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Winnipeg Jets welcome back Laine and Connor, send 5 players to Moose

Kyle Connor says he has the long term contract he was looking for with the Winnipeg Jets and Patrik Laine says is very comfortable with the bridge deal he agreed to with the team.

And Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is probably happy to not have to be speaking with agents for the first time in weeks.

Both players met with the media Monday to discuss what brought them back to Winnipeg, just in time for the start of the regular season on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden against former team mate Jacob Trouba and the New York Rangers.

READ MORE: Winnipeg Jets trade Jacob Trouba to the Big Apple

“I think it was something new and obviously took longer than anyone wanted it to,” Laine told reporters.

“But obviously that’s just the situation that it was. But I’m super excited and happy to be here. My summer was way too long and we’ll try to make it a little shorter for next year.”

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READ MORE: Winnipeg Jets make two-year, $13.5 million pact with Patrik Laine

Laine opted for a two year bridge deal with an average annual value of $6.75 million, and seems very comfortable with that arrangement heading into his fourth NHL season.

“I know I’ll be good for the next two years. I’m going to score a lot of goals, that’s for sure,” Laine predicted confidently.

“I’ve always trusted myself and this is no exception. I’m going to be betting only myself for these two years.”

WATCH: Raw Patrik Laine Media Conference

RAW: Winnipeg Jets Patrik Laine – Sept. 30
RAW: Winnipeg Jets Patrik Laine – Sept. 30

For Connor, his first experience with the business side of the game was also a bit of a learning experience.

“It’s tough you know. As athletes and hockey players, we’re all competitive,” the 22-year-old from Shelby Township, Michigan said during his news conference.

“You don’t see your team mates and talk to them going through camp. You just want to be a part of it. There were definitely some ups and downs. Lots of talks with my agent Rich Evans. I’m just happy it’s done, happy to be here, and ready to get going.”

WATCH: Raw Kyle Connor Media Conference

RAW: Winnipeg Jets Kyle Connor – Sept. 30
RAW: Winnipeg Jets Kyle Connor – Sept. 30

READ MORE: Winnipeg Jets re-sign RFA Kyle Connor

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Connor has scored 67 goals and totaled 128 points in 178 NHL games during his first three seasons as a pro. But even though the two sides “looked at all sorts of things” during the negotiations, the end goal always was a long term deal, he said.

And Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff was only too happy to oblige.

Winnipeg Jets’ Kyle Connor celebrates after scoring as St. Louis Blues’ Ryan O’Reilly (90) skates in the background during the third period in Game 3 of an NHL first-round hockey playoff series Sunday, April 14, 2019, in St. Louis. The Jets won 6-3.
Winnipeg Jets’ Kyle Connor celebrates after scoring as St. Louis Blues’ Ryan O’Reilly (90) skates in the background during the third period in Game 3 of an NHL first-round hockey playoff series Sunday, April 14, 2019, in St. Louis. The Jets won 6-3. AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

“Order really meant nothing. Everything’s individual, everything’s separate,” was how Cheveldayoff responded to suggestions that negotiations with the Connor camp could not be completed until a deal for Laine was in place.

“They only thing they’re tied together, is in our own personal cap and our own personal economic situation, both short term and long term. You factor in a lot of different things when it comes to this. We’re just real excited that we were able to get two years of unrestricted free agency and an opportunity for a good core player to be signed long term.”

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READ MORE: Jets suspend Byfuglien in cap space move

As for the Laine deal, Cheveldayoff says he’ll be 100 per cent in favour of the gamble paying off.

“I can’t wait for him to do those kinds of things… when you’ve got good players, that’s awesome to have,” said the Jets GM with enthusiasm.

“We hope and expect him to continue on the great trajectory that he’s had.”

WATCH: Raw Kevin Cheveldayoff Media Conference

RAW: Winnipeg Jets Kevin Cheveldayoff – Sept. 30
RAW: Winnipeg Jets Kevin Cheveldayoff – Sept. 30

The Jets are currently carrying 24 players on their roster following the assignment of goalie Eric Comrie, defenceman Nelson Nogier, and forwards JC Lipon, Joona Luoto, and CJ Suess to the AHL Manitoba Moose. Nogier, Comrie, and Lipon must all clear NHL waivers.

All teams must be down to 23 players by 3 p.m. CT on Tuesday. Bryan Little is being evaluated further after taking a high hit to the head in the first period of Sunday’s 5-4 overtime win at Minnesota. And defenceman Sami Niku has been nursing a groin injury that has kept him on the sidelines for a good portion of camp and the preseason.

In the meantime, it would appear as though teenage players Ville Heinola and David Gustafsson have at least done enough to start the season with the big club. Especially after being assigned uniform numbers 14 and 19 respectively.

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Dustin Byfuglien remains suspended without pay and Cheveldayoff described that situation as “status quo”.

Josh Morrissey inks deal with the Winnipeg Jets
Josh Morrissey inks deal with the Winnipeg Jets