Former Winnipeg Jets, Manitobans find new homes in NHL free agency

Just like every other NHL team at this time of year, the Winnipeg Jets were busy adding and subtracting as they prepared for a brand new season.

Since the start of the week, the Jets have re-signed veteran centre Paul Stastny and acquired defencemen Brenden Dillon and Nate Schmidt in trades with Washington and Vancouver, respectively, in exchange for draft picks.

But with the arrivals, there were also some departures as five Winnipeg players from this past season took advantage of their unrestricted free agent status to land new and more lucrative deals than they had with Winnipeg.

Goalie Laurent Brossoit, who had served as Connor Hellebuyck’s backup the past three seasons, signed a two-year deal with the Vegas Golden Knights that will pay him $2.3 million a season to be Robin Lehner’s new backup.

Defenceman Tucker Poolman is moving on after four seasons with the franchise. Poolman signed a four-year contract with the Vancouver Canucks that will pay him an average of $2.5 million a season.

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Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said of the five players who signed with new teams, Poolman was the one that him home as a “draft and develop” product of the organization.

“He’s just such a good person too,” said Cheveldayoff. “The hard parts about making the deals that we did (for defensemen Brenden Dillon and Nate Schmidt) is that you knew there was going to have to be change. Just so happy for him and I’ll give him a call.”

Also moving on is unrestricted free agent forward Nate Thompson who’s returning to the Philadelphia Flyers after just one season in Winnipeg. Thompson inked a one year, $800,000 deal. He finished the 2019-20 season in Philly before signing with the Jets.

Blue liner Derek Forbort is now a member of the Boston Bruins. The Bruins gave Forbort a pretty rich contract with an average of $3 million for the next three years. He also played just the one season with the Jets.

Forward Trevor Lewis found a new home with the Calgary Flames on a one year, $800,000 deal. The two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Los Angeles Kings recorded five goals and five assists in his one and only season with the Jets.

Former Jets sniper Patrik Laine signed his one-year, $7.5 million qualifying offer from the Columbus Blue Jackets. He’ll be a restricted free agent again next summer.

Nic Petan signed a one-year deal with his hometown Canucks. Terms were not disclosed.

D-man Zach Bogosian has re-joined the Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning on a three-year contract worth an average of $850,000.

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St. Malo’s Travis Hamonic is staying put with the Canucks for $3 million a year for the next two seasons.

He’ll be joined on Vancouver’s blue line by Cross Lake’s Brady Keeper. Keeper signed a two-year deal for $762,000 per season.

Morweena, Manitoba’s James Reimer has joined the San Jose Sharks with the veteran goalie signing a two year contract. Details were not released.

Winnipeg’s Calvin Pickard re-upped with the Detroit Red Wings on a one year agreement where the terms were also not disclosed.

Winnipeg’s Dylan McIlrath has left the Red Wings organization after five seasons with the franchise. He’s now a Washington Capital after coming to terms on a two-year, $750,000 agreement.

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