The Winnipeg Jets dumped some salary on Saturday, dealing goaltender Steve Mason and forward Joel Armia to the Montreal Canadiens. The move frees up some cap space for the Jets, who look to re-sign centre Paul Stastny, who is set to become a free agent on July 1. Stastny was acquired from the St. Louis Blues on February 26 and found instant chemistry on the Jets playing in between Nikolaj Ehlers and Patrik Laine.
In addition to Mason and Armia, the Habs acquired a 2019 7th round pick and a 2020 4th round pick from Winnipeg. They sent 21-year old defenseman Simon Bourque to the Jets.
The trade frees up more than 4.1 million dollars in cap space for the Jets. Mason had one year left on his contract at 4.1 million, and Armia was an RFA due a raise from his 925k cap hit. Mason was immediately bought out by Montreal and is now a free agent.
Joel Armia was acquired by the Winnipeg Jets from the Buffalo Sabres in February 2015 when he was sent to Winnipeg in a package for Evander Kane. The 25-year old scored 12 goals and 29 points in 79 games this year with the Jets. The 30-year old Mason was brought in last summer to be the Jets’ starting goalie (or at the very least tandem with Connor Hellebuyck), but injuries and inconsistent play led him to a 5-6-1 record with a .906 save percentage and a 3.24 GAA.
Simon Bourque is a 21-year old native of Longueuill, Quebec, who was drafted in the 6th round, 177th overall by the Montreal Canadiens in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. He put up 3 assists in 46 games last year as a rookie for the Laval Rocket of the AHL. He was a QMJHL champion in 2015 with the Rimouski Oceanic and again in 2017 with the Saint John Sea Dogs.
In addition, the Jets also sent 22-year old centre Chase De Leo to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for 24-year old winger Nicolas Kerdiles. Kerdiles was a 2nd round pick by the Ducks in 2012, and played in 2 games with the Ducks last year. In the AHL, he scored 15 goals and 34 points in 49 games last season. De Leo was taken in the 4th round by the Jets in 2014 and had 12 goals and 35 points in 69 games in the AHL last year. The Californian forward played 2 games in the NHL for the Jets in 2016.
This trade was alright. It sucks trading Armia, but I’m not gonna lose sleep over it. There’s a logjam at forward anyway, and this just opens the door for guys like Dano, Petan, Lemieux, Vesalainen and Appleton. He always seemed to have great potential but at 25-years old and in his prime, I don’t think he will ever reach it. He is a streaky possession guy with a good stick who can kill penalties and can’t finish. I think Vesalainen will have a much bigger impact (maybe not this year but next). Mason had to go. His contract was not good, and although the price to dump his one year contract was steep, it was needed if the Jets wanted any chance at bringing Stastny back. This is clearly Hellebuyck’s team. That being said, that leaves the Jets without a backup. I am not entirely sold on Comrie. I imagine it will be Comrie and Hellebuyck in the NHL and Berdin and a UFA on the Moose, BUT I would not be opposed to signing a free agent (someone like Al Montoya again) and keeping Comrie and Berdin in the AHL. The picks were basically throw ins. Bourque isn’t gonna be much for us, but if he turns into a nice depth piece for the Moose I will be pleased with him. These kind of trades hurt, but they are ones contenders need to make. I’m glad Lowry wasn’t traded. If Stastny is re-signed tomorrow then I will be thrilled, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s another trade in the works. As for the De Leo swap, not sure what that was about. Pretty pointless as I don’t think either will ever amount to anything.