So, it was the kind of day us folks in the media have come to expect from the Winnipeg Jets on NHL trade deadline day.
You could argue they lead the league in standing pat, though this time around it didn’t complete as a big surprise, though I did expect a deal or possibly two though, for some reason.
Through the three seasons since the Jets returned to the NHL, defenceman Johnny Oduya is the only member of the Jets that has been dealt on D-day.
That number didn’t go up, though Cheveldayoff surprised me a little bit when he answered my question about making quite a few calls in the rental player market, specifically to address the knee injury to Mark Scheifele.
“Absolutely, yes. We were very active on several fronts on rental market. We had basically set some internal parameters on where things were gonna go for the various ones. Again, focusing more on the forward position and then certainly today very extensively on the centre position,” said Cheveldayoff, during his 22 minute media address.
“It wasn’t so much about the prices. It was the availability. Not a lot of centres of the quality that certainly we were going to need to replace Mark, Mark’s production or fit into the mix and the type of player that we were going to look for. So it wasn’t so much about the prices when it came to that ultimately today, but there could have been maybe some opportunities to pick up some different players. You wanted to know for sure that it was going to be a player that was gonna fit in the role that would have to have been used.”
Cheveldayoff was asked about the parameters the Jets had in place and if he considered a deal that would have moved their 2014 first rounder (keeping in mind the Jets don’t have a second in 2014 right now)?
“Life would’ve been a lot easier if we wanted to throw live body prospects into it. Those are obviously closer to fruition and closer to being ready for a lot of teams. When you get into situations like this, whenever you can throw a live body prospect in certainly it gets the attention of the other teams. We weren’t really going to do any of that. The parameters were basically along the lines of draft picks and what we were prepared to do. Obviously we had given up a second already going into this draft. We do have an extra fourth, but there were combinations that were thrown around in a lot of different areas and it could’ve involved other players as well,” said Cheveldayoff. “We never got into that. We did not offer that up, didn’t get into discussions that involved a first-rounder, no.”
Since nobody was shipped out, the Jets’ current roster still includes five players who are pending unrestricted free agents, which brings some risk in itself.
Cheveldayoff said he’s opened dialogue with the agents for Olli Jokinen, Al Montoya, Devin Setoguchi, Adam Pardy and Al Montoya but that no negotiations have taken place.
The Jets did have two other pieces of news on Wednesday, as an MRI showed that rookie centre Mark Scheifele will be out at least a month with a sprained MCL (right knee) and that defenceman Mark Stuart has signed a four-year contract extension worth $10.5 million.
As for Scheifele, the injury was sustained on a second period right-knee-on-right-knee hit from Islanders D-man Calvin de Haan that occurred on the right-wing boards in the offensive zone.
I didn’t think it was a dirty play by de Haan, who was given a tripping minor and won’t face any supplemental discipline from the NHL.
Jets players expressed their disappointment about the loss of Scheifele, but as is the case in any situation, they realize the show must go on and others must do what they can to minimize the loss of the team’s No. 2 centre.
“He’s a big piece of our team. He’s going to be missed. But we need to step up, some guys have to fill the void and I think we can do that,” said fellow prized rookie Jacob Trouba. “You don’t have a choice. I think you have to, especially at this point of the season. Every team goes through injuries. We had a couple yesterday. It’s a little adversity and we just have to deal with it.”
Jets head coach Paul Maurice said that after watching the replay of the de Haan hit, he was actually relieved the results of the MRI weren’t worse.
Maurice also provided an update on the status of Chris Thorburn, who is day-to-day with an upper-body injury he likely sustained in the fight with Matt Martin of the New York Islanders.
As for what the Jets will do to try and fill Scheifele’s minutes — which are closer to 20 these days compared to his season averag of 16:21?
Both Maurice and Cheveldayoff said there were no immediate plans to call a player up from the St. John’s IceCaps, though Eric O’Dell and John Albert are the logical options. I personally think that if the Jets believe there’s a chance O’Dell could play on their third line next year, he’ll need to play a good chunk of the final 19 games.
Otherwise, it’s tough to argue they view him as anything other than a depth guy.
For the time being, Olli Jokinen and Jim Slater will take on some expanded minutes.
The wild card is that the Jets could (will likely) move Evander Kane into the middle, something that the speedster has lobbied for in the past and something Maurice didn’t rule out when asked about it earlier today.
I personally think Kane is best suited on the wing, but this is a good opportunity to give this a test drive as well.
As for the Stuart signing, I speculated on this blog last night that I expected the two sides to come to a deal close to what Grant Clitsome signed for last summer, 3 years, $6.2 million.
Turns out my term was short by a year and the cash value was a little low as well. But I was certainly in the ball park.
There is some risk involved in going to four years because of Stuart’s willingness to play a physical game and block shots (he leads Jets in hits with 163 and blocked shots with 118) but I think the Jets would have regretted moving Stuart in a trade on Wednesday a lot more than they might by giving him a four-year deal.
My main story is on Stuart, Kirk Penton is handling the Scheifele injury and columnist Paul Friesen is writing a column on trade deadline day in our expanded package in Thursday’s paper and available online at www.winnipegsun.com.
By the way, there’s a game tomorrow for the Jets against the Los Angeles Kings, who picked up Marian Gaborik to bolster their offensive production on Wednesday.
Should be an interesting tilt.
Will check in with some more thoughts on the day’s events a bit later. That’s all for now.