Winnipeg Jets Offseason Update: Bryan Little Comes to Terms, Avoids Arbitration

Anthony CapocciContributor IJuly 24, 2013

WINNIPEG, CANADA - APRIL 20: Bryan Little #18 of the Winnipeg Jets fires the puck past Evgeni Nabokov #20 of the New York Islanders for a goal as teammate Evander Kane #9 looks on during third period action on April 20, 2013 at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Marianne Helm/Getty Images)
Marianne Helm/Getty Images

On Monday, center Bryan Little came to terms with the Winnipeg Jets to avoid going to arbitration per TSN. Little’s new five-year contract is worth an annual average value of $4.7 million, a total of $23.5 million over the course of the contract.

In his first full season with the Jets, Little scored 24 goals and 46 points in 74 games. In last year’s shortened season, Little scored seven goals to go with 32 points in 48 games. His career high in goals and points came during his second season in the NHL with the Atlanta Thrashers in 2008-09 when scored 31 goals and 51 points.

Little will make a lot of money, maybe more than he should merit, but he’s the Jets’ top center and will get paid like one for the next five seasons.

Many people will argue that Little is only a top-line center on the Jets because they’re not deep at the position. That’s probably more true than not. However, he’s still a solid contributor with an excellent two-way game and the ability to be a solid playmaking center.

Little is a key piece in the puzzle, and there’s no denying that a deal had to get done. Avoiding arbitration is always the smart thing to do. Instead of getting stuck with a one or two-year deal and potentially losing him in that time, the Jets essentially paid for Little’s unrestricted free agent years.

Little is key a part of the Jets’ number one line which also consists of Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler. The three have been a stable for more than two seasons, and are the Jets’ best line in terms of producing offensively. It’s a line that the fans will love seeing stick for a few more seasons at the very least.

If and when Mark Scheifele is ready to step in and take over as the Jets’ top-line center sometime during these next couple of seasons, Little would likely be demoted to the second line. That’s a spot more suited for him and he would easily be one of the better second-line centers in the league. Until that time, Little is and will remain the Jets’ top line and best centerman.

The Jets also came to terms with forwards Eric O’Dell and Anthony Peluso, per TSN. The two will be key depth players for the Jets in the upcoming season. Peluso is the heavyweight the Jets will want in the lineup, and O'Dell should bring a fresh start as he begins his NHL career.

Next up for the Jets is reaching an agreement with Wheeler and Zach Bogosian. The two have set arbitration dates for early next week. It's vital the Jets get a deal done with Wheeler especially before his hearing date.