GM Kevin Cheveldayoff's summer of tying up loose ends continues, as the Winnipeg Jets have agreed to terms with restricted free agents Joel Armia and Adam Lowry. Both players, who were RFAs after having completed their entry-level contracts, signed two-year deals of the one-way variety. Lowry ends up the richer of the two, to the tune of $1.125 million per, while Armia will be making 925k. With this, the Jets have three unsigned RFAs remaining: Brandon Tanev, J.C. Lipon and Jacob Trouba.
Both contracts are perfectly appropriate for the bottom-six options Lowry and Armia provide. On a day which saw Luke Glendening ink a four-year deal worth $1.8 million per, let no one say teams aren't capable of overpaying on depth contracts (vis-à-vis dollars, term or in Glendening's case, both).
With Winnipeg's forward corps not lacking for options, it wouldn't be surprising to see Lowry become a mainstay on the fourth line, whether at centre or wing. Despite an underwhelming 2015-16, he still brings the size, grit and toughness appreciated by fans and organization alike. As for Armia, while his contract is far from AHL-prohibitive, he may best serve the Jets by providing NHL-capable depth and fighting for a spot in the lineup night after night. Rightly or wrongly, Armia's star has dimmed; even in the event of prolonged press box stays, it's unlikely there will be much uproar.
It's impossible to see these deals without thinking about Las Vegas. As per General Fanager, each team must expose "Two forwards who are a) under contract in 2017-18 and b) played in 40 or more NHL games the prior season OR played in 70 or more NHL games in the prior two seasons." With contracts lasting two years, both Lowry and Armia fulfill the 2017-18 requirement. As for the games played side of things, Lowry already has that covered, while Armia needs just 27 games next season in order to reach the 70 GP mark. It should be noted that with two years of Shawn Matthias in the fold, Winnipeg could banish Armia to the press box for all 82 games and still be set for the expansion draft.
Provided that Winnipeg's d-corps remains Trouba-Byfuglien + Enstrom-Myers, protecting eight skaters (rather than 7 forwards and 3 defencemen) seems quite likely. In this event, the four forwards who come to mind are Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler, Bryan Little and Mathieu Perreault. Considering his rather team-friendly contract extension, it would be mildly shocking to see Perreault left exposed. This leaves the likes of Lowry, Armia, Alexander Burmistrov and Marko Dano as desirable Jets forwards Las Vegas may have available to them. Given Winnipeg's cornucopia of forward depth, the loss of any one of these players is hardly debilitating.
What's your reaction to the Armia and Lowry news? Is there anything surprising about the deals they signed? If their one-way contracts indicate they're NHL-bound, does the same hold true for Brian Strait? And who do you think the organization will protect come expansion?
Share your thoughts, questions and concerns in the Comments section below. Click here for long-winded speculation on Winnipeg's forward corps next season, like Arctic Ice Hockey on Facebook, and as always, thanks for reading!