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Jets Sign Free Agents Kulikov and Sgarbossa

By Scott Taylor

In a bit of a desperation move, the Winnipeg Jets signed a free agent left-handed shooting defenseman on Saturday. Somewhat desperate for a left-handed shot on the point, the Jets signed Dmitry Kulikov, a player who did not have a very good season in Buffalo last year.

A 26-year-old former first-round (14th overall) draft pick of the Florida Panthers, Kulikov was signed to a three-year, $13 million deal by the Jets. Not bad for an unrestricted free agent who played 47 games in Buffalo last year and had two goals, five points, was a minus-26 in 22 minutes a game. He’s a good player coming off his worst season in eight years in the National Hockey League.

He’s a 6-foot-1, 204-pound defenseman who neither scored nor stopped the opposition from scoring last season. Perhaps you can simply chalk it up to being in Buffalo, but the fact is, he wasn’t very good in his one and only year with the Sabres after spending seven seasons in Florida.

If he’s worth $13 million over three seasons, hard to imagine what Jacob Trouba is worth. He’s being paid like a Top 4 defenseman but one can’t imagine he steals a spot from Trouba, Dustin Byfuglien, Josh Morrissey or Tyler Myers. There is some thought that he’ll be a better player if he doesn’t have to log 22 minutes a game.

As well, on the first day of free agency, the Jets signed UFA centre Michael Sgarbossa to a one-year, one-way contract for $650,000.

Sgarbossa, 24, split last season in both the Anaheim Ducks and Florida Panthers organizations. The product of Campbellville, Ont. had two assists in nine games with the Ducks and five goals and seven points in 29 games with the Panthers. In the American Hockey League, he had five goals and 13 points in 16 games with the San Diego Gulls and Springfield Thunderbirds. The 6-foot, 175-pounde lefthanded shot has played 244 games in the AHL, racking up 56 goals and 159 points.

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