WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Jets are heading back to the future in a move that should help temper the rumours regarding a trade of Patrik Laine.
With free agency set to open on Friday morning, the Jets have made a deal for veteran centre Paul Stastny from the Vegas Golden Knights.
Teams don’t often get a chance to rewrite history, but a Stastny move is an interesting one because he nearly stayed with the Jets in the summer of 2018 before ultimately signing a three-year deal worth $19.5 million with the Golden Knights as an unrestricted free agent after helping Winnipeg reach the Western Conference Final.
The Jets put together a competitive package to retain his services, but Nevada is a tax-free state and the Golden Knights satisfied another important category as a contender — having just beaten Winnipeg in five games in that Western Conference Final before losing the Stanley Cup to the Washington Capitals.
Fast forward two years and the Jets are still looking to fill a void with a second-line centre.
Kevin Hayes and Cody Eakin were acquired at the past two NHL trade deadlines, but neither enjoyed the same level of success as their predecessor.
Although Cole Perfetti projects to eventually fill that second-line centre role after the Jets picked him 10th overall in the 2020 NHL Draft, adding Stastny provides a perfect bridge for the short term.
Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff took care of an important piece of business on Wednesday, inking defenceman Dylan DeMelo to a four-year contract with an AAV of $3 million to help stabilize the back end.
Earlier this week, Cheveldayoff said the Jets were still planning to be involved in trade discussions and would scour the free agent market for potential additions and possibly a bargain or two of the depth variety.
Instead of going after a free agent like Alexander Wennberg, Erik Haula or Vladislav Namestnikov, the Jets instead picked up a proven commodity in Stastny.