WINNIPEG — Patrik Laine and his bullet shot aren’t going anywhere.
The restricted free agent sniper and the Jets agreed to a two-year, US$13.5-million contract on Friday. The deal comes six days before the Jets’ season opener in New York against the Rangers.
The average annual value of the deal stands at $6.75 million.
The 21-year-old Laine has 110 goals and 184 points in 237 regular-season NHL games in his career. He’s added 16 points (eight goals, eight assists) in 23 playoff outings.
Laine scored 36 goals as a rookie before adding 44 in 2017-18, but dipped a bit last season with 30, which was still good enough for third on the team behind winger Mark Scheifele (38) and fellow RFA forward Kyle Connor (34), who remains unsigned.
After getting the deal done with Laine, the Jets now have $66.6 million committed to 22 roster players for this season, according to capfriendly.com. The value does not include Dustin Byfuglien’s $7.6-million cap hit because he has been suspended while on a leave of absence.
The salary cap in 2019-20 has been set at $81.5 million.
Winnipeg made it to the Western Conference final two years ago, but bowed out in the first round of last season’s playoffs to the eventual Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues.
Laine was one of a number of high-profile RFAs to hit the market July 1 — a list that included Toronto Maple Leafs star Mitch Marner, Tampa Bay Lightning centre Brayden Point, Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen and Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk.
The Montreal Canadiens tendered an offer sheet to Carolina centre Sebastian Aho when free agency opened July 1, but the Hurricanes matched the five-year, front-loaded, bonus-heavy deal worth $42.27 million. That contract carries an average annual value of $8.454 million.
Prior to that bold move by Montreal’s Marc Bergevin, no NHL general manager had signed a player to an offer sheet since 2013 when the Flames tried to woo Ryan O’Reilly out of Colorado before the Avalanche matched the contract. The last RFA to switch teams after agreeing to an offer sheet was Dustin Penner when he went from the Anaheim Ducks to the Edmonton Oilers in the summer of 2007.
Any team that signs an RFA to an offer sheet must pony up compensation of up to four first-round draft picks. With that in mind, the last time an NHL general manager tried to pry an RFA away from a team that held his rights was back in 2013 when Calgary signed Ryan O’Reilly only to watch as the Colorado Avalanche matched the contract.