Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff held court with the press today, providing an opportunity for questions prior to next week's draft in Buffalo. In case you missed it, here's the press conference in full:
To the surprise of no one, there weren't any heart-stopping moments of shock and/or awe. With that said, several topics of interest did come up, and so now let us scour for whatever crumbs of insight we can find.
How to say "hello" in Finnish
Chevy's response to "Have you decided whom you'll take if Toronto takes Matthews?" was couched in about a dozen unneeded sentences. In short, the answer seems to be yes, with reservations made for any unanticipated madness. Quotes such as "the list is getting pretty much in ink" and "our minds are very set" lend themselves to certainty, though of course the prerequisite platitudes for Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujärvi all made an appearance.
Cheveldayoff says minds are all but made up on player #NHLJets will take at 2-- assuming Matthews goes 1.— Paul Friesen (@friesensunmedia) June 14, 2016
Let no one say that Laine's swagger was not a Jetslandia topic of conversation, seeing as how it came up at this presser. When asked if he likes Laine's confidence or if there were any concerns over it, Chevy responded: "I think anybody that goes out there and plays...and competes at the highest level has that level of confidence in themselves, and well they should." Hear, hear.
A constant theme of Chevy's responses was that of "due diligence", and it's worth noting how European pro scout Jari Gronstrand was specifically mentioned as an asset leaned on in said investigation. Make a note for if and when blame needs to be assigned later.
Unveiling the Official Trouba Trade Tracker
It was a commendable moment when Cheveldayoff was asked point blank, "Are you trying to trade Jacob Trouba?" The beginning of his answer did little to dispel rumours and speculation, featuring everyone's favourite "I'm not trying to trade anybody" blanket statement. However, after going down the scenic route, Chevy did conclude with a "Trying to trade him? No." Mention of how he's involved in discussions with other teams and that anyone can be traded should be no cause for alarm; those are simply a general manager saying and doing general manager things.
In term of RFA negotiations and contract details, you and I both know nothing was disclosed. Chevy did largely dismiss offer sheets, both giving and receiving, while acknowledging Winnipeg's excellent position to counter the predations of other teams.
GMKC: "I don't spend a lot of time worrying about people targeting our RFAs. We are well positioned. We made sure we were not vulnerable."— Illegal Curve Hockey (@IllegalCurve) June 14, 2016
Chiarot, Stuart and **insert free agent here** makes three
The question was, "It might be too early, but looking ahead to free agency, is there a position now that tops your list that you would like to see filled?" Given the state of Winnipeg's depth chart, it was interesting to hear Chevy begin his answer by focusing on a potential addition at forward, mentioning a vague "there's an element that if it's there, you try to make fit". Milan Lucic, anyone?
In fairness, Chevy did swiftly pivot to the No. 2 selection and how that player "should step in". One is still left wondering what element Kevin Cheveldayoff might be inclined to try and make fit.
And then the comment which would have come as bittersweet to many: "A good left-handed defenceman certainly would be something we'd look at as well". The Winnipeg Jets are in a funny spot here. Between Toby Enstrom, Ben Chiarot, Mark Stuart and Julian Melchiori, there's hardly a lack of warm bodies. Add on top of that the already demonstrated possibility of Jacob Trouba playing his off-side, not to mention 2013 1st round selection Josh Morrissey, yet LHD remains an area of concern.
One wonders what exactly is meant by "good". Is this to mean a top-four caliber LHD, perhaps even a partner for Dustin Byfuglien? Or simply a serviceable depth defenceman to skate alongside Chiarot or Stuart on the third pairing (and/or keep Postma company in the press box)? There are numerous options on both fronts: Dan Hamhuis, Alex Goligoski, Keith Yandle and Brian Campbell falling under the former, the latter featuring names such as David Schlemko, Kyle Cumiskey, David Warsofsky, Christian Ehrhoff, etc.
Between the contracts of Byfuglien, Enstrom, Myers and Stuart, plus whatever Trouba's next deal might look like, Winnipeg's d-corps doesn't exactly come cheap. Adding another big ticket player would be a curious move.
@arby_18 Could be looking for a Pardy-level LD. Not getting my hopes up yet.— Jesse Klassen (@jessek_86) June 14, 2016
Last and possibly least, there's little news on the Pascal Vincent replacement front, other than how Paul Maurice and the organization are without a set timeframe but well into the process. Nothing like ending on a flaccid note.
Were there any moments of particular interest for you in Chevy's presser? Does his mention of wanting "a good left-handed defenceman" come as a surprise? And is his praise for Matthews, Laine and Puljujärvi obviously a smokescreen for drafting Matthew Tkachuk? Share your thoughts, questions and concerns in the Comments section below, and as always, thanks for reading!