Ehlers signs 7-year, US$42-M deal


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From the beginning, left-winger Nikolaj Ehlers hoped for a speedy, no-fuss resolution to contract talks.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 04/10/2017 (1825 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

From the beginning, left-winger Nikolaj Ehlers hoped for a speedy, no-fuss resolution to contract talks.

In the end, the 21-year-old Dane got just what he wanted, when he agreed to terms on a seven-year, US$42-million extension that should keep him in Winnipeg Jets colours until the end of the 2024-25 NHL season.

Ehlers is beginning the third and final season of an entry-level deal worth US$894,167 a season.

John Woods / The Canadian Press files Nikolaj Ehlers skates during speed trials on the second day of the Jets’ training camp on Sept. 15.

“We didn’t start too long ago,” Ehlers said following the pre-game skate Wednesday morning at Bell MTS Place.

“We all wanted to get something done before the season started. There wasn’t a lot of going back and forth. I think we were both pretty set on what it was going to be. I’m happy that they feel that they want me here and from the beginning I wanted to stay, so I’m really happy.”

Negotiations between the club and his Swiss-based agent, André Rufener, proceeded quickly, beginning after the start of training camp last month and wrapping up Wednesday on the eve of Winnipeg’s regular-season opener against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Above all, Ehlers — who gave up three years of unrestricted free agency under the length of the deal — wanted to avoid the distraction of prolonged negotiations.

“I didn’t want to worry about it during the season,” he said. “If it was going to (drag) out, I didn’t want that. Not for me, not for the team, not for the organization. And they wanted that as well, so we got it done before the season started.”

Head coach Paul Maurice was pleased to have Ehlers’ contract status settled, as it can be an anxious process for younger players.

“Once they’ve been through it a couple times, they know it’s going to get done clearly,” Maurice said.

“And then you’re just hopeful they don’t feel like they got to try earn it all on the first shift, that they can just go out and play. The sooner we get Nik into that mindset, it will be worth every penny.”

Ehlers is coming off a productive sophomore season, showing some definite star qualities when he scored 25 goals and had 64 points in 82 games. He has played a total of 154 NHL games, with 40 goals and 102 points over that span.

Ehlers was chosen in the first round (ninth overall) in the 2014 NHL draft and is entering his third season with the club. He also skated for the Danish national team at the 2017 IIHF World Hockey Championship in Cologne and Paris, where he registered four assists and 18 penalty minutes in seven games.

Ehlers was asked what prompted him to sign a long-term deal.

“This team, this organization, the city, everything,” Ehlers said. “From Day 1, I was happy here. Everybody helped me get settled from the start. It’s amazing playing in front of all these fans. Winnipeg as a city is amazing; they love their hockey. So, I could not see any reason to not want to stay here for long term.”

Sophomore right-winger Patrik Laine, Ehlers’ closest friend on the squad and another high-profile player expected to be in the midst of negotiations for a long-term extension following the 2017-18 season, was thrilled with the development.

“As Nik’s linemate and good buddy, it’s awesome to see a nice guy like that get rewarded like that,” Laine said. “It’s awesome for me. I’m super happy for him. It’s just nice to see that this organization thinks that and believes that he will be a franchise player for this team.”

Alternate captain Mark Scheifele joined the chorus hailing the move.

“I think he likes it here,” Scheifele said.

“He’s got his good buddy (Laine) here. Guys that play here love it here. We have a great organization, a great group of guys, a good group of young guys that are excited to do something big this year and in the future. That’s the biggest sales pitch we can ever put on anyone.”

Laine already has an idea about where Ehlers can spend his new-found wealth.

“Yeah, I told him already that I’m not going to pay any room-service bills any more. That’s for sure,” Laine said. “That’s on him.” Twitter: @sawa14

Mike Sawatzky

Mike Sawatzky

Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.


Updated on Wednesday, October 4, 2017 10:03 AM CDT: Tweaks headline

Updated on Wednesday, October 4, 2017 1:23 PM CDT: Updated

Updated on Thursday, October 5, 2017 7:08 AM CDT: Edited

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