Plan: (noun) A scheme, program, or method worked out beforehand for the accomplishment of an objective.
Three years ago a General Manager set out on a mission. The mission was to follow the business model of historic teams like the Detroit Red Wings by drafting and developing talent and stocking the system. Playoffs have never been a goal short term, as stated in Gary Lawless article from June entitled Cheveldayoff has a plan, and he's sticking to it. So why has it been for three years in a row?
"Getting into the playoffs may be the goal of some teams. It’s not Cheveldayoff’s. Winning the playoffs, as in the Stanley Cup, is what his process is based on.
Short-term success is fine but it’s not really on his radar. Turn the clock back to this year’s trade deadline when the Jets were on the bubble to be a playoff team. Cheveldayoff had prospects and picks to peddle in order to strengthen his team. He resisted and the Jets eventually faded and missed out.
Many griped, but watching the playoffs and quality of play it was clear Cheveldayoff would have been burning good wood and getting little heat in return.
Winnipeg just wasn’t ready, and a couple of deadline loaners wouldn’t have dramatically changed that fact."
Gary Lawless, WFP
This article actually has no quotes from the GM regarding his plan, so like many articles from the Winnipeg mainstream media, we have to assume Chevy has let them in on his manifesto. I've asked a few writers if they can ever recall if Chevy has gone on record and explained exactly what his plan is and if its a five year one as its often mentioned. None of them can remember a direct quote where he explains exactly what his plan or time frame is, so has mainstream media talk and written about "The Plan" to the point were we all can't remember if its fact, of fiction?
After this article was written Chevy went out and traded a 2nd round draft pick for Devin Setoguchi; a guy who has a book written about him and his questionable play. He who had one year left on his contract and was a pending UFA coming up in 2014.
The Chevy apologists will always argue that his strengths are building through the draft and acquiring prospects to stock the farm with. So if playoffs weren't really a goal coming into this season like Lawless said, why would you trade a pretty important 2nd round pick, for a guy who has been on three teams in seven years, has more holes in his game then Pavelec's positioning in net, a cap hit of $3MM a year and a pending UFA after the season? Isn't that going against "The Plan"? Wouldn't that right wing spot be better filled with a prospect on The Rock who is not waiver exempt next season and using this year to evaluate that talent, so that going forward you know where you stand with your prospects? And if they are or aren't the type who fit the mold of a "Jets player" why not trade them for players who are, while keeping the 2nd round pick to acquire more prospects to build your team with? There have been some elite players drafted in the 2nd round of NHL Drafts. Here are some names for your reference. (Bergeron, Patrice. Weber, Shea. Lidstrom, Nicklas. Backes, David. Carle, Matt. Crawford, Corey. Krejic, David. Vlacsic, Marc-Eduoard. Keith, Duncan.)
This week, Chevy had four unrestricted free agents at the Trade Deadline and didn't move a single one of them. Yes, they were one point out of the playoffs going into the deadline but what about Lawless's article "Getting into the playoffs may be the goal of some teams. It’s not Cheveldayoff’s" last two years they've been "in it" stood pat with their UFAs (except Oduya) only to fade down the stretch, missing the playoffs and seeing those UFAs walk for nothing. Isn't that contradicting "The Plan", wouldn't selling UFAs and trying to recover that 2nd round pick and stock up on more picks or prospects be more productive, then holding on and maybe making the playoffs? Yes, the new golden Jets' prospect Mark Scheifele went down with an injury, but if he hadn't, at 20 yrs old, does he really have the tools and skill to put a team on his back like a Dustin Brown, Chris Pronger or Patrice Bergeron and drag this team kicking and screaming into playoff glory? I would say thats a long shot as a 20 year old rookie and a lot of pressure to put on him.
Lets fast forward now, Draft Day 2014. Going into the draft, Chevy has no 2nd round pick, and will most likely get a 10-15th overall pick again in a draft class that isn't exactly strong outside of the Top 5. He has seven players in their primes or on their age decline with NTC/NMC, with big contracts and long terms, and a cap that won't be as high as predicted at around $68MM. Now thats a problem. Outside of maybe Tobias Enstrom (who has a NMC), most teams have guys like Bryan Little, Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler in their systems, who are younger, and on ELC or bridge deals, so why would they trade for 27/28/29 year olds with big contracts when they have youngster making league minimum?
That's called Asset Management 101. With a $68MM cap, no GM makes a trade for a player with a big price tag unless a player with similar cap is being sent back, so you're no worse or no better off than before. If Chevy is true to "The Plan" then he wants that 2nd rounder back and as I see it, no player on the current roster gets you that 2nd rounder, unless you're unloading someone to get them off your roster and thats a slippery slope, because you're dealing from a position of weakness (See Scott Howson vs Jeff Carter) or because of the cap next season and for reasons as I just mentioned (age and contracts for players teams will already have in their system).
What does get you that 2nd rounder though?
Again, this is being counter productive if Chevys plan is to build through prospects and draft picks..
These are just my thoughts, I'm sure Team Chevy will be all over me. But I will challenge you to find me a direct quote from the man himself regarding "The Plan" and it being five years, because to me, if "The Plan" is to build through the draft and not to have short term success and make the playoffs, UFAs for picks or prospect would have been the play going into the trade deadline for the past three years. Instead it seems as if "The Plan" is like "The Great White Buffalo" you hear about it, but nobody has any idea what exactly it is, or if it even exists.