NHL free agency highlights: Predators, Devils, others busy on big-spending day

NHL free agency highlights: Predators, Devils, others busy on big-spending day

NHL general managers entered the free agent signing period on Monday with more money to spend.

After years of a mostly flat salary cap due to the COVID pandemic, it’s going up from $83.5 million to $88 million. The number of free agents was also larger because many players had signed one-year deals last summer in hopes of landing a bigger contract this offseason.

The combination led to a spending spree with the Tampa Bay Lightning signing Jake Guentzel, the Nashville Predators signing Steven Stamkos, Jonathan Marchessault and Brady Skjei, plus the Seattle Kraken signing a pair of Stanley Cup winners and the New Jersey Devils signing defensemen. The Carolina Hurricanes and Vegas Golden Knights came out on the short end.

Here’s what happened during the opening day of free agency:

Forwards Jonathan Marchessault (pictured) and Steven Stamkos signed with the Nashville Predators on Monday.

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Day 2

Lightning extend Victor Hedman

The Lightning announced they had signed their No. 1 defenseman to a four-year, $32 million contract extension that kicks in after next season. Tampa Bay often spends the opening days of free agency extending key players, though they didn’t do that last summer with captain Steven Stamkos. He ended up heading to free agency and signing a four-year, $32 million contract with the Predators on Monday.

Day 1

Oilers re-sign third line

The team announced that Mattias Janmark got a three-year, $4.35 million contract and Adam Henrique got $6 million over two years. That and the earlier Connor Brown signing (one year, $1 million) means Edmonton has kept together its highly effective third line and short-handed threat for an inexpensive price.

The Oilers also re-signed Corey Perry and added Viktor Arvidsson and Jeff Skinner in free agency.

Ilya Samsonov signs with Golden Knights

He gets one year, $1.8 million in a prove-it deal. General manager Kelly McCrimmon said Samsonov will back up Adin Hill. He added that he’s trying to work out a deal with recently acquired goalie Akira Schmid, who didn’t get a qualifying offer.

More signings

Lightning sign former Sabres forward Zemgus Girgensons (three years, $2.55 million).

Sabres sign former Predators forward Jason Zucker (one year, $5 million).

Jeff Skinner signs with Oilers

He gets a one-year, $3 million deal after being bought out by the Sabres. He’s totaled 92 goals over the last three years, so he’ll give the Oilers scoring depth.

Shayne Gostisbehere signs with Hurricanes

The defenseman gets a three-year, $9.6 million contract. The Hurricanes know what they’re getting with Gostisbehere because he finished up the 2022-23 season in Carolina. He’s strong on offense and shaky on defense. The loss of Brady Skjei and Brett Pesce seems to outweigh the addition of Gostisbehere and Matt Walker.

Erik Gustafsson signs with Red Wings

He gets $4 million over two years. He’ll provide some of the offense that is being lost with Shayne Gostisbehere going to free agency.

Flames signings

The biggest move was signing Yegor Sharangovich to a five-year, $28.75 million extension. But they also signed free agents Anthony Mantha (one year, $3.5 million), Ryan Lomberg (two years, $4 million) and Jake Bean (two years, $3.5 million)

Oliver Ekman-Larsson signs with Maple Leafs

The defenseman, 32, will get $14 million over four years, a nice rebound after he was bought by the Vancouver Canucks last summer. He just won a Stanley Cup with the Panthers, moving up to their top power-play unit.

The Panthers have lost defensemen Brandon Montour and Ekman-Larsson for their championship team but retained Dmitry Kulikov with a reported four-year, $5.6 million deal.

Sharks signings

The Sharks confirm the earlier reported four-year, $24 deal for Tyler Toffoli. They also announce the signing of forward Alex Wennberg (two years, $10 million). The Sharks, who drafted Macklin Celebrini No. 1 overall, have been busy adding veterans in the offseason.

Stefan Noesen signs with Devils

The forward gets a three-year contract worth $8.25 million. Another departure for the Hurricanes and a trip home for Noesen. He played three seasons in New Jersey earlier in his career.

Kings signings

Winger Warren Foegele, a 20-goal scorer in Edmonton, gets $10.5 million over three years. He had a good stretch during the Stanley Cup Final. Defensive defenseman Joel Edmundson gets $15.4 million over four years. Goalie Pheonix Copley and forward Trevor Lewis come back on one-year deals.

Sean Walker signs with Hurricanes

The defenseman gets a five-year, $18 million contract. Carolina needed a dependable defenseman after losing Brett Pesce and Brady Skjei to free agency. Walker has made great strides in the past year.

Predators confirm Steven Stamkos, other signings

The former Lightning captain will get $32 million over four years. Jonathan Marchessault gets a five-year, $27.5 million deal. Brady Skjei gets $49 million over seven years. The Predators also said, as previously reported, that goalie Juuse Saros will get an eight-year extension. It’s worth $61.92 million. Goalie Scott Wedgewood will get $3 million over two years. The team also said defenseman Alexandre Carrier is staying with a three-year, $11.25 million deal.

The Predators are a much better offensive and defensive team and a lot deeper than they were on June 30.

Yakov Trenin signs with Wild

He gets a four-year, $14 million contract. The center is a physical player and will fill the role of Brandon Duhaime, who was traded last season.

Hurricanes re-sign Jordan Martinook

He gets $9.15 million over three years. With all the departures on Monday, they hang onto to a character player.

Canadiens’ Juraj Slafkovsky gets extension

The 20-year-old will average $7.6 million in the eight-year extension that kicks in after next season. The 2022 No. 1 overall pick jumped from 10 points in his rookie season to 50 points last season. The extension seems like a lot, but if he continues that progression, it will be a good strategy.

Penguins signings

Defenseman Matt Grzelcyk gets a one-year, $2.75 million deal. Forward Anthony Beauvillier gets a one-year, $1.25 million deal. The Penguins earlier traded forward Reilly Smith to the Rangers.

Oilers bring back Corey Perry

The veteran gets a one-year, $1.4 million contract including incentives. He won a Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007 and has been to the Stanley Cup Final (on the losing side) four times in the last five seasons.

Who’s still out there?

Vladimir Tarasenko, Adam Henrique, Mattias Janmark, Shayne Gostisbehere, Jeff Skinner.

Red Wings add goaltenders

Cam Talbot (two years, $5 million) joins Ville Husso and Alex Lyon in Detroit. Jack Campbell, who was bought by the Oilers after spending most of last season in the American Hockey League, gets a one-year, $775,000 deal.

Flyers sign Matvei Michkov to entry-level deal

Michkov was one of the more dynamic forwards behind Connor Bedard in the 2023 draft but dropped to seventh because it wasn’t certain when he would come over from Russia. The Flyers’ gamble pays off. General manager Daniel Briere said Michkov will be given every opportunity to make the team next season.

The Flyers also re-signed forward Garnet Hathaway (two years, $4.8 million) and defenseman Erik Johnson (one year, $1 million).

Brett Pesce, Brenden Dillon sign with Devils

Pesce gets $33 million over six years and Dillon gets $12 million over three years. Good pickups on defense by the Devils, especially after they struggled when losing Dougie Hamilton to injury last season. Two veterans joining a team that used rookies Luke Hughes and Simon Nemec a lot in 2023-24.

The Hurricanes, meanwhile, have lost key defensemen Pesce and Brady Skjei to free agency.

Trade: Rangers acquire Reilly Smith

The Penguins get a conditional 2025 fifth-round pick and a second-round pick in 2027. Smith, 33, is in the final year of his contract. He had an off season in Pittsburgh after a trade but was a key member of the Golden Knights and won a Stanley Cup there. The Rangers also signed forward Sam Carrick to a three-year deal.

Matt Roy signs with Capitals

The former Kings defenseman gets a six-year, $34.5 million contract. He killed penalties on the league’s No. 2-ranked unit, led the Kings in blocked shots and was second in hits. The Capitals earlier added offensive-minded defenseman Jakob Chychrun via trade. Washington also announces the signings of center Taylor Raddysh to a one-year, $1 million contract and rugged forward Brandon Duhaime to a two-year, $3.7 million deal.

Anthony Duclair signs with Islanders

Four years, no term disclosed. He adds speed on the wing. The Islanders also re-sign defenseman Mike Reilly for a year.

Dallas Stars moves

They announced the re-signing of forwards Matt Duchene (one year, $3 million) and Sam Steel (one year, $1.2 million) and defenseman Nils Lundqvist (one-year, $1.25 million) and the signing of defensemen Ilya Lyubushkin (three years, $9.75 million), Matt Dumba (two years, $7.5 million) and Brendan Smith (one year, $1 million). Duchene, who scored a double-overtime series clincher in the playoffs, had 25 goals last season in Dallas after being bought out by the Predators.

Goalie Casey DeSmith (three years, $3 million) will back up Jake Oettinger. Last year’s backup, Scott Wedgewood, signed with Nashville.

Utah signs Ian Cole, Kevin Stenlund

Cole gets one year. Terms weren’t disclosed. Utah’s remake of its defense continues. They traded for Mikhail Sergachev and John Marino at the draft. Stenlund, a penalty killer and fourth-liner with the Panthers, gets two years.

Reports: Blackhawks are busy

According to reports, the Blackhawks are signing Tyler Bertuzzi, Teuvo Teravainen, Pat Maroon, Alec Martinez and Laurent Brossoit. Bertuzzi will be a good complement to Connor Bedard with his passing and his ability to get pucks off the boards. Teravainen played for the Blackhawks earlier in his career. Maroon provides fourth-line grit and Martinez adds a veteran presence on defense. Brossoit is one of the better backup goalies in the league but could get a shot at the No. 1 job.

The Blackhawks confirmed the three-year, $17.2 million contract for Teravainen. Bertuzzi gets $22 million over four years and Brossoit $6.6 million over two years. Martinez ($4 million), Maroon ($1.3 million) and forward Craig Smith ($1 million) get one-year deal.

Chandler Stephenson signs with Kraken

The versatile two-time Stanley Cup winner joins a team that’s trying to get back to the playoffs. He’s the second Cup winner joining the Kraken on Monday after they earlier signed Brandon Montour. Stephenson averages $6.25 million in the seven-year deal, the team said.

Viktor Arvidsson signs with Oilers

He’ll get $8 million over two years. He has had injury issues but will provide secondary scoring (five 20-goal seasons, including two over 30).

David Perron, Michael Amadio sign with Senators

Perron 36, gets $8 million over two years. He’s a consistent 20-goal scorer who will help the Senators’ middle six and their power play. Amadio gets $7.8 million over three years. He previously played in Ottawa and had 27 points in 73 with Vegas last season.

Jonathan Drouin returning to Avalanche

He had his best NHL season in 2023-24 playing on the team led by former junior hockey linemate Nathan MacKinnon. It’s a one-year, $2.5 million deal, according to TSN. The Avalanche also re-signed depth forward Joel Kiviranta for one year.

Brandon Montour signs with Kraken

The defenseman will average $7.14 million in the seven-year deal, the team said. Right-shot Montour, who had 73 points in 2022-23, adds offense to a team that includes Vince Dunn. Even though Gustav Forsling had emerged as the No. 1 defenseman in Florida, it’s a big loss for the Panthers.

Bruins sign Elias Lindholm, Nikita Zadorov

The Bruins were thought to have pursued Lindholm before the trade deadline. He gives the Bruins a top two-way center that they had been missing since Patrice Bergeron retired. Zadorov, like Lindholm a Canucks trade acquisition, is a rugged defenseman who showed goal-scoring ability in the playoffs.

Zadorov gets a six-year, $30 million deal, tweeted his agent, Dan Milstein. Lindholm’s deal is seven years, $54.25 million, per Sportsnet. The team later confirmed the $7.75 million cap hit.

Sean Monahan signs with Blue Jackets

He’ll average $5.5 million in the five-year deal, the team said. Monahan had played with the Blue Jackets’ Johnny Gaudreau in Calgary. Columbus had been seeking the right linemates for Gaudreau since he arrived.

Jake DeBrusk signs with Canucks

He’ll average $5.5 million in the seven-year deal. Nice long-term security for a player who always seemed to be involved in trade rumors. The Canucks also said they signed forwards Danton Heinen (two years, $4.5 million) and Kiefer Sherwood (two years, $3 million) and defenseman Derek Forbort (one year, $1.5 million).

Hurricanes’ Jaccob Slavin gets eight-year extension

He’ll make $51.69 million in the deal, the team said.. Good move by the Hurricanes to lock him up early after having so many unrestricted free agent defensemen this season. The 30-year-old is among the league’s top defensemen and is signed through 2032-33.

Reports: Predators load up with Steven Stamkos, Jonathan Marchessault

Aggressive moves by general manager Barry Trotz. Stamkos and Marchessault are 40-goal scorers and Stanley Cup winners. Defenseman Brady Skjei joins Norris Trophy finalist Roman Josi on the blue lines.

“It’s still too early to process,” Stamkos tweeted. “Just wanted everyone to know how thankful we are for 16 years as a bolt. My family and I are excited for the next chapter.”

Trade: Capitals acquire Jakob Chychrun

The Senators get defenseman Nick Jensen and a 2026 third-round pick. Chychrun is 26 and in the final year of his deal. The defenseman provides offense and will help the Capitals’ power play. Jake Sanderson had moved into the No. 1 role in Ottawa and right-shot Jensen is a good complementary piece.

Free agency official open

It’s noon. Let the signings begin.

Reports: Tyler Toffoli to the Sharks

Multiple reports say Toffoli will sign a four-year, $24 million deal with the Sharks. San Jose had been shedding veterans but now can build around top picks Macklin Celebrini and Will Smith. Toffoli is a proven scorer and topped 30 goals the past two seasons.

Hurricanes call news conference for Jaccob Slavin

The Carolina defenseman and two-time Lady Byng Trophy winner is eligible for an extension. News conference is at noon, when he’d able to sign.

Joseph Woll re-signs with Maple Leafs

He’ll average $3.66 million in the three-year deal. Woll has established himself as a potential No. 1 goalie in Toronto but has had problems staying healthy. He was impressive (2-0, 0.86 goals-against average, .964 save percentage) forcing a Game 7 in the first round against the Boston Bruins but missed the decisive game with an injury.

Chris Tanev signs with Maple Leafs

He’ll average $4.5 million in the six-year contract, the team said. He’ll improve the Maple Leafs defense, especially with his shot blocking and physical play. He finished third in the league in blocked shots in the regular season and first in the playoffs for the Dallas Stars, who traded his rights to Toronto during the draft weekend.

Connor Brown re-signs with Oilers

He’ll get a one-year, $1 million contract. Brown had a slow start to the season because of 2022 knee surgery but was an integral playoff performer on the Oilers’ third line, including two short-handed points as Edmonton forced a Game 7 after trailing 3-0 in the Stanley Cup Final.

Sam Reinhart re-signs with Panthers

He’ll get eight years, the team said, and the reported $8.625 million average is extremely team friendly, considering what he did last season. Reinhart had 57 goals in the regular season and 10 in the playoffs, including the Stanley Cup clincher. Both he and Guentzel could take less because Florida has no state income tax.

Jake Guentzel signs with Lightning

The Lightning traded for the top free agent’s rights and reached terms on a seven-year, $63 million contract. They let Steven Stamkos go to free agency and Guentzel is a proven scorer, especially in the playoffs, and is five years younger than Stamkos. He’ll fit in on the top power play unit and Tampa Bay’s highly productive top lines.

When does NHL free agency open?

The official kickoff is at noon ET on Monday, July 1.

Who are some of the bigger names?

Longtime Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos is an unrestricted free agent. So are 57-goal scorer Sam Reinhart (who re-signed Monday), Brandon Montour, Vladimir Tarasenko, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and others from the Stanley Cup champion Florida Panthers. A bunch of players from the runner-up Edmonton Oilers, plus 2023 playoff MVP Jonathan Marchessault of the Vegas Golden Knights are also free agents.

Max Domi re-signs with Maple Leafs

Pending free agent forward Max Domi received a four-year, $15 million contract Sunday to stay with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He had been on one-year deals his last contracts, but the gritty forward spent time on Auston Matthews’ line this past season and earned a longer term this time.

Patrick Kane re-signs with Red Wings

Patrick Kane, who signed a one-year deal with the Red Wings last season after hip-resurfacing surgery, got another one-year deal on Sunday. It’s worth $4 million, with another $2.5 million in potential bonuses, according to the Detroit Free Press, part of the USA TODAY Network. He showed he has recovered well from the surgery, averaging nearly a point a game. He is a three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Who was bought out?

The contract buyout list is the Buffalo Sabres’ Jeff Skinner, Edmonton Oilers’ Jack Campbell, Winnipeg Jets’ Nate Schmidt, Columbus Blue Jackets’ Adam Boqvist, Dallas Stars’ Ryan Suter and Philadelphia Flyers’ Cam Atkinson. All become free agents. Suter was bought out for the second time in his career.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NHL free agency: Signings, deals, trades from first day


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