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The NHL Free Agent Frenzy – Notes From Day 1

Maple Leafs by David from Washington is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The NHL Free Agent Frenzy – Notes From Day 1

Estimated Reading Time: 3 Minutes

Ahh, July 1st. The day thousands of hockey fans spend refreshing their Twitter feeds for updates from Darren Dreger, Bob McKenzie, and Pierre LeBrun. Most of those folks (myself included) were anxiously awaiting word of where the top prize of this free agent class, Islanders center John Tavares, would sign his impending mega-contract.

Well, now we know.

Tavares will bid farewell to the only home he’s ever known in the NHL, and leave Long Island to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He signed a max 7-year deal with an AAV of $11 million on Sunday, much to the chagrin of the five other teams looking to woo Tavares to their cities. Tavares will undoubtedly give Toronto the deepest center grouping in the league (Auston Matthews will likely slide to the second line, and Nazem Kadri will anchor the third line- INSANE). If Toronto can get their hands on some consistent goaltending, they should be poised for a deep run at the Stanly Cup. Tavares will make that much of a difference.

Toronto may have made the biggest splash today, but they weren’t the only teams dishing out contracts. For those of you in need of a recap, here are a few notable signings from the free-agent frenzy so far:

Guys on the move

  • Forward James Van Riemsdyk will return to the Philadelphia Flyers, signing a 5-year deal with his former club.
  • Defenseman Mike Green will go back to a former team as well, signing a 2-year contract with Detroit.
  • The Buffalo Sabres may have found their new starting goalie, signing Carter Hutton to a 3-year contract.
  • Goalie Petr Mrazek signed a 1-year contract with the Carolina Hurricanes, and should make a run for the starting job with fellow goaltender Scott Darling.
  • The Las Vegas Golden Knights signed center Paul Statsny to a 3-year contract.
  • The Boston Bruins signed former New Jersey defenseman John Moore to a 5-year contract. They also secured a backup goalie for Tuukka Rask by signing Jaroslav Halak to a 2-year deal.
  • Goalie Anton Khudobin signed a 2-year deal with the Dallas Stars.
  • The St. Louis Blues bolstered their forward lines by signing David Perron and Tyler Bozak to 4- and 3-year deals, respectively.
  • Tomas Plekanec signed with the Montreal Canadiens on a 1-year deal.
  • Center Riley Nash signed a 3-year deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
  • The New York Islanders signed center Leo Komarov to 4-year contract.
  • The Vancouver Canucks made several moves up top, signing Antoine Roussel and Jay Beagle to 4-year contracts, and Tim Schaller to a 2-year deal.
  • Michael Grabner will head out west to the Arizona Coyotes on a 3-year deal.
  • The Minnesota Wild will have themselves a slew of new faces, as they have already signed J.T. Brown, Greg Pateryn, Matt Hendricks, Eric Fehr, and Andrew Hammond.

Notable re-signings

  • Ryan McDonagh signed a 7-year contract to return with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
  • Vladislav Namestikov will return to the New York Rangers on a 2-year contract.
  • Logan Couture solidified am 8-year contract extension with the San Jose Sharks.
  • Oliver Ekman-Larsson received an 8-year contract as well with Arizona.

And it’s worth mentioning, the Ottawa Senators have reportedly sent an offer for a contract extension to Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson- no word on specifics of the deal, or how Karlsson reacted to the offer.

My quick take overall…

I love the Tavares signing for Toronto. They had the cap space to bring back a true cornerstone piece (and a local guy to boot). They may be the team to beat in the Atlantic next season. I also like the Carter Hutton deal for Buffalo. I always thought he was a solid goaltender, and I’m interested to see what he can do as a full-time starter. And the steal of free agency so far might be Michael Grabner going to Arizona. Three years at just over $3 million a year is a fair price for a guy that, if healthy, can notch between 20-30 goals no problem.

The roughest deal? Gotta be that 7-year contract for Ryan McDonagh. Don’t get me wrong, I like the player, but a deal that long for a defenseman who will be pushing 30 by the time the season starts is something I think they will regret. That cap hit of nearly $7 million ain’t gonna look too pretty in a few years if Tampa gets anything less than stellar play from McDonagh.

Ryan Kelly lives in Cambridge, MA, a stone's throw away from his beloved Boston teams. When he is not working as an editorial assistant, he is providing commentary on the Boston Red Sox and Boston Bruins for The Turf.

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