It’s July 1. In Canada, that’s an actual holiday (Happy Canada Day!), and in the NHL, it might as well be.
For the first time in a few years, free agency opens on July 1 again. The pandemic shifted the schedule around for the last three years, so Canada Day and the start of free agency align for the first time since 2019.
And that means NHL teams are ready to throw around some cash again.
When free agency opens up, we’ll be updating this page with all the signings so you can keep track of everything happening around the NHL and with the Colorado Avalanche. When the Avalanche do sign someone, we’ll have separate articles about those as well.
- Detroit Red Wings sign J.T. Compher to a 5-year, $5.1 million per-year deal
Detroit is currently building the most mid roster you can ever think of. Compher produced a lot last year, and did step up when the Avalanche needed him during the regular season, but down the stretch, he got exposed in a big way. Good for him getting that contract, but the Avalanche were smart not to be the team to give it to him.
- New York Islanders sign Scott Mayfield to 7-year, $3.5 million per year deal
Islanders handing out the $ for a long-time. Usually we don’t find out for months that they’ve signed anyone. The way Mayfield plays, I’m not sure he’ll hold up for 7 years, but teams are clearly trying to keep the AAV down right now.
- New York Islanders sign Pierre Engvall to a 7-year, $21 million deal
Engvall is a good player, and that price tag is not bad at all, but 7-years is a long commitment for a bottom six forward. We’re seeing it with the Avalanche with Wood, and again with Engvall. I’d probably take him over Wood, but still don’t like committing that much term to depth players.
- Lars Eller to Pittsburgh at 2-years, $2.45 per season
I liked Eller, but not at that price. To me, he’s not anything more than a 4C at this point in his career, and that’s a lot of money for a 4C.
- Pittsburgh Penguins sign Ryan Graves to a 6-year, $4.5 million per-year deal
Good for Graves. He was a terrific find for the Avalanche a few years back, but they couldn’t afford to pay him. Now, he gets a long-term commitment in Pittsburgh. A solid defender who you don’t really want to over-extend.
- Anaheim Ducks sign Alex Killorn to a 4-year, $6.25 million per-year deal.
I said this was going to be the landmine NHL teams would want to avoid, and it did not disappoint. That’s a massive deal for a 34 year old winger. The Ducks can afford to overpay players, but this is a big one.
- Carolina Hurricanes sign Michael Bunting to a 3-year, $4.5 million per year deal
The Hurricanes are fascinating. They do not sit still, but they also don’t love giving out big contracts. They still don’t have that superstar, but such a deep and well coached team. Bunting adds some goal scoring around the net.
- Jason Zucker to the Arizona Coyotes on a 1-year, $5.3 million deal
Only 1 year, but that’s a lot of money. Arizona said they wanted to improve, but the reality is, we know they want to flip him at the deadline for more assets. Zucker is a good winger and might be someone to keep an eye on at the deadline.
- Detroit Red Wings sign Daniel Sprong to a 1-year, $2 million deal
Are we going to start seeing the bargains now around the NHL? Have teams finally spent all their money? Sprong has holes in his game, but scored 20 goals last year. For $2 million, that’s a good deal.
- Dallas Stars sign Matt Duchene to a 1-year, $3 million deal
Wow. That’s…cheap. The division is improving, and Duchene adds some speed and skill to the Dallas lineup. He also has a chance to have a big year and make even more money next summer, while he’s still getting paid by Nashville.
- Florida Panthers sign Niko Mikkola to a 3-year, $2.5 million per-year deal
A deal I’d be happy to avoid. I don’t think Mikkola is very good, and he gets term and some good money. Florida had to replace Gudas, but this is a major downgrade.
- Tampa Bay signs Conor Sheary to a 3-year, $2 million per-year deal
I assumed Tampa had no room for anyone, but I guess that’s not the case. I’m not sure I would give Sheary 3-years, but the price is solid. A little small but he can produce.
- Andreas Englund signs in Los Angeles on a 2-year, $1 million per year deal
Good for Englund! He went from an AHL defenseman to a guy getting an NHL deal just months later because he kept getting better and better. Best of luck to him in LA. Would I have taken that deal if I was the Avalanche? Yeah, probably.
- Vancouver Canucks sign Carson Soucy to a 3-year, $3.25 million per year deal
One of the better defensemen on the market, which says a lot about what this free agent class is. He doesn’t have to move very far, as he’s just coming from Seattle. That’s a good deal, all things considered. Vancouver, like Detroit, continues to add solid, but not great players. Will they take the next step?
- Washington Capitals sign Max Pacioretty to a 1-year, $2 million deal with $2 million in bonuses
Bob McKenzie mentioned earlier today on TSN that he wanted to stay in the East, and that’s exactly what happened. That’s a bigger AAV than I expected, especially if he hits that bonus, but that’s a huge risk. It could also pay off in a big way. He won’t be ready until November, it sounds like.
- Dmitry Orlov signs a 2-year, $7.75 million per year deal with Carolina
Orlov was rumored to want a max deal from the Capitals before they dealt him. That obviously did not happen, and I don’t think any NHL team was going to give him a long-term deal, considering his age. Instead, he signs a short-term deal on a very good team, and gets paid handsomely for it. If he plays fantastic, he might make even more in a few years when the cap goes up.
- Detroit Red Wings sign Justin Holl to a 3-year, $3.4 million per year deal
Red Wings continue to add middle of the road players in free agency, just like they did last year. Eventually, that team has to take the next step, but is adding guys like this going to get that done?
- Mike Reilly signs in Florida on a 1-year, $1 million deal
This one stings. Solid depth defenseman who can move the puck really well. Great value signing for the Panthers.
- Vancouver signs Ian Cole and Teddy Blueger to 1-year deals
Blueger would have been a good fit in the bottom six for Colorado, but that might be a little more than what they wanted to pay. A real solid depth player. Cole was rumored to be headed to Vancouver, but on a multi-year deal, so smart of the Canucks to keep it to 1 year.
- Boston Bruins sign Milan Lucic to a 1-year, $1 million deal
Another one of those “worst kept secret” contracts, as everyone knew it was trending this way the last few days. If Lucic would have accepted this deal in Colorado, I wouldn’t have hated it, but he’s headed back to Boston, and Bruins fans adore him.
- Nashville Predators sign Gustav Nyquist to a 2-year, $3.185 million per year deal
Nashville going hard on day one of free agency. Nyquist can still play, and on a short-term deal, makes sense. A little more money than I would have wanted to pay.
- Buffalo Sabres sign Connor Clifton to a 3-year, $3.33 million per year deal
Someone I had on Colorado’s radar, but that price is just too high for them. Good defenseman, but the Avalanche just can’t spend that much for a bottom pairing player. Buffalo really trying hard to rebuild their defense, adding some right shot defenders to the skilled lefties they have in Dahlin and Power.
- Boston Bruins sign Morgan Geekie to a 2-year, $2 million per-year deal
Another player who didn’t get qualified yesterday during the NHL madness. Bruins are having to sign cheaper players to replace their big guns that they’re losing either to free agency or retirement. Solid deal.
- Edmonton Oilers sign Connor Brown to a 1-year, $4 million deal
This is mostly incentive based, but knew it was coming over the last few days. He’s got a history with Connor McDavid, and they’re trying to surround him with grunt workers like Hyman and Brown.
- Anaheim Ducks sign Radko Gudas to a 3-year, $4 million per-year deal
Gudas gets paid after a run to the Cup final. That’s how the NHL works. He’s a good defenseman, though. Solid deal for him, but he’s headed to a team that might not be very good next year.
- Buffalo Sabres sign Erik Johnson to a 1-year, $3.25 million deal
Wow. No wonder it didn’t work out with the Avalanche. A 1-year deal is smart, but that’s a lot of cash for EJ, and Colorado just couldn’t pay that. I knew he could get more on the market, but I didn’t expect that. A little surprised he signed out East, but best of luck to EJ!
- Ottawa Senators sign goaltender Joonas Korpisalo to a 5-year, $20 million deal
A huge commitment to a goaltender who has really struggled up until this past year. Giving 5 years to any goaltender is risky, but this one seems extra risky. I love Ottawa, though, so I hope it works out for them. I’m just not sure he’s the answer. Had double hip surgery last summer and came out of it much better.
- Freddy Anderson re-signs in Carolina on a 2-year, $3.4 million per year deal
I guess Carolina is just running it back with the same goalies. They’re both good goalies, just have major health concerns. Still one of the better teams in the NHL, and went a little deeper in the postseason this year.
- Jonathan Quick to the New York Rangers on a 1-year, $825k deal
Not quite the goalie he was in the past, but the Rangers are just looking for someone, anyone, to take some minutes away from Shesterkin. His numbers this year were quite bad, so we’ll see if he can rebound.
- Blake Wheeler signs with the New York Rangers on a 1-year, $800k deal
Wheeler wanted to head East, so wasn’t much of an option for the Avalanche. A really good value deal for the Rangers, even if I have questions about Wheeler’s presence off the ice with everything I’ve heard that went on in Winnipeg.
- James Van Riemsdyk to Boston on a 1-year, $1 million deal
Cheap deal for a team that is losing a lot of talent this summer. JVR didn’t get moved at the deadline for some reason, but can still score some goals. This is a good value deal, but I’m not sure how he would have fit on Colorado with his skating.
- New Jersey re-signs both Michael McLeod and Nathan Bastian
Two of the more fun players that didn’t get qualified yesterday just return to their team. I had a feeling this was coming, but they are letting Jesper Boqvist hit the market.
- Ryan O’Reilly signs in Nashville on a 4-year, $18 million deal
Okay, this is a great deal for Nashville. Not too high on the AAV, and not too long. It’s actually pretty funny that Nashville is replacing Duchene with O’Reilly. The way Nashville is doing things is strange, but this is a good deal. I think we’ll hear a lot of Avalanche fans wondering why they didn’t wait for a deal like this. Is Nashville looking to rebuild or win now? That’s my only question.
- Luke Schenn signs a 3-year, $2.75 million per year deal with the Nashville Predators
I’m not quite sure I follow what Nashville is trying to do. Schenn was a great value player last year, making under a million, but now gets a raise. I don’t even really think this is a bad deal, I’m just a little confused about what Nashville is trying to do.
- Matt Nieto signs in Pittsburgh on a 2-year, $900k per year deal
Nieto was a disappointment upon return to Colorado. He ate minutes, but didn’t do a whole lot with it. I’m surprised he got a 2-year deal. He heads out East, and apparently swerved Edmonton.
- Antti Raanta re-signs with the Carolina Hurricanes on a 1-year, $1.5 million deal
They don’t love to pay for goaltending, so makes sense. Raanta is a good goalie…when he’s healthy, which is rare.
- Jesper Fast re-signs with the Carolina Hurricanes on a 2-year, $2.4 million deal per year
We knew this one was coming, but still stings. He would have been a terrific fit in Colorado, as he does a lot of dirty work all over the ice. Good value signing.
- Ryan Reaves to the Toronto Maple Leafs on a 3-year, $1.35 million deal per year
I get the need to add toughness, but 3 years for a guy who has 11 goals in the last three seasons. Okay then. He’s 36!
- Oliver Ekman-Larsson to the Florida Panthers on a 1-year, $2.25 million deal
OEL heads out East on a short deal, looking to have a good year and cash in. I think we’re going to see a lot of short deals today, and OEL decides to sign with a contender.
- Los Angeles Kings to sign Goalie Cam Talbot to a 1-year deal, $1 million deal, per Kevin Weekes
For a team trying to load up for a Stanley Cup run, this seems…underwhelming. Talbot could not stay healthy for Ottawa last year, and he’s now 35 years old. Interesting choice.