Expectations, results, and any complaints about the on ice product from you, the fans, can now be directed in full to Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff. For the last two years it's been Atlanta's fault for what Winnipeg inherited, it's been Don Waddell's or Rick Dudley's fault for a contract, for thin organizational prospect depth, or for very few, if any, tradeable assets to improve the NHL roster. Now, things have changed. Now, this is Kevin Cheveldayoff's team, from top to bottom, for better or worse.
Kevin Cheveldayoff has opted for a slow and steady approach since taking the reins as General Manager in the summer of 2011 after the relocation. He has set out with his hockey operations to make calculated decisions, to build through the draft, and along the way add pieces via other available routes such as trades, the waiver wire and free agency. The fact of the matter is in the past 24 months, Kevin Cheveldayoff has observed and made the decisions that will either lead this organization to success or failure.
He has re-signed seven core pieces to lucrative, long-term contracts in retaining Andrew Ladd, Evander Kane, Blake Wheeler, Bryan Little, Tobias Enstrom, Zach Bogosian and Ondrej Pavelec. He has re-tooled and re-stocked the complimentary players and supporting cast with his own additions in Olli Jokinen, Devon Setoguchi, Michael Frolik, Matt Halischuk, Eric Tangradi, James Wright, Anthony Peluso, Grant Clitsome and Al Montoya. He re-signed Jim Slater to a 3-year extension last summer (2012). The only untouched players on the Jets roster contract wise are Dustin Byfuglien (UFA July 2016), Mark Stuart (UFA July 2014) and Chris Thorburn (UFA July 2014), and looking at the roster depth chart, it may be difficult for Thorburn to crack this roster.
The Winnipeg Jets are now set to have two of their own prized prospects begin their pro careers. Mark Scheifele (1st round pick 2011) and Jacob Trouba (1st round pick 2012) are here, at the pro level, again, for better or worse, and on Kevin Cheveldayoff's watch. It's safe to say that within the next 1-3 seasons, the Jets will need these prized prospects to contribute to the team's (hopeful) success before core contracts begin to expire.
Head Coach Claude Noel enters his third season as the bench boss of the Jets, and he now has a contract extension that runs through the 2014-2015 season. But don't let that fool you; many critics believe if this Jets team does not get off on the right foot or make the playoffs in 2013-2014, Claude Noel may not see that final year of his contract. You see, there is now pressure and the expectation to succeed, to make the playoffs, and Kevin Cheveldayoff can now say "This is my team, I constructed it, I believe you should be able to coach it to the playoffs". If Claude Noel does not do that, there will be consequences.
This Winnipeg Jets team as a whole has been signed, sealed and delivered on Kevin Cheveldayoff's watch, under his plan, vision and guidance, with his fingerprints. There is now pressure on Kevin Cheveldayoff, Claude Noel, and the players to take the next step and become a legitimate, consistent, playoff team. If this team and core fails, of course there will be coach(es) to blame along the way, but there is also one man to look at for direction among the entire hockey operations group for putting the core and supporting cast in place, and that is the man who has constructed the roster and kept this Atlanta core intact, for better or worse.
More from Arctic Ice Hockey:
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- Jets sign RFA Eric O'Dell to 1 year, 2-way deal worth 600k in NHL