Jets’ rookies take centre stage

KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:13 AM ET

WINNIPEG - Twenty-two prospects are about to take their best shot at making a positive impression on the Winnipeg Jets brass.

Many are draft picks and others are free agents, simply looking for a chance to perhaps get an invitation to main training camp or at least plant the seed for possible future employment within the organization.

What will be expected of these youngsters over the next week or so is simple, according to Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff.

"You're just going to ask them to be themselves and play the way they can," Cheveldayoff told reporters on Friday at MTS Centre. "Play the way that got them noticed. From an organizational standpoint, certainly we're going to welcome them to a new situation and outline our expectations moving forward of what it's going to take for them to become Winnipeg Jets at the NHL-level."

Saturday begins with medicals, while the first on-ice session goes from 2 to 3 p.m. at MTS Iceplex.

The Jets prospects will also skate Sunday morning before heading to Penticton, B.C. for the 2011 YoungStars tournament.

The Jets meet the San Jose Sharks on Monday night at 9:30 p.m. CT, the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. CT and the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday at 1:30 CT.

"It's about watching the players, evaluating where they are at in their careers right now," said Cheveldayoff. "Some of them are coming to a camp like this for the very first camp, some have had the opportunity to be part of camps like this in the past. For all these players, it's about showing us where they're at in their development curve."

One of those prospects who will be on the ice Saturday is Winnipegger Jason Gregoire, who signed a two-year, entry-level contract with the Jets in early July after becoming an unrestricted free agent.

He's been around the buzz in the city all summer long, but understands that now he needs to get down to the business.

"It's cool, being a hometown kid and everything like that," said Gregoire, a 22-year-old left-winger who spent the past three seasons with the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux before deciding to turn pro. "But now I've come to the realization that you're fighting for a job pretty soon. In the spot I'm in, I can't be oohing and awing anymore. It's kind of nose to the grindstone."


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