WINNIPEG - The Winnipeg Jets were in the Zach Parise sweepstakes, if only momentarily.
Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff didn’t make the trip to Toronto to make his sales pitch, but did place a call to Newport Sports to declare their interest.
That wasn’t enough to secure Parise’s services as the Jets aren’t among the teams on the shortlist.
“Obviously, that’s kind of where it went,” said Cheveldayoff. “We expressed our interest early, but the process started in earnest pretty early after that.”
Parise is expected to make his decision known on Monday and the Pittsburgh Penguins remain a favourite to sign him.
Cheveldayoff confirmed the Jets didn’t make an offer to coveted defenceman Ryan Suter, who is also expected to announce his decision on Monday.
MEECH RETURNS: Defenceman Derek Meech signed a one-year, two-way deal with the Jets on Sunday.
Meech, a Winnipegger, endured an injury-plagued season and was limited to just two games with the Jets, but battled back to enjoy a strong playoff with the St. John’s IceCaps of the American Hockey League, producing four goals and nine points in 15 games.
“I had options overseas and there were a couple other teams interested. I just felt in my heart it was the right thing for me at this time,” said Meech. “I have a lot of passion for Winnipeg, I’m obviously a hometown guy and it’s always been my dream to play for the Jets. I’m going to keep trying here and hopefully, things work out.”
Meech, 28, has four goals and 16 points in 128 NHL games with the Jets and Detroit Red Wings.
PENNER STAYS: Winkler product Dustin Penner has decided to remain with the Los Angeles Kings, inking a one-year deal worth $3.25 million.
Penner, who won the Stanley Cup for the second time in his career after enduring a tumultuous season, actually agreed to the deal in principle on Saturday, so he technically didn’t become a free agent.
“I wanted to see what it was like to be back with a team I had won a championship with,” said Penner, who signed with the Edmonton Oilers after winning his first Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks back in 2007. “Last year wasn’t near other people’s expectations and especially my own. I look forward to having the opportunity to redeem myself further.”
We asked Penner if he would have considered an offer from the Jets?
“If I would have got to free agency, I would have considered any offer out there, whether it was the Jets or any other team,” he said. “Free agency is something as a player that you work hard to get. I knew what I was giving up by signing early, but what I get in return is something I’ve never had before. That was the tradeoff that was worth it for me.”
MANITOBANS ON MOVE: Several other Manitobans opted for new addresses on Sunday.
Jordin Tootoo, who was born in Churchill and starred with the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League, left the Nashville Predators to sign a three-year deal worth $5.7 million with the Red Wings, Portage product Arron Asham left the Pittsburgh Penguins to sign a two-year, $2 million deal with the New York Rangers and Nesbitt product Aaron Rome left the Vancouver Canucks to sign a three-year deal worth $4.5 million with the Dallas Stars.
AROUND THE GLASS: Left-winger Evander Kane became a restricted free agent on Sunday. Cheveldayoff said negotiations are ongoing … Winger Spencer Machacek also became a restricted free agent on Sunday … Goaltender Jonas Gustavsson, whose rights the Jets acquired last weekend from Toronto, signed with Detroit on Sunday. That means the Jets don’t have to surrender a seventh-round draft pick to the Maple Leafs.
— with files from Kirk Penton
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