good and bad from day one


The first day of the NHL free agency signing period is over, and the major topic was the salary cap which only increased by $1 million.

The $83.5 million cap had an impact on the lead up to free agency and on opening day players receiving short-term and low-dollar contracts.

In the lead-up, there were eight buyouts including Matt Duchene and Blake Wheeler. Teams also raised the free agent ranks by not qualifying restricted free agents, including Seattle with 21-goal scorer Daniel Sprong. Several veterans took a major pay cut on Saturday.

A few unrestricted free agents didn’t sign on Opening Day, such as Tyler Bertuzzi and Vladimir Tarasenko, who could turn this list around. But here are the early winners and losers of free agency:

Day 1 Recap: saturday move analysis

Top 25: Who are the top free agents and where did they go?


Carolina Hurricanes

Dmitri Orlov was the top defenseman available and he joined the Hurricanes for $15.5 million over two years. He joins Jakub Slavin, Brent Burns, Brett Pace and Brady Schei in an already impressive defense. The Hurricanes also brought back goaltenders Fredrik Andersen (two years, $6.8 million) and Antti Ranta (one year, $1.5 million) on bargains, giving Pyotr Kochetkov more time to develop. They also added 23-goal scorer and powerful player Michael Bunting.

detroit red wings

General manager Steve Yzerman was active for the second year in a row. Shayne Gostisbeer is a puck-moving defenseman and Justin Hole is an essential accurate shot at the blue line. JT Comfer, coming off a career season, reunites with former University of Michigan teammates Dylan Larkin and Andrew Copp. Sprong is the 20 goal scorer. Is it enough to make it back to the playoffs? This was not the case last season and Yzerman was a trade deadline seller. But his aggressiveness gives hope to the Red Wings.

Nashville Predators

New GM Barry Trotz changed the look of the team. Ryan Johansson and Duchenne are gone. The Predators added former playoff MVP and Selke Trophy winner Ryan O’Reilly and physical defenseman Luke Shannon. Gustav Nyquist would add secondary scoring.

Anaheim Ducks

The last-place Ducks are far from competing, but they are looking to rebuild immediately. The future is the young center of Trevor Zegras, Troy Terry and Mason McTavish, as well as Leo Karlsson, selected No. 2 overall. Anaheim added forward Alex Killorn (four years, $27 million) and defenseman Radko Gudas (three years, $12 million) to help them out. Killorn is a two-time Stanley Cup champion and was in the Finals twice. Gudas’ physical play and solid defense helped the Panthers reach the 2023 Finals.

Too: Islanders’ Vezina Trophy finalist goaltender Ilya Sorokin received a lucrative, eight-year extension and he and the team won’t have to deal with distractions this season. … Defenseman Ryan Graves will help anchor the Penguins’ top four.


Players who took a big pay cut

Competitive teams did not have much cap space, so some players took large cuts in exchange for a chance at the Stanley Cup. Defenseman John Klingberg moved from $7 million to $4.15 million with the Maple Leafs and a number of veterans in the $1 million range, such as Wheeler, Jonathan Quick, James van Riemsdyk and Milan Lucic.

Boston Bruins

The addition of Lucic, Van Riemsdyk, Patrick Brown, Morgan Geiki and Kevin Shattenkirk by the Bruins is a good move for a team that has posted an NHL record 65 wins and 135 points. But you have to keep in mind who they lost to. Taylor Hall was dealt prior to the draft. Trade deadline acquisitions Bertuzzi, Orlov and Garnett Hathaway did not return, nor did defenseman Connor Clifton. The Bruins are still awaiting a decision on whether Patrice Bergeron and David Krazy will return. GM Don Sweeney said after Boston’s shocking upset in the first round that the team would look different. he is right.

washington capitals

Max Pacioretty was a good addition and his contract is structured with bonuses, but he will miss the start of the season after recovering from a torn Achilles tendon. Another issue for the Capitals is that (almost) all the players they dealt with last season are back in the Metropolitan Division: Orlov (Hurricanes), Hathaway (Flyers), Lars Eller (Penguins) and Erik Gustafsson (Rangers).

minnesota wild

They were calm. Why? Their purchases of Zach Parris and Ryan Suter have a lot of dead cap hits. They also have to deal with restricted free agent goaltender Filip Gustavsson, who excelled last season with 22 wins, a 2.10 goals against average and a .931 save percentage.

Too: A seven-year deal seems long enough for Islanders forward Pierre Engvall. … It’s been a similar five years for Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry, who has been plagued by multiple injuries. … Twitter issues during the day made it hard to follow what was happening.

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