Setoguchi up for the challenge
The free agency frenzy went late into the day for the Winnipeg Jets on July 5th, but it was well worth the wait. Just past six o’clock, it was announced the Jets had acquired forward Devin Setoguchi from the Minnesota Wild for a 2014 second round draft pick.
Setoguchi was originally drafted by the San Jose Sharks in the first round, eighth overall, in the 2005 NHL Draft.
Shortly after the acquisition, Jets’ General Manager, Kevin Cheveldayoff addressed the media in a conference call to talk about the new addition and how the overall free agency day unfolded.
“I feel that we are a much better team now than we were before the draft,” said Cheveldayoff. “Setoguchi will have an opportunity to be in a prolific role with us. We are really excited in having Devin as part of the organization.
“We were very active on the interview side and spoke with players agents which led to action on some players. We were very, very much in on some things and we’re thankful the trade possibility worked out for us.”
Setoguchi was in Mexico for a wedding at the time of the trade but was able to talk to Cheveldayoff briefly to express his excitement for the new opportunity.
“I think it’s a great opportunity,” Setoguchi told media in a conference call Monday. “To come to a team where I’m going to get the opportunity to play a lot more than where I was last year. I’ve played in Canada and I know what it’s like in Winnipeg, it’s loud and it’s exciting to play in front of fans that know what hockey is all about.
“There’s going to be some scrutiny wherever you go, it’s no different if you get traded for a high-profile guy or a draft pick there’s going to be pressure, but that’s why we play, for the thrill of being that clutch player in key situations.”
The Taber, AB native appeared in 48 games with the Wild during the 2012-13 season. In that time, he recorded 27 points (13G, 14A) and 20 penalty minutes. He also appeared in five post-season games with the Wild for one assist.
The 26 year old describes his style of play as simple. Shoot the puck and score goals.
“It’s simple. I try to play a two-way game and try to use my speed as much as possible and at the same time put some points up. I use my body as much as I can and try to be a well-rounded player. Shoot the puck and try to put goals in the back of the net.”
Setoguchi played on the left wing with the Wild but said he prefers playing the right side, an area where the Jets need help. Cheveldayoff told media before the draft that he was on the hunt to find a partner to play alongside Evander Kane. Time will tell if Setoguchi is the right match.
“He fits in well into the age demographic of our team,” said Chevy. “It’ll be up to Claude Noel to decide if he’s the guy to compliment Kane. He’s got a good shot and has scored at the NHL level. He’s a good skater and has a good mind for the game.”
Setoguchi expressed his excitement in the possibility of playing with Kane but is happy to play anywhere and understands he must earn his ice-time, like everyone else.
“You never know what will happen until you get the chance,” he said. “But if I do get that opportunity it would be pretty exciting, he’s a really special player and a really electric player.”
Setoguchi has appeared in 384 NHL games between San Jose and Minnesota for 222 career points (116G, 106A) and 137 career penalty minutes.
That amount of NHL experience should bring confidence and leadership to the young dressing room. The humbled Setoguchi agreed.
“It’s not like I’m a huge ‘rah-rah’ guy but everywhere I seem to go, I’ve gotten along well with the guys in the room and I’ve only heard good things about the room there (in Winnipeg).”
Coming from a team just across the border, Setoguchi scratched his head when asked if he knew anyone on the Jets roster.
“The only player that I probably know there is Bryan Little, who I played Under 18 with. We had one time at the All Star Game and Young Guns game, he’s a really good guy.”
Setoguchi said there’s plenty to do in the next coming weeks as he gets ready to move North to Winnipeg.
“There’s still a lot to work out,” he said. “Obviously I have my stuff in Minnesota, but I’m planning on making a trip out there within the next couple weeks to get set up and find a place. Then I’m not too sure when I’ll come in but probably early September, just to get settled in before camp.”