Notable Trades and Free Agent Signings Before the 2023 NHL Draft
NOTE: The following moves occurred on June 28 prior to 6 pm ET. Any subsequent notable trades involving NHL players during the first round of the 2023 NHL Draft will be duly noted in a separate post following the completion of that round.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Meier, 26, is now the highest-paid forward on the Devils and the second-highest-paid player next to Dougie Hamilton ($9 million AAV).
Joining the Devils in a trade from the San Jose Sharks before the March trade deadline, he had nine goals and 14 points in 21 regular-season games with the Devils. Including his totals with the Sharks, he finished the regular season with 40 goals and 66 points in 78 games.
Meier’s signing now gives the Devils an impressive core of scoring forwards, joining Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, Jesper Bratt, Dawson Mercer, Ondrej Palat and the recently-acquired Tyler Toffoli. This club will be difficult to contain offensively next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With limited salary-cap space, the Golden Knights are forced to trade one of their few remaining “misfits” from their original expansion roster to free up the dollars to re-sign Barbashev.
Smith, 32, was a reliably productive top-six forward for Vegas, coming off his fourth 50-plus point season (56) in six years. He carries a $5 million AAV through 2024-25. He has a 12-team no-trade clause for 2022-23. In all likelihood, the Penguins weren’t on it.
The Penguins are trying to build around aging stars Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang for a quick turnaround after missing the playoffs this season. Smith should be a solid fit alongside Crosby or Malkin on their top two lines. He likely replaces pending UFA winger Jason Zucker.
Barbashev, 27, is five years younger than Smith and plays a more physical style. He’s a year removed from a 60-point performance with the St. Louis Blues.
Acquired from the Blues before the trade deadline, he had 16 points in 23 regular-season games with Vegas, finishing the season with 45 points. He also had 18 points in 22 playoff games helping the Golden Knights win their first Stanley Cup.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche wasted little time filling the gap after trading Alex Newhook to the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday. Colton, 26, is a versatile middle-six forward with Stanley Cup experience who should fit in well with the Avs. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights but should be an affordable re-signing.
Salary-cap constraints force the Lightning to lose yet another player as their roster depth continues to whittle away. Some folks envisioned Colton as a potential replacement for Alex Killorn if he departs as an unrestricted free agent.
This move also gives the Lightning one pick in the first five rounds. The second-rounder originally belonged to the Canadiens, who shipped it to the Avalanche in the Newhook deal.