Notable NHL Free Agent Signings and Trades – July 13, 2022
The following is a list of notable NHL free-agent signings and trades during the opening day of free agency. This list will be updated throughout the day as details become available. I’ll also be doing live grades of today’s biggest signings on Bleacher Report.
Columbus Blue Jackets sign Johnny Gaudreau to a seven-year, $66.5 million contract.
Seattle Kraken sign defenseman Justin Schultz to a two-year, $6 million contract.
Vegas Golden Knights trade winger Max Pacioretty and defenseman Dylan Coghlan to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for future considerations.
Ottawa Senators trade winger Connor Brown to the Washington Capitals in exchange for a second-round pick in 2024.
San Jose Sharks sign center Nico Sturm to a three-year, $6 million contract.
Detroit Red Wings sign David Perron to a two-year, $9.5 million contract.
Detroit Red Wings sign Dominik Kubalik to a two-year, $5 million contract.
Seattle Kraken sign Andre Burakovsky to a five-year, $27.5 million contract.
Detroit Red Wings sign Ben Chiarot to a four-year, $19 million contract.
Pittsburgh Penguins sign Jan Rutta to a three-year, $8.25 million contract.
Florida Panthers sign Eric and Marc Staal to identical one-year, $750K contracts.
Colorado Avalanche sign winger Artturi Lehkonen to a five-year, $22.5 million contract.
Dallas Stars sign winger Mason Marchment to a four-year, $18 million contract.
Tampa Bay Lightning sign Ian Cole to a one-year, $3 million contract.
Washington Capitals sign Charlie Lindgren to a three-year, $3.3 million contract.
Columbus Blue Jackets sign Erik Gudbranson to a four-year, $16 million contract.
Tampa Bay Lightning sign Mikhail Sergachev to an eight-year, $68 million contract extension effective 2023-24.
The Lightning signed center Anthony Cirelli to an eight-year, $50 million contract extension effective 2023-24.
The Lightning signed defenseman Erik Cernak to an eight-year, $41.6 million contract extension effective 2023-24.
Washington Capitals sign goaltender Darcy Kuemper to a five-year, $26.26 million contract.
San Jose Sharks trade defenseman Brent Burns and center Lane Pederson to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for winger Steven Lorentz, goaltender Eetu Makiniemi and a conditional 2023 third-round pick. The Sharks also retain 33 percent of Burns’ $8 million annual average value through 2024-25.
New York Rangers sign center Vincent Trocheck to a seven-year, $39.38 million contract.
Detroit Red Wings sign forward Andrew Copp to a five-year, $28.13 million contract.
Vancouver Canucks sign winger Ilya Mikheyev to a four-year, $19 million contract.
Chicago Blackhawks sign forwards Max Domi and Andreas Athanasiou to one-year contracts worth $3 million apiece.
St. Louis Blues re-sign defenseman Nick Leddy to a four-year, $16 million contract.
Ottawa Senators sign forward Claude Giroux to a three-year contract with an annual cap hit of $6.5 million.
Edmonton Oilers signed goaltender Jack Campbell to a five-year contract with an annual salary-cap hit of $5 million (as per TSN’s Darren Dreger).
Buffalo Sabres re-sign restricted free agent winger Victor Olofsson to a two-year contract with an annual average value of $4.75 million.
Toronto Maple Leafs sign goaltender Ilya Samsonov to a one-year, $1.8 million deal (as per Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli).
New Jersey Devils trade winger Pavel Zacha to the Boston Bruins in exchange for Erik Haula (as per TSN’s Darren Dreger and Daily Faceoff).
Colorado Avalanche signed defenseman Josh Manson to a four-year contract with an annual average value of $4.5 million (as per TSN’s Pierre LeBrun).
St. Louis Blues sign forward Robert Thomas to an eight-year, $64 million contract extension (as per Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli).
How will the Leafs, Devils, Oilers and Capitals resolve their goaltending issues? What’s the latest speculation on Patrick Kane, Vincent Trocheck and Samuel Girard. Find out in this edition of the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.
SEVERAL TEAMS STILL FACE GOALIE ISSUES AS FREE AGENCY APPROACHES
TORONTO SUN: Lance Hornby reports landing a goaltender is the priority for Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas. He must either re-sign Jack Campbell before the free-agent market opens on July 13, find a suitable replacement such as Darcy Kuemper via free agency, or pursue a trade for someone such as the Anaheim Ducks John Gibson.
Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell (NHL Images).
Hornby suggests the next several days could determine if Dubas is bold enough to move William Nylander and his palatable $6.96 million annual average value for cap space, defense or prospects. Forward Alex Kerfoot could be another trade candidate.
TORONTO STAR: Dave Feschuk also weighed in on the Leafs’ pressing need for a starting goaltender. Possible trade targets could include the Ottawa Senators’ oft-injured Matt Murray, the Minnesota Wild’s Cam Talbot or Gibson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It would indeed be a bold move to shop Nylander to free up cap room for a goaltender. However, that could turn disastrous if the goalie acquired becomes a bust while Nylander thrives with his new team.
Some will suggest Nylander for Gibson straight up. The dollars pretty much fit (Gibson’s AAV is $6.4 million) and the Leafs winger would provide the rebuilding Ducks with an established scoring forward to skate alongside rising young star Trevor Zegras.
However, the Leafs could be among the teams on Gibson’s 10-team no-trade list. We also don’t know if Ducks GM Pat Verbeek wants to take on a high-salaried player right now. Nylander is also just two years from UFA eligibility, which would make Verbeek uneasy over his future.
It’s rumored that the Talbot camp was unhappy about the Wild bringing back Marc-Andre Fleury on a two-year deal. GM Bill Guerin downplayed the issue and appears intent on icing a Fleury-Talbot goalie tandem for 2022-23. Maybe he changes his mind if he gets a suitable offer but I don’t think he’s keen to do so given his own salary-cap limitations.
As for Murray, his long history of injuries screams, “buyer beware”. Unless the Senators are picking up half of his $6.25 million cap hit through 2023-24, he’s not a worthwhile option for the Leafs. According to the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch, the Senators aren’t interested in retaining any portion of his salary.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Kurt Leavins believes the Oilers’ biggest puzzle this offseason is resolving their goalie issue. He also mentioned Campbell, Kuemper and Talbot, and included the San Jose Sharks’ James Reimer as an option.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Round and round the goalie carousel goes and where it stops nobody knows. When it does, at least one of those clubs – Toronto, Edmonton, New Jersey or Washington – is going to be left empty-handed.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks suggests the Rangers should take a run at acquiring Patrick Kane as a one-year rental player instead of the Vancouver Canucks’ J.T. Miller. The 34-year-old Chicago Blackhawks winger has a year remaining on his contract with a $10.5 million cap hit and a full no-movement clause. Brooks suggests he’d be a better fit for the Rangers if he wants out of Chicago and the Blackhawks absorb half of his cap hit.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With Ryan Strome and Andrew Copp heading to market, the Rangers’ biggest need is a second-line center, not a right winger. Miller lacks no-trade protection and carries an affordable $5.25 million cap so there’s no need to get into haggling over cap retention and risk scuttling a potential trade.
Brooks also speculates the Rangers could be in on Carolina Hurricanes center Vincent Trocheck if they wish to address their second-line center needs through free agency. However, he thinks Trocheck could prove too expensive for the Blueshirts.
COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Adrian Dater reports Samuel Girard could be a “moving piece” if the Avalanche should decide to shed salary in order to sign pending UFA defenseman Josh Manson. Dater said he hasn’t heard any trade scenarios involving Girard but can’t see how the Avs can retain Manson without clearing the 24-year-old blueliner’s $5 million cap hit from their books.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Girard surfaced earlier this season as a possible trade chip but those rumors were quickly dismissed. The point can be made that he’s expendable because the Avs went on to win the Stanley Cup with him sidelined for most of the postseason. However, they could be unwilling to move him and his affordable contract through 2026-27.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Senators would like to upgrade their blueline with a right-shot defenseman. Options could include the Florida Panthers’ MacKenzie Weegar, the Arizona Coyotes’ Jakob Chychrun and the Pittsburgh Penguins’ John Marino.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The cap-strapped Panthers could consider moving Weegar if they hope to free up cap space to perhaps re-sign Claude Giroux. The Coyotes set a very high asking price for Chychrun that no one seems willing to pay right now. Marino could be available if the Penguins hope to free up salary to re-sign Evgeni Malkin, though it’s thought Marcus Pettersson is the more likely trade candidate.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Minnesota Wild would like to bring back UFA goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury for another season. He hasn’t made his decision yet and there will be competition for his services.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Depends on how much of a pay cut Fleury is willing to accept. Still, he and GM Bill Guerin are old teammates and friends. They could work something out.
Uncertainty over Nicklas Backstrom’s status makes it difficult to determine the Washington Capitals’ cap flexibility. It’s uncertain if they’ll bring back goalies Vitek Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov. They could pursue Colorado’s Darcy Kuemper if he becomes a UFA next week. They could be in on J.T. Miller.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With $8.9 million in cap space and 18 players under contract for next season, the Capitals will have to move Vanecek or Samsonov if they intend to bring in Kuemper. He could prove too expensive to sign. The Canucks’ asking price for Miller could include Connor McMichael or Hendrix Lapierre.
Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The cost of signing Letang will determine how much they’re willing to invest in bringing back Malkin. That could depend on how much of a pay cut he’s willing to accept and whether he’ll accept a three-year deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues have $9 million in cap space and 18 players under contract for next season. McDonagh carries a $6.75 million cap hit and I don’t see the Lightning retaining part of it. They’ll have to shed some salary to fit him in and still have enough for Perron and perhaps Husso.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wouldn’t rule out the Leafs as a suitor for Kuemper but they’ve got to do something first about Petr Mrazek’s contract. They’ll also likely try to move out Justin Holl and his $2 million cap hit for next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDonagh’s full no-trade clause gives him complete control over potential trade destinations. His $6.75 million annual average value through 2025-26 is also a limiting factor. Killorn carries a more affordable contract at $4.45 million through 2022-23. He carries a 16-team no-trade list.
SPECTOR’ S NOTE: Kane and Toews have identical $10.5 million cap hits through 2022-23 and full no-movement clauses. Moving either guy will involve retaining a healthy chunk of their annual average salary. One would think the Blackhawks would retain the 21-year-old Dach as part of their rebuilding plans. Then again, a lot of us thought the same thing about Brandon Hagel before they shipped him to Tampa Bay.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights are over $2 million above the cap with 18 players under contract for next season. Reilly Smith is believed to be signed but it won’t be made official until July 13 for tagging reasons. They’ll have to move more than Brossoit’s $2.325 million cap hit. Maybe they try to shop William Karlsson and his $5.9 million cap hit.
The Los Angeles Kings made their big move by acquiring Kevin Fiala last week. Friedman wondered if Fiala’s arrival might prompt one or two of their forward prospects to seek a trade if they feel he’ll block their efforts to crack the lineup.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If so, perhaps they could be packaged to add an experienced defenseman to their blueline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman also mentions Patrice Bergeron and perhaps David Krejci could return but that’s not a long-term plan at center. Trocheck could help at least fill the second-line center spot beyond next season. They have $2.3 million in cap space with 22 players signed for next season. Not a lot of room there.
The Calgary Flames are believed to have offered an eight-year deal to Johnny Gaudreau worth $9.5 million annually. They’re still waiting for a decision from the left winger, who feels loyalty toward Calgary but this is as much a family decision as it is a hockey one.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers have $3 million in cap space with 17 players under contract for 2022-23. They can get some cap relief by placing sidelined winger Anthony Duclair (Achilles tendon surgery) on LTIR but they’ll have to be compliant when he returns at midseason.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of the three, Nichushkin seems the most likely to be retained. Kuemper and Kadri will be expensive and they’ve got to keep an eye on their long-term cap space with Nathan MacKinnon due for a big raise next summer.
Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal indicated he’s not thinking about a contract extension this summer, preferring to play out the final season of his contract before determining his future. Waddell indicated they want Staal to play as long as he feels like doing so.
THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Chip Alexander reports DeAngelo would love to stay with the Hurricanes. He said he believes everyone in the organization knows that and believes they want him back, expressing appreciation for the trust they put in him following his troubled final season with the New York Rangers.
Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Tony DeAngelo (NHL Images).
DeAngelo, 26, has arbitration rights and is a year away from becoming eligible for unrestricted free agent status. Waddell indicated there’s interest in signing him to a multi-year contract.
Alexander’s colleague Luck DeCock believes the Hurricanes need an upgrade in pure scoring skill. He suggested parting ways with forward Martin Necas, who regressed during this season and bringing in a scoring winger to replace him via trade or free agency.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Waddell called signing Trocheck a priority. That increases the likelihood he won’t become available in this summer’s UFA market. It will depend on whether the two sides can reach an agreement before free agency begins on July 13.
Trocheck tends to be a streaky scorer but he would draw plenty of interest if he tests the market. Vancouver Hockey Now’s Rob Simpson daydreamed about Vancouver signing him but there’s no indication that’s the direction Canucks management intends to take.
DeAngelo made the most of his opportunity with the Hurricanes. While both sides are pleased with how this season turned out, arriving at a suitable deal could be a challenge.
Cap Friendly indicates the Hurricanes have $19.4 million in cap space with 14 players under contract next season. Parting ways with Necas won’t free up additional cap space as he’s a restricted free agent coming off his entry-level contract.
Trocheck earned an annual average value of $4.725 million while Niederreiter’s was $5.25 million. It could cost a combined $12 million to retain them. DeAngelo, meanwhile, could seek a return to the $4.8 million annually he was earning with the Rangers before agreeing to a one-year, $1 million contract with the Hurricanes for this season. Re-signing that trio won’t leave much room to add a scoring forward.
TIDBITS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “32 THOUGHTS”
SPORTSNET: In his latest “32 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman suggested limited salary-cap space among NHL teams could lead to some of them not bothering to qualify the rights of some arbitration-eligible RFAs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those players could bolster the depth of talent in this summer’s unrestricted free agent market. There’s no certainty, of course, that most or all of them will hit the open market. Still, it could be worthwhile as Friedman suggested to keep an eye on their respective contract negotiations.
Speaking of RFAs, Friedman believes the Leafs will qualify defenseman Rasmus Sandin’s rights. However, they have a logjam on the left side of their blueline. He pointed out that their cap situation doesn’t afford Sandin contract room.
Meanwhile, there haven’t been any contract talks between the Leafs and goaltender Jack Campbell for months and anything previously discussed is no longer relevant. His agent said there’s been no material contract conversation since the end of the season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect the Leafs will get something done with Campbell because there aren’t many suitable replacement options in this summer’s trade and UFA markets. The best free-agent options are Colorado’s Darcy Kuemper and Minnesota’s Marc-Andre Fleury and there’s no certainty either guy can be wooed to Toronto.
As for Sandin, he’ll obviously be more affordable to sign than Campbell. Given the priority given to the latter, however, they could end up shopping Sandin if they can’t free up sufficient cap dollars to re-sign him. However, I think Leafs management will try to free up cap room by trying to move out veterans like Petr Mrazek and Wayne Simmonds, though peddling either guy won’t be easy.
Friedman believes the New Jersey Devils and Ottawa Senators will be worth watching as they have their first-round picks in play for talent with a lot of team control.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, a player with more than a year remaining on their contract.
Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff expects Mark Scheifele to return next season, an update on Vincent Trocheck plus the latest collection of Capitals speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.
CHEVELDAYOFF DOESN’T EXPECT TO TRADE SCHEIFELE
NHL.COM: Mike Zeisberger reports Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff expects Mark Scheifele will return with the club next season. The 29-year-old center made headlines in the Winnipeg media last month when he seemed to question his future with the club after missing the 2022 postseason.
Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele (NHL Images).
Cheveldayoff said his exit interview with Scheifele went well, chalking up the center’s comments to the emotion of missing the playoffs. The long-time Jets forward has two years remaining on his contract.
NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien believes the Jets are better off retaining Scheifele than attempting to trade him. He cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported on May 7 that the center hadn’t asked management to move him.
Despite a decline in Scheifele’s numbers over the past four seasons, O’Brien still believes it’s worthwhile retaining him for at least the coming season. His performance could improve under a new coach. If the Jets need to clear some cap space. O’Brien suggested moving a defenseman such as Nate Schmidt or Brenden Dillon.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets wouldn’t have any problem finding trade partners to take Scheifele off their hands. He’d be much easier to move than Schmidt or Dillon.
Most of the calls for a Scheifele trade were based on the Jets’ need to change a team culture that has eroded since their franchise-best 2017-18 season. Cheveldayoff could be betting on a new bench boss addressing that issue. Former New York Islanders coach (and Manitoba native) Barry Trotz recently interviewed with the Jets and could be just what’s required to reverse their fortunes.
If the problems persist next season, however, the calls for Scheifele (and perhaps other core players) will grow louder. Cheveldayoff might not have much choice by that point. Scheifele could force the issue by calling for a trade.
WILL TROCHECK RE-SIGN WITH THE HURRICANES?
SPORTSNET: In his latest “32 Thoughts” podcast, Elliotte Friedman reported re-signing with the Carolina Hurricanes remains an option for Vincent Trocheck. The 28-year-old center is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 13.
The Hurricanes, however, might not be the best financial choice. Friedman said he’d heard the club made an offer to extend Trocheck but it didn’t get done. He pointed out that Hurricanes’ management rarely deviates from their view of a player’s value.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trocheck is completing a six-year deal with an annual average value of $4.75 million. He’ll probably want something close to $6 million per season.
The Hurricanes could re-sign Trocheck but they might also seek a more consistent option through trade or free agency. Trocheck won’t be back if they acquire a second-line center before free agency opens on July 13.
LATEST CAPITALS SPECULATION
NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Andrew Gillis recently listed the health of key players such as Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson among the big three questions facing the Washington Capitals in the offseason. Backstrom has been troubled by a nagging left-hip injury while Wilson could miss up to the first half of next season recovering from knee surgery.
WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Sammi Silber observed the Capitals could get some cap relief for next season by placing Backstrom and Wilson on long-term injury reserve. That would free up space to add an experienced starting goalie, a reliable top-six forward or more depth at center via trade or free agency.
If Backstrom were to miss significant time, Silber pondered whether Colorado’s Nazem Kadri would be a good fit if he becomes available on the free-agent market. She acknowledged there would be a cap crunch if Backstrom returned during the season after signing a player like Kadri. Silber also suggested Avs winger Valeri Nichushkin as a possible free-agent replacement for the sidelined Wilson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Backstrom’s cap hit for next season is $9.2 million while Wilson’s is $5.16 million. That’s a big chunk of change that the Capitals could free up if necessary by placing one or both on LTIR.
Backstrom could be the more likely LTIR candidate if he’s unable to play without pain going forward. He’d be all but retired by that point, alleviating any concern about a cap crunch by bringing in a replacement this summer through trade or free agency. It would be riskier if he has a timetable to return at some point next season should he undergo another offseason surgical procedure on his hip.
For now, there’s no clarity on Backstrom’s status. The Capitals really can’t make any significant moves based on his health until they determine for certain his status for next season.
Carolina Hurricanes center Vincent Trocheck (NHL Images).
Wyshynski observed that Trocheck tends to be inconsistent. DeAngelo, meanwhile, led their defensemen with 51 points in 64 games after signing a one-year, $1 million contract.
THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Chip Alexander pointed out that Necas’ erratic third NHL season raises questions over where he fits into the Hurricanes’ plans. Bear, meanwhile, was a healthy scratch throughout this postseason.
Luke DeCock also weighed in on the difficult decisions facing Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell, with what to do with DeAngelo and Niederreiter topping the list. He felt Trocheck’s departure via free agency and cutting bait with Necas should be easier. DeCock also noted coach Rod Brind’Amour’s comment about the Hurricanes lacking elite goal scorers.
THE ATHLETIC: Sara Civian suggested Waddell explore the “elite goal scorer” market this summer. She pointed out the Hurricanes lacked a scorer in the top-20 this season despite being among the NHL’s best teams. Their scoring leader was Sebastian Aho, whose 81 points placed him 30th overall in the league.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Hurricanes have $19.375 million in cap space for 2022-23 with 14 players under contract. Not everyone among those key free agents will be back, especially if Waddell and team owner Tom Dundon decide to pursue a scoring forward this summer.
I think they’ll bring DeAngelo back after his bounce-back performance this season. Trading Necas could be a mistake but he could be packaged with a draft pick or prospect to land a more established scorer.
LATEST ON THE BLUES
STLTODAY.COM: Jim Thomas reports Blues GM Doug Armstrong doesn’t believe his roster needs major changes after falling in the second round to the Colorado Avalanche. With a number of key players under contract, he felt his team is in a good position for next season.
Armstrong acknowledged the salary cap will affect efforts to re-sign key UFAs David Perron, Ville Husso and Nick Leddy. Still, he believes there’s sufficient time to work things out. He also said he’s not worried about Vladimir Tarasenko returning next season despite last summer’s reports about a trade request. He praised the winger’s bounce-back performance this season.
THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford reported Perron said he’d love to be back with the Blues, though he declined to speak about his contract situation publicly. Armstrong also indicated he’d like to bring the 34-year-old winger back, citing his ability to still elevate his play despite his age.
Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly can sign a contract extension this summer. He said he absolutely wants to remain in St. Louis.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perron earned $4 million annually on his current contract and could return for the same cap hit on a two- or three-year deal. Leddy was a good fit with the Blues after joining them in a late-season trade. However, the 31-year-old defenseman will have to accept a pay cut from his $5.5 million to stick in St. Louis.
Husso made just $700k this season so he’s going to get a significant raise despite his postseason struggles. He could cash in on the free-agent market if he wants more playing time as a starter.
Tarasenko hasn’t publicly said he’s changed his mind about a trade but I’d say Armstrong’s comments are a strong indication he won’t be shopped this summer.