The Winnipeg Jets ensured the the St. John's IceCaps would be with two of their better defensive minded players next season, as they signed Zach Redmond and Edward Pasquale to one year, two-way contracts. They also added goalie Michael Hutchinson, who had been a product of the Bruins farm system. Hutchinson spent last season with the Providence Bruins of the AHL.
Arctic Ice Hockey breaks down the signings, including potential cap hits and what each player brings to the organization:
Zach Redmond accepted the Jets' qualifying offer that would pay him $715,000 in the NHL. It's a one year deal, and would pay more than Paul Postma or Adam Pardy if he is able to stick with the big club. However, as he is exempt from waivers, it is unlikely he sticks with the NHL club unless he can cement a starting job.
Hockey fans around the world will be familiar with Zach Redmond, after he nearly died following a severe skate cut in practice following a collision with Antti Miettinen on February 20, 2013. The result of the collision was Miettinen's skate slicing the femoral artery and vein in Redmond's right leg, resulting in, not only his career but, his life being in jeopardy. In what doctors have called a "miraculous" comeback, Redmond resumed skating April 4, and was able to join the IceCaps for two games on April 19 and 21, in which he recorded 2 assists. On April 22 he was recalled by the Jets, and was a healthy scratch for the remainder of the season.
Redmond played 8 games for the Jets last year, registering 1 goal and 3 assists, with his first career goal representing the team's only short handed goal of the season. He has been strong on both sides of the puck in St. John's, with 50 points in 140 games over 2 seasons. His strong play in college with Ferris State resulted in his being drafted in the 7th round by the Thrashers in 2008. He turns 25 later this month.
Pasquale was signed to a one year, two-way contract that would pay him $575,000 at the NHL level. Despite being called up twice last season by the Jets, the closest he got to the ice was as a backup on the bench.
Pasquale has been the starting goaltender for the past two season with the St. John's IceCaps, despite competition from David Aebischer in 2011-2012 and Mark Dekanich last season. In 3 seasons in the Thrashers/Jets system he has a 2.69 GAA and .907 save percentage in 105 games. While his numbers slipped a little last year, his 2011-2012 campaign saw him post a record of 23-12-1 with 4 shutouts, and a 2.41 GAA and .911 save percentage. He then went 7-8 in the playoffs while showing a 2.42 GAA and .923 save percentage, as has been a rock on The Rock in the past two seasons, and a solid part of the organization since he was drafted in the 4th round by the Thrashers in 2009.
Like Pasquale, Hutchinson has also played 3 years in the same farm system, as he has played with the Providence Bruins each of the last 3 seasons after being drafted by Boston in 2008 in the 3rd round.
Hutchinson would be familiar with Bryan Little, as the Barrie native played with him on his hometown Colts in the 2006-2007 season. He played with the London Knights in 2009-2010, so he missed out on the majesty that is Alexander Burmistrov.
Hutchinson has posted decent numbers in the AHL, and should push Pasquale for playing time this season in St. John's. In 87 AHL games he is 37-35-5 with a 2.57 GAA and .916 save percentage. His best season also occurred in 2011-2012 when he had a .927 save percentage and 2.36 GAA in 29 games. Also like Pasquale, he has been called up multiple times by Boston, but has yet to play his first NHL minutes.
What does this mean?
Well, the Jets were left with a pretty bare prospect cupboard when the Thrashers relocated, so anytime they can keep or add members is a bonus. Zach Redmond easily has the most upside of the 3, as he showed in his limited playing time with the Jets last season that he has to be, at the very least, considered to make the squad this year. I am always a proponent that skill and play should dictate who makes the roster, and not contracts. So I don't want to see a Grant Clitsome or Mark Stuart stinking up the joint but not moved because of their rigid contracts. that's not going to do a young guy like Redmond any favours, letting him languish in the minors, nor is it going to help a team that already struggles defensively. That said, each of these 3 players should help keep the puck out of the IceCaps net next season, which would help them return to their playoff form of two seasons ago.