One of the final pieces in the Winnipeg Jets/St. John’s IceCaps puzzle was put in place Tuesday with the signing of restricted free agent Spencer Machacek.
Machacek received a qualifying offer from the Jets in July, but sat and watched from home in Lethbridge, Alta. as Winnipeg signed a plethora of free agents with a St. John’s connection, among them team captain Jason Jaffray, Corner Brook’s Jason King, Derek Meech, Ray Sawada, John Albert, Ben Maxwell, Maxime Macenauer and Paul Postma, the latter inked to a one-year, one-way deal for $550,000.
Machacek, the IceCaps’ leading scorer last season (18-32-50), also got a one-year deal, but it’s a two-way contract that will pay him $575,000 if he plays in Winnipeg.
The 23-year-old had a solid audition with the Jets towards the end of the NHL season, registering a pair of goals and nine assists in 11 games.
With Postma scoring a one-way contract, and IceCaps teammate Aaron Gagnon in line for one-way money this season ($525,000), it was suggested Machacek, too, was holding out for an NHL contract.
“You always want a one-way, but sometimes it doesn’t happen,” he said Tuesday. “But if you play well, you’re going to be in the NHL anyway. So you put the contract behind you.”
RDS, the French equivalent of TSN, reported Tuesday the NHL and its Players Association have agreed to allow waiver-eligible players with two-way deals to be cleared to play in AHL if the lockout occurs. Players would not have to clear waivers should they be assigned to AHL teams, and would not be subject to re-entry waivers if they were recalled following the lockout.
Which means, possibly, the Jets and Machacek have an agreement that he will be recalled following the lockout, and the two-way deal was agreed to purely out of convenience.
“Both sides wanted the deal done,” he said. “The lockout put a damper on it.”
In the meantime, Machacek reports he is fully recovered from off-season surgery to repair a sports hernia he suffered during the Calder Cup playoffs. The injury forced him to miss all four games of the Eastern Conference final, won by the eventual league champion Norfolk Admirals.
“It hasn’t been a hard recovery. I’m 100 per cent healthy and ready to go,” said Machacek, who has been skating with the University of Lethbridge team.