Last minute Jets signings: Laine happy to be in Winnipeg, Connor shares love for the team
WINNIPEG -- It took longer than anticipated, but Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor will be with the Winnipeg Jets when their regular season schedule opens Thursday night.
“Super excited and happy to be here, my summer's way too long. I'll try to get it shorter next year,” said Laine.
The 21-year-old Fin signed a two-year bridge deal on Friday that carries a $6.75 million cap hit, while 22-year-old Connor put pen to paper on a seven-year, $50 million contract on Saturday night.
"We looked at all sorts of things throughout, you know, term and everything,” said Connor. “Long term was definitely my preference. I wanted to be here, I love this team and the way it's going and this whole organization."
The speedy winger will count for $7,142,857 against the cap for the next seven years, the second highest average annual value among Jets forwards, behind only Blake Wheeler at $8,250,000 per season.
"We're just real excited that we had the opportunity to get two years of unrestricted free agency, and an opportunity for a good, core player to be signed long term,” said Jets’ general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff.
Laine scored 30 goals last season, the fewest in his three-year NHL career, and his contract amounts to a gamble. The confident young winger plans to fill the net over the next two seasons in the hopes of cashing in big on his next contract.
"I know I'll be good for the next two years. I'm going to score a lot of goals, that's for sure,” said Laine. “I've always trusted myself, and this is no exception. I'm going to be betting on myself for these two years."
And Cheveldayoff is keen on solving the problem of fitting Laine’s potentially large payday under the salary cap.
"When you've got good players, that's awesome to have,” he said. “So we hope and, you know, certainly expect for him to continue on the great trajectory that he's had."
The Jets open their regular season against the New York Rangers on Thursday Oct. 3.