Back at the beginning of July, one of our readers posted on Facebook they ran into Cory Sarich of the Calgary Flames at Calaway Park – a local amusement park just west of Calgary. He was promptly asked when he would be requesting a trade to Winnipeg. Sarich’s reply was unfortunately just a laugh.
That being said the Jets have picked up some great players in the off-season including one of Sarich’s former teammates, F Olli Jokinen – conveniently just a few days before the chance meeting.
Jokinen’s two-year deal will run the Jets $4.5 million a season, a marked increase from his $3 million last season with the Calgary Flames which saw him score 23 goals and 61 points – his highest point total in four years. This places Jokinen as the second highest paid player on the Jets, only behind D Dustin Byfuglien. Jokinen will bring in the same level of income as D Ron Hainsey, ahead of players like Captain Andrew Ladd and G Ondrej Pavelec. With this kind of price, there’s no doubt the Jets are looking to his experience to add some depth to the team and to have another top notch season.
Since the season ended, the Jets have signed another ten different players either to completely new deals, or contract extensions. One of the first to be locked up was Jets Hockey Podcast friend and guest F Jim Slater. Slater moved into a key role for the Jets this past season, playing in a career-high 78 games and leads the club with the most franchise games played in a Thrashers/Jets jersey. No wonder the Slater T-shirt has been so popular!
Just under two-weeks after signing Slater, the Jets landed their biggest signing of the season in a contract renewal with G Ondrej Pavelec. This came just days after the Jets acquired the rights to former Leafs Goaltender Jonas Gustavsson in what was seen as a bit of a security measure. Ondrej the Giant signed on the dotted line for a five-year deal earning a cool $3.9 million a season. Of course, this all happened before it came out about his DUI while back home in his native Czech Republic.
Locking up their starting goalie was top priority for the organisation and unfortunately allowed former Jets net-minder Chris Mason to find a new home in Nashville. We’ll sure miss those pretty sweet pads between the Winnipeg pipes. The rights to Gustavsson were waived and in came G Al Montoya on July 4 with a 1-year deal to provide the needed backup support for Pavelec. Montoya comes most recently from the New York Islanders organization, having spent the last two seasons in a support role. Prior to that, he saw five games in a Phoenix Coyotes jersey.
Other notable names include the signings of F Alexei Ponikarovsky, F Ben Maxwell, G Mark Dekanich, D Derek Meech, D Paul Postma, F Kyle Wellwood, D Tobias Enstrom and F Maxime Macenauer.
Of course, the big question now that Jets fans are wondering is the likelihood signing of Evander Kane. Of course coming of a career season, the 21-year old forward is looking for a healthy contract. It’s been almost a month since we last heard anything from either side that Kane was pondering a six year deal worth an estimated $29 million. Of course, a lot can be attributed to the focus on the new CBA and likelihood of a lockout in the upcoming season — something nobody wants to see — but all we can do is patiently wait.
And while Sarich would be a welcomed addition to almost any team, the Jets already have enough manpower and depth on defense any way. But up front, that’s where they need the help. Let’s get Kane signed, a CBA in place and raise our glasses to another awesome season of hockey in Winnipeg! Do you think it’ll happen? I sure hope so.
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