Let’s hope the rookie front-office boss is learning the ropes and will come out swinging harder than he did in Year 1, when he was strictly a jabber.
I’m not saying Cheveldayoff has to become the baddest GM on the planet, engaging any and every dance partner and looking for the knockout punch via trade or free agency.
But now that he’s had an entire season to evaluate what he inherited from Atlanta, surely he’ll do more than bob and weave around the perimeter.
“It wasn’t for lack of trying to be active,” Cheveldayoff said. “It’s gotta be something that fits. It’s gotta be something that helps you in the short and long term. It’s very difficult to make meaningful moves for players that make significant impacts.”
The Reluctant Rookie acknowledged the most significant upgrade he made was signing free agent Kyle Wellwood, which stops a country mile or so short of an executive-of-the-year nomination.
Signing Tanner Glass was a solid, third-line move.
Trading defenceman Johnny Oduya for second- and third-round picks in 2013 seems to have helped Chicago. What it’ll do for the Jets is up in the air.
Cheveldayoff’s other moves — trading for Eric Fehr, claiming Grant Clitsome and Antti Miettinen off waivers — didn’t score any points with the judges.
In short, he’s yet to prove he belongs in the ring with the NHL’s heavyweights.
Which brings us back to that promise of hope, delivered during a wide-ranging, 40-minute Q and A with the local media.
“My fans get an unwavering commitment from me that this is kind of the start of something really good, and something that we’re going to keep moving forward as hard as we can,” Cheveldayoff said.
“We’ll leave no stone unturned in terms of trying to improve this team.”
He didn’t say the Jets would leave no dollar unspent.
Days after Jets owner Mark Chipman acknowledged the franchise made more money than expected and won’t even qualify for revenue sharing, it appears a tad unclear whether some of that coin — not to mention the ticket-price increase for next season — will be spent to actually sign a top-line player.
“When we need to make the moves on the financial side the money will be there,” Cheveldayoff said. “Does that mean it’s going to increase? How much will it increase? There’s lots of different variables that come into play there.”
With a payroll of some $52 million U.S., the Jets were in the bottom third of the league this season.
With pending free agents Evander Kane and Ondrej Pavelec, in particular, due raises this summer, will the Jets be forced to cut elsewhere?
Cheveldayoff did his best to dodge the question. But you can’t tell me the Jets don’t already know their player budget for next season.
“It’s hard to say at this point and time what the actual number will be,” the GM said. “It’s something that’s flexible. The key is if I go to True North and I say, ‘I need to do this, if I have reasonable grounds to do this’ — that’s what I’m talking about.”
The bottom line, of course, isn’t dollars and cents, but wins and losses.
Nashville, for instance, has been punching in the bottom third of NHL weight classes ($51.5 million this season), and it’s going after a Stanley Cup.
So it’s about fighting smart.
Those who don’t, wind up years down the road telling anyone who’ll listen they could have been a contender.