All quiet on Jets’ trade front… for now


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DENVER — The Winnipeg Jets require a thorough effort from the whole gang during a three-game southern road swing to extricate themselves from the mini-funk they currently find themselves in.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/02/2019 (1498 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

DENVER — The Winnipeg Jets require a thorough effort from the whole gang during a three-game southern road swing to extricate themselves from the mini-funk they currently find themselves in.

But a guy who mightily impacts the hockey club’s reversal of fortune isn’t even on the trip.

Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff is in Winnipeg, presumably plugged into every mobile device he owns as the NHL trade deadline creeps closer. Teams have until 2 p.m. CT on Monday to strike a deal.

Winnipeg’s chief architect is expected to be in a buying mood in the days — or, potentially, hours — leading up to the zero hour.

Head coach Paul Maurice said Wednesday he’d likely have the usual number of chats with his boss over the next few days as the Jets head to Vegas to play the Golden Knights on Friday and then to Phoenix to face the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday.

The topic of conversation will, however, slant heavily toward possible modifications to the staff.

“We see each other every day (or) talk fairly regularly when we’re not travelling together. Just what we’re talking about has changed,” said Maurice, following his team’s morning skate at Pepsi Center.

If his players are chit-chatting about it, they’re being discreet.

“We wouldn’t ever bring it up in the room, we wouldn’t talk to it with the players. It’s very quiet,” said Maurice. “Everybody’s aware of it, sure. Certainly (we) all read the rumours and have a pretty strong understanding that’s what they are.

“The difference between now and any other time is players (around the NHL) are going to get moved, so it’s a different kind of rumour. They know there’s going to be some movement but it may not affect your team.”

While Maurice’s team has been out of sorts the last couple of weeks, the Jets are still positioned for a lofty finish in not only the Central Division but also the Western Conference, and remain a contender in the chase for the Stanley Cup.

But a major boost to the top-six forward group — in the form of a Matt Duchene, Mark Stone or Ryan Dzingel from the Ottawa Senators or a Kevin Hayes from the New York Rangers — wouldn’t hurt.

The addition of centre Paul Stastny — whose name wasn’t bandied about in a single rumour in the days leading up to the deadline — was key for the playoff-bound Jets a year ago. He found instant chemistry with wingers Patrik Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers down the stretch drive, and provided experience and a savvy voice in a dressing room almost devoid of playoff know-how.

Jets centre Adam Lowry said Stastny’s sudden presence was critical to the team’s deep playoff run.

“You add a player of his calibre, with his experience and his pedigree, and you really look at it like, ‘Now we’ve got a real chance.’ We had a chance before and we’ve been playing great hockey. But now you look at that piece and what he did and how he played with (Laine) and (Ehlers) and what he was able to do and to really stretch our depth even further than what we had before,” said Lowry.

“You kind of get that sense that it could be your year. You’ve got a lot of confidence going into the games. It’s a vote of confidence from the general manager and the ownership group that they believe in this group. They’re looking to add to make sure that we have a good chance.”

It’s been quiet on the trade front in recent days but, perhaps, it’s Cheveldayoff who tips a domino and sets the pieces tumbling. He won’t be selling off his current roster, unless the big name he covets costs him a youngster such as Jack Roslovic or Mason Appleton, a couple of forwards with lots of upside, or a blue-liner such as Sami Niku or Tucker Poolman, in addition to whatever picks and/or prospects a trading partner demands.

Does the same collection of players that flew to Denver on Tuesday afternoon return home intact? Will a few newcomers join them on the trip?

That’s the question, although the players weren’t thrown into a tizzy when the topic came up.

“Obviously, we all pay attention. We’re not in on the trade calls or anything like that, so we have no idea what’s going on, but it’s always interesting to see what transpires over this next week, in terms of who gets who, what teams are buyers, what teams are sellers,” said centre Mark Scheifele.

His right-winger, captain Blake Wheeler, sounded like he pays trade time no heed whatsoever. Wheeler was shuffled eight years ago at the deadline, heading from the Boston Bruins to the Atlanta Thrashers, along with Mark Stuart, in exchange for Rich Peverley and Boris Valabik.

“My focus is on the game, you know. I don’t make decisions and my influence doesn’t matter,” said Wheeler.

Remember, though, he was consulted on the eve of the Stastny acquisition, and it would seem fitting the captain weighs in again on the impact any additions or deletions might have on the dressing room.

That’s not top of mind for the veteran forward.

“I fully invest in what my job is and that’s to play hockey and show up and I’m going to continue to do that and let everyone else worry about what’s going to happen,” he said.

Lowry has had his life turned upside down a few times by trades, although not one involving the five-year NHLer himself. But his father, Dave Lowry, spent 19 years as a player in the league, split between five organization, and moved his family a few times.

“You can’t be too worried about it. It’s a tough part of the business, having to move cities and get traded. I moved around a lot as a kid with my dad,” said Lowry. “That’s one part that is not always fun. You’ve got people that have got to uproot their lives and go somewhere else.

“Sometimes that’s why trade deadlines aren’t good for us.”

Twitter: @WFPJasonBell

Jason Bell

Jason Bell
Sports editor

Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).

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