On March 21, the Jets sent Bryan Little and Nathan Smith’s signing rights to Arizona in exchange for the Coyotes 2022 fourth-round pick. Smith is not under contract with the Jets, therefore the Jets sent his signing rights to the Coyotes.
Some fans may be surprised about Smith being added in this deal considering the outstanding season he is having at the collegiate level. Smith currently plays at the NCAA Division 1 level for Minnesota State-Mankato and has 19 goals, 31 assists. and a plus-26 rating in 36 games played this season.
Due to his run of play this year, the Jets’ former 2018 third-round pick was named to Team U.S.A.’s 2022 Olympic roster and performed well in Beijing. He is also currently one of the finalists for the Hobey Baker Memorial Trophy that is awarded to the best college hockey player.
But with all this taken into consideration, why would Kevin Cheveldayoff and the Winnipeg Jets trade away one of their top prospects?
Reports said that Nathan Smith was not going to sign with the Winnipeg Jets
Since Smith was drafted in 2018, his signing rights last until this offseason, and if the team that has his signing rights does not sign him by the offseason, then he will become an unrestricted free agent.
According to Darren Dreger, Smith was not going to sign with the Jets. Therefore, the Jets got something for him now (a fifth-round draft selection) rather than letting him slip to free agency and not getting anything for him.
There is no indication on whether Smith is returning to Minnesota State for his senior season, if he is going to sign with the Coyotes, or if he is going to test free agency this summer or after the 2023 college season.
Bill Armstrong, the General Manager of the Coyotes, stated that “We are very happy to acquire his rights and look forward to him joining the Coyotes organization.”
It will be interesting to see if he does sign with Arizona when his collegiate season ends, which will be in two weeks. On Saturday night, Smith and his Maverick teammates beat Notre Dame 1-0 to book their ticket to the 2022 Frozen Four in Boston. Smith scored the lone goal in the game. The Frozen Four semifinals are on April 7 and the Championship is on April 9.
Regardless the Jets made a smart play to get a draft pick for a player that they had no chance of signing.
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If Smith does become a free agent he will definitely be a sought-after player, who is capable of making an NHL roster right away.
Winnipeg Jets Fans: Are you happy the Winnipeg Jets traded Nathan Smith and Bryan Little to the Coyotes for a draft pick? Leave your comments below!