WINNIPEG – The Winnipeg Jets trotted out their No. 1 draft pick and grabbed a potential 20-goal centre off waivers but made no trade deadline moves Wednesday.
They were reportedly talking to the Buffalo Sabres for a deal that would send Alexander Burmistrov east for right-winger Drew Stafford. But nothing happened before the deadline.
Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff refused to confirm or deny that scenario but said they had to move forward with the players they have now.
“It’s one of those things where at different points in time you’re talking lots of different players with lots of different teams and different scenarios,” he said.
“This is the group that earned the opportunity to be battling at this point in time for a playoff position.”
He’s made it clear before they were looking for a top-six forward and would still like one but not at any cost.
“Everything comes at a price,” he said. “You have to be realistic.”
It puts added pressure on the lineup the Jets have now to stop a four-game slide that has them clinging only barely to top spot in the Southeast Division.
Losing the division lead to the surging Washington Capitals, who are only two points back, would bump the Jets out of playoff contention, at least for now.
“Unless you have something that can absolutely replace what you’re giving up in your lineup in the situation that we’re in right now, again it’s about the messages that you send to your group,” said Cheveldayoff.
The Jets did claim centre Mike Santorelli, 27, off waivers from the Florida Panthers.
He was drafted by the Nashville Predators in 2004 (178th overall) and traded to Florida in 2010. In the 2010-11 season he scored a career-best 20 goals and 21 assists for the Panthers.
In 24 games this season, the Vancouver native has had only two goals and one assist and is in the final year of a contract that will pay him US$1.6 million this season.
He also has skill during shootouts that the Jets could use, if they get a chance, but with Nik Antropov now on the injured list a little added depth with no risk seemed a no-brainer, suggested the Jets GM.
Earlier in the day the Jets also arranged a conference call with last year’s top draft pick, defenceman Jacob Trouba. They announced on Tuesday he had decided to put his college career on hold to fulfil his dream of playing in the NHL.
He played 37 games with the University of Michigan Wolverines during the 2012-13 season and had suggested earlier he wanted to finish his education before making the leap to the NHL.
But after talking it over with his family and coaches, he decided signing with the Jets was the best decision.
“It’s tough walking away from Michigan, I had a great time this year,” he said Wednesday on a conference call organized by the Jets.
“My education is still important to me. I want to graduate some day and take summer classes but I just felt I was ready for this.”
The native of Rochester, Mich., was drafted by the Jets in the first round, ninth overall, in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
He was named to the 2013 Central Collegiate Hockey Association’s All-Rookie team determined by a vote of the conference’s head coaches and was also named Best Offensive defenceman in the CCHA.
Trouba also has won three medals for the United States during his career, most recently a gold at the 2013 world junior championships in Ufa, Russia.
He also took home a gold medal at the 2011 world under-18 championships and a silver in the 2010 world under-17 hockey challenge.
He said he doesn’t know what the Jets have in mind for him after he reports this week.
“I haven’t really discussed that at all. They’re in the middle of a playoff race and I just want to come and help and do what I can. If I get in the lineup I get in the lineup.”
Trouba said he’ll understand if the Jets feel he needs to develop a little more.
“I obviously want to play with the Jets, I want to play in the NHL, but if I need to develop more and get sent to St. John’s, that’s fine by me,” he said. “I’ll just have to keep working hard and get back up to the Jets as fast as I can.”
The Jets left their top 2011 draft pick, Mark Scheifele, now 20, with his junior team in Ontario for a little more seasoning although he’ll be reporting next season.
Cheveldayoff also said they aren’t loading any expectations on Trouba but are happy he’ll get a chance to get used to the Jets organization this season, no matter how much he plays.
“There’s no guarantees of games played.”