After a respectable finish to the 2011-12 season, it looked like Tim Stapleton might have earned himself at least another look with the Winnipeg Jets, if not another NHL club. However, Stapleton has reportedly agreed to a contract with Dynamo-Minsk of the KHL.
While terms of the deal have not become available just yet, you have to figure that Stapleton is going to get significantly more money than he would from any organization in the NHL. Teams aren’t exactly lining up for 29-year-old fringe guys. Although Stapleton played well down the stretch for the Jets and posted a pretty respectable 27 points in 63 games, his departure from Winnipeg shouldn’t come as too big of a deal.
Even though he showed some promise in March and April, he wasn’t going to be a long-term solution on any line for the Jets and would probably have to fight for a spot in camp. Furthermore, there are going to be plenty of youngsters fighting for a chance to play with the big club this year including Mark Scheifele, Patrice Cormier and Ben Maxwell, making Stapleton easily expendable.
Also not helping Stapleton is his lack of size. At 5’9” and 182 lbs, a forward has to be gifted with the puck and be able to contribute offensively on a consistent basis. Stapleton’s size doesn’t exactly leave him cut out for a checking role and even though he could make plays, it wasn’t like he was lighting it up. The Jets are looking for skill in the top six and toughness in the bottom six and Stapleton doesn’t exactly fit into either of those categories.
Playing in the KHL on larger ice surfaces should suit Stapleton’s crafty game and he could thrive there. Unfortunately for him, his window of finding success in the NHL has appeared to have closed.