Jets thinking big after offseason spending spree

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The Winnipeg Jets spent $93 million this offseason retaining three of its key players — defenseman Zach Bogosian and forwards Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler.

To be accurate, though, the Jets spent that $93 million in a week.

Over a seven-day span in late July, Winnipeg dropped $23.5 million on Little, $33.6 million on Wheeler and $36 million on Bogosian, locking up the core of a team that — while talented — has yet to make the postseason since moving from Atlanta.

For GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, the decision to retain the trio was an easy one.

“I think you first have to evaluate where your group is,” Cheveldayoff said, as per NHL.com. “You have to show faith in them. You have to try and show some consistency from the ownership group and the organization that you have a plan in mind and stick to it so you’re not changing directions midstream.”

While the Jets aren’t changing midstream, they have altered their makeup heading into a pivotal 2013-14 season — their first in the Western Conference.

Cheveldayoff added depth up front by acquiring Michael Frolik from Chicago and Devin Setoguchi from Minnesota (both in exchange for picks) — at no small price, either. The pair will earn a combined $5.3 million next season, though both are UFAs at the end of the year.

The pair are an interesting fit in Winnipeg.

They fall within the current age of the team’s core (Frolik is 25; Setoguchi is 26) but bring more playoff experience than the likes of Bogosian, Little and Wheeler. Setoguchi has 53 career postseason contests, including a pair of Western Conference finals appearances with San Jose while Frolik has 34, and was a key contributor to Chicago’s 2013 Stanley Cup win.

They also represent a significant shift in how Winnipeg does business.

The Jets spent last season operating at $11 million under the cap. For next season, the club projects to have the league’s 11th-highest payroll — right behind the Rangers — and has made it very clear that ownership was dedicated to investing in a winner.

But will it pay off? Even Cheveldayoff doesn’t know.

“How close are we [to a Cup]? I don’t know — you have to see the product on the ice,” he explained.

“No awards, no trophies, no wins or losses happen in June, July, August and September. The real evaluation process starts when you drop the puck.”

Related: It’s Winnipeg Jets day on PHT

Blues name Larry Robinson as new senior consultant to hockey operations

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Larry Robinson has joined the St. Louis Blues.

The Blues made the announcement Thursday, revealing that Robinson has joined the organization as a senior consultant to hockey operations.

Based on the comments of Blues general manager Doug Armstrong, it sounds like Robinson will work closely at times with head coach Mike Yeo. It could also further help the development of an already impressive defenseman in Colton Parayko.

“Bringing someone like Larry in, I just think, helps our hockey operations from top to bottom,” said Armstrong, per the Blues website.

“His ability to talk to Mike Yeo about coaching — that’s one area that we don’t have on our staff is a former head coach. You can think you know what Mike’s going through but I don’t know what Mike’s going through. Larry does. So he’s going to be able to relate to him on a lot of the things that he’s going to go through.

“He’s coming in as a consultant. I can learn a lot from him, our assistant coaches can, Parayko can. There’s not an area of our hockey operations he can’t touch to make us a better group.”

Robinson was most recently the director of player development with the San Jose Sharks, however it was reported in May that he would not return to that organization for this season.

Looks like Matt Duchene will make preseason debut tonight vs. Stars

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According to reports, there is substantial interest from other teams in Matt Duchene. That said, he remains with the Colorado Avalanche for now and will, it appears, make his preseason debut Thursday against the Dallas Stars.

Earlier this week, Darren Dreger reported on TSN that as many as eight teams have interest in Duchene, with the Senators aggressively pursuing the 26-year-old forward.

According to Mike Chambers of The Denver Post, Duchene will be in the lineup tonight versus the Stars.

Trade speculation has been swirling around Duchene for months now. He reported to training camp last week, and has since said his status with the Avalanche is a “day-by-day” situation.

“I love playing hockey. I want to win,” Duchene told The Denver Post. “That’s the biggest thing on my mind. I’m trying to get better every time I touch the ice right now.”

Habs prospect Juulsen out six weeks with fractured foot

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Tough news for the Montreal Canadiens and prospect defenseman Noah Juulsen on Thursday.

The Habs have announced that the 2015 first-round pick is expected to be sidelined six weeks after suffering a fractured foot on Monday.

The Habs selected Juulsen with the 26th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft following his 52-point regular season with the Everett Silvertips in the Western Hockey League.

This past spring, Juulsen appeared in two playoff games for the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps. He turned 20 years old in April and it seemed like the Habs were going to give him a serious look to make the NHL club out of training camp.  

“We like the way he skates and his transition game,” said head coach Claude Julien earlier this week, before the injury was revealed. “He’s going to get a chance to make this team and if he doesn’t he’s not going to be too far away.”

Fight Video: Lappin, Puempel land some good shots in preseason tilt

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Who says players don’t care about preseason hockey?

Matt Puempel and Nick Lappin are trying to earn spots on their respective clubs, so they know they may have to do the little things others aren’t willing to do to stick around in the NHL.

On Wednesday night, that involved dropping the gloves against each other. These two seemed to be in mid-season form when it came to throwing punches.

Neither player is considered a tough guy. Lappin had 17 penalty minutes in 43 games with the Devils last season, while Puempel has 28 penalty minutes in 79 career NHL games.

Here’s the video footage of the scrap:

By the way, the Rangers won 4-3 in overtime.