It was a vote of confidence from both sides Monday as the Winnipeg Jets re-signed centre Bryan Little to a new five-year contract worth $23.5 million.
Little says he’s convinced the team has the talent it needs to succeed and likes what the off-season addition of forwards Michael Frolik and Devon Setoguchi does to the offence.
“At the end of the day that’s what we want,” Little said of making the Jets into a playoff contender. “If I felt the team was going to struggle for five more years, I wouldn’t have signed that deal.”
The 25-year-old is a member of Winnipeg’s top line with captain Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler.
Little, who avoided arbitration by signing the deal, had seven goals and 25 assists in 48 games last season.
In 404 games with the franchise, the 12th overall pick in the 2006 NHL draft has 99 goals and 128 assists.
The Jets still need to come to terms with Wheeler, who has also filed for arbitration.
“Hopeful Wheeler can get something similar because we really enjoy playing together,” Little said on a conference call.
Little said he didn’t give much thought to signing a short-term deal in order to become an unrestricted free agent and test the market.
The Thrashers-Jets franchise has made the playoffs only once, back in 2007. The club came close last season but stumbled down the stretch.