So much for a flat cap. I think every GM went into the offseason assuming that free agency would be as it was last year—uneventful, thanks to limited flexibility. But then teams like the New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers found ways to clear cap space, making everyone believe that they were setting up for big moves, forcing the rest of the league to recalibrate their plans on the fly.
Then, because they didn’t have a ton of time to think through their plans, they ended up going hog-wild with their contracts.
Meanwhile, the Islanders have not announced a single signing, nor have they filed any contracts with the league, according to CapFriendly. Neither have the St. Louis Blues. Very interesting. Almost like they might be working on a trade for Vladimir Tarasenko?
My working theory on why GM Lou Lamoriello does not file his contracts right away is two-fold: (1) We know that he likes to do things on his terms, and he knows that CapFriendly and PuckPedia have sources at NHL Central Registry, so he holds onto the contracts until he’s ready to announce the signing; and (2) he wants the cap flexibility to be able to withstand an offer sheet or to be able to make a trade, and, going back to doing things on his terms, he does not want other GMs knowing how much cap space he actually has. In other words, to paraphrase the man himself, “if you have time, use it.”
Of course, trying to explain what the most secretive man in the NHL is thinking is a fool’s errand. No one would doubt that I am a fool, though, and dammit, I want to know what’s going on!
Islanders Free Agency Timeline
Early in the day, before the noon bell rang, the local insiders (James Nichols and Rob Taub) tweeted, nearly in unison, that Kyle Palmieri’s deal and Zach Parise’s deal were done.
Might not come as a surprise to anyone, but I was just told that the #Isles and Zach Parise’s deal was agreed upon weeks ago— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) July 28, 2021
Not long after that, the national insiders joined the party on Palmieri; Bob McKenzie had Parise early in the day but admitted he was still waiting for confirmation from the team.
All indications Kyle Palmieri stays with NYI— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) July 28, 2021
In addition to the belief Zach Parise is joining the Islanders, the expectation is Kyle Palmieri is sticking around Long Island on a long-term deal.— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) July 28, 2021
Much of what we expected to happen today has now happened. Still waiting on Parise and NYI. https://t.co/kItHjLNvlC— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) July 28, 2021
Apparently, Parise had options for his new contract, but we do not know yet which one he chose.
Ryan Suter's deal with Dallas will be 4 times at $3.65M AAV. Dallas is where he sustained that serious leg/ankle injury in 2018— Michael Russo (@RussoHockey) July 28, 2021
Zach Parise's reported deal with #isles, he had choices of 1 (with potential bonises), 2 and 3 years. We'll see what he chose.
But, other than a vague David Pagnotta tweet around 9:00 p.m. last night, we heard very little about the Islanders.
As I mentioned on @SiriusXMNHL earlier, the expectation remains that Parise & Palmieri are closing in on deals with NYI. There’s also chatter over progress on the Cizikas front, and there may be a couple other irons in the fire. We’ll see if this all comes together.— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) July 29, 2021
This tells me that Lou is up to something, and only he and the other involved parties know what it is. There has hardly been any new information on both Palmieri and Casey Cizikas, which would lead one to believe that they have deals agreed upon in principle with the Islanders. But the fact that Lou has yet to file these deals tells me that he is trying to make something big happen.
- The Islanders apparently are working on multiple deals, including for the three free agents they have been said to target as well as trade talks about Tarasenko and an extension for Adam Pelech. [The Fourth Period]
- The Islanders’ new home, UBS Arena, is near completion. [LI Press]
- Josh Ho-Sang is now free of the Islanders, and he will be in Toronto’s camp on a PTO:
Kyle Dubas has been watching Josh Ho-Sang since the player was 11 or 12 years old:— luke fox (@lukefoxjukebox) July 28, 2021
"A zero-risk proposition on PTO... It's kind of a make-or-break situation with Josh."
Around the League
- The New Jersey Devils landed the big fish, signing Dougie Hamilton to a seven-year deal with an AAV of $9 million. Nice work by old friend Tom Fitzgerald. [NHL]
- Another big story: The Seattle Kraken signed away Philipp Grubauer from the Colorado Avalanche, so the Avs paid a first-round pick and Connor Timmins for Darcy Kuemper from the Arizona Coyotes. [NHL]
- The Dallas Stars signed Ryan Suter to a four-year deal with an AAV of $3.65 million. Too rich for my blood. [Defending Big D]
- The Stars also signed recently bought out Braden Holtby, as there are concerns about Ben Bishop’s career. [Defending Big D]
- The Blues remain engaged in Tarasenko trade talks. [TFP] But his value is diminishing the longer that they drag it out. [The Athletic] Also, The Athletic article mentions the Devils, Hurricanes, and Vegas Golden Knights, but not the Islanders. Interesting.
- The Toronto Maple Leafs signed goalie Petr Mrazek to a three-year contract. [Pension Plan Puppets]
- The Carolina Hurricanes signed both Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta to fill in their goalie holes. So the ‘Canes and the Leafs swapped goalies, basically. [Canes Country]
- The Hurricanes, now without Hamilton, re-tooled their defense a little. They acquired Ethan Bear from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for Warren Foegele. [Copper & Blue]
- The Hurricanes also signed defenseman Ian Cole and forward Josh Leivo to one-year deals. [Canes Country]
- The Oilers went bonkers yesterday. They gave Cody freaking Ceci a four-year deal. [C&B]
- The Boston Bruins signed defenseman Derek Forbort to a three-year deal with a $3 million AAV. [Stanley Cup of Chowder]
- The Bruins also brought in Linus Ullmark to be their new goalie with Tuukka Rask unsigned and out until January. [SCOC]
- The Kraken signed Alexander Wennberg. He is... not very good. [NHL]
- To make room for Hamilton, the Devils shipped Will Butcher and a fifth-round pick to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for future considerations. [Sabres]
- The Devils also signed Jonathan Bernier to a two-year deal, paying him $4.125 annually on average. [AATJ]
- The Philadelphia Flyers, coming off one of the worst goaltending seasons in history, brought in Martin Jones, who melts down easily, to pair with Carter Hart, who also melts down easily. Hilarity ensues. [Broad Street Hockey]
- The Flyers also, in an attempt to rekindle the magic of 2020, signed Nate Thompson. [BSH]
- The Tampa Bay Lightning, also looking to recapture 2020, brought back Zach Bogosian on a three-year deal paying him less than $1 million per year. [Raw Charge]
- And oh yeah, the Bolts gave Brayden Point the same extension that Andrei Vasilevskiy signed last summer, and Nikita Kucherov the summer before that: eight years, $9.5 million AAV. Each signed at age 25. I hate how perfect an organization they are. [The Athletic]
- The Coyotes brought back to the NHL Dmitri Jaškin on a one-year deal. [Coyotes]
- The Minnesota Wild are a little hamstrung in terms of the long-term commitments they can make. The Parise and Suter buyouts saved them cap space this year, but then they have to deal with the dead cap in the years following. [The Athletic]
- The Habs continue to be trash. Owner Geoff Molson put out an open letter half-apologizing for not considering the impact that their selection of Logan Mailloux would have, but he news-dumped it around like 12:15 p.m. yesterday, during the busiest hour of the NHL season, hoping that no one would notice. [Canadiens]