Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Jets' Kane locked up, quickly locked out

Winger signs 6-year, $31.5-million deal

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The period of agreement was very brief -- a matter of just a few hours -- before Evander Kane and the Winnipeg Jets were at odds again.

But long-term, the most important thing is that the 21-year-old left-winger will be under contract to the NHL team for the next six seasons after signing a new $31.5-million contract late Saturday night, just before the league locked out its players in a third work stoppage in 18 years.

When the Vancouver native will get the chance to start proving his worth is anybody's guess.

"It's bittersweet," Kane said just minutes before the lockout began. "You want to play hockey but at the same I'm kind of on Cloud 9.

"I'm looking forward to playing in front of the great fans of Winnipeg. They've been tweeting me and letting me know how they feel so it's great to get something done."

Kane, the fourth pick of the 2009 draft, went from 14 goals to 19 and then 30 last year in the team's debut in Winnipeg. He had four game-winners and 27 assists to go with his 30 goals.

Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, who began the negotiation in earnest in late June, pulled it out of the fire at the last moment. He will have Kane under contract until 2018.

"At the age that he's at, we think there's tremendous potential and room for growth," Cheveldayoff said. "We just locked up one of our young players for years to come.

"Lots of players of his age are just breaking into the league."

While Kane lauded the team's management for "that leap of faith ... to make that kind of commitment," he was more vague when asked Saturday to respond to a statement that the long-term contract would put an end to steady trade-demand rumours from the summer.

"Playing this last year in Winnipeg, in Canada, the spotlight's on you, the fans are behind you and there's no better feeling than having that," he said. "For me, to get a deal done, even though it took to the very last minute of a deadline, is great for myself and Winnipeg and like I said, I know I'm really excited about playing and I think that we're going to have a successful future here in Winnipeg."

Kane's future cap hit will be $5.25 million, so far the team's largest for one player in the season to come.

The deal also bumps the Jets just above the old salary floor of $54.2 million to about $56.6 million, with no free agents remaining.

It is unknown what either the cap or the floor will be on the other side of the lockout.

The Jets were also busy earlier in the weekend, preparing for the lockout by sending 13 players to the AHL's St. John's IceCaps.

Alex Burmistrov, the 20-year-old centre who has already played two full-time NHL seasons, headlined the group that included Chris Carrozzi, Ben Chairot, Patrice Cormier, Jason Gregoire, Carl Klingberg, Julian Melchiori, Eric O'Dell, Will O'Neill, Edward Pasquale, Zach Redmond, Cody Sol and Ivan Telegin.

Burmistrov will make a salary of $67,500 Cdn while in the AHL, far less than his $900,000 NHL earnings. He is owed $90,000 of signing bonus this season.

The team may also be able to entice Spencer Machacek, who just signed a new deal, Maxime Macenauer, Aaron Gagnon, Derek Meech, Paul Postma and goalie Mark Dekanich to sign AHL contracts and play with the IceCaps during the lockout.

As well Saturday, the Jets announced the formality that centre Mark Scheifele is assigned to the Barrie Colts of the OHL, where he's already been playing for nearly three weeks.

If and when the NHL labour dispute is resolved, the Jets will be able to recall Scheifele at the start of a season, if they so choose.

The Jets are scheduled to start pre-season action Sept. 24 in Edmonton and open the regular season at home on Oct. 13 against the Carolina Hurricanes, both dates now in serious jeopardy of being lost.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

'I think I've gotten better and better every year I've played in the league and I don't see that changing. I can't really put numbers on what's going to happen but I can tell you one thing, I haven't made the playoffs in my three years and that's probably the first thing on my list'

 

-- Evander Kane (right), shown celebrating an OT winner against the L.A. Kings Dec. 29, 2011.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 17, 2012 C3

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