"The ability to add right now is very important, it still remains very important," general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff told reporters in Winnipeg on Wednesday. "We're going to continue to keep looking to try and see if there's other options out there."
The Jets already had Canadian world junior gold medallists Josh Morrissey, Nic Petan and Eric Comrie and Danish junior star Nikolaj Ehlers in the pipeline. Now from the Buffalo deal they have 2011 first-rounder Joel Armia, 2014 second-rounder Brendan Lemieux and an extra first-round pick that Cheveldayoff isn't ruling out using as a bargaining chip in the next few weeks.
"Right now it's a draft pick, and that's how we're focused on it," he said. "You just never know what comes up as time goes on."
In the deal that sent the injured Kane, defenceman Zach Bogosian and goaltending prospect Jason Kasdorf to Buffalo, Winnipeg already filled one need with Stafford. A one-time 30-goal scorer, the 29-year-old takes the spot that opened up when Kane opted for season-ending shoulder surgery, allowing Dustin Byfuglien to go back to defence.
The Jets are 2-4-2 since the all-streak break and aren't yet a lock to make the playoffs. Winnipeg has the first wild-card spot in the West and are seven points up on ninth-place Minnesota, but the Wild have points in eight straight and three games in hand to make up more ground.
Cheveldayoff said it was important that the Kane deal helped the team now and in the future. He has consistently had an eye on the future, but his moves in the next little while could help solidify the franchise's first playoff berth since moving to Winnipeg.
Armia is a six-foot-three Finn who has 25 points in the American Hockey League this season. Lemieux is back with the Ontario Hockey League's Barrie Colts and continuing to follow in the footsteps of his father, Claude.
Those two players could be part of the future along with Jacob Trouba, Mark Scheifele, Morrissey, Petan and Ehlers or trade bait to get more immediate help.
The Jets are solid in goal thanks to the emergence of Michael Hutchinson and improved play of Ondrej Pavelec, and Byfuglien's return to the blue-line is major boost. Six players — Bryan Little, Andrew Ladd, Mathieu Perreault, Blake Wheeler, Byfuglien and Michael Frolik — have at least 10 goals, but more offensive depth certainly wouldn't hurt.
Perhaps that's why Cheveldayoff is open for business leading up to the trade deadline. The Kane deal could be just the start.
"To sit here and say that I'm done, I don't think that's right," he said. "To sit here and guarantee you something will be added now till then, there's no guarantees in this game. Will we be actively looking and actively evaluating from now till the trade deadline? Yes."
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