Hours after extending qualifying offers to thirteen of his seventeen restricted free agents, Winnipeg Jets' General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff has taken another step in stabilizing his roster by re-signing defenceman Grant Clitsome to a new three-year, $6.2MM contract.
Clitsome was originally acquired at the 2012 NHL Trade Deadline after being placed on waivers by the Columbus Blue Jackets. The former Clarkson University graduate has since played in 56 games with the Jets', registering 16 points (4G, 12A) during his tenure.
In 2013 Clitsome saw his role with the team evolve as an abundance of injuries thrust him into a top four -- and at times a top two -- role. Despite the increased responsibility, the Ontario-born defenceman flourished, earning the trust of coach Claude Noel while accumulating additional ice-time on Winnipeg's power play and penalty kill units. Given his annual average cap hit of $2.06MM, it's likely that the Jets envision Clitsome as one of their top four rearguards moving forward, with Ron Hainsey likely departing via free agency.
As currently constructed, Winnipeg's defensive pairings will likely look something like this:
|Left Defence||Right Defence|
|Tobias Enstrom||Dustin Byfuglien|
|Grant Clitsome||Zach Bogosian*|
|Mark Stuart||Paul Postma*|
|Zach Redmond*||Jacob Trouba|
|Arturs Kulda*||*indicates qualified RFA|
The Jets now have just under $24MM in cap space remaining and with new contracts due for Alexander Burmistrov, Blake Wheeler, Bryan Little and Zach Bogosian, this summer will prove to be an expensive one for True North Sports and Entertainment.
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