The Winnipeg Jets are officially one full day into the free agent signing period. In this, the club has seen a number of players from the 2020-21 roster walk to new teams, for a higher level of pay. That said, the team also put pen to paper on one expected every-day player and two prospects.
Following a busy two days that saw the acquisitions of defencemen Brenden Dillon and Nate Schmidt, GM Kevin Cheveldayoff and Co. mainly stood pat as the majority of the big-name players found new homes left, right and centre amid the frenzy.
With over 160 total signings and nearly $800 million spent on contracts league-wide, the opening day of the signing period certainly caught the attention of most within the hockey circles.
Winnipeg’s biggest move was that of its backup goaltending position. In opting to let three-year backup Laurent Brossoit walk to the Vegas Golden Knights (two years, $4.6 million total) the Jets have decided to roll the dice on long-time Manitoba Moose backstop Eric Comrie to fulfill the backup role for 2021-22.
“Eric earned his time and his time has come,” Cheveldayoff said following the first day of signings. “This this player has worked hard. He’s gone through the trials and tribulations of being a top-end American Hockey League goaltender and trying to push past some of the veteran people that were in front of him. And he’s a great partner for Helly. There’s a real, real strong chemistry between the two. Helly had a good say in this, as well from a standpoint of who he felt comfortable having as his backup. Wade Flaherty clearly was real comfortable Coms is a guy that can take that next step. It’s one of the players that earned the opportunity to be there.”
Signing Comrie to a one-year, one-way deal worth $750K, he would be required to pass through Waivers should he be sent down to the AHL, if another goaltending pickup does occur.
On top of Comrie, the Jets also signed 26-year-old minor league forward Luke Johnson (one-year, two-way) and 24-year-old forward Mikey Eyssimont (two-year, two-way) to professional contracts. In terms of pending unrestricted free agents, veteran forwards Trevor Lewis (Calgary) and Nate Thompson (Philadelphia) walked, while defencemen Tucker Poolman (Vancouver) and Derek Forbort (Boston) also joined Brossoit (Vegas) as players leaving the organization.
With Andrew Copp, Neal Pionk and Logan Stanley as restricted free agents left to sign contracts, Chevy will remain busy in the coming days/weeks rounding out his roster in preparation for the 2021-22 season.