WINNIPEG -- Josh Morrissey agreed to terms on an eight-year, $50 million contract extension with the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday. It has an average annual value of $6.25 million.
The contract will begin in the 2020-21 season for the 24-year-old defenseman, who has one season remaining on a two-year, $6.3 million contract (average annual value $3.15 million) he signed with Winnipeg on Sept. 16, 2018.
"I felt like it was a great fit," Morrissey said. "I love playing here. The term excited me. The fact that I get to have that stability, but to be here and playing in Winnipeg, from Day One it's what I've always said that I wanted to do. To have that and the way it worked out, I'm really excited."
Morrissey had an NHL career-high 31 points (six goals, 25 assists) in 59 regular-season games last season and one assist in six Stanley Cup Playoff games. Selected by the Jets with the No. 13 pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, he has 77 points (19 goals, 58 assists) in 223 regular-season games and three points (one goal, two assists) in 22 playoff games.
Video: Morrissey chats about contract extension with Jets
"During the year, you want to be focusing on playing," he said, "so I'm really happy we were able to get to a point and get the deal done."
The Jets have two restricted free agents, forwards Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor, as they prepare to begin on-ice workouts Friday. They lost three defensemen during the offseason: Jacob Trouba was traded to the New York Rangers, and Ben Chiarot (Montreal Canadiens) and Tyler Myers (Vancouver Canucks) left as free agents.
Morrissey was asked if his extension might help morale.
"Hopefully that's a positive thing," he said. "But on an individual level, I'm really excited to have this opportunity to be here and to be a Winnipeg Jet going forward (and) at the same time, focus on winning. That's what I'm most excited about.
"From talking to the guys in the room, everyone has come from that mindset. We're excited about this year, we're excited to show what we can do as a team and try to build with our young group that is still one of the youngest in the League."
Video: Morrissey signs eight-year extension with Jets
General manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said he told Gerry Johansson, Morrissey's agent, at the 2019 NHL Draft that the Jets wanted to get to work on a contract extension. He also said the NHL salary cap hampered efforts to come to a long-term agreement last offseason.
"Given our cap situation, he was able to see at that point we could only do a bridge to keep the group together and try to take a kick at the can last year with what we had," Cheveldayoff said. "At that time, we told him, 'It is our firm belief that we want to make you a long-term Jet, and when we get that opportunity, we're going to work hard at doing it.'"
Cheveldayoff said Morrissey has been on a steady upward curve since he was drafted and cited the 2013-14 season. When Morrissey's junior season with Prince Albert of the Western Hockey League ended, the 19-year-old joined St. John's of the American Hockey League. Morrissey played the final eight regular-season games, then played significant minutes in 20 playoff games, finishing with nine points (two goals, seven assists) to help St. John's advance to the Calder Cup Final, which it lost to the Texas Stars.
"To see him step in as a pro at that point in time, you knew you had something pretty special," Cheveldayoff said. "Then he came and played and developed in the American Hockey League (with Manitoba in 2015-16) ... you did see that his development path was going to lead to some great things.
"That's the Josh Morrissey on the ice. The Josh Morrissey off the ice is just a top, top-notch person, always willing to give back to the community, always willing to do things for others on his team. We're really, really excited today to be able to announce this and have him as a long-term Jet."