The Winnipeg Jets and Bryan Little have agreed to a contract extension that will pay the centre over $5 million a year for the next six years after this season.
Bryan Little signs a 6-yr contract worth $5.291 mil per season to stay with the @NHLJets through the 2023-24 season. He'll be 30 on Nov. 12.— Dan Rosen (@drosennhl) September 14, 2017
While it is good that the Jets made the move to lock up Little as he is a key piece to the team, this is a big contract for a player that is going to be on the wrong side of 30 for most of it. The other pressing concern is this is a big contract at a time when the Jets are looking at multiple big contracts for younger players, never mind smaller raises for other players.
Little is worth this contract right now, but what happens if he starts to fall off the cliff only a year or two into the contract. Yes, the contract goes from a no-movement clause to a no-trade clause after two years, but that does not mean he can be moved. Furthermore, you can only hide a league minimum contract in the AHL and then the rest of the cap-hit stays with the big club.
For the time being, this is an excellent move for the Jets, but the moment that Little starts to enter decline the move becomes suspect at best. This is not his fault, but the nature of long-term contracts to older players. Hopefully this does not look as disastrous as the Andrew Ladd contract gamble that Ladd decided against accepting. Either way, a fine contract now can end up being terrible by the time it starts.