The Winnipeg Jets have avoided salary arbitration with center Bryan Little, re-signing him to a five-year, $23.5 million contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Little, 25, was slated for a salary arbitration hearing on Wednesday, so this is a timely agreement. The average annual cap hit will be $4.7 million, doubling his $2.383 million per season salary under his previous deal. It also pushes the Jets payroll to over $51.8 million invested in 20 players for next season.
Little is a sound playmaker who can play center or on the wing. He had 32 points in 48 games last season, which prorated would’ve put him well on pace for another 40-plus point season, of which he’s had three thus far in his career.
Still, his career-best season (31 goals, 51 points) came in 2008-09, and it remains to be seen if he’ll meet or exceed those number again over the course of this new contract. Consistency has been an issue for Little since that career-best season, something he must overcome as he heads into the prime of his NHL career.
The Jets focus now shifts to winger Blake Wheeler (whose arbitration hearing is July 29) and Zach Bogosian (August 2).