It’s been a dizzying few days in the hockey world, with a flurry of free agent signings and trades making it difficult to keep up at times.
And there’s been a sea of changes when it comes to the local landscape as well. From Manitoba-born players to former skaters with the Winnipeg Jets, we’ve counted a couple dozen moves already.
Six unrestricted free agent members of last year’s Jets squad have moved on. Veteran forwards Mathieu Perreault (Montreal, one-year, US$950,000), Nate Thompson (Philadelphia, one-year, US$800,000) and Trevor Lewis (Calgary, one-year, US $800,000) formed the so-called "Dirty Thirties" line and have now gone their separate ways. Although all came at price points salary-cap strapped Winnipeg could have absorbed, it appears they’re making room for some of the younger players to make an impact.
"I told him I was going to go and see what else is out there for me because the way the last couple of years went, it wasn’t the best case scenario for me minute-wise and stuff like that," Perreault, 33, told media in a Zoom call on Friday about signing with his hometown Habs following seven years in Winnipeg.
"They were kind of ready to move on as well and give some other guys a chance to play in that role. I’ve got nothing but good things to say about Paul (Maurice) and Chevy (Kevin Cheveldayoff) and Winnipeg for all they’ve done for me. They basically made my career. All the good money I’ve made in this league comes from them, giving the trust in me. I can never be thankful enough for what Paul and Chevy and Mark Chipman have done for me."
Joining Perreault, Thompson and Lewis are defencemen Tucker Poolman (Vancouver, four-years, US$10 million) and Derek Forbort (Boston, three-years. US$9 million). Both got considerable security and significant pay raises with their new clubs. The Jets upgraded on both by obtaining Nate Schmidt and Brenden Dillon in trades.
"That one does touch home because you drafted him and went through the development process. But he’s just such a good person, too," Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said this week of Poolman, selected in the fifth round of the 2013 draft. He played 134 games with the Jets, and another 60 with the Manitoba Moose.
"The hard parts about making the deals that we did, you knew that there was going to have to be change. But just so happy for him, just so happy for the deal that he earned and the opportunity that’s in front of him."
Backup goaltender Laurent Brossoit (Vegas, two-years, US$4.65 million) is headed to Sin City, hoping for more of an opportunity to see the net than he did behind Connor Hellebuyck. The Jets will go with the much-cheaper Eric Comrie in that role this coming season.
Mason Appleton is the seventh member of the 2021 club to bid farewell, selected by Seattle in the expansion draft. It’s not clear who will fill his third-line spot with the Jets, beside Adam Lowry and Andrew Copp, but internal candidates include Jansen Harkins, Kristian Vesalainen and Dominic Toninato.
Appleton, like Poolman, was drafted and developed by the organization, while the others were previous free agent signings.
"So, change is never easy. They were great guys that helped us to get to where we were last year. But the players that we have now can take us one step, or more, further," said Cheveldayoff.
In terms of other recent Jets, Brandon Tanev (Seattle, expansion), Dmitry Kulikov (Minnesota, UFA), Zach Bogosian (Tampa Bay, UFA), Carl Dahlstrom (Toronto, UFA), Nic Petan (Vancouver, UFA) and Chase De Leo (New Jersey, UFA) are also packing their bags, in case you were keeping track of their travels.
When it comes to homegrown NHL talent, 11 players have new addresses.
Forward Morgan Geekie (Strathclair) was picked by Seattle in the expansion draft, while goalie Chris Driedger (Winnipeg) signed as a free agent with the Kraken. Along with Appleton and Tanev, there are plenty of local links to the NHL’s newest team.
Ryan Reaves (Winnipeg) was traded to the New York Rangers this week, while Cody Glass (Winnipeg) ended up in Nashville and Nolan Patrick (Winnipeg) went to Vegas as part of the same multi-team swap. Brett Howden (Oakbank) was also obtained by the Golden Knights in a separate deal.
As far as UFAs, forward Darren Helm (St. Andrews) signed in Colorado, defencemen Brady Keeper (Cross Lake) to Vancouver, goalie James Reimer (Morweena) will battle for the net in San Jose, goalie Calvin Pickard (Winnipeg) will do likewise in Detroit, while Dylan McIlrath (Winnipeg) joined Washington to fight for a depth spot.
Got all that? Feel free to adjust your fandom accordingly.
Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.