The Winnipeg Jets have signed Jansen Harkins to a new two-year contract that will carry an average annual value of $725K. The 23-year-old forward was a restricted free agent but did not qualify for salary arbitration.
Harkins, a fan favorite in the Jets organization who earned his first taste of NHL action this season, scored seven points in 29 games. When Harkins was inserted into the lineup and scored in the Jets qualification round against the Calgary Flames this summer, head coach Paul Maurice took time in his press conference to highlight exactly how hard the young forward has worked to get to that point.
I don’t know that I’ve had a player that has been given less opportunity and stayed in the fight, competed as hard as this guy has. He had no chance of making our team, but had a good camp. But he’s not a first overall pick so he doesn’t have ten guys pounding the table for him to give him that chance. He’s been given nothing here. But what he did was he forced an opportunity. With the [Manitoba] Moose, there was no choice but to call him up. And then he gets in the lineup and he gets into practice and he works so hard you just have to play him.
A second-round pick in 2015, Harkins was in the ECHL during the 2017-18 season and his career seemed completely off track. He’s turned things around since then and now could be a full-time option for the Jets in 2020-21.
While he may never be an impact scorer, his work ethic and competitiveness have made him an effective option, at least in Maurice’s eyes. A multi-year deal will now give him some financial security and allow him to really try and prove he belongs at the NHL level.