>The Winnipeg Jets are entering a vital off-season as it pertains to the future success of the franchise. Young players are developing, big name players are rumored to be on the trade block and the Jets are loaded up with 10 draft picks in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.
As the Winnipeg Jets General Manager, Kevin Cheveldayoff is on the hot seat to handle these moves. In light of his busy summer, lets take a look at some of the moves he's made to date and for the sake of making people mad, we will rank them and judge them.
Chevy's Best Moves:
1) Delivering The Pizza Man?
Johnny Oduya has found a new home and he is fitting in quite well. He is better suited to the system in Chicago and I highly doubt their is any buyer's remorse on the Chicago end. That said, moving Oduya was still very much the right move. A 2nd and 3rd round pick was a very solid return. It sucks that those picks are going to be at the very bottom of their respective rounds, but they are still great value for a player that was going to walk anyways.
2) Joining #TeamWelly
Kyle Wellwood was picked up for pennies (relatively speaking) and played in a beyond serviceable middle six role for the Jets in his first year. Welly added scoring punch that otherwise would not have existed and was among the best value signings in the league. Year two saw Welly's production slow (thanks to a fatter stack of cash), but the year one signing was a savvy pickup.
3) Finding The Clit
Chevy found it! Grant Clitsome was a bit of an unknown when he was signed. Clitty had posted decent possession and scoring numbers while playing limited ice time in Columbus, but he was unpolished and the defensive side of his game was a little sloppy. Still, he was free and their was no real risk in adding him.
The timing of Clitty's signing helped offset the loss of Johnny Oduya and he turned out to be a really solid contributor in his second season with the Jets. Clitsome is still far from a world beater and he would be a 5th or 6th depth defender / powerplay specialist on most teams, but he was able to step up and fill in next to Buff this year. Playing with Buff isn't easy and Clitsome did well.
4) Pulling a Yank
Early Returns on Jacob Trouba look very very good. There was some debate about who the Jets should have taken with the 9th overall pick in the 2012 Draft and while the story is far from written Trouba looks like a gooder. Of course it is still possible that Mikhail Grigorenko or Filip Forsberg will be superstar forwards, but seriously guys - f*** 'em. Trouba is going to smash them. BIG HITS!! TRUCULENCE!!!
5) Locking Up Ladd For Little
Chevy's first order of business as the GM of the Winnipeg Jets was to lock up the team's captain. Ladd was coming off a career year and was going to be a key cog for the team moving forward. Chevy locked him up quickly and at a very cap friendly rate. Ladd has since out-played his deal. This was Chevy's first big win as the GM of the Jets.
6) @ALowsyPlayer17 Is Not A Lowsy Player
Adam Lowry exploded this year and won all sorts of awards in the WHL as Lowry was without a doubt one of the leagues best players. He carried his team on his back and put them in the playoffs. He was even given a "C" for team WHL in the Canada / Russia Subway Series. On top of all this, the Left Wing prospect was moved to Centre and found success in his new (and in my opinion more important position). Lowry has shot up the ranks of Jets prospects.
7) The Finn Is Finnished
Olli Jokinen's awful year has been well documented, but the signing was widely looked at as a positive. Jokinen was far and away the top Centre on the market and Chevy got him. While it is too bad that Olli has disappointed, I consider the signing a win. The dollars and term of the were reasonable and the pickup was made based on solid logic. Olli busting isn't on Chevy.
Chevy's Worst Moves:
1) Fehr Is Still Fairly Fair
Eric Fehr had an awful 2011-12 season as a member of the Winnipeg Jets, spending most of the season toiling in 4th line hell while receiving next to no puck luck before injury troubles resurfaced. The season was an undoubted disappointment, but I thought Fehr had proved he was worth bringing back during the lockout.
During his stint in SM-liiga, Fehr outscored Kyle Turris, Jussi Jokinen, Mikko Koivu, Craig Smith, Mathieu Perreault and Lars Eller. Obviously, the Washington Capitals took notice as they signed him. They also retained former Jets prospect Daultan Leveille and used the draft pick that the Jets traded for Fehr the previous June.
As a team that is / was desperate for depth, the Winnipeg Jets could have used Eric Fehr this season. Perhaps, Fehr wanted out. Perhaps moving away was his decision, but he wasn't exactly flush with offers. Chevy probably could have lured him back on the cheap.
2) Ondrej's Giant Contract
I am not going to rant about how bad of a goalie Ondrej Pavelec is, but I will say his contract is a massive financial hurdle. Pavelec is making quality starter money despite being nowhere near that caliber of player. Even most of his believers are suggesting the Jets should bring in a 1B goalie to push him. The problem with this is; 1B goalies aren't cheap. The Jets may well find themselves spending $6MM a year on netminders within the next year or two. It may be even more than that if Pavelec falls out of favor.
3) Holding Hainsey
This is purely a hindsight criticism as I wasn't really for or against the moving Ron Hainsey at the deadline. Bottom line is the Jets kept Ron and still missed the playoffs. Chevy gambled and lost. Was the bet worth while? That is debatable, but the Jets did not maximize their assets in this situation. The fact that losing streaks by the Islanders, Senators, Rangers or Caps would have turned it into a plus makes me consider this a minimal mark against Chevy.
4) Because He's A Sutter
It is probably unfair to pick on a kid one year after he was drafted when he hasn't played a lick of pro hockey, but I didn't like Lukas Sutter as a 2nd round draft pick. His pre-draft play wasn't really up to snuff. He had little chance of becoming a scorer, but he had intangibles and he was a Sutter (still is). Sutter's play this past year was really really bad.
I really hope Sutter can turn things around, but 19 year old prospects that fall to the 4th line of their junior teams don't generally have a great success rate. It will be interesting to see what happens with him next year. Sutter will be eligible to play in St. John's, but he may be sent back to junior for his overage season.
1) Scheifele Down
Mark Scheifele was considered by most to be a bit of a reach as the first pick of the Jets 2.0 and while Mark has grown a ton as a player since he was drafted there are still question marks. There is no doubt that Scheifele is a top notch prospect with loads of offensive upside. The question is about how he will transition to pro hockey.
Add to the mix the success that Sean Couturier, Dougie Hamilton and Jonas Brodin have had and there is still reason to question this pick. Scheifele's upside looks great, but there are still a load of question marks, that's why I left this as a hold.
2) Can You Win Without Yuen?
Of course you can, but letting Yuen walk was still puzzling. Many non-Jets scouts thought he had progressed well, but evidently Chevy and Co. disagree. Time will tell who was right, but there was very little risk in signing Yuen to an ELC - especially considering how few prospects the Jets have in the system. Long term this probably amounts to nothing, but it was an odd move in my opinion.
What does this all mean?
Nothing really. Chevy hasn't really done a lot. There haven't been any defining moves or major screw ups. As one of our twitter friends (@gm0ney) said regarding Chevy "all he's done with the on-ice talent so far as a GM is shuffle the bottom six deck chairs."
This off season has potential to be a big one, so let's hope Chevy adds a few move moves to the "Best Moves" section.
Remember, this is just one man's opinion. Did I miss anything? Did I rank them wrong? Tell me in the comment section.