WINNIPEG Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has a huge week ahead of him.
The Jets boss banged out deals with three restricted free agents over the last few days -- inking Eric Tangradi, Paul Postma and then Zach Redmond on Saturday -- but still has the "Big Three" left to get done: Zach Bogosian, Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler.
And the clock is ticking before the trio heads to arbitration hearings beginning this week in Toronto.
Little's hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, followed by Wheeler on July 29 and Bogosian on Aug. 2.
The NHL and the NHLPA have chosen eight arbiters to preside over the hearings. The rulings are final with the contract max limited to two years.
That makes the deadlines critical for the Jets, who would rather lock up their stars to longer-term deals. Little and Wheeler comprise two-thirds of the club's top line, along with captain Andrew Ladd, while Bogosian is a Top 4 defenceman most in the organization believe is just beginning to reach his potential.
Little earned $2.38 million in 2013 and finished fourth on the club in scoring with 32 points; Wheeler led the Jets with 19 goals and finished second to Ladd in points with 41 while earning $2.55 million; while Bogosian -- who began and finished the season out of the lineup with injuries, first recovering from a hand injury then suffering a concussion -- had 14 points in 33 games and was paid $2.5 million.
Meanwhile, the deal with Redmond might come across as a simple transaction on paper, but represents so much more for the 24-year-old defenceman. Remember, back on Feb. 21 Redmond's life was in jeopardy when his right femoral artery and vein were cut by teammate Antti Miettinen's skate in a horrific scene at the end of a practice.
Helped by the heroic work of assistant coaches, teammates and trainers, Redmond was rushed to hospital in Raleigh, N.C., where he needed three hours of surgery to repair the wound. When he was able to return to the ice six weeks later the club's doctors called his recovery 'miraculous.'
He skated with the Jets but did not play -- he did receive a standing ovation when introduced before a late-season home crowd -- and then suited up for two games with the St. John's IceCaps.
His new deal will pay him $715,000 next season.