The Winnipeg Jets have locked up one of their depth defensemen, signing Tucker Poolman to a three-year contract. The deal will carry an average annual value of $775K and take Poolman right through to unrestricted free agency in 2021. The team has also re-signed Marko Dano to a one-year $800K contract, crossing out another one of their arbitration eligible restricted free agents. Dano was scheduled for an arbitration hearing on July 30th, but will now not need to travel to Toronto for the meeting.
Though Poolman and Dano both had to get new contracts, the Jets still have a remarkable number of restricted free agents left to sign this summer. Josh Morrissey, Nicolas Kerdiles, J.C. Lipon, Nic Petan and Eric Comrie are all still sitting without contracts. None of those four are scheduled for arbitration though, giving the team some respite from the ticking clock that the hearings brought.
The 25-year old Poolman only played in 24 games with the Jets this season, but also wasn’t given the opportunity to develop in the minor leagues. The former University of North Dakota standout served as the extra man on many nights, something that he may have to suffer through again in 2018-19. When Morrissey is signed, the Jets will have eight defensemen signed to one-way contracts, with Poolman earning the lowest amount of the group. Perhaps he’s fine with the role he’s been given though, as a three-year deal is longer than many expected. It actually buys out a year of unrestricted free agency, but gives Poolman barely a raise on the minimum NHL salary.
For Dano, this may be one of his last chances to prove that he’s an NHL regular. After being selected in the first round by the Columbus Blue Jackets five years ago, Dano has failed to secure a full-time spot in three different organizations and played only 23 games for the Jets last season. He’ll turn 24 this November and with 45 points in 130 career games, there may not be another one-way contract waiting for him in free agency next summer.