Munz: Interesting first day of NHL Free Agency for Jets

Brian Munz
7/1/2012 10:17:47 PM
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It was an interesting nine hours spent inside MTS Centre on Sunday watching what Winnipeg Jets General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff could do on the first day of NHL Free Agency.

The positive was the addition of forward Alexei Ponikarovsky along with the earlier signings of defenceman Derek Meech and forward Jason King.

Ponikarovsky arrives following a memorable run to the Stanley Cup Final with the New Jersey Devils.  A former team mate of Nik Antropov in Toronto, the 32-year-old spoke numerous times on Sunday about playing again with the Jets' number 80.  "Poni," according to TSN Jets play-by-play voice Dennis Beyak "could be a 25-goal man this season if put in the right situation."  Ponikarovsky has 314 points in 636 career NHL games with Toronto, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Carolina and New Jersey.

Remaining with the organization that will have another positive impact on the Jets' AHL affiliate in St. John's are Meech and King.  Meech proved once again when healthy, he is one of the best defenceman in the AHL. If needed, the 28-year-old Winnipegger can play some valuable NHL minutes as he has 128 games of experience between Detroit and Winnipeg.

Having King with the IceCaps once again adds a great wealth of knowledge for Head Coach Keith McCambridge.  He had 41 points in 70 AHL games last season and was named the IceCaps IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year for his outstanding contributions to the community.

The disappointment of NHL Free Agency is losing players to other teams and that occurred with Chris Mason and Tanner Glass.

Mason returns for a second stint with the Nashville Predators while Glass joins the excitement of playing with Sidney Crosby in Pittsburgh. 

Both players said numerous times at the end of last season they enjoyed their time in Winnipeg and would like to return, however felt today they had better opportunities to be more successful and go deep in the playoffs with the Predators and Penguins, respectively.  Mason and Glass were two of the most willing players to speak with the media, win or lose, and will be missed both on and off the ice.

Alexei Ponikarovsky (Photo: John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)


(Photo: John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
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