The Winnipeg Jets and center Bryan Little avoided arbitration Monday when the sides agreed to terms on a five-year, $23.5 million contract.
“I was pretty confident it would get done before arbitration, so I’m glad it did,” Little said during a conference call with reporters.
Little, a first-round pick (No. 12) in the 2006 NHL Draft by the Atlanta Thrashers, played in all 48 games last season and finished with seven goals and 32 points.
The 25-year-old has spent his entire career with the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise, scoring a career-high 31 goals and 51 points in 2008-09 and 24 goals two seasons ago.
In 404 NHL games, Little has 99 goals and 227 points. He’s hoping Winnipeg’s offseason additions of forwards Michael Frolik and Devin Setoguchi will help the Jets qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Jets finished ninth in the Eastern Conference last season, four points out of a playoff spot.
“I’ve been part of that organization since I’ve been drafted, and even though we moved to Winnipeg in the last couple of years, it’s something I wanted to be a part of still,” Little said.
“I think this organization’s best days are ahead of them, and I think in the very near future, so I kind of wanted to stay to be a part of that. It wasn’t really hard for me to make that decision to stay with Winnipeg for a long time.”
The Jets aren’t done filling out their roster. They still need to come to terms with forward Blake Wheeler, who also filed for arbitration.
"Hopefully Wheeler can get something similar because we really enjoy playing together," Little said.