It is later in July than usual. It is within a week of two massive offseason events in the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft and the NHL Draft. It is the third main event of the NHL offseason. It is the day where unrestricted free agents can sign with whomever they would like. It is the day where all 32 franchises will spend a large amount of money. It is the day where an announcement on Twitter that takes seconds to read can impact a team for years to come - for better and (unfortunately often) for worse. It is the day that has been dubbed Free Agency Frenzy. And it all officially starts by mid-day.
The Time: Noon. News will likely start in the morning about expected deals but no one can actually sign anything until noon today.
The Preview: I wrote a full preview yesterday for the New Jersey Devils in free agency and the market as a whole. It includes what they need, who is available, and more. It even links to the various offseason posts CJ and Gerard did over the past two months. Check it all out here.
The Moves Made Since that Preview: With a flat salary cap ceiling of $81.5 million and some GMs getting creative, there have been a number of notable moves made since that preview went up.
- The Devils traded pending RFA Nick Merkley for RFA Christian Jaros. The Devils proceeded to sign Jaros to a one-season, two-way deal.
- The Devils tendered five qualifying offers by Monday’s 5 PM deadline for Yegor Sharangovich, Janne Kuokkanen, Marian Studenic, A.J. Greer, and Gilles Senn. Expect all but Senn to be re-signed, as Senn signed a three-season deal with HC Davos back in May. The Devils wanted to keep his rights for some reason, I suppose. They did not qualify Brandon Gignac, David Quenneville, Colby Sissons, and Evan Cormier. Those four will become UFAs at noon today.
- Among other teams that did not qualify players, Chicago decided to not qualify Pius Suter and Boston did not qualify Nick Ritchie or Ondrej Kase. There are some interesting names that may not be cheap but surely not be too expensive being added to the UFA market. It is something to keep an eye on today.
- Yesterday was the last day for NHL teams to put players on unconditional waivers for the purpose of a buyout. Per Chris Johnston, Braden Holtby (Vancouver), James Neal (Edmonton), and Martin Jones (San Jose) were placed on those waivers and will be bought out and become UFAs today. I know the Devils need a “1B” goalie but Holtby and Jones are contentious options to say the least. At least the goalie pool of free agents expanded?
- The big news yesterday was Las Vegas trading Marc-Andre Fleury to Chicago for next to nothing (an ECHL forward). This is not even the first deal made within the last two weeks where one team would send a NHL player to another and get next to nothing in return. But Fleury was a favorite in Las Vegas, he won a Vezina, and he just learned (again) that hockey is a business the Knights don’t figure him into their future business. It is a question if he will even play for Chicago. But what this means for today is that Las Vegas has some more room to work with and could be in line to make a big transaction down the line.
- Vancouver sent Nate Schmidt and his whole deal to Winnipeg for a 2022 third rounder.
- Alex Ovechkin predictably re-signed with Washington. The deal is $47.5 million over 5 seasons. That is not a typo. He’ll be 36 in September. And the Caps retained Ovechkin with a $9.5 million cap hit as he enters his 40s. My reaction to that is a wry smile wherein I bite my lip about it.
The Songs for the Day: Two come to mind. This one may fit what many Devils fans, the People Who Matter, want to happen today. This one may fit how I feel about what Fitzgerald can do today. He can make the Devils’ situation better - or make it much worse. No pressure.
The Purpose of this Open Post: This is where you should comment about all of the moves made today in free agency. The moves the Devils made. The moves you wish the Devils made. The moves other teams in the NHL made. This is an open post for all of free agency. Please react as you see fit.
The Plan: We will do our best to get posts up for major signings by the Devils. Minor signings may be lumped in together.
The Rules: As a reminder, comments will be clean, on topic, and respectful of each other.
Here is one that specifically important for today: Please, please, please do not share unconfirmed rumors and “news” from false sources like fake Twitter accounts, “insiderrs,” a “rumor breaker,” an incarcerated Robert, people who claim to have sources and not even have 100 followers on Twitter, etc. Please stick to people who may actually know things. Think Elliotte Friedman, Renaud Lavoie, Kevin Weekes, etc. There’s going to be a lot going on, especially once noon hits. There’s no need to muddy the waters of actual news by getting people riled up about something that isn’t likely to happen from someone who claimed they heard somebody. For the benefit of everyone, link to legit sources and don’t make things up. Being right is more important than being first.
That all said. Enjoy this year’s Free Agency Frenzy and hope that Tom Fitzgerald spends and spends wisely ownership’s money.