The Winnipeg Jets already locked up one restricted free agent in Patrik Laine. Now, the Jets announced they have agreed to a deal with their other RFA as the team has signed Kyle Connor to a seven-year, $50MM contract, which comes to a $7.14MM AAV.
A breakdown of the contract is here as there are no signing bonuses. The deal also includes a no-trade clause in the final two years of the deal:
2019-20: $7.5 million base salary
2020-21: $8 million base salary
2021-22: $7.5 million base salary
2022-23: $5 million base salary
2023-24: $7.5 million base salary
2024-25: $7.5 million base salary
2025-26: $7 million base salary
With Connor signed to a $7.14MM deal and Laine having signed on Friday to a two-year, $6.75MM deal, the team has locked up the pair to a respectable $13.89MM combined. With the signing of both Laine and Connor, the Jets now have $7.61MM in projected cap space. Coincidentally, defenseman Dustin Byfuglien makes $7.6MM, so if the veteran does decide he wants to return to the team (he’s currently on suspension as he decides whether he wants to come back), the team has the money to pay all three players, which many felt might be a tough task for general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff. In fact, Puckpedia reports that Winnipeg now has just $116K of cap space remaining (although Byfuglien’s cap hit doesn’t count while he remains suspended). The team also would likely send a player down to when/if Byfuglien comes back, which would free up more cap space.
With the season soon to get underway and the preference to be with the team at the start of the regular season, many expected that Connor might sign this weekend. While Laine received all the press as the Jets had the misfortune of having two top restricted free agents, Connor slipped somewhat under the radar, but has been a key contributor to the team over the past two years. The 22-year-old jumped immediately onto the scene two seasons ago when he scored 31 goals and 57 points as a rookie (finishing fourth in the Calder Trophy voting). His numbers improved last year, scoring 34 goals and 66 points.
The long-term deal gives both parties some long-term security, especially needed after Laine only agreed to a two-year deal, leaving many to wonder what might happen in that time. Winnipeg already lost Jacob Trouba, who refused to sign a long-term deal with the Jets and eventually forced a trade to the New York Rangers this summer. The team hopes that Connor can continue to prove and become the playmaking puck mover that they had envisioned.
TSN’s Pierre LeBrun was the first to report the deal.