The Jets have been back in Winnipeg since the 2011-12 campaign and while the team would clearly have liked to have enjoyed more success to this point, there are a number of key pieces in place about which fans can be happy.
“There’s a level of excitement here,” indicated Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff during a Wednesday morning appearance on Toronto’s SiriusXMNHL. “Certainly from the moment the ping pong bells fell in the fashion that they did, to know that we have a quality player that is part of our organization. Again, the excitement level of the Kyle Connors. The excitement level of the Nikolaj Ehlers, the Mark Scheifeles, the Jacob Troubas, the Connor Hellebuycks, the Nic Petans, the Brendan Lemieuxs.
“These are players that are just starting to come into their own. They’re 19, 20, 21, and 22-year-old players, some of them with three years of pro experience already now, and are starting to emerge as the guys that will drive this team.
“They understood that. They understood that this was going to be the process. Certainly there was an excitement level when we made the playoffs. I think it certainly whet their appetites for what was there to come, but I think there was an understanding and a realization by losing four straight in the playoffs that the team wasn’t ready to try and compete to win for a Stanley Cup, and there was still work to be done. I think that that level of excitement is certainly palpable even as I walk around the summers here in Winnipeg. They know that there’s a plan in place and that we’re going to continue to execute it moving forward.”
The Jets have a special talent in Patrik Laine, to which Cheveldayoff alluded with his ping pong ball comment.
“From the very first time we met him… there’s a confidence and an aura around him, but there’s an innocence around him as well,” described Cheveldayoff. “He’s going to be an exciting player. He’s going to grow into his body. We’re going to sit back and look and say, ‘Wow, look at how much Patrik Laine has grown up at 22 from when he was 18.’
“Those are the type of things that make being around the team on a daily basis and a yearly basis exciting. Just back to Mark Scheifele’s case. When you see his interviews, and you see his body, and you see what he was like when he was 18 – a gangly kid that we drafted. And now you see the maturity level, how he works out with Gary Roberts, how he trains, how he eats, how he handles himself – and you just know that that foundation of a player is there moving forward. But it takes time for those guys to get that from 18-22.
“I’m excited about Patrik Laine. I’m really excited about a 19, 20, and 21-year-old Patrik Laine as well.”
Oh, and Kevin? About Jacob Trouba…
“Well, I think it’s probably like a lot of other guys that don’t have contracts in RFA situations,” said the general manager. “Those contract talks are going to remain private amongst the team and the players and the representatives.”
Source: SiriusXMNHL/ Transcript: Nichols