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Chevy kept his promise

GM used a scalpel instead of a hatchet

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 6/4/2012 (2842 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Jets captain Andrew Ladd celebrates a goal against the Philadelphia Flyers in Winnipeg.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS ARCHIVES

Jets captain Andrew Ladd celebrates a goal against the Philadelphia Flyers in Winnipeg.

One season is about to conclude.

One promise — kept.

Kevin Cheveldayoff

Kevin Cheveldayoff

Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said from the day he was hired he would not begin as a slash-and-hack man, breaking up the players and components of the old Atlanta Thrashers' roster simply because it had missed the playoffs four years running.

Instead, his vow was to begin evaluating so he would have the most solid of foundations to know how to go forward.

Then he more or less put the Thrashers back on the ice in Winnipeg, one surmises so he could see what they'd do in a new, hockey-oriented environment.

Cheveldayoff's belief at the start of the season was there had been enough change — one could argue maybe even too much — between the end of last season and the start of this one.

He said: "Essentially, it was like 25 players getting traded."

The franchise brought back both goalies from 2010-11. They put the same starting six defencemen on the ice to start the new season.

And the top line was not changed; centre Bryan Little remained between captain Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler. Forwards Evander Kane, Alex Burmistrov, Nik Antropov, Jim Slater, Chris Thorburn, Tim Stapleton and Patrice Cormier were all in tow.

Only around the edges did Cheveldayoff really tinker, making a few moves that could be classified as "hopeful," moves that had little cost in terms of roster players, prospects or the future.

At last summer's free-agency derby, Cheveldayoff let Thrashers Anthony Stewart and Eric Boulton go.

He signed free agents — respectfully, none front-line players — in Tanner Glass, Rick Rypien, Derek Meech, Mark Flood and Randy Jones.

Glass was a find but after that there was limited impact. Jones provided minutes after getting over injuries, Flood was a good fill-in, Meech got hurt twice and barely played. Worst all all, Rypien died unexpectedly.

In the off-season, the team acquired right-winger Eric Fehr, with hope for some offence that never came.

The team also added depth players like Jason Gregoire, Jason Jaffray and Aaron Gagnon via free agency, but nothing there impacted the regular roster.

Cheveldayoff did get Ladd, Wheeler, and defenceman Zach Bogosian on new contracts, and he gave first-round draft pick Mark Scheifele the contract he earned from training camp.

But Scheifele proved to be too young to be a front-line player and was sent back to junior well before the end of October.

In fairness, Cheveldayoff came up with one valuable addition in free-agent Kyle Wellwood just before the season started, a move that surely helped the team from start to finish.

When the season began, the GM claimed Brett MacLean, Antti Miettinen and Grant Clitsome off waivers. None played any prominent roles, though Miettinen did start to perform like an NHL veteran in the late days of the season.

Again, no major change to the team's core.

And at the much-balleyhooed and over-hyped NHL trading deadline, Cheveldayoff waded in, not with a blockbuster but with a simple cashing in of soon-to-be-free-agent Johnny Oduya for a pair of decent 2013 draft picks.

The GM says frequently the evaluating never ends but few expect him, for a second straight fall, to put the same team back on the ice.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

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