The Winnipeg Jets are facing a considerable cap crunch this off-season, but that won’t prevent them from making minor depth additions if there’s value to be had. Case in point: CapFriendly reports that the team has signed Russian forward Andrei Chibisov to an entry-level contract. It is a one-year, two-way pact for the 26-year-old import that will pay him the minimum $700K base salary at the NHL level and $70K at the AHL level, but also includes a $92,500 signing bonus as well as performance bonuses totaling a $925K AAV. The Jets have since confirmed the contract.
Chibisov has flown under the radar in his playing career, never considered an NHL Draft prospect and hardly playing at all on the international stage for Russia. The 6’4″, 227-lb. winger has had to work hard at developing a physical checking game and two-way intelligence to get to where he is and only in the past two years did the offense finally follow. After bouncing between the KHL and second-tier VHL for many years, Chibisov finally stuck with Metallurg Magnitogorsk after a mid-season trade in 2017-18. After recording 11 points in 37 games down the stretch last season, he followed it up with his first 20-point campaign this year, notching seven goals and 13 assists in 50 games. An injury kept Chibisov from adding to those totals and from participating in the postseason. Magnitogorsk felt his absence, as they were upset in the first round. Chibisov finished the year as a top-six scoring forward on his team for the first time in his KHL career and that, combined with his size and strength, was clearly enough to draw some attention from across the pond.
The Jets add an intriguing bottom-six option to their organization and do so at a low price point, which could be key for a club that has their hands full this summer. After trading away Brendan Lemieux at the NHL Trade Deadline, Winnipeg now faces the real possibility that unrestricted free agent Brandon Tanev – as well as depth players Matt Hendricks and Par Lindholm – will also depart and restricted free agent Andrew Copp is also in need of a new deal. The Jets may need to totally reconfigure their bottom-six and Chibisov may come in handy. The Russian forward will be an unrestricted free agent after next season, so Winnipeg will try to get the most out of him while they can if his game translates to the NHL level.