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With the Paul Stastny issue now in the rear-view mirror, the Winnipeg Jets have their sights set on finding a new backup goalie.
Saturday’s trade of Steve Mason has created a hole in net, one which Winnipeg is expected to fill at some point during the free agent period which began Sunday morning. But several potential candidates have already come off the board in the initial hours, leaving a dwindling pool to choose from.
Anthon Khubodin, Jaroslav Halak, Chad Johnson, Petr Mrazek and Eddie Lack were among the names quickly signed to new deals.
Winnipeg’s bid for Stastny ended Sunday morning when he 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 it’s been reported goalie Michael Hutchinson has been signed by the Florida Panthers.
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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