Draft drama: Jets could be players today


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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- He already had a hand in producing one of the biggest blockbusters of the NHL season. And now the question on the eve of the 2015 draft is this:

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 26/06/2015 (2773 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — He already had a hand in producing one of the biggest blockbusters of the NHL season. And now the question on the eve of the 2015 draft is this:

Does Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, the co-author of the massive trade with the Buffalo Sabres last winter, have a summertime sequel ready to roll?

As it stands, the Jets’ 2015 draft, what with the club holding two first-round picks for the first time in its history, is already enough of a tease to have any hockey fan in Manitoba sliding to the front of their seats in anticipation.

Melissa Tait / Winnipeg Free Press Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff has done exactly what he said he would do. He drafted and developed, but for Jets fans the next question is can he retain what he’s built?

But it’s what might unfold in the hours leading up to tonight’s first round that could dramatically affect the franchise’s already-deep pool of prospects.

Make no mistake, the Jets are quite content to sit back and watch the potential madness unfold before selecting two more top-tier prospects at 17th and 25th overall. At the same time, they’ve also made no secret of their willingness to peddle their picks to be able to move up in the draft and land somewhere in the Top 10.

And they won’t be alone with five other teams — Edmonton, Buffalo, Arizona, Toronto and Philadelphia — also holding two first-round picks.

“There’s lots of teams that would like to do that,” said Cheveldayoff Thursday, standing just outside the Jets’ draft interview room. “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.

“There’s lots of currency around.”

There are always a gajillion rumours floating around as the draft approaches but with the Arizona Coyotes and, possibly Carolina, said to be open to moving out of the third and fifth spots, respectively, the Jets might have some willing dance partners. Some of that speculation included the Jets, with the suggestion they could package the 17th and 25th picks — along with the rights to Alex Burmistrov — to climb up in the order.

“We’ve gone through a lot of scenarios here and I think it gives Chevy some options in terms of what he might want to do,” said Jets director of amateur scouting Marcel Comeau. “Keep the picks, move the picks, try to trade up, trade down… there’s lots of options there.

“It makes (planning) a little more difficult. And we’re fishing in a little different pool of players than we have in the past picking at 17. We’ve never been that low and then the extra pick at 25.”

Still, even if the Jets stand pat, they will be able to further stock their organizational shelves from a draft that features two generational talents at the top in Connor MacDavid and Jack Eichel, but is also said to be the deepest since 2003.

The Jets may choose to move last year’s top pick, winger Nik Ehlers, into a Top 6 role with the big club this fall, especially if Michael Frolik bolts in free agency. The veteran Czech is here in Florida and his agent, Allan Walsh, said they had six face-to-face meetings scheduled with other teams over the next couple of days — all the while still having “ongoing communication with Winnipeg as well.”

“We know Michael very well and he knows us very well,” said Cheveldayoff. “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.”

FYI on the Burmistrov front: Cheveldayoff and Burmistrov’s agent, Mike Liut, met here. “We had some good discussions and well keep those discussions going,” Cheveldayoff said.

Load up and settle in, Jets fans. What happens next could make for some riveting sports theatre. Twitter: @WFPEdTait


Updated on Friday, June 26, 2015 7:18 AM CDT: Replaces photo

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