Winnipeg acquired Kupari’s signing rights from the Los Angeles Kings just over a month ago as part of the trade return for center Pierre-Luc Dubois. Kupari was due a $874,125 qualifying offer from Winnipeg after completing his entry-level contract, which the Jets issued him a few days after the trade.
Los Angeles selected the now-23-year-old with the 20th overall pick in 2018, but he hasn’t quite yet panned out into an everyday NHLer. He got awfully close this past season, though, skating in just 11 games with the AHL’s Ontario Reign while playing in 66 NHL games with the Kings. Kupari also played in all six playoff games for the Kings during their first-round playoff loss against the Edmonton Oilers.
After recording a career-high 15 points last year, though, it’s now obvious Winnipeg envisions him as an everyday player in their lineup after dishing out a seven-figure deal. A natural center, Kupari is likely penciled in for fourth-line duties behind Mark Scheifele, former Kings teammate Gabriel Vilardi, and Adam Lowry, so he may not see a significant uptick on the 10:05 of ice time he averaged per game last season. However, a potentially looming Scheifele trade could elevate Kupari in the lineup.
The Finnish youngster will be a restricted free agent in 2025 and eligible for arbitration.