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2019 NHL Free Agent Frenzy: What happened on day one?

Written by: Ryan Bristlon
Updated October 14, 2022
6 min read

Top-5 Signing of NHL Free Agency Day One

The New York Rangers landed one of the biggest free agents available as they signed Artemi Panarin to a seven-year deal worth $81.5-million. Last season, with the Columbus Blue Jackets, Panarin registered 28 goals and 59 assists in79 games. Panarin now joins an updated Rangers roster that includes second-overall pick Kaapo Kakko and defenseman Jacob Trouba.

After 13 seasons with the San Jose Sharks, the team’s former captain Joe Pavelski chose to sign with the Dallas Stars. Pavelski signed a three-year deal and it’s said that the added third year was what ultimately swayed Pavelski to sign. The contract is worth a total of $21-million with an annual cap hit of $7-million.

The rumours were true! After the retirement of Roberto Luongo and the trading of backup goaltender James Reimer, the Florida Panthers were successful in landing Vezina-winning goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. Bobrovsky signed a seven-year, $70-million deal with the Panthers. It’s reported that the deal includes a no-movement clause across the first five years.

Forward Matt Duchene, who split his time last season with the Ottawa Senators and Columbus Blue Jackets, will be moving back to the Western conference as he signed a new deal with the Nashville Predators. Duchene, who had 70 points in 73 games last season, signed a seven-year deal worth $56-million – an annual cap hit of $8-million per season.

After an unexpected amount of time remaining available to all teams, New York Islanders captain Anders Lee eventually chose to re-sign with the club. Lee’s new deal with the Islanders is worth $49-million over the next seven years. Lee finished last season 28 goals and 23 assists, playing in all 82 games of the 2019 season.

Other Notable Signings

Another San Jose Shark has jumped ship as Gustav Nyquist signed a four-year deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets worth $22-million. Nyquist had 60 points in 81 games last season with San Jose.

The Stars announced they had signed former Anaheim Duck superstar Corey Perry to a one-year deal worth $1.5-million. Perry missed much of the 2019 season due to injury, posting only 10 points in 31 games played.

The New Jersey Devils continued to bolster their team that now already includes new additions Jack Hughes and P.K. Subban. On Monday, the Devils signed forward Wayne Simmonds to a one-year, $5-million deal. Simmonds split his time least season between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Nashville Predators. He had 30 points in 79 games.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed NHL veteran forward Jason Spezza to a one-year deal worth $700,000. In 76 games last season with the Dallas Stars, Spezza had 27 points. The former Ottawa Senators captain grew up as a Toronto Maple Leafs fan and should help fill the veteran role void left by Patrick Marleau.

The Minnesota Wild signed forward Mats Zuccarello to a five-year, $30-million deal. Zuccarello spent last season with the Dallas Stars where he recorded 40 points in 48 games.

The “Battle of Alberta” saw an interesting event as the Calgary Flames signed former Edmonton Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot. Around the same time, the Edmonton Oilers signed former Flames goalie Mike Smith. Talbot’s new deal with Calgary is worth $2.75-million for one year. Mike Smith’s deal with the Oilers is a one-year deal worth $2-million.

A few more goaltenders found new homes on day one of free agency as former New Jersey Devils goaltender Keith Kinkaid opted to sign with the Montreal Canadiens and backup Carey Price. Kinkaid signed a one-year, $1.75-million deal with the team. Kinkaid finished last season with a save percentage of .891 and a GAA of 3.36.

Last year’s Masterton award winner, goaltender Robin Lehner, signed a new deal with the Chicago Blackhawks. Lehner made it known that he wished to remain with the Islanders but a deal was never reached. Lehner will now play next season with the Blackhawks in a deal that sees him earning $5-million.

The New York Islanders were not without a goalie long, however, as they managed to sign former Colorado Avalanche starting goaltender Semyon Varlamov. Varlamov went 20-19-9 last season with a save percentage of .909 and a GAA of 2.87. He signed a four-year deal worth $20-million.

After much ado revolving around the Carolina Hurricanes goaltending situation, the team announced that they have come to terms with current starter Petr Mrazek. The Canes re-signed the goalie to a two-year, $6.25-million dollar deal.

However, Carolina Hurricanes backup Curtis McElhinney, opted not to resign with the team as he won somewhat of a lottery by landing a deal with the Stanley Cup favourites – the Tampa Bay Lightning. McElhinney will earn $2.6-million over the next two years with the Lightning.

Carolina Hurricanes forward Sebatian Aho had reportedly signed an offer sheet from the Montreal Canadiens. The deal, however, was eventually matched by the Carolina Hurricanes and Aho now has a new deal in place worth $42.27-million over the next five years. Aho had 83 points in 82 games last season with the Canes.

Forward Timo Meier seemed to be the only UFA to stay with the Sharks. Meier signed a new deal with San Jose that will see him earn $24-million over the next four years. The deal has an annual cap hit of $6-million. Meier had 66 points in 78 games last season with the Sharks.

Former Winnipeg Jets right winger Brandon Tanev has signed a new deal for himself with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The deal is worth $21-million over the next six years. Tanev had 29 points in 80 games with the Jets last season.

Best of the rest

Forward Brendan Leipsic signed a deal with the Washington Capitals. The deal is a one-year deal worth $700,000.

Defenseman Nathan Beaulieu has resigned with the Winnipeg Jets for one more year. He will earn $1-million for the 2020 NHL season.

Left winger Sammy Blais resigned with the Stanley Cup champions. Blais signed a new, one-year deal with the St. Louis Blues worth $850,000.

Defenseman Anton Stralman left the Tampa Bay Lightning for the state rival Florida Panthers. Stralman signed a three-year deal worth $16.5-million.

Speaking of rivalry, former Maple Leaf Tyler Ennis signed a one-year deal with provincial rivals the Ottawa Senators. The deal is worth $800,000.

Another former Leaf to join the Sens was defenseman Ron Hainsey. Hainsey also signed a one-year deal which will see him earn $3.5-million over the 2020 season.

Defenseman Luck Schenn signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Right Winger Joonas Donskoi left the San Jose Sharks in favour of signing a three-year deal worth $15.6-million,

Valtteri Filppula makes a return to the Detroit Red Wings as new general manager Steve Yzerman signed him to a two-year, $6-million deal.

Defenseman Jordie Benn has left the Montreal Canadiens and signed with the Vancouver Canucks. The new deal is worth $4-million over the next two seasons.

Another defenseman joining the Canucks is Tyler Myers. Myers signed a five-year deal with the club that will see him make $30-million – an annual hit of $6-million.

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Ryan Bristlon

435 Articles

Ryan Bristlon is a Canadian writer currently residing in Hamilton, Ontario. He studied print and broadcast journalism at Humber College and has been a lifelong fan of hockey, the NHL in general, and UFC.

Email: [email protected]

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