Welcome to Winnipeg to most of the re-located Atlanta Thrashers! Welcome home to the rest. The new Jets, or Jets 2.0, did not have to have to send the Winnipeg Tourism video to some of their new players. No less than 3 players have a fair chance to make the team, those 3 aren't the only ones in the organization depth charts. Along with the newly aquired Eric Fehr (Winkler) and the newly signed Derek Meech and Jason Gregoire (Winnipeg), there is 18 year old D-man Peter Stoykewych and recently drafted goalie Jason Kasdork also from Winnipeg. We've definitely come a long way since Russ Romaniuk!
Just to the South of Homegrown..
Close enough to be considered homegrown there are also a trio on Minnesotans flying with the Jets. Blake Wheeler, Big Buff Dustin Byfuglien, and D-man Mark Stuart all have roots in Minnesota. There will surely be requests from family members to catch a few games at either the MTS or Xcel Energy. Anyone who has been down the road to Minnesota can tell you that it really isn't that much different between there and Southern Manitoba/Winnipeg, so you can scratch these 3 boys off the 'Culture Shocked' list.
But What about the Future?
This team build through character is certainly a good start for the new GM. No mailing in games this season, no such thing as taking a night off, and no quitters allowed. There are a few needs that have to be met, a few razzle-dazzle skilled players added to the mix wouldn't hurt, but that being said this years free-agents weren't exactly the cream of the crop. Cheveldayoff is better off making minor fixes in terms of signing Unrestricted FAs this summer or a trade of two. Best course of action is to keep the talent that is on the roster and then re-evaluate as the season progresses and into next summer.
Beware..the End is Near (ish)
The signings and trades done so far aren't blockbusters, but they are all (except for the Ladd and Gregoire signings) for 1 year. After next season the CBA is up for renegotiation and there is bound to be a few changes in it to the way contracts and money is spent. It is doubtful there will be a lockout or a labor stoppage with this negotiation. It just wouldn't make sense, the 2011-2012 season has the chance to make big advances in the sports market in the USA. Both the NFL and the NBA are facing labor stoppages or lockouts. All those Americans are going to be looking for some sporting event to watch this winter and if the NHL is lucky and/or good they can cash in. Hopefully keep some of those football/basketball converts interested enough in the great game of hockey once those other sports get their crap together. Now, if the NHL then turns around and has their own labor strife take center stage all those gains will be lost.
Anyone taking bets that the Owners and Players will do the smart thing and work together on this?