JASON GREGOIRE SIGNS WITH WINNIPEGEx-Isles pick-turned-FA gets his ELC from the Jets

12:10 pm: Unable to reach an agreement on a deal with the Islanders, Jason Gregoire took advantage of a loophole, became a free agent and has signed an Entry Level contract with the Winnipeg Jets.

Although the Jets are Gregoire’s hometown team and have always been the favorite for his services since a few weeks after his defection – when the Atlanta Thashers moved to Manitoba – the 2007 third round draft pick of the Islanders had plenty of options. He met with nine NHL teams and – according to sources – received contract offers from six clubs, including the Minnesota Wild. After a two-week process, he opted to go with Winnipeg. The Jets’ new brass, led by GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, met with Gregoire over draft weekend. The Jets’ offer was higher than the last one presented by the Islanders.

While Gregoire told Point Blank last month that he was very happy the Islanders kept the door open for a possible signing after he turned free agent, the Islanders were said to be very disappointed in losing the solid prospect.

In his third and final season with the Fighting Sioux in 2010-11, the 6-0, 200-pound left wing had 25 goals and 18 assists for 43 points in 35 games. Gregoire, who was second in the WCHA in goals-per-game last year, has a chance of seeing some action in the NHL this season as a third line wing for the Jets. But he would be best served by some development in the AHL.

Blake Kessel, also drafted by the Islanders in 2007, last month also utilized the loophole. Like Gregoire, Kessel played in the USHL before starting college and became a free agent four years after his draft selection. The defenseman from the University of New Hampshire is said to be contemplating offers from at least four NHL teams and should reach a decision over the next two weeks. The Philadelphia Flyers are one of the leading candidates to land Kessel.

Comments on this subject are welcomed.