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NHL Free Agency Day 1: Avalanche Moves, Veterans Leave, Best And Worst Contracts?



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Day 1 of NHL free agency has come and gone, and while there was a decent amount of money spent ($263 million, to be exact), it wasn’t as wild as it used to be. Part of that is because the free agent class just isn’t good, but a big part of it is the salary cap not really moving much.

Do we give NHL GM’s credit for showing some restraint on Saturday?

No, absolutely not. You know if they had the cap space, they would have used it and gone crazy.

With day 1 gone, we’ll recap what the Avalanche did, take a look at some of the players they lost, and then have a peak at some of the contracts handed out around the NHL. Which ones look good, and which ones…not so much?

Colorado Avalanche

I knew Miles Wood to the Avalanche was a possibility, as there was mutual interest, but I didn’t expect a contract like that. He got a six-year, $15 million contract from Colorado. The term on the deal is what kept the AAV down.

Later in the day, a much cheaper deal came through, but one everyone knew had a chance of happening. Jonathan Drouin is getting a chance to get his career back on track with the Avalanche on a one-year deal. I asked Chris MacFarland about the deal later in the day, and I’ll have more on that today.

With both of these deals, we’ll break them down a little further on Sunday.

The Avalanche weren’t done, though, as they signed a few of their own. Bowen Byram got the bridge deal that I expected, signing a 2-year, $7.7 million deal.

And later in the day, the team brought back Andrew Cogliano, and got him to take a pay cut on a 1-year deal. They also signed five veteran AHL players for depth.

So, a pretty busy day, and we know they aren’t done, as there are still a few roster spots to fill.

Veterans Leave

We knew both players were leaving, but it’s still a little tough to see two veterans of the Avalanche sign elsewhere.

Erik Johnson was not going to get re-signed, but I’m still a little surprised he went out East to Buffalo. Maybe less surprised once I saw what he might get paid, but thought he’d stay on the West coast. That might be a good spot for him, though. Mentor some young defensemen there.

And J.T. Compher was not going to get paid by the Avalanche, so he headed back to Michigan, where he played his college hockey. The Red Wings handed him a lot of money – 5 years, $25.5 million to be exact. I don’t quite understand what they’re trying to build there, as they just add middle of the road players every summer, but good for J.T. to get paid.

Best and Worst Contracts Signed in NHL

Now to the fun part. While I don’t necessarily love the Miles Wood contract, it was outdone by a few other deals on Saturday for the worst. But which ones were the best?


Matt Duchene (1 year, $3 million) – You don’t have to like him, but that’s good value. Seeing Dallas improve stings.

Blake Wheeler (1 year, $1.1 million) – Again, you hear some things about him off the ice, but he scored 55 points last year, and barely got a million. He wanted to go out East, and the Rangers benefited from that.

Dmitry Orlov (2 years, $15.5 million) – The best defenseman on the market couldn’t get the term he wanted, and Carolina just tossed a bunch of money at him over two years, simply because they could. As if that defense could get any more stacked. I guess they can now move a Skjei or Pesce if they can’t sign them.

Ryan O’Reilly (4 years, $18 million) – I’m surprised O’Reilly got under $5 million on the open market. I don’t quite get what Nashville is trying to build. Are they trying to rebuild or not? Either way, they got O’Reilly on a great deal.

Jason Zucker (1 year, $5.3 million) – We know what this is. Arizona signed him, and then they can flip him at the deadline for assets. It’s a great deal for them.


Justin Holl (3 years, $10.2 million) – Holl needed to go somewhere where he’s a bottom pairing guy who won’t get exposed. That won’t happy in Detroit. Instead, they gave him a lot of money and he’ll probably play way more than he should.

Alex Killorn (4 years, $25 million) – Anaheim is still nowhere near the cap, so they can afford this contract, but that doesn’t mean they should have signed it. I’m interested to see how Killorn does away from the machine that is Tampa Bay. I don’t think it’ll be great, and this isn’t a deal you can really move easily.

Tristan Jarry (5 years, $26,900,000) – Jarry is not a bad goalie by any means, but is he a goalie you commit to for 5 years? I don’t think so, especially since he hasn’t gotten them far in the NHL playoffs.

All the Islanders Contracts – What is Lou doing? That team isn’t very good to begin with, and he’s just locking them all up forever. The Engvall contract is worse than Wood’s, because he’s also a bottom six forward, but he’ll be paid more for a year longer. Mayfield is not the type of defenseman you commit to for 7 years. And I love Varlamov, but I’m a little confused why they locked up Sorokin, and then decided they needed to pay Varly almost $3 million a year until he’s 38. The league is trending away from paying goalies big bucks, and they just paid their backup almost as much as the Avalanche are paying their starter.

I expect day 2 to be busy, but not as busy as day 1 (obviously). There are still some good players on the market, but is there even any money left for them? That’s when the Avalanche should pounce…

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