The Winnipeg Jets have dipped into the free-agent pool, adding left-winger Alexei Ponikarovsky, but have taken some hits, too, in losing Tanner Glass to the Pittsburgh Penguins and goaltender Chris Mason to the Nashville Predators.
Ponikarovsky, 32, had 14 goals and 19 assists last season while playing for the Carolina Hurricanes and New Jersey Devils. He added a goal and eight assists in the Devils’ run to the Stanley-Cup Final. A product of Kiev, Ponikarovsky was a fourth-round draft choice in the 1998 NHL entry draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs.
He has suited up for 636 NHL games with the Leafs, Penguins, Los Angeles Kings, Hurricanes and Devils and has signed a one-year deal worth $1.8 million.
Meanwhile, the Jets’ popular ‘GST’ line has lost one of its key figures as Glass has left the team in free agency for the Penguins. The Pens announced Sunday they had signed the 28-year-old Regina product to a two-year, $2.2 million deal. The Jets also made an offer to Glass, but he essentially exited for a better shot at winning a Stanley-Cup championship with the Penguins.
Glass posted career-high offensive numbers as part of the ‘GST’ line with Jim Slater and Chris Thorburn, notching five goals and adding 11 assists in 78 games. He also led the team in hits with 246, 10th best in the NHL.
Also exiting was veteran netminder Chris Mason, who signed a one-year deal with the Nashville Predators worth $1.25 million. He earned $1.85 million with the Jets last year.
The Jets made two minor moves, agreeing to terms with defenceman Derek Meech on a one-year, two-way contract and forward Jason King, both of whom spent most of last year with the St. John’s IceCaps.
Meech, the 28-year-old native of Winnipeg, spent most of last year on the shelf. He played two games with the Jets and just six with the IceCaps due to two knee injuries. He did play in 15 playoff games in St. John’s, picking up four goals and five assists. He has 128 career NHL games under his belt with Detroit and Winnipeg.
King, 30, played in 70 games for the IceCaps last season picking up 41 points (22G, 19A).. King was named the IceCaps 2011-12 AHL Man of the Year for his outstanding contributions to the community. He is from Cornerbook and a fan favourite on The Rock.
King previously played three seasons in Germany, most recently with the Hamburg Freezers and has 59 NHL games under his belt with Anaheim and Vancouver and 256 AHL games with Manitoba and Portland. King has a lengthy history with the Moose/Jets organization and sits fourth on the former AHL team’s all-time goal scoring list with 77 goals.
The market opened with the Jets having eight unrestricted free agents: Glass and forwards Kyle Wellwood, Tim Stapleton and Eric Fehr, defencemen Mark Flood and Randy Jones and goaltenders Chris Mason and Jonas Gustavsson. Gustavsson, acquired last week in a deal with Toronto for a conditional seventh-round draft pick, signed with the Detroit Red Wings.