The next two and a half weeks will be business as usual for Kevin Chevaldayoff, General Manager of the Winnipeg Jets. His team hit the Olympic break as the hottest team in the league, going 9-3-1 in their last 13 games under new head coach Paul Maurice.
The future of the team, both immediate and for years to come, lies in the hands of the man they call “Chevy”. There is only nine days in between the end of the Olympic roster freeze and the 2014 Trade Deadline on March 5th, so things will be moving at super-sonic speed once everything is back to normal.
Chevaldayoff, along with most of the Jets’ upper management, will be in St. John’s for the two-day 2014 AHL All-Star Classic that kicks off on Tuesday, February 11th. St. John’s is home to the Ice Caps, the Jets’ AHL affiliate, so it is likely that he will stick around to watch the Caps battle the Providence Bruins on Friday. This comes less than a month after the Jets announced that they would explore plans to relocate the club to Thunder Bay, Ontario.
After Chevy and his team of pro and amateur scouts assess the development of their AHL players, they will fan out across North America, getting a first-hand look at the Jets’ prospects playing in various junior leagues across Canada and the U.S. on top of the priority list will be a visit to the Western Hockey League, where the Jets have a top goaltending prospect in Eric Comrie (Tri City), a defensive specimen in Josh Morrissey (Prince Albert), and one of the WHL’s leading scorers, center Nic Petan (Spokane).
The Jets’ scouting team is one of the best in the business, and there’s no telling how many prospects from other NHL clubs they will look at in the coming fortnight. Player development is the first step to a successful NHL team, and any player that will strengthen an organization at the ECHL or AHL levels will be a good chip to hold entering deadline week.
Chevaldayoff will also have to have some tough talks with Chairman Mark Chipman in the coming days over where the Jets will stand over the coming days: they could make a push to acquire a rental player for the playoffs, or make moves that will benefit the team in future years, and risk missing the playoffs for a third straight season since coming to Winnipeg.
Although there won’t be any real trading going on for the next 15 days, the NHL’s roster freeze doesn’t cut the phone lines, and the Jets could possibly have a deal all but done in the days before the roster freeze is over. Jets’ fans know not to expect a block-buster move, however, as Chevy has been one of the most patient General Managers in the league since the Jets returned 3 seasons ago.
What conspires over the next two weeks will certainly affect the team moving forward: a good performance by a prospect could boost his trade stock, or make him a potential call-up in case of injury. A bad one in front of the all-seeing eyes of Jets’ management could affect the next step of their development.
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