DALLAS — All was quiet on the home front Friday night, as the Winnipeg Jets were merely bystanders for the first round of the NHL draft.
General manager Kevin Cheveldayoff didn’t swing any deals on what was actually a sleepy night overall for player movement, with just a single trade involving NHL players being made. (Washington sent defenceman Brooks Orpik and goalie Phillipp Grubauer to Colorado for draft picks).
"Certainly, it’s a different feeling when you’re not on the clock. It’s interesting, because you spend the requisite time doing the lists, and there’s passion. There’s passion for players, some guys you look and go ‘Huh, we wouldn’t have taken him there,’ or, ‘We would have taken him there.’ So, those are the things that you fill your time with," Cheveldayoff said on the draft floor at American Airlines Center.
Cheveldayoff and his staff will have a much busier day today, with the Jets set to make six picks over the final six rounds. The first will come late in the second round, 60th overall. They are also pegged to make the 91st, 150th, 153rd, 184th and 215th selections.
"The guys are anxious, the guys are antsy," he said.
It’s also possible Cheveldayoff could be active as he looks to potentially shed some salary to make way for a wave of new contracts that need to get done with nine pending restricted free agents.
Cheveldayoff said there was some chatter Friday night about possibly making a move, but nothing came to fruition.
"We had some conversations. I wouldn’t say we had negotations. The semantics are very important to that. As you saw, there wasn’t a lot of moves, there was just a couple of up and downs. When you don’t have a pick to do the up and downs, then you need a premium asset to be able to trade right into the first round," he said.
"Again, the draft and development model is not a Winnipeg Jet monopoly. In this league you need young players are you need to draft. The first round is the prime picking point for them. It’s not surprising at all for me that the picks are kept."
Winnipeg was without a first-round pick this year after sending it to St. Louis as part of the blockbuster Paul Stastny deal at the trade deadline in February.
The Blues ended up trading that 29th-overall pick Friday night to Toronto, who used it to select defenceman Rasmus Sandin. The 18-year-old Swede had 12 goals and 33 assists in 51 games with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League last season.
"You’ll always look at that pick. But you’re going to look at it more from who we would have been able to take from our list," Cheveldayoff said.
It was also a quiet night for Manitobans, with none of the seven ranked prospects being selected in the opening round. That should also change today, with Winnipeg defenceman Jett Woo, Brandon forward Calen Addison, Winnipeg forward Riley Stotts, Foxwarren defenceman Dawson Barteaux, Arborg forward Jermaine Loewen, Altona goalie Matthew Thiessen and Brandon goalie Max Paddock all looking to get selected.