The NHL officially kicked off Free Agency on Sunday, and for the first time we were given a clear view on the landscape as a whole. While it was obviously nice to see a full pool of unrestricted free agents available, it also brought with it a few bad surprises. I’m not going to lay into any specific teams here, but I will say that some of these moves were perplexing. Overall, the salary cap is still $71.4 million, and it seems to be getting a bit tighter.
Thanks to new collective bargaining agreements in the NHL, the salary cap is going to be more restrictive than it has ever been. This season, for example, the cap is factored into the salary cap calculation, meaning teams are not allowed to exceed the cap by more than 25 percent. In 2016, the NHLPA and NHL agreed to an increase in the salary cap from $69.4 million to $75.2 million. That means that there will be 7.5 percent more dollars to play with than last season.
NFL free agency has been in full swing for a week now, and we are sure you have spent some time perusing the coverage of the signings, trades, and 24/7 analysis we have all come to expect. But now that the frenzy is behind us, we turn to evaluating the deals, and handing out grades for all 32 teams. We start with what we feel were the biggest moves of the week, including the San Jose Sharks’ acquisition of Logan Couture, the Philadelphia Flyers’ signing of Michael Raffl, and the Montreal Canadiens’ acquisition of Andrew Shaw.. Read more about 2018 nhl free agent signings and let us know what you think.
The NHL free-agency frenzy of 2021 began 27 days later than normal, on July 1st, but it was as crazy as any in recent memory, with more than $500 million in transactions made on the first day alone.
A number of important players have still to make their choices, and deals for Jack Eichel and Vladimir Tarasenko may change the course of the organization. But, after the first major wave, here’s where all 32 teams stand.
Note: As usual, we owe our salary and contract data to our colleagues at CapFriendly. Hockey Reference, Natural Stat Trick, and Evolving Hockey provided advanced stats. Within each grade level, teams are arranged alphabetically.
ANA | ARI | BOS | BUF CGY | CAR | CHI | COL CBJ | DAL | DET | EDM FLA | LA | MIN | MTL NSH | NJ | NYI | NYR OTT | PHI | PIT | SJ SEA | STL | TB | TOR VAN | VGS | WSH | WPG VAN | VGS | WSH | WPG VAN | VGS | WSH | WPG VAN |
D Conor Timmins, D Shayne Gostisbehere, LW Andrew Ladd, LW Antoine Roussel, LW Loui Eriksson, C Jay Beagle, C Travis Boyd, G Carter Hutton, D Ben Hutton, LW Dmitrij Jaskin, LW Ryan Dzingel, D Anton Stralman, C Jay Beagle, C Travis Boyd, G Carter Hutton, D Ben Hutton, LW Dmitrij Jaskin, L
G Darcy Kuemper, D Oliver Ekman-Larsson, RW Conor Garland, D Niklas Hjalmarsson, D Alex Goligoski, G Antti Raanta, LW Michael Bunting, C Frederik Gauthier, C Michael Chaput, LW Dryden Hunt, C John Hayden, D Jordan Oesterle, D Tyler Pitlick, G Antti Raanta, C Frederik Gauthier, C Michael Chaput (expansion draft)
The Coyotes may not be through dealing experienced players just yet. Is it possible that Christian Dvorak or Phil Kessel may be the next to depart?
A+ is the grade. This is how you tank now. Bill Armstrong, the general manager, was recruited in 2020 in part because of his experience as a draft expert in St. Louis. When he came in Arizona, however, he was met with a team that was flirting with the cap ceiling, as well as an empty cupboard of draft choices, some of which the NHL had taken away due to the previous regime’s draft combine rule breaches.
After a year, Armstrong was able to transfer Ekman-Larsson and his onerous contract (although at the expense of promising Conor Garland), sell Kuemper for a good prospect in Timmins and a first-round selection, and amass a treasure trove of choices, including five (!) in the second round next year.
The Coyotes, however, have almost $8 million in salary space and just seven players under contract for 2022-23. Arizona has only had a top-three pick twice in its history; a goalie duo of Hutton and Josef Korenar can help change that.
G Marc-Andre Fleury, D Seth Jones, C Tyler Johnson, D Caleb Jones, D Jake McCabe, and LW Jujhar Khaira are among the newcomers.
Duncan Keith, Adam Boqvist, Brent Seabrook, Pius Suter, David Kampf, and Vinnie Hinostroza are among the key players that have left the team.
The Blackhawks may be done for the time being, unless they find someone willing to trade for goalies Malcolm Subban or Collin Delia, who have lost significant playing time now that Marc-Andre Fleury has joined the club.
Grade: A. The Blackhawks paid nothing for the defending Vezina Trophy champion. Jones came at a far greater price — a trade of 2021 first-round picks, another conditional first-round pick, and young defender Adam Boqvist — but the Blackhawks got a genuine No. 1 defenseman who isn’t far from Norris Trophy contention. This season, his $5.4 million cap cost is a steal; after that, the verdict is still out on the $9.5 million AAV, eight-year, complete no-movement commitment they made.
McCabe was one of the most under-the-radar acquisitions of the summer. Johnson still has value, and they were able to get a second-round pick from Tampa Bay while also saving money by unloading Brent Seabrook’s contract. The summer effort, along with the return of Jonathan Toews and the Western Conference’s relative weakness, adds up to a club that might contend for a playoff berth this season.
C Pius Suter, C Mitchell Stephens, D Nick Leddy, and G Alex Nedeljkovic are among the newcomers.
G Jonathan Bernier, C Luke Glendening, C Darren Helm, and D Dennis Cholowski are among the key players that have left the team (expansion draft)
The Red Wings have enough salary room (over $25 million) to pick up some of the contracts that other clubs may need to get rid of later in the summer. They also have to work out contracts with restricted free agents Jakub Vrana and Filip Hronek.
Grade: A. The Red Wings took advantage of a handful of strange free agency choices made by other clubs. The Hurricanes didn’t think Nedeljkovic, a Calder Trophy finalist, had what it took to be a real starter goaltender, so they sent him to the Red Wings. The Blackhawks backed away from contract negotiations with Suter because “there wasn’t really a match,” and the Red Wings snatched him up. The Islanders got a good deal on Leddy, who will assist their young defenders.
They also improved as a result of who departed their squad. Detroit is still in the midst of a reconstruction, but it is on the right road. GM Steve Yzerman (still) is the brightest person in the room, according to this rating.
C Phillip Danault, D Alexander Edler, RW Viktor Arvidsson, and G Garret Sparks are among the newcomers.
RW Matt Luff and D Mark Alt are two key players who have left the team.
The remaining hole: In Los Angeles, the reconstruction is approaching completion. Now the question is when new hotshot talents like Quinton Byfield will be able to get into the starting lineup.
Grade: A. For GM Rob Blake, it’s been a fantastic summer as he begins to put the experienced pieces in place to complement the prospect pool he’s accumulated. There’s a lot to like about the Danault deal, as it gives the Kings a center who can play up front until Byfield or Alex Turcotte are ready, and then settle in as the backbone of a strong checking line.
Arvidsson and Edler will provide assistance to the team’s young Swedes, and if Arvidsson can recover his previous form after a couple of injury-plagued years, he’ll be a valuable addition. He’s already improved a solid penalty kill. The Kings may make a splash in the Pacific if the kids mature. If they aren’t, this summer will pave the way for them to become a contender.
D Dougie Hamilton, D Ryan Graves, G Jonathan Bernier, and F Tomas Tatar are among the newcomers.
D Will Butcher, D Connor Carrick, and D Ryan Murray are among the key players that have left the team.
RFA forward Janne Kuokkanen still has to be re-signed, but the Devils may need additional forwards next season. Tatar is a good addition, but they should give Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier some more experienced scorers to work with next season.
Grade: A. The Devils landed the best defensive free agent on the open market. Sure, the money talks, but they also had to convince Hamilton to come to New Jersey and to join a team that’s a few years away from real contention. He’s going to immediately make them better in all facets, including their moribund power play (28th last season, 14.2% conversion rate). What this signing looks like three years from now is contingent on how the Devils build around him.
Graves, on the other hand, is a low-cost defender who shoots the puck a lot and is a step up from the blue line they had in 2021. Tatar, who was mysteriously benched during the Canadiens’ run to the Stanley Cup Final, is an ideal signing in terms of yearly budget hit ($4.5 million) and term (two years) as long as he can still play 5-on-5. Bernier was a great counterpart for Mackenzie Blackwood last season on a poor club. He isn’t worth $4.125 million AAV, but the Devils aren’t exactly a cap club right now.
LW Jakub Voracek, C Sean Kuraly, D Jake Bean, D Adam Boqvist are among the newcomers.
D Seth Jones and LW/RW Cam Atkinson are two key players who have left the team.
The Blue Jackets dangled center Max Domi in the expansion selection but were unable to find a taker. He may still be on the move, with a $5.3 million cap hit, one year remaining until unrestricted free agency, and coming off his worst scoring season (1.8 points per 60 minutes) in his debut season in Columbus.
A- is the grade. Jones was the latest in a long line of high-profile players who wanted to leave Columbus, with the exception of Zach Werenski and his new $9,583,333 yearly salary charge, which means GM Jarmo Kekalainen has become quite adept at maximizing these returns. He acquired two first-round choices and Boqvist from Chicago in exchange for Jones, which is a fantastic return considering the restricted pool of clubs with whom he’d sign an extension. They swapped Atkinson for Voracek, who has one year remaining on his deal, has the potential to be a terrific setup man for Patrik Laine, and most importantly, enjoys playing in Columbus. Kuraly was also a great depth addition in the middle.
It goes without saying that the tragic death of goalkeeper Matiss Kivlenieks in a pyrotechnics accident last month had an effect on their summer plans, particularly when it came to selling Elvis Merzlikins or Joonas Korpisalo. But that’s little in comparison to the tragedy’s scope.
F Sam Reinhart is a key acquisition.
C Alex Wennberg, D Anton Stralman, D Keith Yandle, and G Chris Driedger are among the key players that have left the team (expansion draft)
The Panthers still have a void in their bottom six, and although they have several young players who might fill it, they could need a few more experienced hands. They must also reach an agreement with Reinhart on a new deal.
A- is the grade. On the surface, it seems like the Panthers released too many players over the summer. However, as the saying goes, context is everything. Behind Sergei Bobrovsky (who isn’t going anywhere, contractually) and Spencer Knight, Driedger and goalkeeper Devon Levi were part of a goalie oversupply (who is the future). They weren’t paying Wennberg $4.5 million per year, and they weren’t providing him with term and trade protection like Seattle did. They bought Yandle out since he was on his way out. Reinhart is a legitimate scoring option for them at center or on the wing, and the first they gave up for him was a top-10 protected player for the next season.
If Sam Bennett’s success from last season is repeated, his four-year contract will be justified, as will the three-year extensions given to Carter Verhaeghe and Brandon Montour. Florida has created something special here, but how long that “something special” lasts will be determined by whether Aleksander Barkov, who will join the UFA next summer, receives a contract extension.
D Ryan Ellis, D Rasmus Ristolainen, D Keith Yandle, LW/RW Cam Atkinson, and G Martin Jones are among the newcomers.
C Nolan Patrick, LW Jakub Voracek, D Robert Hagg, D Philippe Myers, D Shayne Gostisbehere, and G Brian Elliott are among the key players that have left the team.
Remaining hole: The main piece of business left for the Flyers is a new contract for goalie Carter Hart, who is coming off his worst season as a pro. While a contract of around six seasons is possible, Hart’s just as likely to sign something in the three- to four-year range.
A- is the grade. GM Chuck Fletcher had a lot of work to do this summer, and most of it was positive. Ellis more than covers the void left by Matt Niskanen’s unexpected retirement before to last season. Ristolainen was expensive (2021 first-rounder, 2023 second-rounder), but a change of scenery and defensive partner may turn this into a coup, which is the term we’d use to describe Yandle’s $900,000 post-buyout deal. The Flyers now have a guy with one more contract year (through 2024-25) but greater goal-scoring potential in Voracek.
Jones as a backup for Hart was the lone miscalculation; even at one year and $2 million post-buyout, he’s a goaltender who has given up 6.7 goals less than the league average over the previous three seasons. Otherwise, the Flyers are attempting to be this season’s Canadiens: a club that was rebuilt and rejuvenated in the summer by experienced acquisitions to important positions.
F Nick Foligno, F Erik Haula, F Tomas Nosek, D Derek Forbort, and G Linus Ullmark are key acquisitions.
C David Krejci, C Sean Kuraly, LW Nick Ritchie, RW Ondrej Kase, D Jeremy Lauzon (expansion draft), G Jaroslav Halak are among the key players who have left the team.
• Free-agency tracker » • Free-agent grades » • Draft recap: All 224 picks » • Winners, losers of the draft » • Expansion draft results » • Expansion takeaways » More NHL content »
The remaining hole: The Bruins don’t have much salary room ($1.089 million), but with Krejci gone, would they look to strengthen the center of their lineup, or will they look for answers from within?
Grade: B+. Much of this grade is based on their re-signing of winger Taylor Hall, as well as defensemen Brandon Carlo and Mike Reilly to sensible and smart contracts. Tuukka Rask is out for the first part of next season due to hip surgery and could still return to Boston as a free agent when he’s healed up. But if this is the end for the Bruins and Rask, getting Ullmark at four years ($5 million AAV) was solid — he’s improved every year he’s been an NHL starter.
Foligno is the hardest call here. He would have been a prototypical Bruin three years ago. His attacking game has vanished, despite his physicality and ability to play good defense. He’s adequate as a depth addition. Not so much as a possible option for the No. 2 center position. (Though losing that position is almost certainly Charlie Coyle’s responsibility.) Overall, a good offseason for a club seeking to keep that championship window open — something that will be more difficult now that “Playoff Krejci” is back in the Czech Republic.
LW Zach Hyman, F Warren Foegele, C Derek Ryan, D Duncan Keith, D Cody Ceci are among the newcomers.
D Adam Larsson (expansion draft), D Ethan Bear, D Caleb Jones, F Dominik Kahun, and C Jujhar Khaira are all key losses.
The last hole: The Oilers are maxed out on defense, but if there’s a chance to add some depth on the left side, that might be the goal.
B+ grade. The Oilers’ offseason saw several changes that will help the club improve in the near term, as well as other moves that were, for want of a better word, extremely Oilers.
Hyman is a capable power forward who has played alongside top-tier talent in Toronto. Connor McDavid gets an early Christmas gift. Foegele, who plays on their third line, follows suit. Ryan increases the depth of their center.
Obviously, the most dramatic shift happened in the defensive corps. Keith must show that his previous season, in which he was a liability defensively, was not a foreshadowing of doom. The Kraken derailed the Oilers’ plan to pair him alongside Larsson, but Ceci is a good replacement. Barrie’s return at $4.5 million AAV was a wise decision.
They were on the verge of an A-minus if they didn’t bring back Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen as their average-at-best goaltending duo and give Darnell Nurse a $9.25 million AAV on an eight-year contract with significant trade protection from GM Ken Holland, which was a very “won’t be my problem” contract.
Trading Caleb Jones for what’s left of Keith so the Blackhawks can get Seth Jones and give him a contract that resets the market and raises Nurse’s price tag? Oilers, to be sure.
G James Reimer, C Nick Bonino, C Andrew Cogliano, F Nicholas Merkley, and G Adin Hill are among the newcomers.
G Martin Jones, D Greg Pateryn, RW Kurtis Gabriel, C Patrick Marleau, RW Marcus Sorensen, C Ryan Donato, D Christian Jaros are among the key players that have left the team.
The only remaining hole is Evander Kane, who is presently under investigation by the NHL for allegations made by his estranged wife that he gambled on games. Regardless, according to The Athletic, several players do not want Kane to return to San Jose. Doug Wilson, the general manager, is in a difficult position.
B+ grade. Even if we’re not convinced on the Reimer/Hill battery, just eliminating Jones from the story gets this squad a decent rating. Aside from the goaltender switch, the Sharks made some excellent experienced depth acquisitions in Bonino and Cogliano.
We’re still not clear what the long-term strategy is here. The Sharks are bound by immovable contracts, but they aren’t willing to go with players like Tomas Hertl, who is one year away from free agency and might fetch a good price. Finally, you might make the case that they’re a better squad today than they were a year ago.
LW Brandon Saad and LW Pavel Buchnevich are key acquisitions.
LW Jaden Schwartz, LW Alex Steen, D Carl Gunnarsson, C Tyler Bozak, LW Mike Hoffman, LW Sammy Blais, D Vince Dunn are among the key players that have left the team (expansion draft)
The only remaining hole is that Robert Thomas (RFA) need a new contract, but GM Doug Armstrong’s primary emphasis should be on trading Vladimir Tarasenko. It won’t be simple to negotiate this trade request (and the Blues don’t have much power), but it seems that many clubs are still interested in the winger.
B+ grade. Buchnevich, a quality winger whom the Blues swiftly signed to a four-year contract, is the Rangers’ loss. Up front, Saad more than makes up for the loss of Schwartz. Hoffman and Dunn, the latter of whom was taken by the Kraken, never piqued their interest. They’ll miss him on the blue line, but Colton Parayko’s return to form is the most important factor for that team.
Obviously, a lot is yet to be decided in the lineup depending on what Tarasenko brings back, but the Blues did well for themselves with only two major changes.
F Nick Ritchie, F Ondrej Kase, F Michael Bunting, C David Kampf, G Petr Mrazek are among the newcomers.
LW Zach Hyman (expansion draft), C Jared McCann (expansion draft), G Frederik Andersen (expansion draft).
The remaining hole: The Maple Leafs have a little vacancy at center in their bottom six, but they have some cap room to fill it.
B+ grade. The Leafs’ offseason departures drew the most attention, with top-line winger Hyman leaving for Edmonton, recently acquired McCann being chosen by the Kraken (as the Leafs opted to protect defender Justin Holl), and the Andersen era coming to an end with his signing in Carolina. GM Kyle Dubas, on the other hand, did some very intriguing work to fill those gaps, get a bit younger, and throw in some wild cards.
Ritchie and Bunting may compete for a spot in the top six; Bunting, in particular, is intriguing, having scored 11 goals in 26 games in two seasons with Arizona. Kase’s career has been put on pause as a result of concussion symptoms; if he can return, which remains a big “if,” he was a top-line player in Anaheim a few years ago. Mrazek, on the other hand, is more of a declaration of confidence in Jack Campbell than anything else. He’s a fantastic backup goalkeeper who has outperformed Andersen in recent seasons.
On paper, everything seems to be in order, as the Toronto Maple Leafs’ unofficial motto goes.
Riley Nash, Brenden Dillon, and Nate Schmidt are among the newcomers.
G Laurent Brossoit, D Derek Forbort, D Jordie Benn, D Tucker Poolman, C Mathieu Perreault, C Nate Thompson, C Trevor Lewis are among the key players that have left the team.
The Jets worked hard this summer to strengthen their defense (which was a top goal), but they still need to sort out new contracts for Andrew Copp and Neal Pionk. Winnipeg has a cap space of approximately $6 million.
B+ grade. Huzzah! After two seasons of the blue line being a liability, the Jets addressed their defensive deficiencies. Dillon is well worth the two second-round picks they traded to Washington, particularly considering he still has three years remaining on his contract at a modest yearly budget cost ($3.9 million).
The Jets have a nice puck-moving option thanks to Schmidt’s willingness to waive his no-trade clause. Things are looking bright on the back end after adding them to what was already there, and with a couple of strong prospects on the way.
The Jets will lose Perreault at forward and Brossoit as a solid backup to Connor Hellebuyck, but they fared well overall — including some addition by subtraction.
F Vinnie Hinostroza, D Will Butcher, D Mark Pysyk, D Robert Hagg, G Craig Anderson, G Devon Levi are among the newcomers.
D Rasmus Ristolainen, F Sam Reinhart, D Matt Irwin, D Jake McCabe, D William Borgen (expansion draft); G Linus Ullmark, G Carter Hutton (expansion draft); G Linus Ullmark, G Carter Hutton (expansion draft); G Linus Ullmark, G Carter Hutton (expansion draft); G Linus Ullmark, G Carter Hutton (expansion draft); G Linus U
The Sabres’ future is inextricably linked to what they do with Jack Eichel, their 24-year-old star center, whose representatives have predicted a move after a dispute over his neck injury treatment. They also need to offer new contracts to restricted free agency center Casey Mittelstadt, defender Rasmus Dahlin, and defenseman Henri Jokiharju, in addition to that franchise-altering decision.
Grade: B. The Sabres made two major transactions, both of which went well. Ristolainen, who is set to become a free agent next year, won them the 14th overall selection in this summer’s draft as well as a 2023 second-round pick from Philadelphia. Reinhart brought them a top-ten protected first-round pick in 2022 as well as Levi, a talented young goaltender from the Florida Panthers.
It’s bad asset management to see Ullmark go for nothing as a free agent, but they’ll be able to be worse without him, which has to be the strategy at this point. Unless you’re going to, uh, “not compete,” why entice Anderson out of near-retirement to be your goalie?
F Richard Panik, F Richard Panik, F Richard Panik, F Richard Panik, F Richard Pa
F Jordan Eberle (expansion draft), F Andrew Ladd, and D Nick Leddy are among the key players who have left the team.
The Islanders still need to fill a senior defender on the left side, where they presently have Adam Pelech, Andy Greene (who will be 39 in October), and Sebastian Aho (the other). Getting Pelech locked up for eight seasons is a good investment, especially considering his age of 26. Replacing the offensive that ended with Eberle getting kidnapped by the Kraken seems to be critical… Although, according to reports, assistance is on the way.
Grade: B. As of this writing, the Islanders’ offseason signings and re-signings have mostly remained under wraps. Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac, who were acquired at the trade deadline, have been re-signed; Casey Cizikas has returned to center the Islanders’ checking line, which they steadfastly protected in the expansion draft; and Zach Parise, who was bought out by the Wild, will finally reunite with Lamoriello. They probably view Parise as a cost-effective substitute for Eberle.
If all of this occurs… They do, however, need another defender. It was excellent, though, to move Ladd’s remaining two years to Arizona without losing a first-round pick. The Islanders are on pace to have another roster with a high floor and low ceiling, similar to their new UBS Arena.
G Philipp Grubauer, F Alex Wennberg, D Connor Carrick, F Marcus Johansson are among the key acquisitions (outside of the expansion draft).
G Vitek Vanecek, D Kurtis MacDermid, and RW Tyler Pitlick are among the key casualties.
The Kraken are still thin in the middle, but they have more than $9 million in cap space if they want to address it.
Grade: B. The Kraken’s success in their first offseason is determined by how one feels about Grubauer’s six-year contract with a $5.9 million cap hit. If he turns out to be their Marc-Andre Fleury, this rating will be dangerously low. If it turns out that his success in Denver was due more to the Avalanche than to his own skills, he may have earned a higher rating. In any case, he’s a fantastic goalkeeper, but just because he became available suddenly seemed like a departure from Seattle’s strategy.
Wennberg and Johansson have been better in theory than on the ice, as have the rest of the non-expansion draft acquisitions. After failing to use any of the expansion draft protected lists, the Kraken received three draft choices.
G Vitek Vanecek, G Vitek Vanecek, G Vitek Vanecek, G Vitek Vane
Zdeno Chara, Brenden Dillon, Vitek Vanecek, Craig Anderson, and Henrik Lundqvist are among the key players that have left the team.
Finding a hockey deal for center Evgeny Kuznetsov is the last remaining void. The Capitals would want to get rid of their troublesome star, who has four more seasons left on his contract at $7.8 million per year against the cap. The first issue is that his stock is undervalued. Problem No. 2: The Capitals aren’t interested in trading him for the sake of trading him. “I believe [GM Brian] MacLellan is reluctant to sell him for nothing because he could put up huge numbers someplace else and make him seem like an idiot,” one NHL insider stated.
The Capitals only had one goal in mind this offseason: to re-sign Alex Ovechkin. For the next five seasons, his new deal pays him $9.5 million against the cap, making up for his stagnating income over the previous 13 seasons. As the Russian Machine ages, it’s a potentially hazardous transaction as an over-35 deal. As a result, it’s a no-brainer. As a premier goal-scorer and club icon, Alex Ovechkin was going to get what he wanted.
Dillon, one of their best defenders, was traded to Winnipeg in exchange for two second-round picks. Because the Capitals lost Vanecek in the Seattle expansion draft and then re-acquired him for one of the second-round picks they received in exchange for Dillon, he is mentioned twice. So, in essence, the Capitals trade Dillon for salary cap space (as they intended to do in the expansion draft) and get a 2022 second-round selection in return, while retaining the young goaltender they were forced to expose to Seattle. Not a terrible piece of work. They’re still cash-strapped and play in a fledgling league with an aging squad. But, hey, Ovi’s back to offer a welcome diversion if things start to go downhill.
D Nick Holden and D Michael Del Zotto are key acquisitions.
G Joey Daccord (expansion draft), C Derek Stepan, LW Ryan Dzingel, and LW/RW Evgenii Dadonov are among the notable absentees.
Brady Tkachuk, a restricted free agent, is in need of a new deal. Aside from that, the Senators have more than $28 million in salary space in case they make any late-summer veteran additions to their still-rebuilding club, particularly a top-six center.
B- grade. Aside from rectifying a mistake, there hasn’t been much going on with the Senators this summer. Last summer, Dadonov was expected to be a free-agent coup, but he never connected. They sent the whole of his last two contract years to Vegas in exchange for a third-round pick in 2022 and Holden. Everyone else was an acceptable loss, but they would have preferred to lose an experienced forward like Chris Tierney rather than Daccord in the expansion draft.
G Jaroslav Halak, D Oliver Ekman-Larsson, RW Conor Garland, F Jason Dickinson, D Tucker Poolman, C Justin Dowling, D Luke Schenn, D Brad Hunt are among the key acquisitions.
D Alexander Edler, D Nate Schmidt, G Braden Holtby, RW Jake Virtanen, LW Jimmy Vesey, C Travis Boyd, C Brandon Sutter, LW Antoine Roussel, LW Loui Eriksson, C Jay Beagle, RW Jake Virtanen, RW Jake Virtanen, LW Jimmy Vesey, C Travis Boyd, C Brandon Sutter, LW Antoine Roussel, LW Antoine Rou
GM Jim Benning has made it a priority to sign new contracts for two franchise pillars, Quinn Hughes and Elias Pettersson. It may not be simple, given how sluggish the process has been thus far.
B- grade. One thing you can say about Benning is that he understands how to correct his own errors.
After that deal failed, he traded Schmidt to the Jets for a 2022 third-round selection, which he moved to Vegas to get him last summer. After the Kraken passed on Holtby, he bought out the final year of his contract. He sent Roussel, Eriksson, and Beagle to the Coyotes in exchange for Ekman-Larsson and his huge deal, which was a mistake in and of itself, albeit one that Benning may not have seen at its worst. In that deal, he also got Garland, but he had to give up the ninth overall selection.
Dickinson and Halak are excellent acquisitions. Poolman is the defensive counterpart of the forward deals he made with Roussel and Beagle. But, most all, the Canucks were able to free up enough budget room for Pettersson and Hughes. Another thing about Benning is that his offseasons are never dull.
C Blake Coleman, D Nikita Zadorov, D Andy Welinski, C Trevor Lewis, G Dan Vladar, RW Tyler Pitlick are among the newcomers.
D Mark Giordano (expansion draft), G Louis Domingue, C Derek Ryan, LW Josh Leivo, D Michael Stone, LW Joakim Nordstrom, C Dominik Simon, RW Buddy Robinson, C Zac Rinaldo are among the key players that have left the team.
The Flames have more than $12 million in cap space to fill the remaining hole. They still need to sign RFAs like Dillon Dube and Nikita Zadorov, but GM Brad Treliving may be able to pull off a major deal, possibly for a certain unhappy Buffalo center.
C+ is the grade. Coleman’s addition came as a nice surprise. He was a defensive player for Tampa Bay, but he’s a former 20-goal scorer who can slot into their top six and instantly improve a mediocre penalty kill (15th last season). His tires will last for the most of the six-year contract.
What’s more concerning is that the Flames haven’t replaced Mark Giordano’s point output and almost 23 minutes of quality ice time per game. It’s likely that part of the cap space will be allocated there. Not for nothing, but why haven’t they moved Johnny Gaudreau, who is one year away from being an unrestricted free agent?
G Frederik Andersen, G Antti Raanta, D Ethan Bear, D Tony DeAngelo, D Brendan Smith, D Ian Cole, F Stefan Noesen, C Derek Stepan are among the newcomers.
D Dougie Hamilton, F Warren Foegele, F Morgan Geekie (expansion draft), F Cedric Paquette, F Brock McGinn, G Alex Nedeljkovic, G Petr Mrazek, G James Reimer, F Cedric Paquette, F Brock McGinn, F Cedric Paquette, F Brock McGinn, F Cedric Paquette, F Brock McGinn, G Alex Nedeljkovic, G Petr Mrazek
The Hurricanes’ sole remaining business is to sign restricted free agency winger Andrei Svechnikov, and they have enough of salary cap room (over $12 million, according to CapFriendly).
C+ is the grade. The Hurricanes were never going to pay Hamilton the $9 million per season that the Devils did. They hoped he wouldn’t find better pastures elsewhere, but he ended up in “The Sound of Music’s” meadow, and Carolina lost its top offensive defensemen. But if they’re going to lose anybody, it should be from the deepest section of their squad, which got even deeper in the summer — despite the repulsive, bargain-basement acquisition of DeAngelo, aka how to waste fans’ goodwill with one deal.
The Hurricanes’ decision to axe their whole goalie staff, though, has dominated the summer. They’re banking that Andersen can recover his form, Raanta can maintain some sort of health, and that we won’t be discussing the Nedeljkovic trade to Detroit like we did when Ottawa sent Ben Bishop to the Lightning. Now, who was that Tampa Bay general manager again…
D Ryan Suter, G Braden Holtby, LW Michael Raffl, D Jani Hakanpaa, D Andreas Borgman, C Luke Glendening, D Alex Petrovic are among the notable signings.
C Justin Dowling, C Andrew Cogliano, D Mark Pysyk, D Sami Vatanen, D Taylor Fedun, D Stephen Johns, D Julius Honka, D Jamie Oleksiak (expansion draft), F Jason Dickinson are among the key players who have left the team.
The remaining hole: The Stars have a packed net, but Ben Bishop’s health and readiness remain a major question mark. GM Jim Nill may still seek to sell Anton Khudobin, who seems to be the odd man out.
C+ is the grade. Ryan Suter’s addition makes a lot of sense since he can take Jamie Oleksiak’s former position on the left side of Miro Heiskanen. Getting him for a post-buyout cap cost of $3.65 million is also a good deal. However, spending four years on a plus-35 contract with a complete no-movement clause in order to get there isn’t ideal.
They’ll miss Dickinson, and Glendening’s addition won’t make a significant difference. Holtby’s one-year contract seems to have sprung from concerns over Bishop’s future as well as the possibility of Jake Oettinger filling the position again. A typical offseason for a club hoping to make a last Stanley Cup run with this bunch.
D Greg Pateryn, D Brogan Rafferty, LW Danny O’Regan, RW Buddy Robinson are key acquisitions.
C David Backes, RW Carter Rowney, D Andy Welinski, D Haydn Fleury (expansion draft), LW Danton Heinen are among the key players who have left the team.
Restricted free agents Sam Steel, Max Comtois, Max Jones, and Isac Lundestrom remain unsigned with the Ducks. They may also need one or two more NHL-caliber forwards.
Grade: C. There was no major gain and no significant loss. Despite three consecutive non-playoff seasons and an aging core that would surely attract trade interest, the Ducks continue to avoid a full-fledged rebuild. They’re believed to be in the Jack Eichel derby, which would give their franchise a much-needed focal point if it didn’t cost them Trevor Zegras or Jamie Drysdale.
But, other from that, Anaheim is a seasoned club with a few bright young prospects hoping that everything comes together magically in a top-heavy division. Even so, re-signing Ryan Getzlaf for $3 million is a good (and age-appropriate) move.
Dmitry Kulikov, Alex Goligoski, Jon Merrill, Frederick Gaudreau, Dmitry Kulikov, Dmitry Kulikov, Dmitry Kulikov, Dmitry Kulikov, Dmitry Kulikov, Dmitry Kul
LW Zach Parise, D Ryan Suter, C Nick Bonino, D Ian Cole, D Brad Hunt, C Marcus Johansson, D Matt Bartkowski, D Carson Soucy are among the key players that have left the team (expansion draft)
The Wild have been rumored to be a candidate in the Jack Eichel sweepstakes for months. So far, GM Bill Guerin has maintained his ground, but as training camp approaches, he may acquire more clout.
Grade: C. With Kirill Kaprizov and Kevin Fiala requiring new contracts this season, one of the Wild’s goals this summer was to clear salary-cap space. To achieve this, they purchased Parise, which was anticipated, and Suter, who was not. Minnesota had to go UFA shopping despite years of having one of the deepest defensive corps in the NHL, because to the loss of the latter and the Kraken’s decision to go with Soucy over goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen.
Top prospects Matt Boldy and Marco Rossi may be drafted to address some holes up front for the Wild. Everything the Wild are doing seems to be in preparation for more daring moves, but how daring can they be with over $14 million in dead cap space due to buyouts in 2023-24 and 2024-25?
F Corey Perry, F Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, G Brian Elliott, D Zach Bogosian, and D Brent Seabrook’s contract are all key acquisitions.
C Yanni Gourde (expansion draft), F Blake Coleman, F Barclay Goodrow, C Tyler Johnson, and D David Savard are among the key players that have left the team.
The only remaining hole is figuring out how to replace one of the NHL’s best checking lines, which Perry and returning center Ross Colton may be tasked with.
Grade: C. It’s wonderful that the Lightning won their second Stanley Cup in a row, since the glimmer of victory served to dull the agony of the summer. With four forwards and four defenders in the expansion draft, they were certain to lose an important forward, and Gourde was that forward. With Goodrow and Coleman departing for the Rangers and the Flames, the complete checking line from their championship campaigns has vanished.
The Lightning added some solid experienced depth to a squad that has a strong chance of repeating — but did Perry really need two years? — and they were able to sell Tyler Johnson’s contract to the Chicago Blackhawks. The Lightning, on the other hand, could not use any loopholes to prevent this summer talent exodus. They were eventually overtaken by the cap.
RW Evgenii Dadonov, G Laurent Brossoit, C Nolan Patrick, C Brett Howden are among the newcomers.
G Marc-Andre Fleury, RW Ryan Reaves, D Nick Holden, C Tomas Nosek, and C Cody Glass are among the players that have left the team.
• Free-agency tracker » • Free-agent grades » • Draft recap: All 224 picks » • Winners, losers of the draft » • Expansion draft results » • Expansion takeaways » More NHL content »
The Golden Knights’ remaining hole: You’d think they’d made all of the moves they wanted to make. However, this is a squad that is obviously in “go for broke” mentality. Even with little cap room, don’t be shocked if GM Kelly McCrimmon continues to scout possible deals and squad improvements.
Grade: C. The Knights have had a really strange offseason. They handed Fleury away for free in order to pay off the whole of his $7 million cap charge — remember, this goaltender just won the Vezina Trophy. They then spent $5 million of that cap space to sign Dadonov, a player whose underlying statistics have been declining for three seasons. Even if you think Dadonov is a great player, the Knights’ greatest weakness in the lineup is at center.
Unless McCrimmon makes a play for Eichel or another elite center, it seems he decided to fill the void by hoping Patrick, a former Brandon Wheat Kings standout, can flourish in the desert.
They retained Mattias Janmark, Howden is a good bottom-six acquisition, and Brossoit is a reliable backup to Robin Lehner. It was also a victory to keep Alec Martinez on a new deal.
D Ryan Murray, G Darcy Kuemper, D Jordan Gross, C Dylan Sikura, C Darren Helm, C Stefan Matteau, D Kurtis MacDermid are among the key acquisitions.
G Philipp Grubauer, LW Brandon Saad, C Carl Soderberg, LW Matt Calvert, RW Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, G Devan Dubnyk, D Patrik Nemeth, D Conor Timmins, D Ryan Graves, F Joonas Donskoi, RW Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, G Devan Dubnyk, D Patrik Nemeth, D Conor Timmins, D (expansion draft)
The Avs have just $2 million in salary space, thus GM Joe Sakic will almost certainly have to move a roster member to strengthen his squad (such as replacing Saad at left wing).
C- is the grade. The Avalanche accomplished some nice things, such as keeping Gabriel Landeskog at a $7 million AAV and Cale Makar at a $9 million AAV, which already seems to be a solid deal; moreover Murray for one year and $2 million is a good substitute for Graves, who they moved before the Kraken had a chance to get him. Instead, Seattle selected Donskoi and subsequently signed Grubauer when the Avalanche were unable to strike a deal with him.
The goalie carousel spun too fast, and Colorado was left sending Timmins and a first-round pick it would have preferred to have on hand at the next trade deadline for Kuemper, who was in his final year of his contract and far less of a known commodity for the Avalanche than Vezina Trophy finalist Grubauer.
Their forward depth was also harmed, but Alex Newhook’s increased position next season may assist. Still, it seems like a club that has taken a step back from the brink of a Stanley Cup victory.
C Mathieu Perreault, C Cedric Paquette, LW Mike Hoffman, D David Savard, D Chris Wideman, D Cale Fleury are among the newcomers (expansion draft)
C Phillip Danault, F Corey Perry, F Tomas Tatar, D Jon Merrill, D Shea Weber are among the key players that have left the team (injury)
The last hole: Restricted free-agent center Jesperi Kotkaniemi needs a new deal, but the Canadiens’ cap-strapped roster looks to be set for next season.
C- is the grade. We’re grading on a curve here, to be sure. The Canadiens’ defensive corps was left with a huge void with the departure of No. 1 defender Weber for next season — and likely the remainder of his contract — which Savard can only partially replace. Danault and Tatar’s departures result in the loss of two key players. Hoffman’s all-offense game may assist replace Tatar’s and provide something to a power play without Weber, but Danault heading to L.A. Their central depth is severely harmed.
Depending on how one feels about the franchise goalie’s contract, Fleury’s selection over Carey Price in the expansion draft either adds to a downer of a summer or helps redeem it.
G David Rittich, D Philippe Myers, C Cody Glass, RW Matt Luff, G David Rittich, D Philippe Myers, D Philippe Myers, D Philippe Myers, D Philippe Myers, D Philippe Myers, D Philipp
G Pekka Rinne, D Ryan Ellis, RW Viktor Arvidsson, D Erik Gudbranson, RW Erik Haula, C Brad Richardson, F Calle Jarnkrok are among the key players that have left the team (expansion draft)
The Predators have lost a few longstanding senior stalwarts, including Arvidsson, Ellis, and, of course, Rinne. Nashville wants Mattias Ekholm and Filip Forsberg to stay with the team in the future. Before training camp, GM David Poile should attempt to sign both to extensions.
The defender Philippe Myers, who adds size, and center Cody Glass, who the Golden Knights obviously thought wasn’t going to develop into a No. 1 center, were the main beneficiaries of the Ellis deal. They had to send Arvidsson away before he was exposed in the expansion draft.
Due to Rinne’s retirement, Juuse Saros will be in charge of the crease, with Rittich serving as a cost-effective backup. Mikael Granlund received a four-year contract for $5 million AAV, which was an overpayment.
Worst of all, they were unable to persuade Seattle to release either Ryan Johansen or Matt Duchene. The offseason reflected a club that was heading in the wrong way.
F Barclay Goodrow, F Sammy Blais, F Ryan Reaves, D Jarred Tinordi, D Patrik Nemeth are among the newcomers.
F Pavel Buchnevich, F Brett Howden, C Colin Blackwell (expansion draft), D Brendan Smith are among the key players who have left the team.
So, when is that Jack Eichel trade going to take place? The Rangers have enough budget room, young and experienced players, and draft choices to strike a trade with the Sabres to acquire their top center. Perhaps it’s because of his neck injury that they’re concerned. Whatever the case may be, center Mika Zibanejad is one year away from being a free agent, which has a significant effect on this scenario.
D+ is the grade. This is what happens when you delegate your roster building to Tom Wilson. Every player the Rangers brought in this summer was supposed to address a perceived lack of toughness that was “exposed” in the Wilson/Artemi Panarin incident last season, as well as back-to-back defeats to the Islanders before that.
We’ll have to wait and see how it plays out on the ice, but some of it seems to be problematic for new GM Chris Drury on paper. Did he have to sign a 34-year-old Reaves to a new contract right away? Didn’t the Canucks provide sufficient notice that they don’t offer long-term contracts or trade protection to bottom-six role players, as the Rangers did with Goodrow, who got six years and a modified no-trade? And they didn’t truly want Buchnevich? All of this seemed like a departure from what had otherwise been a well-thought-out strategy.
F Danton Heinen, F Brock McGinn, and F Dominik Simon are key acquisitions.
F Jared McCann (expansion draft), F Brandon Tanev (expansion draft), D Cody Ceci (expansion draft).
Remaining holes: Barring a trade, this will very certainly be the squad the Penguins field next season, with Tristan Jarry and Casey DeSmith in goal.
Grade: D. It’s hard to believe the Penguins finished first in the East Division last season (.688 points percentage) before being eliminated in the first round by the Islanders. They weren’t good to begin with, and they’ve just grown worse since then. Tanev and McCann were capable strikers who would be sorely missed. Last season, Ceci defied expectations, and now he’s in Edmonton. The Penguins wanted to be more physical in their play. They didn’t do it. They want a greater depth of quality. They didn’t do it. Their goaltending remains questionable, since they chose not to indulge in nostalgia by pursuing Marc-Andre Fleury.
Plus, Evgeni Malkin is recovering from knee surgery and may miss the start of the season. Last year, GM Ron Hextall took over a club with limited financial flexibility or assets to trade, and it showed.
The NHL free-agent frenzy is officially over. The draft is less than a month away and teams are still trying to re-sign their own players and sign new free-agents. The following is a look at how the NHL teams fared during the NHL free agency period.. Read more about canada hockey teams and let us know what you think.
This article broadly covered the following related topics:
- nhl teams list
- 2018 nhl free agent signings
- hockey teams
- nhl map
- new nhl teams