With much of their available salary cap space ear-marked for restricted free agents Patrik Laine, Kyle Connor, and Andrew Copp to name a few, the Winnipeg Jets were not in a position to make a big splash when free agency opened on July 1.
However, that’s not to say that they have been quiet since their season came to a close, with a total of 13 contracts being signed. While most of these names are not expected to crack the season-opening 23-man roster, there are a few exceptions.
Laurent Brossoit is pretty solidly etched in as backup goaltender for the Winnipeg Jets’ upcoming season. Having signed a one year, $1.225 contract on May 25, the Jets locked-up a player who performed admirably during the 2018-19 season. His closest competition is probably RFA Eric Comrie, though Mikhail Berdin put up solid numbers with the Manitoba Moose in his first pro season.
A man very likely to see a rise in playing time next season more due to people leaving than from his own improvements, Nathan Beaulieu will be in a battle for the second pairing left-handed defence spot when training camp opens, with Dmitry Kulikov and Sami Niku his biggest competition. A veteran of 332 NHL games, it will be interesting to see how increased minutes and responsibility will impact his play. Beaulieu signed a rather team-friendly one-year, $1-million contract on July 1.
Despite only playing in two NHL games last season, Mark Letestu is a rather low-risk signing for the Jets, putting ink to paper on a one-year, two-way, $700k contract on July 2nd. The 34-year-old played in 64 games with the Cleveland Monsters of the AHL, scoring 21 goals to go with 29 assists (50 points, quick math). Letestu’s career year came in 2016-17 with the Edmonton Oilers, tallying 35 points in 78 games. He has won 52.2% of the 6300-ish faceoffs he’s taken at the NHL level.
Well...Anthony Bitetto signed...so that’s a thing. This is a depth signing that should impact the Manitoba Moose more than the Jets, but he could very well be one of the first call-ups in times of injury struggles.
Cameron Schilling, 30, is back, fresh off of a 2018-19 season that saw him tally his first NHL point and appear in four games for the Jets. Schilling had 29 points in 64 games with the Moose, where he’s a reliable defender providing veteran leadership. Schilling signed a one-year, two-way $700k contract on July 1.
After leading the Manitoba Moose in scoring with 57 points in 69 games, Seth Griffith will be back pushing for a spot on the big club. Griffith, 26, has 19 points in 79 career NHL games. Griffith signed a one-year, two-way $700k contract on June 5th.
I really dig the polar bear jersey Logan Shaw is wearing here. Shaw had a combined 51 points in 70 games split between the San Diego Gulls and Manitoba Moose last year. Shaw has 180 NHL games under his belt, with 31 points in those appearances.
David Gustafsson signed an entry-level contract on June 13. He has not been drafted by a CHL team, so is eligible to play for the Manitoba Moose this season despite being 19.
Andrei Chibisov will play his first season in North America, coming over from the KHL. The 6’3” 26-year-old played 50 games with Magnitogorsk last year, notching 20 points. He signed a one-year ELC May 31, and is waivers exempt.
Joona Luoto is a 21-year-old right winger who had 16 points in 58 games with Tappara of the SM-Liiga last year in Finland. He signed a three-year ELC on June 15.
J.C. Lipon is back again, having served as an alternate captain with the Manitoba Moose for the last three seasons. Lipon had 26 points in 60 games in the AHL last year.
C.J. Suess signed a one-year deal on May 31. Suess missed the last half of the Moose season due to injury, with 12 points in 26 games prior to getting hurt.
After 121 points in 178 QMJHL games, Leon Gawanke signed an ELC on May 23rd. The 20-year-old defender will make his pro debut this fall.