The Jets needed to clear out some cap room if they wanted to re-sign Paul Stastny and they have taken a step towards doing so, dealing goalie Steve Mason, winger Joel Armia, a 2019 seventh-round pick, and a 2020 fourth-round pick to Montreal for prospect defenseman Simon Bourque. Both teams have announced the deal.
Mason struggled considerably in his first and only season in Winnipeg, suffering multiple concussions that saw him limited to just 13 games, where he posted a below average 3.24 GAA and a .906 SV%. He has one year remaining on his contract with a $4.1MM salary cap hit; Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reports (Twitter link) that there is no salary retention in the swap. Assuming Mason remains with the Canadiens, he will battle veteran Antti Niemi and prospect Charlie Lindgren for the backup role behind Carey Price. However, Johnston adds in a follow-up tweet that Montreal is already shopping Mason and could retain some money to facilitate a deal.
Armia is the key to the deal from Montreal’s side. The 25-year-old is coming off of his best season in the NHL where he posted 12 goals and 17 assists in 79 games despite averaging just 12:36 of playing time. The pending RFA received a $1MM qualifying offer earlier this week and is eligible for salary arbitration. He will likely slot into Montreal’s bottom six group of forwards.
For the Jets, freeing up more than $4MM in cap room will be crucial in their pursuit to re-sign Stastny. It has been suggested over the last few days that the 32-year-old wanted to remain in Winnipeg but the Jets, who still have goalie Connor Hellebuyck, defenseman Jacob Trouba, and several others to re-sign so more short-term flexibility was certainly needed. They have just over $28MM to work with, per CapFriendly, but have as many as nine roster spots to fill.
As for Bourque, he struggled considerably in his first year at the professional level. He was a frequent healthy scratch with AHL Laval this past season and tallied just three assists in 46 games. However, he posted nearly a point per game in his final junior campaign so there is still some potential for him to take some steps forward.