Winnipeg Jets qualify 8 pending restricted free agents

Pierre Luc Dubois is among eight restricted free agents who received a qualifying offer from the Winnipeg Jets Monday.

The other pending RFAs on that list included forwards Mason Appleton, Jansen Harkins and Kristian Vesalainen, as well as David Gustafsson and Jeff Malott who spent most of this past season with the AHL Manitoba Moose.

Defensemen Johnathan Kovacevic and Leon Gawanke, who were also Moose regulars, round out the list.

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Forward Evgeny Svechnikov and defenseman Markus Phillips are now unrestricted free agents after the Jets opted to not qualify either player. Svechnikov played in a career high 72 NHL games for Winnipeg during the 2021-22 season, scoring seven goals and adding 12 assists for 19 points while averaging 10:45 TOI (time on ice).

By submitting qualifying offers, the Jets retain the right to match an offer sheet tendered to any of those eight players by a rival team – if they have not signed the contract offer by 11 a.m. CT on Wednesday, July 13. Rarely does that happen, and the Jets would be almost certain to match any offer sheet signed by Dubois, who is expected to receive US$6 million if he accepts Winnipeg’s qualifying offer. He can also reject that offer and continue to negotiate a new deal.

Dubois has reportedly informed the Jets that he intends to test the market when he becomes an unrestricted free agent following the 2023-24 NHL season.

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Winnipeg general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff has not commented on whether he is looking to trade Dubois, saying only that his goal is to eventually sign the 24-year-old center to a long-term contract.

Dubois scored a career-high 28 goals this past season, and his 60 points left him just one shy of his previous best single year point total when he had 27-34-61 at the age of 20 in 2018-19 while he was still with Columbus.

Winnipeg re-acquired Appleton from Seattle for a 2023 fourth-round draft pick just ahead of the NHL trading deadline on March 21. The 26-year-old right winger, originally drafted by the Jets in the sixth round in 2015, scored two goals and added a pair of assists in the 19 games he played for Winnipeg following the trade. The Green Bay, Wisconsin native was paid US$900,000 on his expiring contract.

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Harkins, who was paid a base salary of US$750,000 in 2021-22, totaled 7-6-13 in 77 games in what was his first full NHL season.

Vesalainen was the Jets first round pick, 24th overall, in 2017. The 6-3, 207-pound left winger managed to score just two goals in 52 games in 2021-22 and finished the year with the AHL Manitoba Moose. The 23-year-old Helsinki native has signed a one-year deal with Malmo of the Swedish League, but by submitting a qualifying offer, the Jets will retain his services if Vesalainen returns to play in North America.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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