Cheveldayoff's glass half-full

Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff speaks to the media in Winnipeg, Mb., June 8, 2011. (FRED...

Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff speaks to the media in Winnipeg, Mb., June 8, 2011. (FRED GREENSLADE/Reuters)

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:29 PM ET

WINNIPEG - Kevin Cheveldayoff is more interested in talking about the positives than the negatives.

Ask the general manager what one thing his Winnipeg Jets need to do to improve, and he’d rather discuss the so-so seasons of two of his young players.

“Everyone wants to focus on the things that need to get better, but there’s some great stories here of guys that have played very, very well,” Cheveldayoff said, opting to take the glass half full approach when, in fact, there’s a big crack in the bottom of the cup and liquid is gushing out. “That’s what we need to keep the eye on and keep focusing on.

“Evander (Kane) was on a great pace there. There were points in time when he was obviously doing some great things. He hit a little bit of a slump, and now he’s injured. But the fact that for that period of time that he started to mature into a player that we hoped he could become in the future, that’s a very positive thing.

“Buff (Dustin Byfuglien), everybody looked at him and kind of looked at his start, but then if you sit back and you look at his numbers, he’s essentially on the same pace as he was last year. You look at Pav (Ondrej Pavelec) and you look what Pav has done. You look at what Mase (Chris Mason) has done. There’s a lot of positive things there that we as Jets and Jets fans need to focus on.”

That’s all fine and dandy, but we’re guessing fans would have more fun focusing on winning. The Jets would have trouble scoring on a AAA midget team these days. They’ve notched two goals or fewer in more than half (27) of their 50 games. They were as high as sixth in the Eastern Conference but are now 10th, five points out of a playoff position, and entered the all-star break on a three-game winless skid.

Cheveldayoff, in an interview before Tuesday’s 3-0 loss to the New York Rangers, said there is no quick fix when it comes to adding offensive punch, so you can forget about that blockbuster trade on Feb. 27. Injuries haven’t helped, but it’s not the primary cause for the severe turbulence the Jets are enduring these days.

“We’re not going to be the ones that are going to point to (injuries),” Cheveldayoff said. “That’s the reality of the game. At the end of the day, when you lose guys that are there to score goals, someone has to step up and replace that. Just from a standpoint of saying we’re going to go get a scorer … OK. There’s lots of guys that want to get a scorer.

“It’s a process. It’s something that we’re going to look to try and build from within, and we’ll see what presents itself as we move forward.”

It’s not news that Cheveldayoff wants to build from the bottom up, but Jets fans probably didn’t think the offence would be this bad. The reality they just don’t have the scoring ability to make a playoff push and could very well end up being a lottery team if nothing changes.

The GM is not going to mortgage the future, but he needs to find a way to speed up the process of adding scoring. The only way to do that is through free agency, and the Jets have room under the salary cap. True North chairman Mark Chipman said the day he bought the Atlanta Thrashers he wouldn’t be a big-spending owner, but the door on the owner’s box is going to have a hole in it soon and his foot has to be getting sore.

Chipman doesn’t like to lose. The question is: How long is he willing to wait on talent that may or may not ever develop? The GM didn’t give a definitive answer when asked how he’ll approach the trade deadline after now seeing what he has in the organization.

“You’re always assessing what you have,” Cheveldayoff said. “You look at the assets that you have, and if you can improve using one of those assets you certainly try and do it. If you can improve as one of those assets matures, then you sit and you wait.

“There really isn’t any set way to say, ‘OK, we’re going to do X, Y and Z when it comes to Feb. 27th.’ Certainly we’re going to look at all things. My staff has been very active as far as being out in the arenas, certainly focusing on this year and the future. It’s a work in progress all the time.”


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