At noon on June first, NHL free agency started and day one was full of big moves and signings occurring. To start Ryan McDonagh (Tampa Bay) and Oliver Ekman-Larsson (Arizona) both singed long term contract extensions with their respective teams, seven years for McDonagh and eight years for Ekman-Larsson. Only one trade took place today though, but it was a big one as the St. Louis Blues sent forwards Vladimir Sobotka, Tage Thompson, and Patrik Beglund and a 2019 first round pick and a 2021 second pick to Buffalo for forward Ryan, O’Reilly. The Blues gave up quite a bit for O’Reilly in this deal and I would say that it looks like Buffalo came out on top in this one, only time will tell, but as of right now I think Buffalo made out huge with this deal. Here are some teams that made some noise on the first day of Free Agency in no specific order.
St. Louis Blues: Outside of the trade that they made with Buffalo, the Blues were also making some noise is signing some top free agents. They signed Tyler Bozak, who has spent the past nine seasons playing with Toronto, to a 3-year $15 million contract. The un-drafted center has tallied 365 (136 G, 229 A) points in 594 NHL games. He is a solid two-way center with great skating ability, look for him to play an important role for the Blues next season and will most likely fill a third or second line center position. The Blues then signed David Perron, who started his career with the Blues, from the Vegas Golden Knight, to a 4-year $16 million deal. He has 422 (175 G, 269 A) points in 722 games and this veteran forward has great stick handling ability, creativity, playmaking ability, and can play left or right wing. St. Louis also signed potential backup goaltender Chad Johnson, defenseman Tyler Wotherspoon to small one year contracts.
Toronto Maple Leafs: The Maple Leafs signed arguably the most coveted free agent in center John Tavares, to a big 7-year $77 million contract. The former first overall pick in the 2009 NHL draft has spent his entire 9 year career playing for the New York Islanders scoring 272 goals and 349 assists for 621 points in 669 games. This is a huge signing for the up and coming Maple Leafs and they could be a dangerous team next season. Tavares is an elite center who has excellent hockey IQ, hand/eye coordination, and just all around good. The Leafs also signed Jordan Subban, Martin Marincin, Josh Jorris, and Adam Cracknell to one-year contracts.
Los Angeles Kings: The Kings landed Ilya Kovalchuk today to a three-year $18.75 million contract. Kovalchuk has spent the last five seasons playing in the KHL, Russia’s top professional league, so it should be interesting to see what kind of impact he makes for the Kings this season. Kovalchuk has 816 points (417 G, 399 A) in 816 games paying for the Atlanta Thrashers and New Jersey Devils.
Las Vegas Golden Knights: The Golden Knights signed a total of ten players today most notably Paul Stastny to a three-year $19.5 million contract. Stastny in a veteran forward in this league playing 12 seasons with three teams and now he is on to his fourth. He has 220 goals and 426 assists for 626 points in 824 games and has elite playmaking and two-way playing abilities, as well as fantastic vision and playmaking skills. Look for him to have a veteran presence and leadership role next season. The Golden Knights also signed defenseman Nick Holden, forward Daniel Carr, goaltender Zachary Fucale, and others.
Other teams that made out well are:
- The Philadelphia Flyers who signed James Van Riemsdyk to a five-year $35 million contact.
- The New York Islanders picked up Thomas Hickey and Leo Komarov, both to four-year contracts.
- Pittsburgh got Jack Johnson on a five year deal $16.25 million deal.
- Boston Bruins picked up goaltender Jaroslav Halak, defenseman John Moore and seven other players including 2018 draft pick Axel Andersson.
- Dallas Stars signed six players including Blake Comeau to three-year contract, defenseman Roman Polak to a one-year deal, and goaltender Anton Khudobin to a two-year deal.
- Vancouver signed forwards Jay Beagle and Antoine Roussel to four year contracts.