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Winnipeg Jets sign Quinton Howden to one-year, two-way contract worth $650,000 AAV

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Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

The Winnipeg Jets' run on versatile forwards continues, with the signing of 2010 1st rounder Quinton Howden to a one-year, two-way deal worth $650,000 AAV at the NHL level.

The 24-year-old native of Oakbank, Manitoba was not extended a qualifying offer by the Florida Panthers, thus becoming an unrestricted free agent on July 1st. Harvey Fialkov of the Sun Sentinel recently shed some light on the situation:

He had six goals and five assists while playing mostly on the fourth line and penalty-killing unit.

Howden, who was arguably the fastest skater in the Panthers' organization, averaged nearly 33 goals in his final three seasons with the Moose Jaw Warriors in the Ontario Hockey League, but hasn't shown a finishing touch in the NHL. Howden is arbitration eligible and the Panthers didn't want to deal with defending their position.

The article goes on to quote Panthers GM Tom Rowe, who said "He didn't put up the numbers he wanted to and what was projected when he came out of junior". Between Howden's arbitration eligibility and apparently underwhelming returns, it becomes easier to understand why Florida allowed him to walk.

Howden's scouting report, as per The Hockey News:

Assets: Displays great versatility up front, as well as two-way acumen. Kills penalties effectively, too. Can put up good numbers at lower levels. Owns a very projectable frame.

Flaws: Does not own elite skills to produce top-six forward numbers at the National Hockey League level. Must add more bulk to his 6-2 frame in order to thrive in a bottom-six forward role.

Career Potential: Inconsistent two-way winger with a little upside.

Contract-wise, Howden is coming off an NHL salary of $850,500, or over 200k more than his deal with Winnipeg. With that said, the deal's two-way nature cements his status as a bubble player, one just as liable to be headlining the Moose as providing bottom-six NHL depth. It should be noted that while the 6'2", 189 lb C/LW has a penalty killing reputation, he played just 06:34 min shorthanded time on ice last season, good for a per game average of 00:06. Considering his organizational fall from grace in Florida, there's only so much to gather from this usage or lack thereof.

Bringing Howden aboard is a minor yet excellent move by the Jets. It's exactly the kind of no-risk free agent flyer a team mostly leaning on internal succession should use contracts on. His days with Moose Jaw may be a distant memory, but Howden remains a young-ish player with still-untapped potential. The worst case scenario here is that Howden provides capable depth with the Manitoba Moose, hardly an undesirable end considering how their 2015-16 season unfolded. In training camp, the 24-year-old will serve as competition for those younger still. And should he earn an NHL roster spot, he'll allow others greater development time and opportunity in the AHL. The bar is low for Winnipeg to have found real value here.

What's your reaction to the Quinton Howden signing? Is he destined for the Winnipeg Jets or the Manitoba Moose? Are there any other young-ish players without qualifying offers you would like to see Winnipeg bring into the fold? And how long until I misspell Quinton?

Share your thoughts, questions and concerns in the Comments section below, and as always, thanks for reading!