Okay, let's all agree that Chevy and his Chevettes deserve a rousing hoo-rah and a pat on the back for bagging Nikolaj Ehlers.
The Danish dandy, by all accounts, is a keeper. Yeah, I know, he's small. I mean, Dustin Byfuglien's breakfast is bigger than this kid. Put him and Nic Petan together and they weigh about as much as Big Buff's left leg. Makes you wonder if our man Chevy is putting together a hockey club or a jockeys club for next year's Kentucky Derby.
But, hey, Ehlers has game. Big game. Forty-nine goals and 104 points worth of game with Halifax Mooseheads of the Q.
Ehlers also plays the part of the National Hockey League wannabe very well. He's Christmas morning eager, freshly scrubbed, wide-eyed, there isn't a whisker in sight and he looks right handsome in his Winnipeg Jets jersey. So, yeah, it was a job well done by general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff and his bird dogs in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft in Philly. Bravo, boys.
Having said that, this doesn't exactly make Chevy a draft day swami. Anyone here at Arctic Ice Hockey could have made that pick.
Futhermore, you'll have to excuse me if I don't join in the Happy Days Are Here Again chorus and, instead, interrupt the back slapping to take a moment for some sober second thought.
The likelihood is that Ehlers' won't be bringing his boney body to the Little Hockey House on the Prairie in River City for another two, perhaps three winters, by which time some good home cooking and considerable hours in the weight room hopefully will have added some heft to his 163-pound hide and he'll actually be wider than a goal post. And let's assume he grows up to become an accomplished NHL performer. How does that separate the Jets from the pack?
I mean, it's not like Cheveldayoff was the only NHL GM plucking plums from the draft tree this weekend. The Calgary Flames landed Sam Bennett. The Edmonton Oilers laid claim to Leon Draisaitl. The Vancouver Canucks brought Jake Virtanen and Jared McCann into the fold.
Like the Jets, these other Western Conference non-playoff outfits are drafting and developing, and it's quite possible that they're drafting and developing superior players.
So, a general manager must do more to build a playoff-worthy club.
This apparently is a concept that has yet to arrive at Chevy's brain pan. Once again, he sat amongst the tallest foreheads in professional hockey and, once again, he did nothing to improve the Jets. He did nothing to address his goaltending situation. He did nothing to bulk up his back end. He did nothing to strengthen his third and fourth lines.
We know trades were there to be made. Bodies were moved. The Nashville Predators, for example, recognized a need for more scoring, so they scored James Neal. The Preds also had a deal in place for Jason Spezza, but he vetoed a move to Music City.
In Vancouver, GM Jim Benning assessed the mess his predecessor, Mike Gillis, left behind and moved out the disenchanted Ryan Kesler in barter for Nick Bonino, Luca Sbisa, a first-round pick that brought the aforementioned McCann to the Canucks, as well as a third-round pick that landed Derek Dorsett.
Given that Benning was operating under the constraints of Kesler's two-team wish list (Anaheim and Chicago), it was an adroit and admirable bit of bartering by the rookie GM. The Canucks have not been transformed into serious Stanley Cup contenders with the exchange of these players, but they aren't the same Sad Sack outfit that closed the season in early April. There's been a noticeable shift in the landscape.
The Jets, on the other hand, remain the same Sad Sack outfit that, like its GM, has not failed to fail since its arrival in River City three years ago. And I fear the situation is going to worsen rather than improve.
Already, the chief cook and bottle washer of this non-achieving NHL outfit has advised us that he will do nothing about Ondrej Pavelec—Pavs will be back in goal when the Jets return to business next autumn. Anyone with a hockey IQ higher than Evander Kane's sweater number can tell you that Pavelec is to stopping pucks what Homer Simpson is to rocket science, so we must assume that Chevy believes some fantasy Fairy Godmother of Goaltenders will sprinkle Dominik Hasek dust on his Czech goalie and his five-hole will shrink like Thomas Vanek's value on the open market.
And now we have Paul Maurice, the head coach, providing the backup vocals.
"I have a firm belief he has the ability to be an outstanding No. 1 goaltender. I do," Coach Mo told Gary (La La) Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press.
If that isn't frightening enough, there are whispers that we soon will witness the second coming of Tanner Glass. Oh yes, by all means, let's move ahead by moving backwards. Why not bring Perry Miller and bamboo shin pads back, too?
Unless Chevy has a card, or two, hidden up his sleeve and plans to use them once the free agency season opens, no playoff beards will be sprouting in Winnipeg next spring. Again.