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Adam Lowry significantly increased his NHL salary and freed up his weekend in the process.
The Winnipeg Jets fourth-line, shut-down centre agreed Thursday to a new three-year, $8.75 million contract with the NHL club, eliminating the need for a meeting with an arbitrator Sunday in Toronto.
The deal carries an average annual value of $2.916 million.
The St. Louis product was a restricted free agent (RFA) after a two-year contract – at $1.125 million per year – concluded on July 1. The new contract takes Lowry to unrestricted free agency following the 2020-21 campaign.
C Adam Lowry
Frame: 6-5, 210 pounds
The deal: Three-year, $8.75 million. Annual cap hit of $2.916 million.
C Adam Lowry
Frame: 6-5, 210 pounds
Lately: 45 games played during injury-shortened 2017-18 NHL season (8 goals, 13 assists, 8 penalty minutes)
Skillset: Takes critical draws (55.9 faceoff winning percentage last season), plays against league’s top trios (an impressive +9), delivers hits (124) with regularity, kills penalties.
NHL career: 281 GP, 41 G, 49A 159 PIM
Drafted: Second-ever player taken by the Jets (behind C Mark Scheifele). Round 3 (67th overall) at the 2011 NHL Draft.
Before the Jets: Played four seasons with Swift Current of the WHL, one season with St. John’s IceCaps of the AHL
Pedigree: His dad, Dave, played 1,084 NHL games and is current assistant coach with L.A. Kings
Speaking from his home in Calgary, the 25-year-old said he’s ecstatic the business side of the game is done for a while.
“I’m really excited to be back in Winnipeg for three more years. I really believe in this team and the opportunity we have to win. Building off what we started to accomplish last year and moving forward, I’m really looking forward to being able to be a part of it,” he said.
“Both sides wanted it nailed down. Neither of us wanted to go to arbitration. When you look at the term and the value, I think it’s a fair contract for both sides. I know (player agent Craig Oster and Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff) had talked over the last couple of weeks, and, with the arbitration date looming, talks picked up within the last week or so. I don’t think it was too difficult (to get the deal done).”
Hampered by an upper-body injury, Lowry played just 45 games for the Jets during the regular season and recorded 21 points (8G, 13A) and eight penalty minutes. He was also a plus-nine.
Lowry played in all 17 playoff games for Winnipeg and had two assists, while dishing out 47 hits in the post-season.
In 281 career NHL regular-season games (all with Winnipeg), Lowry — a third-round pick in 2011 — has 90 points (41G, 49A) and 159 penalty minutes.
His value to head coach Paul Maurice is his strong defensive play – he centres the Jets’ effective checking line of Andrew Copp and Brandon Tanev – and the ability to toss his big frame around.
Lowry scored eight goals and 14 points by Jan. 1, but missed big chunks of time and collected only seven assists in 11 games. He scored his last goal Dec. 29 in a 4-2 triumph over the New York Islanders.
He’s looking to up his production during the 2018-19 season but won’t alter his playing style to make it happen.
“I think there’s more offence there and a lot of it has to do with confidence. Some of it also comes with experiece, knowing you get a chance you have to make the most of it,” said the 6-foot-5, 210-pound forward.
“It’s important I don’t sacrifice the defensive part of my game for the offence. We’re a highly powered offensive team already, and the job and the role our line has is equally important. We have enough guys who can score goals, it’s important that we help (goalie Connor Hellebuyck) out and keep the puck out of our net as well.”
Hellebuyck, like Lowry, avoided arbitration by agreeing to six-year, $37-million contract July 12, with a yearly cap hit of $6.167 million.
Winnipeg has 17 regulars locked up for the 2018-19 season, at a $61 million price tag. That leaves Cheveldayoff with about $18.5 million of cap space left. (Performance bonuses could eat into that figure.)
The Jets still have three RFAs scheduled for arbitration, including top-pairing defenceman Jacob Trouba whose hearing is set for Friday. Forwards Brandon Tanev goes before the arbitrator July 25, while forward Marko Dano has a meeting scheduled July 30.
Meanwhile, RFA blue-liner Josh Morrissey is coming off his entry-level contract and will command a major pay rise, while Tucker Poolman, another RFA, still needs to be re-signed.
Lowry, the son of long-time NHLer and current L.A. Kings assistant coach Dave Lowry, was drafted by the Jets in the third round (67th overall) in the 2011 NHL Draft.
He said he immediately called his parents when the deal was finalized.
“I love playing in Winnipeg. It’s where I broke in and it’s an organization that gave me an opportunity when they drafted me. I’m excited to be sticking around,” he said. “I think you look at the strides we made last year, finishing second during the regular season (52-20-10) in the entire NHL, that’s a huge stride from where we were. We still have a lot of guys that still have room to grow their games and I think I’m one of those players.
“Moving forward, we are still a young team with a good mix of veteran players. We have a lot of belief in this group that we’re close, and we have high expectations.”
Assistant sports editor
Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).