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The Winnipeg Jets have lost the Paul Stastny sweepstakes.
Stastny has 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. Goalie Steve 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 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.
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).