. Cheveldayoff said about 10 days ago the Jets were seeking a right-winger for their second line, but also said the versatility of some of his current players might mean they would just deal for some scoring and then move pieces around to fit.

"You target (the right-wing position), but you also have to not over-focus on those things," he said. "Guys are skilled players out here and if they have to switch a position... you just don't know what's available, that's the thing. You can have your thoughts on what you want to do, but at the end of the day if nothing happens, then nothing happens. You can't manufacture deals and you can't do things just for the sake of doing them."

The Jets' entire scouting staff is with Cheveldayoff here in New York, holed up in a hotel on Long Island where they have set up their trade-deadline war room. They'll remain there through Wednesday's deadline as the team heads north to Montreal for Thursday's game against the Canadiens.

Cheveldayoff said the condensed schedule -- and the condensed standings -- have already played factors in the trade-deadline activity, and will continue right until the final seconds before it closes Wednesday.

"I think if any action is going to happen, it's probably going to happen late," he said. "You just don't know. You have to be open for anything at this point in time. There's lots of different options out there but the hard part is there's not a lot of separation amongst the teams.

"Calls always happen... you have outbound and inbound. It's do the calls lead to more calls? There's lot of preliminary calls all the time, but does something trigger you or trigger them? That's where the deal starts to unfold or not.

"Deadlines are funny times because you don't know what other teams' pressures are and what other teams' objectives are. You have to be open to explore different things. Sometimes you sit there and you do your best to plan and think about what might come up and then all of a sudden with a phone call something changes and it's something you never thought of. Those are things you have to be prepared for."

The Jets have now dropped three straight going into the deadline, but Cheveldayoff insists he won't be pressured into making a deal if it doesn't fit right. And he certainly won't veer off the blueprint by dealing a swack of draft picks for short-term help.

"You can't overspend for today and pay for it tomorrow because when you do have to pay for it tomorrow the price is very steep," Cheveldayoff said. "If you pay a lot of picks to get a lot of players, it may help you now but then you're in a situation down the line (when) the prospect pool is pretty thin.

"If we choose not to do anything then you can look at it like maybe we're renting our own UFAs as well," he said. "Our guys have battled admirably and I hope for them and for the organization that we come out on the good side of this."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 2, 2013 C3

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