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The Winnipeg Jets dipped their toes into the free agent waters Sunday, signing a goaltender who is expected to challenge for the backup spot behind Connor Hellebuyck.
Lauren Brossoit, 25, was inked to a one-year, one-way deal worth $650,000. He went 3-7-1 in 14 games with the Edmonton Oilers last season, with a 3.24 GAA and .883 SV per cent. Brossoit also played 29 games in the AHL, going 15-10-1 with 2.68 GAA and .912 SV per cent.
It’s a curious move for the Jets, given that Brossoit doesn’t have a lot of NHL experience, and likely means Hellebuyck will be counted on heavily again next season.
“Lots of teams reached out, had numerous offers. Goalie coaches around the league love him. Very high ceiling,” Brossoit’s agent, Ray Petkau, told the Free Press.
Hellebuyck and Brossoit are very familiar with each other, as they train together during the off-season and attend the same goaltending program. They also share Petkau as an agent.
Saturday’s trade of veteran Steve Mason created a hole in net, and several potential candidates quickly came off the board in the initial hours of free agency, leaving a dwindling pool to choose from.
The big free agent news surrounding Winnipeg Sunday involved a player they didn’t land, despite mutual interest from both parties.
Paul Stastny signed a three-year contract with the Vegas Golden Knights, with an average annual value of $6.5 million. That’s just slightly less than the veteran centre made on his last contract — $7 million a year since 2014 with the St. Louis Blues.
He was an unrestricted free agent after spending three months with the Jets. Winnipeg acquired Stastny at the trade deadline Feb. 26 for a first-round pick in last month’s NHL Draft, along with prospect Erik Foley.
He immediately found chemistry with young wingers Patrik Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers.
Stastny had four goals and nine assists in 19 regular-season games and was a major contributor in the Jets’ run to the Western Conference final, firing six goals and adding nine assists in 19 post-season games.
Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff made a trade Saturday to clear some salary cap space. Mason and forward Joel Armia were dealt to the Montreal Canadiens in the morning, along with a 7th round pick in the 2019 draft and a 4th round pick in the 2020 draft. In exchange, the Jets get defenceman Simon Bourque while clearing more than $5 million off their books.
It was believed the extra cap room would be used to help retain Stastny, however, the price tag was simply too high for the Central Division club.
Winnipeg still has its own pricey restricted free agents to lock down, including defencemen Jacob Trouba and Josh Morrissey and goalie Connor Hellebuyck.
In other Jets-related news today, unrestricted free agent forward Matt Hendricks inked a one-year deal ($700,000 AAV) with the Minnesota Wild, while goalie Michael Hutchinson signed a one-year, $1.3-million deal with the Florida Panthers.
Hendricks, who spent one year with Winnipeg after agreeing to a free-agent deal late last summer, hails from Blaine, Minn., about 30 kilometres north of St. Paul, the home of the Wild.
“I have a smile ear to ear,” the 10-year veteran told Michael Russo of The Athletic.
Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.
Assistant sports editor
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