If the hockey buck indeed stops in Winnipeg with Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff, his desk will see a lot of bucks and a lot of stopping over the next three weeks.

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This article was published 14/6/2016 (2003 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

If the hockey buck indeed stops in Winnipeg with Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff, his desk will see a lot of bucks and a lot of stopping over the next three weeks.

A prime focus in the coming days is the NHL’s entry draft, which is next week (Friday and Saturday) at Buffalo’s First Niagara Center.

For this particular draft, the Jets gained the right to select a generational kind of player when their numbers came up at the league’s draft lottery at the end of April.

The Jets were the biggest jumpers in that lottery, forging up to second overall from their rank as the sixth-poorest team in the 2015-16 regular season.

The Toronto Maple Leafs choose first next Friday, followed by Winnipeg. Cheveldayoff will have more to do on that evening, also holding the 22nd selection courtesy of the Andrew Ladd trade in February.

In all, Winnipeg has three of the top 36 picks at the draft.

If that were all the GM had on his plate this week, he’d likely have his feet up by now, memorizing his draft-rankings list.

But here’s a rundown on all that is currently pending, and apart from the organization’s start-up efforts in 2011, it may well be one of the busiest stretches of Cheveldayoff’s tenure with the Jets.

Jets centre Mark Scheifele and defenceman Jacob Trouba still need new deals.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Jets centre Mark Scheifele and defenceman Jacob Trouba still need new deals.

1. The draft

Meetings upon meetings have been conducted and more are coming in the countdown to Buffalo.

The Jets were at the league’s scouting combine earlier this month, interviewing nearly 90 prospects during the week and watching them engage in a series of fitness tests and measurements.

The high-profile chore of the draft will be which elite talent to choose. Most assume the Leafs will opt for centre Auston Matthews in the top slot, leaving the Jets to decide between Finnish wingers Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi.

There is more work to do beyond that, including making that other first-round pick, then the 36th-overall choice, the sixth when the second round goes Saturday.

The Jets traded their third-round pick this year (to Carolina for Jiri Tlusty) but as of today have the rest of their choices intact in the fourth through seventh rounds.

 

Winnipeg Jets General manager Kevin Cheveldayoff

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Winnipeg Jets General manager Kevin Cheveldayoff

2. Contracts

As is always the case with every team, there are players with expiring contracts that need to be signed.

In Cheveldayoff’s case, he has two high-end restricted free agents that need new deals, centre Mark Scheifele and defenceman Jacob Trouba.

Both are coming out of their entry-level contracts and long-term extensions are likely in play.

The good news is that Jets currently have plenty of cap space for those former first-round picks. Today that number is likely $18 million or more in space, according to www.nhlnumbers.com and depending on where the 2016-17 cap maximum number lands.

But there is uncertainty in where numbers for Scheifele and Trouba may end up.

Scheifele certainly made a strong bid for his new contract when he finished the season with a career-best 61 points, including being the NHL’s top goal and point producer from Feb. 18 to the conclusion of the regular season with 17 goals and 34 points in 26 games in that period.

Trouba, in a position where performance is less easy to gauge, endured some position and pairing switching this season and his situation may have been complicated by increasing trade rumours in recent weeks.

In addition to those major items, Cheveldayoff must also deal with the RFA status of centre Adam Lowry and right-winger Joel Armia, also coming out of their entry-level contracts. Backup goalie Michael Hutchinson is also an RFA July 1, as are Brenden Kichton, J.C. Lipon, Julian Melchiori and Branden Tanev.

Matt Halischuk and Thomas Raffl are the organization’s only UFAs this summer.

The Jets have a bundle of players on this 2017 list, including goalie prospect Connor Hellebuyck.

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

The Jets have a bundle of players on this 2017 list, including goalie prospect Connor Hellebuyck.

3. Free agency

One week after the draft starts, free agents hit the open market on July 1.

On Day 2 of the draft, when the second through seventh rounds are conducted, the window opens for the six-day "interview" period for pending unrestricted free agents, allowing teams to express interest and talk generalities with those players. The free agents can throw lines in the water to gauge interest.

The Jets participated in the process last summer but didn’t come up with anything significant in the free-agent process, essentially choosing their own system as a talent pool.

Given the increasing number of Jets prospects advancing to the stage where they’re ready to compete for lineup spots, it’s more than likely Cheveldayoff, though monitoring free agency, will choose the same course.

4. Expansion draft

With the likelihood the NHL will expand by at least one team for the 2017-18 season (announcement expected next week), many of the 30 GMs will go into overheated management mode immediately.

With the option of protecting seven forwards, three defencemen and one goalie or eight skaters and one goalie, exempting players of two years’ experience and less, not to mention a host of other rules and guidelines such as a required minimum of salary to be exposed, plenty of jockeying will be taking place.

Each team will lose one player to any expansion team next June, so an eye on those protected lists has already begun.

5. Future contracts

As if all of that wasn’t enough, July 1 will also mark the next window opening to extend contracts that expire June 30, 2017.

Extensions, of course, aren’t essential immediately, but it marks the start of yet another ticking clock.

The Jets have a bundle of players on this 2017 list, including starting goalie Ondrej Pavelec and prospect Connor Hellebuyck, as well as last season’s roster players Drew Stafford, Mathieu Perreault, Alex Burmistrov, Chris Thorburn, Andrew Copp, Marko Dano, Anthony Peluso, Ben Chiarot and Paul Postma.

6. Development camp

This one’s a little less stressful for the GM and his management and coaching staffs but it’s an important exercise nonetheless.

The Jets will conduct their camp July 3-7 at the MTS Iceplex, including a healthy stable of prospects already in the fold and most, if not all, of the players they choose next week in Buffalo.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca