NHL free agency formally kicks off at noon EDT — that’s when contracts can be registered, etc. — but movement was well underway before that hour.
The New York Islanders, and virtually everyone watching or pursuing John Tavares, were in the...well, from the outside it looked like they were in the dark yesterday but there was zero public information coming out as mid-morning hit. But widespread belief was that by passing midnight without a deal with the Isles, he was moving on. Finally, early afternoon came word that Tavares was signing seven years with the Maple Leafs.
As of 11 am ET, the teams involved in the Tavares bidding have not been told they are out.— John Shannon (@JSportsnet) July 1, 2018
Everyone is different. I would know who I was going to sign with in February. A guy who handled one of the major free agent signings a few summers ago told me at one point his client (the player) said of the big, multiple team offers, “You pick the team.” The player was frozen. https://t.co/yHTY9wj1TV— Bucci Mane (@Buccigross) July 1, 2018
Here’s a free agency open comment thread for our readers to follow the action and replace our morning thread.
As a note of caution, already the numbers being thrown around the league for mid-level free agents and lower are inflated. So, be prepared for sticker shock. Prices are catching up with the Islanders’ fourth-line compensation rates.
For our reference, some points on what the Islanders have apparently been thinking:
- David Perron is signing with the Blues for four years at an average of $4 million per, a hefty price that Arthur Staple of The Athletic believes the Isles were also offering.
- Staple also relayed a report that the Isles are interested in former Rangers and Devils defenseman John Moore.
- The Isles did make one move on the blueline, with multiple reporters confirming a four-year extension for Thomas Hickey averaging $2.5 million per.
- Back to Staple again, and of relevance to the Moore pursuit: They are apparently still interested in their own free agent Calvin de Haan. Goalie Anton Khudobin, believed to be headed to Dallas, was also on their list.
- Elsewhere on the goaltending front, the Islanders apparently offered more for Carter Hutton, but he chose the Buffalo Sabres instead.
Meanwhile, who will play center with John Tavares gone? Paul Stastny doesn’t appear to have ever been a fallback consideration for the Isles, and word this morning was that he’d turned down the Jets and was going to Vegas for a three-year deal.
What about Ryan O’Reilly? He’s due a massive $7.5 million bonus today — which an acquiring team could still pay today, easing the Sabres’ willingness to trade him, per Pierre LeBrun. But word is the Sabres are asking a major return, even if a team pays the bonus. For a trade after the Sabres foot that bill, the price is even higher.