By Carter Brooks
Photo by Richard Gagnon
General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff and the Winnipeg Jets have had themselves quite a busy offseason thus far. Taking care of business with their arbitration-bound restricted free agents served as top priority, and they got the job done.
While drafts, trades, other RFA signings, and media conferences took up the majority of Cheveldayoff's other free time, General Manager Craig Heisinger and the Manitoba Moose has also remained active in the player signing department.
The NHL has an annual league-imposed deadline for all teams to sign their previously drafted college players - who are not currently under contract by an NHL team - by. This deadline falls on Wednesday, August 15th, making Tuesday the 14th the final opportunity for all teams to lock their draft selections up, or risk losing their NHL signing rights with their draft pick.
Although only 16 eligible players remained unsigned on Tuesday, two belong to the Winnipeg Jets. However, four of the 16 players have agreed to American Hockey League or East Coast Hockey League deals with NHL affiliates of their respected NHL parent clubs, in hopes to develop a bond with management, but not leapfrogging the singing window.
One such player, Matt Ustaski of the University of Wisconsin, was drafted by Winnipeg in the seventh round in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. Following four seasons in the Big-10 with Wisconsin, the 24-year-old signed a professional deal with the Manitoba Moose on July 3rd. Cheveldayoff has just one day remaining to sign his former draft selection to a two-way deal with the Jets. If Ustaski does not sign with Winnipeg, he is eligible to look elsewhere within the NHL for a team willing to offer a lucrative two-way deal.
The Jets' only other player on the list of college players with expiring rights is 22-year-old Jack Glover of the University of Minnesota. Glover - who went 69th overall in 2014 - has been placed in a unique situation, in that Winnipeg could actually retain his rights, due to a stipulation or loophole in the NHL's collective bargaining agreement, if acted upon responsibly.
Although the details have not yet been released, if the Jets have in fact provided Glover with an offer, Winnipeg would still hold his rights even after the August 15th signing deadline because of the fact that Glover had become a college student before the second June 1st following his draft year, and remained in college through his graduation. If Winnipeg had presented a bona fide offer to Glover (even if he turned down the contract), he will still remain property of the Jets.
More information will be known following the August 15th deadline.
Winnipeg still must sign restricted free agent defencemen Josh Morrissey and Nic Kerdiles, along with forward JC Lipon and goaltender Eric Comrie. Opening night of the 2018-19 NHL season is but 50 days away.