Jets sniper Patrik Laine re-signs with Winnipeg for $13.5M
2-year deal is worth $13.5 million; Jets optimistic about deal with Kyle Connor
The Winnipeg Jets have re-signed high-profile scorer Patrik Laine to a two-year, $13.5 million deal.
That was announced Friday by Mark Chipman, chairman of True North Sports and Entertainment, which owns the NHL team.
"Our deal reflects what we think is the best for us. Patrik has enormous potential," Chipman told the crowd at a Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
He said he hates to use the term "win-win," but believes both parties feel they got a good contract.
Laine has not practised or played any pre-season games with the Jets as he waited for a new contract. But the 21-year-old has been skating with Swiss club SC Bern in the meantime.
The right-winger, who joined the Jets in 2016, has 110 goals and 184 points in 237 regular-season NHL games in his career. He's added 16 points (eight goals, eight assists) in 23 playoff outings.
Laine scored 36 goals as a rookie before adding 44 in 2017-18, but dipped a bit last season with 30, which was still good enough for third on the team behind winger Mark Scheifele (38) and fellow restricted free agent forward Kyle Connor (34), who remains unsigned.
Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff told reporters in a conference call early Friday evening that the team is dealing with a changing marketplace, and the two-year bridge deal they signed with Laine was a way to adapt.
"We're obviously dealing with a salary cap situation here, and we have to find different deals for different situations that make some things work," he said. "We had to make some tough decisions this year."
Cheveldayoff did not get into the specifics of what dragged the negotiations on to a week before the season starts.
"The nitty-gritty details of how it gets to a certain point, I think those deserve to be private," he said. "Negotiation is not an easy thing. But again, I think the final result is something both sides are happy with, and that's the most important thing."
Cheveldayoff said it was still too early to say whether Laine would hit the ice on opening night.
As for Connor, who has also been sitting out awaiting a new contract, the general manager would not get into any details.
"I'm a realist. I just deal with what's in front of me. We'll continue working on it," said Cheveldayoff. "[I'm] not gonna get into any negotiation — haven't done it before, not gonna get into it now."
Meanwhile, Chipman said negotiations with Connor are ongoing and are "cordial and professional."
"We are just trying to find the right sweet spot," he said, adding the team is "confident we'll get that one done as well."
Winnipeg made it to the Western Conference final two years ago, but was knocked out in the first round of last season's playoffs by the eventual Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues.
Laine was one of a number of high-profile restricted free agents to hit the market July 1 — a list that included Toronto Maple Leafs star Mitch Marner, Tampa Bay Lightning centre Brayden Point, Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen and Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk.
The Jets open the season against the Rangers on Oct. 3 in New York.
Watch how Laine's one-timer comes together:
With files from The Canadian Press