The Winnipeg Jets locked up one of its top centres just hours before training camp starts.
Bryan Little has signed a six-year contract extension worth $31.746-million. The Edmonton product is entering the final season of his current deal which paid him an average of $4.7-million per year.
“I didn’t want to leave just as things are starting to get good,” Little said Thursday morning. “I have been with this franchise for a long time and a lot of ups a lot of downs. I feel like the team is taking a turn and it is definitely the most talented group I have ever played with. The future of this team is really bright.”
Little has played 672 NHL games over 11 seasons, all with the Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets organization.
WATCH: Patrik Laine reacts to finding out about Little’s six year extension
When asked about trade clauses Little told reporters he believes the contract has a no movement clause for the first three years and a modified no trade on the back half.
“I wanted to sign a longer term deal. I wanted the stability. I knew I could play longer and I wanted to stay in Winnipeg for a long time. I wanted to be here for awhile and be secure and luckily they were offering that right away.”
Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said the three year no movement starts this season.
Last year, the forward netted 21 goals and 26 assists in 59 games. He is hoping to build on that success.
“I still have one year left in my old contract. By the time the six years is up I will be 37. It’s hard to tell where you are at that age but my full goal is to play as long as I can and I feel pretty good right now,” Little said.
Cheveldayoff told reporters the length of the contract wasn’t a concern for him given when the team is gaining.
“If you want to keep veteran players and you want to continue to surround young players with quality people the term is the trade off,” he said.
News of the contract didn’t make its way to one key player on the team. Patrik Laine was caught off guard Thursday morning when asked by reporters for his thoughts on the signing.
“Actually I didn’t know,” he said. “So that sounds really good, that’s great for him but I didn’t know about that but it’s really great.”
Players reported to the Jets for medicals Thursday morning. Blake Wheeler is anxious to see what talent this training camp brings.
“It’s nice to see familiar faces and a few new ones,” the Jets captain said.”Good competition, that’s how you know you are headed in the right direction. Players vying for few spots and that’s when you know you are headed in the right spot.”
The first on-ice session of training camp is scheduled for Friday.