Free Agency Frenzy is back in its traditional July 1 date. The NHL’s calendar is back to normal and this concludes what has been a busy week within the league. Trades, awards, draft picks, and all kinds of speculation in between happened within the last 10 days or so. Today is when a lot of money is going to be spent. Even if the UFA class is not that strong for this year. New Jersey Devils General Manager Tom Fitzgerald has been excellent this month in handling the team’s business. It may be a quiet day for him and New Jersey. For the other 31 teams, it may not be. And it is always entertaining to see who does what and who ends up making a costly mistake.
The Time: Noon ET. News will likely start in the morning about deals that have been all but signed. No one can actually sign anything until noon, though.
The Preview: Jared wrote up a free agency preview yesterday. Check that out if you have not yet. It is an excellent summation of all the Devils have done so far, what is left for them to do, how much money they have to spend, and what to expect for this day.
The Notable Moves Made Since that Preview: This is not everything but these are the major ones from Friday.
- For New Jersey, the Devils gave out only one qualifying offer: defenseman Kevin Bahl. Center Michael McLeod, right winger Nathan Bastian, and forward Jesper Boqvist were not qualified. Along with other Utica RFAs.
- For Utica, Shane Bowers was signed on Thursday to a two-way deal for a season. Rome Sentinel reported Ben Birnell had this summary of who is set to become free agents among the Comets: Jayce Hawryluk, Mason Geertsen, Brian Pinho, Nolan Stevens, Marek Mitens, Jarrod Gourley, and Jake Theut. Some were Adirondack players, others were older players that filled out Utica’s roster. Pinho and Stevens were notable for the team. Birnell did include Xavier Parent in his tweet, but his AHL contract was two seasons and not one, so he will return.
- Yesterday was the final day of the first buyout window. There were some late surprise buyouts. The big one was Nashville buying out the final three seasons of Matt Duchene’s contract. Incoming GM Barry Trotz is clearing house. However, I do not understand how they could not try to deal him away and retain salary instead of adding a multimillion dead cap hit for six seasons. Speaking of clearing house, Winnipeg is active as they bought out Blake Wheeler’s last season of his deal. Detroit acquired Kailer Yamamoto and Klim Kostin from Edmonton for nothing and proceeded to buy out Yamamoto’s final season on his two-season deal yesterday. Lastly, cap-strapped Boston bought out Mike Reilly’s last season on his contract. These four will be UFAs tomorrow. They should add some juice to what is otherwise a fairly tepid free agent class. Duchene could stand to make quite a bit as he is 32 and very viable as a top-six forward. Wheeler is older but has plenty left in the tank. Yamamoto and Reilly are solid adds to the middle or bottom six of a team.
- At the draft on Thursday, Chicago acquired Corey Perry from Tampa Bay for a late pick. Yesterday, Chicago decided to give Perry $4 million for a season. Perry is 38, he is coming off a 12-goal, 25 point season loaded with PIM, and he is clearly in the twilight years of his career. I know Chicago had the room, but they did not need to do this. Especially since Perry made just $1.25 million last season and was on league-minimum deals in the prior two seasons.
- Edmonton decided to keep winger Mattias Janmark for a season at $1 million. Right-sided defenseman Noah Juulsen was retained by Vancouver for two seasons at the league minimum on a two-way deal. Columbus has retained Marcus Bjork for a league minimum deal.
- A far bigger re-signing: Las Vegas re-signed goaltender Adin Hill for two seasons and $9.8 million.
- A far bigger name but coming off a big injury: Max Pacioretty will be available for some. Carolina has let him talk to other teams early. Be careful, as per Frank Seravalli, he is coming off a ruptured Achilles tendon.
- Qualifying offers were due yesterday and there were some notable players who did not get a qualifying offer. This means they are UFAs and can sign anywhere at noon. They could be re-signed but the players could choose to test the market. This includes Vancouver defenseman Ethan Bear (who is recovering from shoulder surgery), Vancouver defenseman Travis Dermott, Montreal winger Denis Gurianov, Arizona forward Christian Fischer, Los Angeles forward Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Las Vegas forward Nolan Patrick, Los Angeles forward Lias Andersson, Buffalo forward Tyson Jost, Seattle forward Daniel Sprong, and Seattle center Morgan Geekie. Sprong, Fischer, Gurianov, and Dermott may be intriguing options for plenty of NHL teams. Especially Sprong.
- Goalie Mackenzie Blackwood was also not qualified. So, thanks for the free 6th, San Jose.
- Here is a fun rumor to kick off the day: Kevin Weekes reported that Our Hated Rivals may be signing goaltender Jonathan Quick. Heh. Ha ha. lol, even. rofl, if you will.
- Here is another: Darren Dreger reported that Toronto is interested in Ryan Reaves. Ah, that was what they were missing. Get ready for more nonsense about the importance of GRIT~! and SIZE~! and LOOKING TOUGH~! to justify Canada’s biggest market wanting to sign a 36-year old who is good for maybe five goals in a season.
The Song for the Day: It is an oldie like Reaves and Perry. It is a classic. It is a power pop anthem. From Cheap Trick’s Live in Budokan! album, it’s “I Want You to Want Me.” An appropriate sentiment from the teams courting these UFAs for their signature today. Or the UFA players looking to get a deal today.
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 (read: NHL) signings by the Devils. Minor signings may be lumped in together as needed.
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,” people who claim to have sources and not even have 100 followers on Twitter, people who spell the names of actual insiders with numbers, etc. Such things will be deleted. Warnings and bans will be handed out for repeat or intentional offenses. Please stick to people who may actually know things. Think Elliotte Friedman, Renaud Lavoie, Kevin Weekes, etc. There’s going to be a lot happening online, especially once noon hits. There’s no need to introduce fake news to overtake actual news. It gets people riled up about something that is not likely to happen from someone who claimed they heard somebody. It brings people down when it does not happen. 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 continues to spend wisely this year. He has had a great offseason; keep up the good work.