Kevin Cheveldayoff Will Soon Have The Means

Kevin Cheveldayoff Will Have The Horsepower To Shift Into High Gear —

Spent the weekend looking incredulously at some Kevin Cheveldayoff consternation on Twitter.  I just don’t get it.

I make no apologies for being a Kevin Cheveldayoff fan.  I think the Winnipeg organization scored him when he was already well-known as one of the brightest up and coming future GMs in the National Hockey League.  Has he been perfect during his two+ season tenure as the Jets GM?  Of course not.  But, it’s pretty easy to illustrate that he’s had more right moves than Wright moves, thankfully.

So, I thought I’d take a moment to present my thoughts on a couple of the indicators of Chevy’s success.  Let’s all understand, NO ONE associated with the Jets, player, coach fan or GM, is happy with where the team’s record sits but there is still more positive overall than negative.  And while he has done a lot of work in shaping this team, I believe strongly that the upcoming trade deadline/offseason will be his chance to really send the Jets flying higher.

Firstly, perhaps Chevy’s highest pinnacle of success has also been where the seeds of criticism got their first planting and watering as well – the NHL Entry Draft.  Cheveldayoff has been the boss for three drafts and most NHL observers have given the Jets organization high marks for the results they’ve gotten.

But, Chevy’s first-ever pick was Mark Scheifele.  He wasn’t a well-known prospect and a player who had been projected to go as high as first overall was still on the board when Winnipeg picked seventh, Sean Couturier.  So, the questioning and criticizing of Chevy really seemed to find its genesis there.


The critics were just as loud in 2012 when Chevy chose Jacob Trouba at #9 when highly-touted Swede Filip Forsberg was still on the board.  And, some similar sentiments were expressed at the 2013 draft when the Jets chose relatively unknown defenceman Josh Morrissey.

Of course, Trouba’s been an instant stud.  After a couple of years of seasoning in the OHL, Scheifele is starting to come into his own and Morrissey is playing for Canada at the World Juniors right now, oh, along with their second round pick from 2013, Nic Petan – who is centering the top line.   Oh and their fourth round pick Andrew Copp is co-captaining the American team.
Throw in some of the names he’s grabbed with later picks – Adam Lowry, Scott Kosmachuk, Eric Comrie, JC Lipon, and even Brenden Kichton and there is lots for Jets fans to be pleased with.

In a similar vein and an example of the hyperbole that often surrounds the Chevy criticisms, one area blogger called it a “disaster” when Cheveldayoff didn’t sign once highly touted prospect Zachary Yuen, their fourth round pick, 119th overall, in the 2011 draft.  Yeah, well all reports are that Yuen is having a solid season in the East Coast Hockey League.  Good for him, but him not being signed by the Jets appears to fall on him, not Cheveldayoff.

So, when it comes to draft results, it’s pretty hard to be critical of Cheveldayoff and be taken seriously.

Next on the list, the core.  Many of the Jets core players have equal amounts of adoring fans and despising critics.  Ondrej Pavelec is a god/sieve.  Blake Wheeler is beloved/maligned.  Byfuglien is an enigma (whether you like him or not) and on and on.  But no matter your thoughts on the individual players, the reality is that Cheveldayoff did the leg work to lock up this core until at least the end of the 2016 season.  In order, Chevy has signed Andrew Ladd, Ondrej Pavelec, Tobias Enstrom, Evander Kane, Bryan Little, Blake Wheeler and Zach Bogosian to long term deals since the team’s arrival in Winnipeg.  Meanwhile, Scheifele and Trouba are still on their entry level deals, and Byfuglien’s deal was signed before the team made the move from Atlanta.


At the same time, Chevy has tried to augment the roster with players like Olli Jokinen and Devin Setoguchi.  After a dismal year one, Jokinen has been a steady player this season.  As for Setoguchi, well, his $3 million contract will disappear at end of  this season as will Jokinen’s.  So, the Jets have five of their top 6 forwards locked up until 2016 and 4 of their top defencemen.  Michael Frolik is a restricted free agent at the end of this season and I think everyone would be shocked if this organization doesn’t keep him around long term.

It is this reality that I think has been a big factor in why Kevin Cheveldayoff has been reluctant to add nothing but bargains from the waiver wire or free agent list.  His patience, as well as the patience of many Jets fans, will be rewarded very soon.

The reward?  With their top two lines and top two defence pairings already set, the Jets will have an impressive $23 million+ a year to spend on adding talent to this team.  Um, just think about that for a moment.  $23 million to spend with two solid sets of lines at both ends.  THAT is exciting news!

That is why I personally have high expectations for Chevy in the coming months.  Unfortunately, more and more, it is looking like the Jets will be a potential seller at the trade deadline as a playoff berth is starting to look like a pipe dream.  Even that is exciting because of the potential opportunity it holds.  But it is the offseason free agent frenzy that hopefully Kevin Cheveldayoff can make a big splash in.  Or if not one big splash, how about a few decent-sized splashes?

It’s no secret that Winnipeg’s bottom six and beyond forwards just aren’t good enough.  They try hard but they just aren’t good enough to be taking regular NHL shifts.  So, with the money Chevy has available, our third and fourth lines HAVE to be better next year.

This is without taking into account that we have some young prospects that may be ready to make the jump next season.  If an Adam Lowry and an Eric O’Dell are ready to make the jump to the bigs, then that offers Chevy even more flexibility.

I don’t have any illusions that this piece will change anyone’s mind or stop the Kevin Cheveldayoff critics from piling on him on a regular basis.  But all of the above is why I’m not critical of the Jets GM. He has done all of what he said he would do from the very start.  Build slowly, through the draft and go for the gusto when the time is right.  I truly believe he has set this organization up for the timing to be right before the 2014-15 season.  If Chevy spends the upcoming summer standing pat, then I’ll change my vote but until then I am waiting here with great anticipation.



  1. I assume you’re talking about me when referring to the Yuen “disaster” comment, and it was a disaster because two picks were burned to move up and take Yuen. For some reason, that fact doesn’t come up much.

    And it’ll be tough to build through the draft this coming year without the 2nd rounder burned to pick up one year of Gooch. Hopefully that situation gets rectified.

    Chevy has been given all sorts of deadlines and summers to make his mark and hasn’t yet. Maybe you’re right and it’ll happen soon. I’m just not holding my breath. Nice article, though. 😀

  2. Mitch Kasprick says

    I actually agree with quite a bit of this article and mindset for the most part EXCEPT the drafting part. Although the drafting part is under the GM’s umbrella his part is getting too much credit for this process. His philosophy and commitment to the process are bang on !!! But it wasn’t Chevy that discovered Scheifele and fought for him in their war-room … It was probably Marcel Comeau and his Eastern Scouts … kudos to Chevy for trusting them. I am actually in the process of penning an article on the drafting of Jets players …. not that I’m trying to undermine the GM’s contribution but to give credit where credit is due. BUT very nice article Darryl.

  3. patti dawn swansson says

    You write: ” If Chevy spends the upcoming summer standing pat, then I’ll change my vote but until then I am waiting here with great anticipation.”
    So, do you change your vote, Darryl?
    Cheveldayoff has done nothing to improve the Jets. Mathieu Perreault has made them younger, yet smaller. That’s an improvement?
    The Jets’ core has proven, without a doubt, that it is not good enough to make the playoffs. Cheveldayoff has done nothing to address the core. In point of fact, Cheveldayoff has done nothing but work the waiver wire and draft players once a year. Guess what? Every other team in the NHL is also drafting and developing. And it’s quite possible that they’re drafting and developing better players.
    But, hey, we’re all entitled to our opinions.
    So I await your next piece in which you say you’ve change your vote and Cheveldayoff has failed.

    • So, I was going through my personal emails and I found this gem today.

      Still thinking that Perreault, despite being smaller, hasn’t made this team better? I stand by my statement that the Perreault signing was one of the best of NHL free agency last summer, which I stated last summer.

      I also wasn’t ready to call Chevy’s summer a failure and am glad I didn’t. I think the points in my comments to your comment have been spot on, including about Winnipeg’s core and Michael Hutchinson.

      So, I remain pretty comfortable with my vote. How about you? How are your comments measuring up? You still calling Chevy a failure? Oops.


    • Darryl Mills says

      Interesting how this thread has gone silent…lol

  4. Darryl Mills says

    Well, if you don’t see how adding Perreault improves the Jets, that surprises me, but as you stated, everyone has a right to their own opinion. I believe the Perreault signing was one of the best of free agency. Fair money over a decent term for a guy who has been steadily improving the last few seasons. Yeah, small players have never helped any team in the NHL.
    We are one week into July, so I’m not ready to declare Chevy’s summer a failure. It is looking more and more that the fall roster will look very similar to what it does right now. Perhaps the organization believes that what they have right now along with a new coach to start the season is enough. Very few outside observers would agree with that.
    I full expect this coming season will be massive for Chevy and his golden boy, Ondrej Pavelec. If they continue to get similar results, then I think both could be in a heap of trouble, as will the team, unless Michael Hutchinson continues his meteoric rise.
    There is much about the core of the Jets that I like. Winnipeg’s top 10-12 players are pretty damn good hockey players. Unfortunately we have too many 5-6-7 defencemen, a questionable fourth line and huge question marks in goal.
    It is pretty obvious that a pretty healthy segment of the Jets fan base is losing faith in Chevy, but at the same time he just got a long term extension from True North which was a little surprising, especially the timing of it.
    So, I don’t know if my next piece will be me changing my vote, but it very well could be on the horizon. I think the NHL season opens three months from today, so there’s still a lot of time to get some things done. So, I’m still going to wait and see.

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