3

Ball is in Jets court with a Bryan Little extension

Every franchise has its career player. Whether it’s just the amount of skill they have or the leadership they bring to the table, they end up wearing the same jersey throughout their years in the NHL. This is the case for Bryan Little.

Little has been with the franchise since their days in Atlanta and told TSN’s Gary Lawless that “he’d love to sign an extension with [Winnipeg] and stay for his career.”

“I’ve made it clear I love playing here,” Little told the Winnipeg Sun. “I like the city, I have a house here and I’ve made it my second home.”

The 29-year-old centre has been remarkable this season, and has 18 goals and 34 points in 45 games this season and is a plus-1. He did miss a chunk of the beginning of the 2016-17 campaign with a knee injury but has bounced back and shown consistency and solid stats each game this year.

At an earlier point this season, Little had 29 points in 33 games and was playing more like a top-six forward. He displays excellent on-ice awareness and has great vision on the ice.

Normally, the Edmonton, Alberta native serves as a stable top-six forward who can provide scoring, along with outstanding backchecking ability. Not to mention, he knows how to make smart plays, and has an underrated shot. He’s also a great face-off man.

He also thrives defensively. His relative Fenwick sits at a 3.6, and he appears to have no problem when it comes to maintaining possession and avoiding turnovers. It is also seldom when he gives away the puck, and he has proven to be a weapon on special teams thanks to his excellent two-way game.

In addition, Little has been recommended for the Selke and Lady Byng NHL awards multiple times throughout his career and has shown great sportsmanship and leadership throughout his career. The Jets are fortunate to have a player like him who wants to remain with the team and help it continue to go in the right direction.

Over his career, Little has shown excellent scoring numbers, and this has made him one of the best forwards on the Jets roster. He puts up at least 40 points per season on average and knows how to make the most of his time on the ice.

In addition, he isn’t afraid to shoot the puck and displays tremendous patience and confidence with the puck. He knows his place and capitalizes on all of his opportunities with the team. With each season that goes by, he remains consistent in his ability and is a great presence to have in their offensive arsenal consisting of Patrik Laine, Mark Scheifele and more.

Extending Little

Little will become an UFA at the end of next season, finishing out the last year of his five-year, $23.5 million contract. He is not necessarily an expensive player, so the Jets should look at their situation, because there is no reason to let him walk.

Overall, this is a solid deal for both sides. Little would get to remain with his preferred team, while the Jets keep stability and depth on the bottom-six. To put it in simple terms, it is a win-win for both parties.

Age is Just a Number

For Little, age has proven to be just a number. He has shown no signs of decline through the years and only seems to improve and get better from where he is currently. His work ethic alone drives him to be a better player, and he has become more versatile in his time in the NHL.

Little can play either the centre or right wing position and is very oriented toward the former position. This helps him as he continues to build on his playmaking ability, and he has shown no shortage of skill when it comes to making the right passes.

Though he is a veteran presence that can bring leadership and experience to this rather young Jets squad, he also carries skill, ability and potential for the future.

Bottom Line

Winnipeg needs to keep this player on their roster. He is a stable forward who provides depth where they need it, and has the winning mentality and positive attitude to help this team grow.