The Winnipeg Jets are pleased to announce they have agreed to terms with forward Kyle Wellwood on a new contract. As per club policy, terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
The Windsor, ON native was originally drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the fifth round, 134th overall, in the 2001 NHL Draft. He has played in 450 career NHL games between Toronto, Vancouver, San Jose and Winnipeg for 220 career points (86G, 134A) and 34 career penalty minutes.
"We’ve been in contact with Kyle’s group for a long time- well before the July 1st free agency," Jets' GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a conference call Friday afternoon. "With Kyle having a career year on a point’s perspective, we needed to find the right market price. Last year, we got a bargain from a standpoint of what his contract was and to be able to sign him was fortunate on our part. We kept in constant contact and we’re very excited we were able to come to an agreement today."
Originally, Wellwood said he was looking for a longer term starting next year because he was somewhat sick of bouncing around. Something must have changed as he decided he was more comfortable signing a single year with Winnipeg.
"It’s really exciting for me and my family to have a deal here in July," Wellwood said in a conference call Friday afternoon. "To have this already out of the way and to come into an environment that I know and have some familiarity with, I’m really excited. Originally I was searching for more years and the Jets offered me a two-year, but after thinking about it and going through the notions, I felt most comfortable with a one-year deal.
"I felt like it was a positive building year for me last year and I wasn’t sure talking to Winnipeg before they had the other signings, what kind of fit it was going to be for me. But for them to get Ponikarovsky, a big left-winger who has some skill then adding Jokinen up the middle, I really got excited about coming to the team again and making a run at the playoffs.
"They have some great young players coming up and they’ve added some pieces that we really needed especially if we want to improve our road record which was our biggest downfall last year."
Wellwood, 29, played in 77 games with the Winnipeg Jets last season. In that time, he recorded a career-high 47 points (18G, 29A), good enough for fifth on the team leaderboard, and four penalty minutes. It wasn't only the points on the paper that drew Cheveldayoff to Wellwood, but rather the flexibility he provides.
"One of the great things about Kyle is that he can play up and down the lineup as we’ve seen throughout the year last year," said Chevy. "He’s a very versatile player. His hockey sense is exceptional and that allows him to play with different people and read off of other players very very well. That flexibility was something that was useful in Claude’s lineup last year and with the additions we have up front already this year, should provide a tremendous amount of options for Claude moving forward.
"We’re not walking into this with preconceived notions of what kind of points he’s going to get or goals or those kind of things. We’re walking in knowing he’s a good fit in our lineup, knowing that Claude has the confidence to use him up and down the lineup and that we do have a different mix of players up front.
"Certainly the offensive side of his game is what he brings to the table but I think he has the ability to make plays to other people and create opportunities for them.