The NHL’s free agency signing period opens today at noon EDT, so today we play Choose Your Own Adventure.
There is a version of the Islanders’ future that is virtually unchanged: They’ve lost Nick Leddy and Jordan Eberle, but UFAs’ Casey Cizikas and Kyle Palmieri are re-signed and Oliver Wahlstrom steps into the void on wing while...someone is promoted to fill the hole left by Leddy at left defense.
Knowing the Islanders’ regime and how Thomas Hickey and Sebastian Aho got nary a look last season — and they don’t just plug rookies Samuel Bolduc or Robin Salo into regular blueline roles — that version of the future is exceedingly unlikely.
At the other extreme is massive change: The departures of Leddy and Eberle are followed by a big big winger acquisition (UFA captain Gabriel Landeskog came off the market late last night, re-signing with the Avalanche, but there’s always want-away Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko available via trade), a name defenseman (Ryan Suter is said to be advancing toward Dallas, but just for the sake of argument), and then someone at center to replace Casey Cizikas, whose departure shocks all of Islanderdom and leaves us wondering how Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck carry on.
The better likelihood is something in between, and (not) knowing Lou Lamoriello, something we never expected.
The signings can officially start at noon, but word of agreements that don’t involve the Islanders will likely leak before then, or will be pre-written to be released at noon without evidence of tampering. I assure you.
- Taking the emotion and anxiety out of it, this is actually a fascinating free agency window for the Isles. They have three distinct needs (though some may be addressed by re-signings), and there are a variety of price points and options to address them. However, as we’ve already seen with the left-defense slot, the options will disappear quickly. [LHH]
- The Isles enter free agency with priorities, and (dwindling by the minute) possibilities. [Newsday]
- I could swear this started as 15 potential Isles targets and then grew to 20, but many of them are dropping off by the minute. [Staple @ Athletic]
- Staple also spoke with Elliotte Friedman about the Lamoriello Effect and a few other topics for his No Sleep Till Belmont podcast. [Athletic]
- NEW, Mid-Morning: Things change fast, so Staple has a newer post figuring Cizikas, Palmieri and even Parise — by virtue of silence on the Tamper Twitter feeds — are already in the bag. [Athletic]
- No Longer Isles News But: Staple reports Jaroslav Halak may head to Vancouver. [@StapeAthletic]
- Palmieri is the top UFA RW available, so he has some market command. [Sportsnet]
- No qualifying offer to awkwardly extend things this time: Josh Ho-Sang is a free agent today and his time with the Isles comes to an end. [Empire Sports]
Elsewhere: Buyouts, re-signings and trades galore
- The biggest news yesterday was the Golden Knights sending Marc-Andre Fleury and his $7 million cap hit to Chicago for, essentially, nothing. Apparently the goalie found out via Twitter, too. He thought maybe a Vezina bought him another year, but no. Good times. [NHL | Athletic]
- Later on, the Blackhawks made another addition: The Lightning finally traded Tyler Johnson and his $5 million cap hit for the LTIR Ghost of Brent Seabrook. [NHL]
- Of course, trumping all that news near midnight was Colorado re-signing Landeskog for eight years at $7 million per. [Sportsnet]
- With Landeskog, is it buyer beware on a big long-term deal though? [EP Rinkside ($$$)]
- After earlier in the day supposedly refusing a trade to Winnipeg, Nate Schmidt waived his no-trade clause to accept a trade from the Canucks to the Jets. Could see his former Vegas teammate Paul Stastny making a plea on the benefits of Winnipeg. [NHL | Nucks Misconduct | Arctic Ice Hockey]
- The Canucks extended new acquisition Conor Garland, another Shattuck product except he was cut by that high school which seemingly exists only to temporarily hoard young hockey talent. [Sportsnet]
- Buried by all the other news was the long-expected Capitals re-signing of Alex Ovechkin. Five years at Seth Jones money. [Japers’ Rink]
- The Flyers are signing Ironman Keith Yandle, who was bought out in Florida and whose career took a turn for the worse the last time he played for Alain Vigneault. [Broad Street Hockey | TSN]
- Former Ranger Pavel Buchnevich signed for four years with the Blues. [NHL]
- Will the Foligno brothers end up in Minnesota together? [Athletic]
- ICYMI: The flat cap has forced more quality than usual to appear on the UFA market via unqualified (former) RFAs. Pius Suter of the Hawks or the undisciplined Nick Ritchie of the Bruins, for example. [Athletic]
- Yesterday was also the end of the first buyout window. The Isles didn’t go that route, but plenty of other big contracts were undone, including Martin Jones in San Jose and Braden Holtby in Vancouver.
- If you like morbid things, here’s Doug Wilson discussing the Jones buyout. [Sharks video]
- The Rangers might trade Alex Georgiev and “could jump on” Martin Jones. Yes please. [Post]
- The Oilers bought out James Neal, an inevitable move with the man who was acquired only to get rid of Milan Lucic. [Copper n Blue | Athletic]
2020 Canucks post-draft offseason: resign Virtanen, sign Holtby, trade a 3rd for Schmidt— Justin McElroy (@j_mcelroy) July 27, 2021
2021 Canucks post-draft offseason: buyout Virtanen, buyout Holtby, trade Schmidt for a 3rd