One down, two to go.
The Winnipeg Jets' have avoided salary arbitration with Bryan Little, inking the 25-year-old to a 5-year extension worth $23.5 million dollars, or $4.7 million per season. The breakdown of his salary is slightly back-loaded as he is set to earn $4MM, $4.75MM, $4.75MM, $5MM and $5MM throughout the duration of the deal.
|2012 - Bryan Little||48||7||25||32||8||4||2||0||2||84||8.3|
|Season||GP||TOI/60||PTS/60||Corsi Rel||On-Ice Sht %||On-Ice Sv%||PDO||Pen Take||Pen Drawn||OZ Strt%|
While some may be taken aback by the salary, the simple fact is that Bryan Little is pretty much the only capable top-six NHL centerman currently on the Jets roster, unless Olli Jokinen can rebound in a big way or Mark Scheifele can step right in and contribute. Either way, Little is the best center we currently have and tying him up long term was a must, especially with Olli only having one more year on that anchor, erm, contract. Furthermore, the departure of Alexander Burmistrov made this signing even that more important, as depth up the middle continues to be a weakness with this squad.
As Little has already played six NHL seasons, he was only one year away from UFA status and going to arbitration would have made that a certainty after either the one or two year award. Kevin Cheveldayoff just bought four years of UFA status from Little, which makes perfect sense to me. Couple that with the fact that Sam Gagner -- a player of similar comparables -- signed a 3-year $14.4MM contract ($4.8MM AAV) with the Edmonton Oilers and it's easy to like this deal even more.
There will be plenty more to take away from this signing, and I imagine we here at AIH will obviously do a "fancy stat" look at why this is a solid deal. But make no mistake, this was a deal that makes sense, both money and term wise. I had picked four years at $4.5m per season, and have no issue with buying that extra year at only an extra $200k per season.