|The Jets have inked defenceman Derek Meech to a one-year, two-way contract Sunday. (ERNEST DOROSZUK/QMI Agency file photo)
WINNIPEG - The Jets have landed their first free agent of the day, agreeing to terms with left-winger Alexei Ponikarovsky, but two more are out the door.
The 32-year-old Ponikarovsky had 14 goals and 19 assists in 82 games last season for the Carolina Hurricanes and New Jersey Devils. He had one goal and eight assists in 23 playoff contests.
Ponikarovsky, who hails from Kiev, Ukraine, spent six full seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs, topping out at 23 goals and 38 assists in 82 games during the 2008-09 season.
He also gives the Jets some much-needed size, checking in at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds.
While the Jets added Ponikarovsky, they lost a pair of players in left-winger Tanner Glass, who agreed to a two-year contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and backup netminder Chris Mason, who signed a one-year pact with the Nashville Predators.
The deal is worth $1.1 million per season, which is a raise over the $750,000 he made this past season.
ďIt was an extremely tough call to leave Winnipeg,Ē Glass told the Sunís Ken Wiebe via text message.
Glass was a popular member of the Jets, playing on the GST line along with Jim Slater and Chris Thorburn. He was the teamís top hitter, but he managed just one goal in his last 44 games.
Mason, 36, appeared in 20 games last season for the Jets, registering an 8-7-1 record with a 2.59 goals against average and .898 save percentage. He was looking for more than a one-year deal, but it appears the chance to win a Stanley Cup as Pekka Rinneís backup won out.
The big names are still out there, including New Jersey Devils forward Zach Parise and Nashville Predators defenceman Ryan Suter. There have been reports the Jets are making a hard push for Parise, but that should be true for any team with salary cap room.
Meanwhile, the Jets announced shortly after the free agency period began that it had agreed to terms with unrestricted free agent defenceman Derek Meech, a Winnipeg native.
The deal, according to reports, is a one-year, two-way agreement worth $700,000 at the NHL level.
Meech, 28, had an injury-plagued 2011-12 season, appearing in just two games for the Jets and six regular-season contests for the AHLís St. Johnís IceCaps because of knee trouble. He had a strong post-season for the IceCaps, scoring four goals and five assists in 15 games.
The Jets and IceCaps also re-signed winger Jason King to an AHL contract on Sunday morning.
Goaltender Jonas Gustavsson, whose rights the Jets acquired last weekend for a conditional draft pick, has signed with the Detroit Red Wings. That means the Jets donít have to surrender a seventh-round draft pick to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
As for the Manitobans, Portageís Arron Asham left the Penguins to sign a two-year deal with the New York Rangers, while two-time Stanley Cup winner and Winkler native Dustin Penner inked a one-year deal to remain with the Los Angeles Kings.