Kyle Connor agreed to a seven-year, $49.98 million contract with the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday. It has an average annual value of $7.14 million.
"We get two years of unrestricted free agency and if you look at the terms of contracts these days, a lot of players are opting for short-term deals to maybe get back to the marketplace and do some different things in that regard," general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said Sunday. "When you get an opportunity to get a young player like that, get his prime years all locked up and two years of unrestricted free agency, that was something that was real appealing to us."
The 22-year-old restricted free agent forward had NHL career highs in goals (34), assists (32) and points (66) in 82 games with the Jets last season. He had five points (three goals, two assists) in six Stanley Cup Playoff games.
"Everybody wants to score goals and everybody wants points, but [Kyle] doesn't short a backcheck," coach Paul Maurice told The Athletic. "He doesn't cheat on a play to get that point. So the defensemen like him too. He's just darn effective. He's going to be a real good player for a long time."
The Jets and restricted free agent forward Patrik Laine agreed to a two-year contract worth $6.75 million per season on Friday.
"Patrik is a very unique individual, obviously, what he's accomplished as an 18-year-old, 19-year-old, and 20-year-old in the NHL. There's only a select few players that can be put into that category," Cheveldayoff said. "So again, we're excited to get a contract that works for us in a cap situation that we're in here now and look forward to bigger and better things."
Connor reportedly had been skating at the University of Michigan. He was the last of a group of high-profile restricted free agent forwards to sign in time for the season, including Mitchell Marner of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Mikko Rantanen of the Colorado Avalanche, Matthew Tkachuk of the Calgary Flames, Brayden Point of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Brock Boeser of the Vancouver Canucks.
Selected by Winnipeg in the first round (No. 17) of the 2015 NHL Draft, Connor has 128 points (67 goals, 61 assists) in 178 regular-season games and 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in 23 playoff games.
Connor led rookies in goals (31) and finished fourth in points (57) in 2017-18.
"We don't ask Kyle to run guys over," Maurice told the website. "We ask him to get the puck stopped on the forecheck. If you can get in there and create a loose puck, then whoever is playing with him gets an opportunity to be a second quicker and we get possession. Well, at that speed and with that stick, that happens. It just happens a lot."