Despite a not very headline-worthy class — Kevin Shattenkirk was the priciest name — the NHL’s 2017 free agency frenzy lived up to its name with dozens of names switching teams in the first few hours after Saturday’s noon kickoff.
No doubt the one-week discussion window established under the current CBA helps grease the wheels. By early afternoon, most of the major names were crossed off the available lists.
You can find a running list of just about all the moves here. But below is a look at several of the major or at least interesting moves around the league.
(And as for the Islanders? Well, as most forecasted, no big signings from them. But Bridgeport moves include adding a goalie, re-signing Lafranchise, adding a “big, slow” Devils defenseman, and signing Mathew Barzal’s Seattle teammate.)
Williams Returns ‘Home,’ Stays in Metro
One of the few names linked to the Islanders, where his former Hurricanes teammates Doug Weight and Andrew Ladd have put their stock, Justin Williams instead returned to Carolina for two years at $4.5 million per year. That rate is a significant raise over anything the 35-year-old made over his last three contracts.
Justin Williams got what he was looking for in $4.5m per. #Isles weren't interested in going that high.— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) July 1, 2017
It’s pricey for the Canes, but their roster can handle it, and it makes a Metro rival more dangerous. Williams spoke of the “home” fit but also the fact the Canes have been difficult to play against. No doubt the money didn’t hurt either.
Cup finalists Nashville signed Penguin Cup winner Nick Bonino for four years, $16.4 million, brought back original Predator and Columbus buyout Scott Hartnell, and salary dumped Colin Wilson to Colorado. (There was a brief moment where everyone flipped because Elliotte Friedman had said on air that Wilson was part of a package for Matt Duchene.)
Hanzal to Big D
What, No Jagr?
After a successful rebound year in Columbus, Sam Gagner relaunches his career in Vancouver to the tune of three years and $9.45 million.
Blueline around the World
Tampa Bay Lightning: Here Comes Girardi
After aiming for Shattenkirk last summer, at the trade deadline, and again in this free agency window, the Lightning settled for...ex-Rangers heart-and-whipping boy Dan Girardi. Two years, $6 million. Fans unhappy.
Shatten-garden, Le Alzner, Pens Exodus
- Meanwhile, the Rangers landed Shattenkirk, who always seemed destined to go to his childhood favorite team. So maybe the last week of talks was just to ensure he drove up the price. It’s four years at $6.65
just under $7million per.
- The Capitals, as expected, lost longtime iron man defenseman Karl Alzner to Montreal for five years, $23.2 million, which doesn’t bode well for their talks to keep 38-year-old Andrei Markov. Alzner talked of frustration always losing in the second round in D.C.
- As part of the Penguins exodus, Ron Hainsey signed with the Leafs for two years at $3 million per, while Trevor Daley left for Detroit. Winging It In Motown analyzes Daley in excruciating detail.
- But the Pens helped soften the blow with Matt Hunwick with three years at a nice $2.25 million per.
- The Jets signed Dmitri Kulakov, who had a horrible year with Buffalo last season. A frightening three years at $4.33 million per.
No position is better suited to musical chairs than goaltender, where there are just 62 positions in the league:
- The Flyers lost faith in Steve Mason and found Brian Elliott as their next co-number one. Two years, $5.5 million.
- Mason landed in Winnipeg (two years, $4.1 million), where the Jets long lost faith in Ondrej Pavelec...
- ...but Pavelec landed in New York! The Rangers took on the perpetually disappointing Pavelec to back up Henrik Lundqvist. No pressure, Hank.
- Former Islander Chad Johnson returned to Buffalo for one year and $2.5 million.
- Fellow former Islander (and former Sabre) Anders Nilsson landed in Vancouver for two years and $5 million.
- That’s because the Canucks couldn’t reach terms with Ryan Miller, who happily landed in Anaheim (he’s long been pegged for southern California where his wife works) at two years, $4 million...
- ...Miller steps in where Jonathan Bernier used to be. Bernier headed to Colorado on a one-year, deal, $2.5 million deal, where he’ll back up or possibly compete with Semyon Varlamov, who’s coming off a bad year and hip surgery.
- But what about waivers? Jean-Francois Berube signed in Chicago for two years and $750,000 per.
- Totally minor deal, but Islanders depth chart-related: The Isles traded AHL/ECHL forward Carter Verhaeghe to Tampa Bay for Latvian AHL goalie Kristers Gudlevskis. Expect him to join Christopher Gibson and Eamon McAdam as emergency backup options should something happen to Thomas Greiss or Jaroslav Halak.
Re-signings: Keeping the Assets
Teams didn’t just covet their neighbors’ goods. They also re-upped their own.
No, no John Tavares or Carey Price extensions, but:
- Joe Thornton stayed in San Jose for a one-year extension. He apparently wanted two-three years, but San Jose softened the blow by making it nearly $6.5 million.
- Anaheim extended Cam Fowler for a maximum eight years, totaling $52 million.
- Whoa: The Penguins re-upped Justin Schultz for three years at...$5.5 million!
- The Sharks, while still flirting with aging stars Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, locked up goalie Martin Jones (six years at $5.75 million per) and 1B defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic (eight years, $56 million total) on long-term deals. [SB Nation]
- And last night the Capitals announced a six-year, $30.6 million extension for Dmitri Orlov.
- Oh, and the Leafs re-signed backup Curtis McElhinney, whose record is spotty despite playing well for Toronto last season.
Well, lots of players are left. But among the notable names as of this posting are Marleau, Jagr, Markov and of course Alexander Radulov.