The Winnipeg Jets didn’t make a move on the 2014 Trade Deadline day, but they did take defenseman Mark Stuart off the board, signing him to a four-year contract.
The deal is worth $10.5 million, an AAV of $2.625 million. Stuart is 29, and the contract will take him through the 2017-18 season, where he will be 34. Oddly, the contract carries a No-Trade Clause, a rarity among third-pairing defenseman.
Stuart has nine points for the Jets this season, and leads the team in both hits (163) and blocked shots (118), with 82 PIMs in 50 games. Stuart has been with the club since 2010, when he was traded from the Boston Bruins. He has played in 195 career games for the Jets/Thrashers over four seasons.
The signing comes just after Stuart’s name was thrown into trade conversation as a rental defenseman. After making the formal announcement, Jets GM Kevin Chevaldayoff said that there was interest from other teams, but no talks came close to fruition. Chevaldayoff commented on Stuart’s signing, saying this:
“[Contract negotiation] was something we had been working on for a little bit, and it came together very quickly in the end, and we’re extremely pleased and excited to announce that [Stuart] will be part of our organization moving forward.”
Stuart is an assistant captain, and the Jets will rely on his leadership in future seasons. Stuart’s role may decline in the third and fourth years of his contract, as he moves from a top-four defenseman to the more desirable third-pairing role with the introduction of Josh Morrissey to the NHL ranks.
If/when the Jets become a playoff team in the near future, they will rely on Stuart’s playoff experience on the blue-line, as he is the only Jets defenseman with more than 10 career playoff games (22, all with Bruins).
The Jets made a good move in the signing, keeping a veteran, gritty defenseman around the club at a good price, and for a reasonable four-year term.
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