The Winnipeg Jets have dipped into the NHL free-agent pool to sign local product Derek Meech, ex-Vancouver Canuck winger Tanner Glass and centre Aaron Gagnon, formerly of the Dallas Stars.
But while other NHL teams made huge splashes on the first day of free agency, the squad didn’t veer too far away from their organizational blueprint of building through the draft and not through free agency.
"We did get involved on a few things at different levels," said Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff Friday night.
"The temptation is always there. But it’s a long-term process that we are looking at here. July 1 is a different animal when it comes to the fast and furious signings, and you can get caught up in it, but you have to really believe in the group of guys that you have and we really do."
A 5-11, 197-pound defenceman and occasionally a left-winger, Meech – 27 – spent last year with the Detroit Red Wings’ affiliate, Grand Rapids, scoring 10 goals and 27 assists in 74 games.
Meech has appeared in 126 NHL games over nine years as a pro, scoring four goals and adding 12 assists. He played junior hockey with the Red Deer Rebels and was drafted in the seventh round, 229th overall, by the Red Wings in 2002.
His deal is a one-year, two-way contract that would pay him $700,000 in the NHL and $105,000 in the AHL.
Glass, 27, has played in 184 NHL games with Florida and Vancouver over the last four years. Originally drafted by the Panthers in 2003, Glass will earn $750,000 on a one-year deal with the Jets. He appeared in 73 games for the Canucks last year, finishing with three goals and adding seven assists.
The 25-year-old Gagnon appeared in 20 games for the Dallas Stars last season but did score 14 goals and add 23 assists in 58 games with their AHL affiliate, the Texas Stars.
Cheveldayoff said negotiations with some of the team’s key restricted free agents – namely Andrew Ladd, Blake Wheeler and Zach Bogosian – took a temporary back seat while the squad chases the unrestricted free agents.
Meanwhile, another Winnipeg product – defenceman Cam Barker – has signed a deal with the Edmonton Oilers. Barker was bought out this week by the Minnesota Wild and signed a one-year deal with Edmonton for $2.25 million.