Grant Clitsome is big on loyalty. And so when he was scooped up by the Winnipeg Jets off waivers and given a chance to grow his game here, he wanted to repay that faith with a little of his own.
Of course, it helped that the Jets put a three-year deal worth $6.2 million in front of the 28-year-old defenceman – who was scheduled to become a free agent on Friday – in front of him that he agreed to late Tuesday night.
"From Day 1 it was a priority for me to get a deal done with Winnipeg," said Clitsome in a media conference call today. "They took a chance on me when they picked me up on waivers and gave me an opportunity to show I can play in the league. I really enjoyed my time there, I like the coaching staff and the management and you’re treated first class all the way. The whole time it was definitely a priority to sign with Winnipeg."
Clitsome’s game steadily improved with an increased workload last winter and that was a huge factor in the club’s decision to bring him back. With the defensive corps ravaged by injuries, Clitsome’s ice time jumped to around 21 minutes a game and he finished with 16 points on four goals and 12 assists while posting the best plus/minus rating among the team’s defencemen at +10.
"As a 28-year-old defenceman, younger than most of the defencemen in free agency that we had looked at and the potentials of what they might cost versus their age, Grant was a good fit," said Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff. "He’s a tremendous person who works very, very hard. He’s very physically fit and he’s someone we think as his ice time and responsibilities continue to grow his game is going to grow."
Cheveldayoff said the Jets have also had a couple of chats this week with the agent for goaltender Al Montoya, another unrestricted free agent who could hit the market on Friday.