THE NHL draft is just done, and free agency looms ahead, but it's already time for Jets fans to break out the calendars for when hockey starts again.
On Tuesday, the Jets unveiled their eight-game 2013-14 pre-season schedule, which is split between four games at home and four on the road. In that time the Jets will see the Boston Bruins twice, and play two against their burgeoning rivals in the Minnesota Wild.
The squad will open and close the pre-season by travelling to two new spots for special exhibition games. To open the pre-season, the Jets will face the Washington Capitals on Sept. 14 in a 6 p.m. game at Belleville, Ont.'s Yardmen Arena, to cap off the Kraft Hockeyville celebrations slated for nearby Stirling-Rawdon. On Sept. 27, they will cap off the pre-season with a game against the Boston Bruins at Saskatoon's Credit Union Centre.
The Jets play the first of four home exhibition games on Sept. 15, when the Ottawa Senators visit. On Sept. 17, the Jets will host the Edmonton Oilers, with the Wild coming to town Sept. 19.
The Jets will then hit the road to face the Wild at Xcel Energy Center on Sept. 21 and fly to Edmonton to face the Oilers on Sept. 23. Finally, they will come back home to battle the Boston Bruins at the MTS Centre on Sept. 26 before heading to Saskatoon the next day.
Other than the Kraft Hockeyville game, all tilts are slated for 7 p.m.
Jets qualify 13 RFAs
WHEN pre-season does start, the prospect pool will look just a little different than the one in years before.
On Tuesday, the Jets announced they had extended qualifying offers to 13 of their 17 impending restricted free agents, offers that allow the Jets to keep exclusive NHL negotiating rights as they work to hammer out deals.
No real surprises in the lot: all of the RFAs that played in the NHL last season were qualified, including key cogs Blake Wheeler, Zach Bogosian and Bryan Little. Alexander Burmistrov, who is wrapping up his entry-level contract, was qualified, as were forwards Eric Tangradi and Anthony Peluso and defencemen Zach Redmond and Paul Postma, who was signed to a one-way NHL deal last year.
The Jets also qualified defenceman Arturs Kulda, who played in the KHL last season before the Jets brought him back to North America for the tail end of the shortened NHL schedule, although he never did make his way into a game.
Of prospects playing in the minors, the Jets qualified gritty forward Patrice Cormier and shifty centre Eric O'Dell, who had a breakout season with the St. John's IceCaps in 2012-13 with 55 points in 59 games. The Jets also qualified IceCaps goaltender Eddie Pasquale and forward Tomas Kubalik. Qualifying Kubalik allows the Jets to retain his negotiating rights, though the 23-year-old Czech signed on to play with the KHL's HC Lev Praha next season.
The Jets did not extend offers to four players: Winnipegger Jason Gregoire, defenceman Will O'Neill, ECHL goalie Chris Carrozzi and forward Maxime Macenauer, who was given a short look in training camp last season but failed to make the big club.