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This article was published 11/2/2015 (2080 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
NASHVILLE — Often maligned for not making player-for-player trades during the early stages of his rebuild plan for the Winnipeg Jets, GM Kevin Cheveldayoff put a fastball right in the collective ear of those talkers Wednesday, engineering a monstrous eight-piece trade with the Buffalo Sabres.
Cheveldayoff sent the troublesome and injured Evander Kane to Buffalo along with defenceman Zach Bogosian and goalie prospect Jason Kasdorf and in return received a first-round pick, prospects Joel Armia and Brendan Lemieux as well as NHLers Drew Stafford and Tyler Myers.
Cheveldayoff took care of the immediate present, replacing Kane in his lineup with Stafford while swapping in defenceman Myers for the now-departed Bogosian.
In the long-term picture, the players will eventually determine the winner of this trade. But Wednesday in Winnipeg, and in particular within the Jets dressing room, Cheveldayoff was the clear winner.
After stressing patience to the community he lives in as well as the organization he works for, Cheveldayoff watched his team climb into a playoff berth only to have an injury crisis beset them with the stretch run about to begin.
Cheveldayoff could not sit idly by and risk his team’s chance at the playoffs. Not after they had soldiered on throughout the trying times of this rebuild. Not after Andrew Ladd, Toby Enstrom, Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler had signed long-term deals to stay in Winnipeg in order to be part of this program. Not with Dustin Byfuglien and Ladd and Michael Frolik all currently weighing their futures.
Cheveldayoff needed to make a statement. To say he believes in this group and that the time for them to begin winning is here.
A lack of action from Cheveldayoff would have sent just as loud a message as the one issued by his work on this day.
This was a key day for the Jets as an organization. It was an announcement from the corner office that it’s time to make noise and step out of the planning stage. To think about today and not just tomorrow.
The Jets have been clipping along in third gear for most of this season, but the events of last week and the loss of Kane for the rest of the season threatened to turn into a downshift with no real hope to get back into high gear.
Instead, Cheveldayoff double-clutched them right past third and into fourth.
Stafford will likely move onto the third line with Adam Lowry and Chris Thorburn while Byfuglien can return to the blue-line. Myers will settle in with Toby Enstrom and be allowed to simply do his job and not worry about holding down the entire blue-line. He’s just a piece of the puzzle in Winnipeg and will be allowed to play within his abilities.
Kane and Bogosian are big players to bid goodbye, but with Kane down for the season, the immediate arrival of Stafford and Myers is an upgrade.
The pair have been languishing in Buffalo for a number of years and now they have been injected into a playoff race and will be playing meaningful hockey games in a full building with invested fans and a confident dressing room. Winnipeg isn’t often viewed as a location upgrade but these two players have gone from hockey hell to, at the very least, heaven’s waiting room and maybe even more.
There is a chance for rejuvenation with these incoming players and if they can add juice to an already effective Jets lineup, the playoffs may indeed finally become a reality.
This deal had it all, with enough drama to last Jets fans for some time. Clinging to a playoff berth, the Jets had holes and Cheveldayoff began to address them with this deal. Is it enough to propel them to the Stanley Cup tournament? Is Cheveldayoff done or will he make further deals to strengthen his club with the added options he acquired?
This trade is complex and layered and it will be years before it can properly be judged.
Kane had to go. His teammates gave him a push towards the dressing room door last week in Vancouver and he elected to walk right through it. There was no going back.
Cheveldayoff had lots working against him as he approached this transaction. Kane had shoulder surgery last week and is done for the season, and the entire NHL knew the Jets had to move the player. But as we’ve seen with this GM, setting a price and then getting it is the only acceptable course of business.
Cheveldayoff has had his appetite for risk questioned and those doubts were threatening to creep into his own dressing room. But, always true to himself and his beliefs, Cheveldayoff waited for his moment to arrive. When it did, he struck and it was a bold and decisive move.
So, what did Chevy do today? Not much. Only pushed his team into the playoffs.
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