Free Agent Frenzy
Free Agent Signings, Forwards: There were a number of intriguing forward names that hit the open market on Wednesday with a large number of them finding new teams. Speaking of new teams, the NHL’s newest team, the Seattle Kraken finally flexed some of their salary cap muscle by inking former Blues forward, Jaden Schwartz, to a 5-year, $27.5-million contract. This move was the Kraken’s first big splash in free agency but as you’ll soon find out, they weren’t done splashing their cash around on day 1.
Former Habs center, Philipp Danault, also found a new home, but this time on the other side of the continent in Los Angeles. Danault will slot in comfortably behind #1 center, Anze Kopitar, and his new contract will carry him for 6 years with a very modest cap hit of $5.5-million. Lastly, another key name that found a new home on day 1 was Stanley Cup champion, Blake Coleman. Blake played a key and pivotal role in the Lightning’s back-to-back runs as champs and he’ll be bringing that playoff experience to Calgary where he’ll earn $29.4-million over the next 6 years.
Free Agent Signings, Defensemen: The defenseman market was just as hot as the forwards market, but there was one big domino that fell late on day 1 and that was Dougie Hamilton. A day after the New Jersey Devils teased the hockey world of a Dougie Hamilton signing, they made good on their word and inked the superstar defenseman to a 7-year, $63-million contract. Hamilton joins an up-and-coming Devils core that includes Jack Hughes and Pavel Zacha, and will be able to mentor the newly drafted Luke Hughes.
After mulling over offers from nearly half the league, newly-released and former Wild player, Ryan Suter eventually settled on a 4-year contract with the Dallas Stars worth $14.6-million. Suter still has plenty of game left in the tank and won’t be required to carry a heavy load in Dallas as he’ll likely slot in behind star defenseman and newly-signed, Miro Heiskanen, and John Klingberg. Throw in Esa Lindell to round out the first two pairings and that easily becomes one of the more formidable backends in the NHL.
Another defenseman that found a new home was Stanley Cup champion, David Savard. Coincidentally, he’s joining the team that he just beat in the Cup finals, the Montreal Canadiens. Savard’s new contract will be for 4 years with an AAV of $3.5-million. This is a terrific signing by the Habs and one that was sorely needed with the looming, year-long absence created by Shea Weber next season. Savard is a stalwart and a steady, stay-at-home defenseman that will likely eat up a lot of minutes in Montreal next season.
Free Agent Signings, Goalies: Much like the forwards market, the goalies market was very hot on day 1 of free agency. A vast number of proven goalies found new homes but here are the most notable ones.
Philippe Grubauer parlayed a near-Vezina winning season into a lucrative 6-year contract worth $35.4-million with expansion team, the Seattle Kraken. The Kraken had in excess of $27-million in cap space to spend in free agency and along with the Schwartz signing, this one signifies that they have found their new #1 goalie in Grubauer.
Two other interesting free agent signings essentially worked as a trade. Former Hurricanes goalie, Petr Mrazek signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs and former Maple Leafs goalie, Frederik Andersen, signed with the Hurricanes. For both goalies, these signings present a fresh new start. Mrazek was sidelined most of last year due to injury but in Toronto, he’ll be platooning with Jack Campbell. Mrazek signed a 3-year contract with the Leafs worth $11.4-million. For Andersen, the story is eerily similar with that of Mrazek’s. He was injured for a good chunk of the year last season and is hoping to regain his old form in Carolina where he’ll call home for the next 2 seasons with an AAV of $4.5-million.
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