Courting period begins as NHL GMs talk to unrestricted free agents

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FORT LAUDERDALE – It’s a day to shake some hands, quiz some prospects and kick the tires on some prospective unrestricted free agents.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 25/06/2015 (2715 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

FORT LAUDERDALE – It’s a day to shake some hands, quiz some prospects and kick the tires on some prospective unrestricted free agents.

NHL GMs and staff are conducting final interviews with players prior to this weekend’s draft while, at the same time, also sniffing around on players who will hit the free-agent market on July 1st. The official “courting period” – a chance for GMs to speak to, but not negotiate deals with UFAs – began on Thursday.

And the Winnipeg Jets, like all 29 of their rivals, will be involved.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FIles Michael Frolik

“We’ve made some calls,” GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said Thursday. “We’re still looking at our own UFAs as far as the options there with respect to re-signing them. But, again, there’s always different needs and different areas of the organization that you’re looking at potentially seeing what’s out there and UFA is one of them. But you also look internally as well.

“We’ll make the necessary phone calls and try to hook up with the ones we want to.”

Michael Frolik, one of the Jets’ prospective free agents, is here in Florida. Asked Thursday if the organization planned to talk again with Frolik, Cheveldayoff added:

“There’s always that opportunity to sit down with Michael. We know Michael very well and he knows us very well. We’ve had good dialogue with him and his representatives so we’ll see how things play out.

“He’s been with us, he’s part of our family. He knows what we bring to the table, we know what he brings to the table. It’s just a matter of whether there’s going to be a fit on the contractual side of things.”

Cheveldayoff said trade talks have ebbed and flowed over the last week, but could pick up as the rest of the GMs who had been at the awards gala in Las Vegas make their way east to Florida. “It’s an exciting time of year. There’s lots of currency around.”

The Jets hold two first-round picks – 17 and 25 – and have been open about their willingness to engage in any discussions that might move them up into the Top 10.

“There’s lots of teams that would like to do that,” said Cheveldayoff. “We’ll make the necessary calls and explore that and see.

“Every room is going to have a different spin on things. There’s lots of teams that don’t have picks and some teams might try to acquire some. So you have that dynamic that is different as well. You’ve got teams with multiple second-round picks, teams with multiple first-round picks… it’s like that in every draft, but when you get to draft day or close to draft day everyone wants to be involved.”

Cheveldayoff also confirmed that he has met with Mike Liut, the agent for Alex Burmistrov, on his client’s desire to return to the NHL.

“We had some good discussions and well keep those discussions going,” he said.

The first round of the draft goes Friday night, with rounds 2 through 7 on Saturday.

Ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @WFPEdTait

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