Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff was busy making moves ahead of the NHL’s trade deadline.
The Jets made a total of six trades in the 24 hours leading up the final bell with the club acquiring four new players while saying goodbye to five others.
When the dust had settled after the deadline Andrew Copp, Nathan Beaulieu, Bryan Little, Nelson Nogier, and Nathan Smith were no longer property of the Jets. But in return Cheveldayoff added Mason Appleton, Zach Sanford, two prospects, and five new draft picks.
The Jets were neither buyers or sellers on deadline day, but managed to get a return on a few expiring contracts, while also adding a few new players to stay competitive in the hunt for a playoff spot.
“We didn’t want to be in this situation, we are,” said Cheveldayoff. “When you’re faced with a deadline you have to make tough decisions, that’s the way it is, but I wanted to make sure, again, acquiring a guy like Mason, and acquiring a guy like Zach so that you’ve created some balance.
“I think the message is we’ve got some big games coming up here. We got two new guys in our lineup that are different types of NHL players that are going to give us a little bit of a different look.”
After the team’s 6-4 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks Sunday night, the Jets announced they had reacquired right-winger Mason Appleton from the Seattle Kraken.
Appleton, 26, was drafted by the Jets in 2015, and played almost 140 games for Winnipeg before being claimed by the Kraken in the 2021 expansion draft.
In return, the Jets sent their fourth-round draft pick in 2023 to Seattle.
Appleton scored six goals with 11 assists in 49 games with the Kraken this season.
It wasn’t the first time Cheveldayoff tried to get Appleton’s services back since he was snapped up in the expansion draft last year.
“Probably two or three times I think we talked to Seattle to see,” he said. “Yesterday when I was able to talk to him – I told him I finally got you back.
“He’s excited to get back here and to get back into a spot that he knows he flourished in.”
Early Monday morning, the team also announced the departure of defenceman Nathan Beaulieu to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2022 draft.
Beaulieu had spent parts of four seasons on the Winnipeg blue line.
The Jets also relieved themselves of the contract of injured fan favourite Bryan Little. Little, who suffered a serious head injury early in the 2019-20 season, has not been able to play since.
In exchange for the last two years of Little’s contract, as well as forward Nathan Smith, drafted by the team in 2018, the Jets received a fourth-round 2022 draft pick from the Arizona Coyotes.
Coming right down to the deadline wire, the team also announced they had dealt forward Andrew Copp and a sixth-round pick to the New York Rangers for Morgan Barron, two conditional second-round picks, and a sixth-round pick. Barron has been assigned to the Jets’ AHL affiliate, the Manitoba Moose.
Copp, 27, had 184 points in 467 regular season games with the Jets — his only NHL home since being drafted by Winnipeg in 2013.
Copp will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. The two sides tried to work out a long-term deal last year, but the Jets just didn’t have the cap space to make the contract fit.
“We did talk to Andrew at the signing period last year,” said Cheveldayoff. “We told him what we could do on a long-term deal from a numbers standpoint and fit everybody together and it wasn’t what he was going to be looking for. So, I don’t believe that there was ever an issue that he wouldn’t sign long-term here.”
Another late announcement was the trade of defenceman Nelson Nogier, who played primarily for the Moose, but suited up for 11 NHL games as a Jet.
Nogier heads to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for fellow AHLer Markus Phillips, who has been assigned to the Moose.
In the team’s final trade announcement Monday afternoon, they welcomed Sanford from the Ottawa Senators.
Sanford, 27, has also played for the Washington Capitals and the St. Louis Blues — where he won a Stanley Cup in 2019.
“He’s a guy that obviously played in St. Louis, so, obviously we’ve had good battles over the last couple years with St. Louis,” Cheveldayoff said. “That’s where you really start to notice his size, and his heaviness, and the way he plays.”
The Senators receive a 2022 fifth-round draft pick in return.