WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Jets have landed a centre in free agency, signing Mathieu Perreault today.
Perreault signed a three-year deal for an average annual value of $3 million, which is a jump from the $1.05 he earned last season as a member of the Anaheim Ducks.
Perreault, a 26-year-old from Drummondville, Que., had 18 goals and 43 points for the Ducks last season. The Jets organization will be familiar with him for his years with the former divisional rivals in the Washington Capitals and as a member of the Hershey Bears squad that defeated the Manitoba Moose in the 2009 Calder Cup Final.
I’m very excited to come to Winnipeg.
"It’s a great fit for me," said Perreault in a conference call. "I talked to Paul Maurice earlier today. They want to change a little bit, they want to put three lines on that can score every night.
"I can bring a lot of speed. Winnipeg has always been a team about speed. It’s a part of my game that I like to use. I’m a smart player, I can produce, I can play a little bit of power-play. I’m very excited to come to Winnipeg."
Perreault will essentially replace Olli Jokinen as the club’s No. 3 centre behind Bryan Little and Mark Scheifele, replacing veteran Olli Jokinen. Interestingly, Perreault and Jokinen had the exact same numbers last year: although Perreault put up those totals in 69 games; Jokinen in 82. There’s also this: Perreault is just 26, Jokinen is 35 and Perreault led the Ducks last season with a face-off percentage of 52.6.
On the other side, Perreault is 5-10, 175 pounds while Jokinen measured 6-3, 215.
"Last year I role I had in Anaheim, I think it’s going to be pretty similar in Winnipeg," said Perreault. "You guys already have Bryan Little on your top line and the kid, (Mark) Scheifele as a bigger guy that can do that role of a bigger centre. And then you bring in me, who can bring in speed, energy and skill as well. I think it’s going to be a great fit for me."
Jets lose Montoya, Redmond
Meanwhile, the Jets have lost backup goalie Al Montoya, who signed with the Florida Panthers for two years and $2.1 million, as well as defenceman Zach Redmond – to Colorado for two years and $1.5 million (and a one-way contract) – to the open market.
The money is flying around the NHL today at the opening of the annual spending spree known as free-agent day.
Several members of this year’s elite free-agent class have signed in the first hour. The gates opened on transactions at 11 a.m. CT, through pending free agents were allowed to converse with prospective buyers as of last Thursday.
Centre Paul Stastny decided on a four-year deal with the St. Louis Blues that will pay him an average of $7 million over the deal. The inside-the-division move, from Colorado to the Blues, will be significant.
Defenceman Day Boyle, leaving the San Jose Sharks, signed with the New York Rangers for two years, totaling $9 million.
Elsewhere in the NHL, centre Mike Cammalleri received five years and $25 million from the New Jersey Devils, while forward Jussi Jokinen went to Florida for a four-year deal worth $16 million.
The Panthers also landed centre Dave Bolland, who was with the Toronto Maple Leafs, paying Bolland $5.5 million average annual salary for a five-year period.
The top goalie signing today is Ryan Miller’s move to the Vancouver Canucks, who paid him $18 million for three years.