It’s probably no surprise that Kevin Cheveldayoff made his first trade as general manager of the Winnipeg Jets with the Chicago Blackhawks, sending defenceman Johnny Oduya to Chicago for draft picks in 2013.
After all Cheveldayoff came to Winnipeg from Chicago where he had spent two seasons as an assistant to Blackhawks’ general manager Stan Bowman.
“When you work on a deal like this with someone that you’ve shared a lot of time with I think you are very candid, you are very open and you lay things on the table,” Cheveldayoff said Monday shortly after the NHL trade deadline. “We had a lot of very blunt conversations with each other that ultimately led to the deal.”
The teams had been talking about a trade for several weeks, Cheveldayoff added, and it only came together early Monday. “The Chicago Blackhawks were very aggressive right from the onset that they wanted Johnny if he was going to be made available and stayed very aggressive for quite a period of time,” he said.
The Blackhawks needed an experienced defenceman with injuries to two of the team’s regulars, Steve Montador and Niklas Hjalmarsson. And Oduya, a 30-year-old native of Stockholm, seemed to fit their requirements. The former Jet has two goals, 13 points and a minus-9 rating in 63 games this season. He started his NHL playing career with New Jersey in 2006 and is in the final year of a three-year deal worth about $3.5-million annually.
In return for Oduya the Jets received Chicago’s second- and third-round picks in 2013.
The Jets also picked up defenceman Grant Clitsome off waivers from Columbus. Clitsome, 26, has four goals, 10 assists in 51 games with the Blue Jackets this season. He is a minus-6 and in the last year of a two-year deal that pays about $1.25-million annually.
Clitsome became expendable for Columbus with the arrival of Jack Johnson in the trade that sent Jeff Carter to Los Angeles last Thursday. “It’s been a crazy 48 hours,” he said shortly after receiving the news. “It’s the first time I’ve ever been put on waivers. It’s kind of bittersweet. The organization put a lot of time in developing me but now I’m excited to go on to the next organization.”
By going to Winnipeg, Clitsome will be reunited with Jets head coach Claude Noel, a former Blue Jackets assistant coach. “I’m excited because they’re in a playoff push,” Clitsome said. “Claude’s a character guy. I really enjoyed playing for him two years ago.”
For Cheveldayoff Monday’s trade deadline marked another first for the Winnipeg Jets organization. “Anything that’s happened this year that has been a first, we’ve had to play catch-up to get to that point,” he said.
“My goal [for the trade deadline]was to set out to be a buyer and everybody looked at me kind of funny and said ‘If you trade an [unrestricted free agent in Oduya]and just get picks how can you be a buyer?’ But I think that we accomplished our goals by getting [Clitsome]and by acquiring picks for the future that we can certainly begin to chart our path for many years to come.”