Tobias Enstrom said it didn't take long to realize Winnipeg was the perfect place for him.
The 27-year-old defenseman signed a five-year contract extension with the Jets on Friday. TSN reports the deal is worth worth $28.75 million.
"I wanted to stay and they believe in me, which I really appreciate," Enstrom said on a conference call from his native Sweden. "They want me to stay. It went pretty quick. We got this agreement in a short time. I'm happy to be a Winnipeg Jet and I'm looking forward to all the years coming up here."
Despite missing six weeks with a broken collarbone suffered Oct. 31, Enstrom had six goals and 27 assists in 62 games last season, and his 33 points were second among the team's blueliners.
Defense - WPG
GOALS: 6 | ASST: 27 | PTS: 33
SOG: 94 | +/-: 6
Selected by the Atlanta Thrashers in the eighth round of the 2003 NHL Draft, Enstrom is the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise leader among defensemen in games played (380), points (204) and assists (172). His 32 career goals are one shy of Yannick Tremblay for most by a defenseman in franchise history. Enstrom holds the franchise single-season record for most assists by a defenseman with 44 in 2009-10 and was picked for the 2011 NHL All-Star Game.
Enstrom was entering the final season of the four-year, $15 million contract he signed when the team was the Atlanta Thrashers. He would have been an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2013, but said playing one season in Winnipeg was enough to convince him to stay.
"The move to Winnipeg was fun and I like what we have going on there," he said. "I really like it up there and playing in front of all the fans in that city. It made me want to stay and I'm happy I got an agreement with the Winnipeg Jets."
Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said having Enstrom's future settled ahead of the season is a big relief for him and his staff.
"This has been on our minds for quite a while," he said on a separate conference call. "This was something that was important in our minds. We are very excited that Toby and the Jets are going to have a long-term relationship."
Besides the on-ice play, Cheveldayoff said Enstrom's commitment and leadership are big reasons he wanted to make sure the defenseman wouldn't be going anywhere.
"This has been on our minds for quite a while. This was something that was important in our minds. We are very excited that Toby and the Jets are going to have a long-term relationship." -- Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff
"When he got hurt early in the year, it devastated him and we saw how hard he worked off the ice to get back in and become a healthy player and get back in the lineup as quickly as he could," Cheveldayoff said. "Quality player on and off the ice, and we're extremely excited about the relationship going forward."
Enstrom said now that the core of the group has a year of experience living in Winnipeg, the next step is competing for a playoff spot. In 12 seasons, the Thrashers/Jets franchise has played in the postseason once. The Jets finished 11th in the Eastern Conference last season, eight points out of a playoff spot.
"We've got a lot of talent," he said. "Signing (goalie) Ondrej Pavelec was a big thing for the Winnipeg Jets. They're trying to put the pieces together. We're going to learn from last year and try to make the playoffs this year."
Aiding in that effort has been the signings of free-agent forwards Olli Jokinen and Alexei Ponikarovsky, as well as the maturing of the franchise's younger players. It adds up to Enstrom having no doubt in making a commitment to staying in Winnipeg.
"I love it up there," he said. "The organization is great. It feels like we've got something good going on [and] I want to play a big part with what we have. I'm looking forward to the season coming up.
"All the people around the organization are great. They want to go somewhere with this team, that's one of the big reasons I signed. They want to win and that's what I want to do."
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