NHL offseason tracker: Canadiens acquire player after not matching offer sheet

·36 min read

This NHL offseason is shaping up to be one of the busiest in years.

Ten days after the Tampa Bay Lightning clinched a repeat of the Stanley Cup championship, every team except the Vegas Golden Knights submitted a protected and available list for the expansion draft. The Seattle Kraken built their inaugural team from that list on July 21.

The NHL draft was held July 23-24, with the Buffalo Sabres choosing Owen Power first and the Kraken making Matthew Beniers the franchise's first pick. Seth Jones, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Jakub Voracek were among the big names traded during draft weekend.

Free agency began on July 28 amid a flat salary cap.

Tracking the big offseason news:

Sept. 4: Canadiens move quickly to acquire player

Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin had a week to decide whether to match the Carolina Hurricanes' offer sheet to Jesperi Kotkaniemi. After deciding not to, he moved quickly to find a replacement, acquiring forward Christian Dvorak from the Arizona Coyotes. Dvorak, 25, is cheaper than the one-year offer sheet ($4.45 million cap hit vs. $6.1 million) and is signed through 2024-25. Plus he has had more consistent numbers than Koktaniemi, 21, who was a healthy scratch a couple times during Montreal's run to the Stanley Cup Final. Arizona will get two picks, including the better of Carolina's 2022 first-round pick (compensation for not matching) or Montreal's first-rounder and there is protection built in if one of those picks falls in the top 10.

The Montreal Canadiens decided not to match the offer sheet to center Jesperi Kotkaniemi.
The Montreal Canadiens decided not to match the offer sheet to center Jesperi Kotkaniemi.

Sept. 4: Canadiens don't match Kotkaniemi offer sheet

The Montreal Canadiens made an offer sheet to Sebastian Aho in 2019 and the Carolina Hurricanes matched. Two years later, the Canadiens decided not to match the Hurricanes' one-year, $6.1 million offer sheet to center Jesperi Kotkaniemi. As a result, Montreal will get a first- and third-round draft pick as compensation. Though the structure of the offer sheet appeared to be a jab at Montreal (it included a $20 signing bonus, Aho's jersey number), Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin was matter of fact. "Carolina has used a tool available to them in the collective bargaining agreement and we accept that decision," he said. The deal makes Kotkaniemi, 21, overpaid at this point of his career, considering he had 22 goals over his first three NHL seasons, including five last season. But overpaying is the point of an offer sheet and the Hurricanes said the 2018 No. 3 overall pick had been on their radar since before his draft year. “We believe he will flourish in Rod Brind’Amour’s system and culture, and he will be an important piece of what we are building in Carolina for years to come," general manager Don Waddell said.

Sept. 2: Flyers sign Joel Farabee to six-year extension

Farabee’s extension six-year, $30 million extension kicks in with the 2022-23 season. The forward was scheduled to become a restricted free agent after this season. The Flyers’ first-round pick in the 2018 draft, Farabee, 21, led the team with 20 goals and had 38 points in 55 games last season.

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Sept. 2: Sabres re-sign Casey Mittelstadt to three-year contract

Mittelstadt, a restricted free agent, signed a three-year, $7.5 million contract after the center finished third on the Sabres with 10 goals and fourth with 22 points in just 41 games last season. Used sparingly to open last season, Mittelstadt, 22, saw his production jump when he gained additional playing time after coach Ralph Krueger was fired in mid-March and replaced by Don Granato, who has taken over on a full-time basis.

Sept. 1: Islanders announce four signings

The New York Islanders announced the signings of restricted free agent forward Anthony Beauvillier (three years, $12.45 million) and goaltender Ilya Sorokin (three years, $12 million) and the return of unrestricted free agent forwards Casey Cizikas (six years, $15 million) and Kyle Palmieri (four years, $20 million). Contract figures are from Sportsnet. Palmieri, a Long Island native who arrived in a trade from the New Jersey Devils, led the Islanders with seven playoff goals. Beauvilllier tied for second in playoff scoring and has scored 15 or more goals four times in five seasons. Cizikas is the team's top penalty killer. Sorokin's deal will put him in position to become the No. 1 goalie after Semyon Varlamov's contract expires in July 2023. The signings keep nearly all the Islanders' core together (Jordan Eberle and Nick Leddy are gone) after a second consecutive run to the third round, plus they'll get captain Anders Lee back from an injury this season.

Kyle Palmieri, a Long Island native, is returning to the Islanders on a four-year, $20 million contract.
Kyle Palmieri, a Long Island native, is returning to the Islanders on a four-year, $20 million contract.

Sept. 1: Blues' Colton Parayko gets eight-year extension

The deal, which averages $6.5 million a year, runs through 2029-30. He would have been an unrestricted free agent after this season. Parayko won a Stanley Cup with the Blues in 2019 and helped superfan Leila Anderson hold the trophy and delivered her a championship ring. Last season, he ranked third on the team in average ice time.

Aug. 28: Hurricanes offer sheet Canadiens' Jesperi Kotkaniemi

The Carolina Hurricanes extended an offer sheet to Jesperi Kotkaniemi, the 21-year-old Montreal Canadiens forward who was the third overall pick in the 2018 NHL draft.

The deal Kotkaniemi inked was a one-year, $6,100,015 million contract, which carries a $20 signing bonus – yes, the Hurricanes were trolling, with the signing bonus a nod to Sebastian Aho, whom the Canadiens extended an offer sheet to a few years ago.

Montreal has seven days to match the deal, or they will lose Kotkaniemi to Carolina in exchange for first and third round draft picks.

Aug. 27: Wild sign Jordie Benn

The one-year, $900,000 contract completes the revamp of Minnesota's defense. They bought out Ryan Suter, lost Carson Soucy to the Seattle Kraken and Ian Cole left in free agency. The newcomers are Alex Goligoski, Dmitry Kulikov, Jon Merrill and Benn, who scored 10 points last season between the Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets.

Aug. 26: Hurricanes re-sign Andrei Svechnikov

Svechnikov, 21, will average $7.75 million during the eight-year deal that expires in 2028-29. The long-term commitment is key for the Hurricanes, who lost Dougie Hamilton to free agency and revamped their team with two new goaltenders and a new-look defense. Svechnikov, the No. 2 overall pick of 2018, is an exciting player who has scored two lacrosse-style goals. He took a small step back in production last season but will continue to be one of the top scorers for the Stanley Cup contenders.

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Aug. 26: Flyers' Sean Couturier gets long-term extension

Like Svechnikov, Flyers forward Sean Couturier got an eight-year, $62 million contract. His extension will kick in for the 2022-23 season and he'll be 37 when the deal expires. "If this contract extension was hanging over Sean’s head and the organization’s head … it could have become a distraction," general manager Chuck Fletcher told reporters. Couturier was voted the team's MVP the past three seasons and is a two-time Selke Trophy finalist, winning in 2019-20. He has a no-movement clause in the first seven years and a limited no-trade clause in the eighth. "He’s a premier player. It’s a premier contract," Fletcher said.

Aug. 25: Flyers signs Derick Brassard

The deal is for one year at $825,000. Though Brassard has bounced around recently and his numbers have dropped off (20 points last season with the Arizona Coyotes), the signing is low risk. Brassard, 33, played for Flyers coach Alain Vigneault on the New York Rangers, reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 2014. He has reached the conference final three other times, including with the New York Islanders in 2020.

Aug. 23: NHL preseason schedule released

The NHL released the preseason schedule, which will run from Sept. 25 to Oct. 9. The Seattle Kraken will play their first game on Sept. 26. The Kraken and New York Islanders will play their preseason home games in neutral sites because their arenas won't be ready until the regular season.

PRESEASON SCHEDULE: Dates, times and sites

Aug. 21: Flyers, Travis Sanheim agree to deal

The Philadelphia Flyers and defenseman Travis Sanheim agreed to a two-year, $9.35 million contract. They had an arbitration hearing scheduled for Aug. 26. He averaged $3.25 million in his last deal and is coming off a season with three goals, 12 assists and a career-worst -22 plus-minus rating. Calgary Flames defenseman Nikita Zadorov, who also had a scheduled Aug. 26 hearing, signed for one year at $3.75 million, up from $3.2 million. All of the 19 salary arbitration cases this summ were settled before there was a hearing.

Aug. 20: Three first-rounders return to college

Defenseman Owen Power (No. 1, Buffalo Sabres) and forwards Matty Beniers (No. 2 Seattle Kraken) and Kent Johnson (No. 5, Columbus Blue Jackets) made official that they would return for their sophomore years at the University of Michigan. That's good news for the Wolverines, who will also have No. 4 pick Luke Hughes (New Jersey Devils) on the roster as a freshman. Their NHL teams will also benefit in the long run because they'll continue their development with a strong hockey program.

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END OF AN ERA: Goalie Henrik Lundqvist announces retirement

Aug. 19: Red Wings buy out Frans Nielsen, per report

The Frans Nielsen era with the Detroit Red Wings is over. His contract has been bought out by the team, according to CapFriendly.com. The website reports the move will save the Red Wings $1 million against the salary cap in the 2021-22 season, but adds $500,000 to the cap the following year. Nielsen was due to cost $5.25 million against the salary cap this season, but the Wings will spread that out, charging $4.25 million against the cap this season and $500,000 in 2022-23. The Red Wings signed Nielsen as a free agent in 2016 after he spent 10 seasons with the New York Islanders. In five seasons with the Red Wings, he had 48 goals and 76 assists over 319 games. The 37-year-old had one goal and five assists in 29 games last season (in a 56-game schedule), and four goals with five assists over 60 games in 2019-20 — a harsh drop from his first three seasons in Detroit, when he scored 17, 16 and 10 goals, respectively.

-Marlowe Alter, Detroit Free Press

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Aug 16: Kevin Fiala settles with Wild

Minnesota Wild forward Kevin Fiala agreed to a one-year, $5.1 million contract, one day before his scheduled arbitration hearing. The Wild had filed for club-elected arbitration for Fiala, who had 20 goals (five game-winners) and 40 points in 50 games last season. He led the league with 11 third-period goals. Fiala, 25, gets a $1.6 million raise and will be a restricted free agent at the end of the deal. With Fiala under contract, the Wild can focus again on a new deal for forward Kirill Kaprizov, 24, who won rookie of the year in his first season out of the Kontinental Hockey League. "Things are going well enough," general manager Bill Guerin told reporters. "We still have lots of time. There’s no rush or panic. I’m in constant communication with Kirill’s agent." There are reports that Kaprizov has an offer from a KHL team, but Guerin said, "It doesn’t bother me at all."

Minnesota Wild forward Kevin Fiala celebrates his playoff goal against the Vegas Golden Knights.
Minnesota Wild forward Kevin Fiala celebrates his playoff goal against the Vegas Golden Knights.

Aug. 16: Predators' Juuse Saros gets four-year deal

Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros reached a four-year. $20 million deal before this week's arbitration hearing. He had moved into the No. 1 role last season and now his workload will increase with the retirement of Pekka Rinne. He gets a significant raise from the $1.5 million cap hit in his last contract. Saros, 26, set career highs with 35 starts, 21 wins, 2.28 goals-against average and .927 save percentage.

-Chicago Blackhawks winger Alex Nylander re-signed for one year at $874,125. The son of former NHL player Michael Nylander missed all of last season with a knee injury, but had 10 goals and 26 points in 65 games in 2019-20.

Aug. 14: Two players settle before arbitration hearings

Vancouver Canucks forward Jason Dickinson (three years, $7.95 million) and Detroit Red Wings forward Adam Erne (two years, reported $4.2 million) reached deals Saturday. Both were scheduled to have arbitration hearings at the end of the following week. Dickinson, 26, who had 15 points in 51 games last season, was acquired for a third-round pick this summer as the Dallas Stars cleaned up their roster for the expansion draft. He's known for his penalty killing and can play center or wing. Erne, 26, tied his career best of 20 points and tied for first on the Red Wings with 11 goals.

Aug. 13: Joe Thornton signs with Panthers

Joe Thornton, the active NHL points leader, signed a one-year deal with the Florida Panthers. According to CapFriendly, he's getting the league minimum of $750,000. Thornton, 42, has 1,529 points (425 goals, 1,104 assists) in 23 seasons, ranking him 14th on the all-time list. At this point in his career, he's trying to win a Stanley Cup for the first time, which led him to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs last season after 14-plus seasons with the San Jose Sharks. Both the Maple Leafs and Panthers lost in the first round last season, but Thornton likes what he sees in Florida. "They’re close. They really are," he said. "It doesn’t matter what happened in years past. It’s a new team. They had a great season last year."

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Aug. 12: Jets, Andrew Copp settle before hearing

Restricted free agent Andrew Copp signed a one-year, $3.64 million contract with the Winnipeg Jets, avoiding an arbitration hearing scheduled for Aug. 26. The 27-year-old forward set career-highs in goals (15), assists (24) and points (39) in 55 games for the Jets last season and had two assists in eight Stanley Cup Playoff games.

Aug. 11: Panthers sign Sam Reinhart

Forward Sam Reinhart, the Florida Panthers' major offseason acquisition, agreed to a three-year contract. Reports put the average at $6.5 million a year. Reinhart tied his career high with 25 goals during the abbreviated season on a Buffalo Sabres team that struggled to score. He was dealt to Florida on the second day of the draft for a lottery-protected 2022 first-round pick and goaltending prospect Devon Levi.

Aug. 11: Jets settle with Neal Pionk

The Winnipeg Jets and restricted free agent defenseman Neal Pionk agreed to a four-year, $23.5 million contract, avoiding arbitration. His $5.875 million average puts him third among Jets defensemen. He was the team's top-scoring defenseman last season with 32 points and was used against Connor McDavid in the Jets' playoff sweep of the Edmonton Oilers. After acquiring two defensemen in trades this offseason, the Jets have a strong top four with Josh Morrissey, Pionk and newcomers Nate Schmidt and Brenden Dillon.

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Aug. 10: Red Wings, Jakub Vrana settle before hearing

The Detroit Red Wings and Jakub Vrana agreed to a three-year deal one day before the sides were scheduled to go to salary arbitration, the team announced on Tuesday. According to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet.ca, the deal is worth $15.75 million, an annual average salary of $5.25 million. Vrana joined the Red Wings at the trade deadline in the deal that sent Anthony Mantha to Washington. Vrana, 25, showed some top-six-forward ability, scoring eight goals and 11 points in 11 games with the Red Wings, including four goals against the Dallas Stars on April 22. Over 50 games last year, Vrana had 19 goals, 36 points and a plus-10 rating.

-Kirkland Crawford, Detroit Free Press

OBITUARY: Legendary Chicago Blackhawks goalie Tony Esposito dies at 78

Aug. 9: Goaltenders re-sign

Three teams dealing with three different goaltending situations took three different approaches in re-signing them.

New York Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin got a four-year deal after strong play in his first season as successor to Henrik Lundqvist. He went 16-14-3 with a 2.62 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage. His reported $5.65 million average would give him the richest contract for a goalie coming out of an entry-level contract.

Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart is coming off his worst season.
Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart is coming off his worst season.

The Philadelphia Flyers' Carter Hart got slightly less than $12 million on a three-year deal after a struggle-filled season. He had a 9-11-5 record and career-worst 3.67 goals-against average and .877 save percentage. The Flyers hope he can get back to his 2019-20 form (24-11-3, 2.42, .914) and they beefed up their defense by adding Ryan Ellis, Rasmus Ristolainen and Keith Yandle.

Washington Capitals goalie Ilya Samsonov signed for one year at $2 million. After a solid rookie season, he was limited to 19 games last season, going on COVID-19 protocol twice. He and Vitek Vanecek, who was reacquired by the Capitals after being taken in the expansion draft, will battle for the No. 1 position.

Aug. 9: Voice of Penguins steps aside

Mike Lange, 73, who called all five Pittsburgh Penguins Stanley Cup championships, is stepping aside as radio play-by-play announcer after 46 years. He was known for his colorful sayings, such as "Scratch my back with a hacksaw," "He beat him like a rented mule," and "Elvis has left the building." Lange will remain with the Penguins Radio Network in another capacity.

Aug. 8: Concussions end goalie's career

Anders Nilsson said Sunday he was ending his career because "my post concussion symptoms and neck problems make it impossible for me to continue as a professional goalie. Obviously not the way I wanted my career to end, but I got to achieve my dream as a kid to play in the NHL and represent my home country Sweden on the world stage." Nilsson played for six NHL teams over seven seasons, mostly recently the Ottawa Senators in 2019-20. He went 59-74 with a 3.06 goals-against average and .907 save percentage, plus helped Sweden win a gold medal at the 2018 world championships.

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Aug. 6: Another big-money defense contract

Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse agreed to an eight-year, $74 million contract extension that will kick in after next season. His 16 goals last season ranked second among NHL defensemen and he played more than 62 minutes in a triple-overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets in the playoffs.

Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse will make $5.6 million in the upcoming season.
Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse will make $5.6 million in the upcoming season.

He's the fifth defenseman this summer to sign for $9 million a year or more, joining the Columbus Blue Jackets' Zach Werenski ($9.58 million), Chicago Blackhawks' Seth Jones ($9.5 million), and the Colorado Avalanche's Cale Makar and New Jersey Devils' Dougie Hamilton ($9 million).

-The New York Islanders have locked in defenseman Adam Pelech for eight years at a reported $46 million. He had filed for salary arbitration, but the sides settled early. The Islanders still have restricted free agents Ilya Sorokin and Anthony Beauvillier to re-sign.

-The Seattle Kraken signed Vince Dunn to a two-year, $8 million contract. He was taken in the expansion draft and had filed for arbitration.

Aug. 5: Tomas Tatar to the Devils

When the New Jersey Devils landed star defenseman Dougie Hamilton on the opening day of free agency, general manager Tom Fitzgerald said the franchise's next target was a top-six winger at the right price.

Fitzgerald got his wish, signing Tomas Tatar to a two-year, $9 million deal. Tatar, 30, just finished his 10th NHL season, scoring 10 goals and 20 assists in 50 games with the Montreal Canadiens. His 30 points would have been tied for third-most on the Devils last season behind Pavel Zacha and Jack Hughes.

The left-handed shooter can fill in as a left or right winger for the Devils. Before the condensed 2020-21 campaign, Tatar had scored 19 goals or more across seven seasons.

-Andrew Tredinnick, NorthJersey.com

Aug. 3: NHL player honoring late ex-teammate

-Winnipeg Jets forward Pierre-Luc Dubois will change his jersey number from 13 to 80 to honor Matiss Kivlenieks. The Columbus Blue Jackets goalie died July 4 in a fireworks accident. Dubois began his NHL career in Columbus before being traded last season.

-Former Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella will join ESPN as an NHL analyst.

-Three players who filed for salary arbitration have settled. St. Louis Blues forward Zach Sanford agreed to a one-year, $2 million contract, Ottawa Senators defenseman Victor Mete agreed to a one-year, $1.2 million deal and San Jose Sharks goalie Adin Hill got $4.35 million over two years.

Aug. 2: Ryan Murray to Avalanche

Defenseman Ryan Murray signed a one-year deal with the Colorado Avalanche. Terms weren't disclosed. The 2012 No. 2 overall pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets had 14 points (all assists) in 48 games last season with the New Jersey Devils. The Avalanche were looking for defensive depth after trading Ryan Graves to the Devils before the expansion draft.

Aug. 1: 17 file for salary arbitration

Juuse Saros made $1.5 million last season, but should get a big raise as the Nashville Predators' No. 1 goaltender.
Juuse Saros made $1.5 million last season, but should get a big raise as the Nashville Predators' No. 1 goaltender.

Nashville Predators goalie Juuse Saros, whose workload will increase after the retirement of Pekka Rinne, was one of 17 players who filed for salary arbitration by Sunday's deadline.

Ross Colton, who scored the Stanley Cup-clinching goal for the Tampa Bay Lightning, also filed.

Under arbitration, the team and players file salary requests based on the pay of comparable players. An arbitrator can pick either number or something in between.

Cases will be heard April 11 to 26, though most times, a settlement is reached before.

The full list (alphabetically): Zach Aston-Reese (Pittsburgh Penguins), Ross Colton (Tampa Bay Lightning), Andrew Copp (Winnipeg Jets), Jason Dickinson (Vancouver Canucks), Vince Dunn (Seattle Kraken), Adam Erne (Detroit Red Wings), Dante Fabbro (Nashville Predators), Dennis Gilbert (Colorado Avalanche), Adin Hill (San Jose Sharks), Michael McNiven (Montreal Canadiens), Victor Mete (Ottawa Senators), Adam Pelech (New York Islanders), Neal Pionk (Winnipeg Jets), Zach Sanford (St. Louis Blues), Juuse Saros (Nashville Predators), Jakub Vrana (Detroit Red Wings), Nikita Zadorov (Calgary Flames).

Aug. 1: Fleury to play for Blackhawks

The Chicago Blackhawks got the news they wanted when traded goaltender Marc-Andre agreed to play for them this season. The Blackhawks acquired the Vezina Trophy winner from the Vegas Golden Knights on July 27, but he wanted to discuss the trade with his family first. Fleury, who ranks third in NHL wins, becomes the Blackhawks' No. 1 goalie with Kevin Lankinen as backup. Chicago has been busy this offseason, also adding Seth Jones, Jake McCabe, Caleb Jones, Tyler Johnson and Jujhar Khaira.

July 31: Nick Ritchie to Maple Leafs

Ritchie, who wasn't qualified by the Boston Bruins, is heading to their Atlantic Division rivals on a two-year, $5 million contract. Ritchie, an Ontario native, had a career-best 15 goals last season and led Bruins forwards with 102 hits.

July 30: David Krejci returning home

The Boston Bruins free agent center says he'll finish his career in his native Czech Republic so his parents can watch him play and his children can experience the country. He finishes with 730 points in 962 games, won a Stanley Cup and reached the Final twice. He's a likely candidate for the 2022 Olympics.

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SABRES: Jack Eichel's rift with Buffalo Sabres deepens

The question for the Bruins is whether they have a No. 2 center on the team. Charlie Coyle could be tried in that role or Boston, tight on cap space, could make a trade.

July 29: Plenty of moves

-Zach Werenski re-signs: His six-year, $57.5 million extension is important beyond locking in a key defenseman. It shows to the hockey world that players want to stay in Columbus. Seth Jones was dealt to Chicago after saying he wouldn't re-sign after next season. Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky left in free agency in 2019, Pierre-Luc Dubois was dealt last season, as were pending UFAs Nick Foligno and David Savard. But now Werenski and Boone Jenner have signed extensions.

-Corey Perry signs: His two-year, $2 million deal gives the Tampa Bay Lightning a refurbished fourth line with holdover Patrick Maroon and free agent signee Pierre-Edouard Bellemare. Perry has reached the Stanley Cup Final the past two seasons with the Dallas Stars and Montreal Canadiens.

-Brandon Saad joins Blues: He got $22.5 million over five years. He and Pavel Buchnevich are replacing the offense of departed free agent forwards Mike Hoffman and Jaden Schwartz. The Blues still could move Vladimir Tarasenko.

-Rangers acquire Ryan Reaves: General manager Chris Drury continues to add size and physical players in the bottom six and defense. Recent acquisition Jarred Tinordi and Reaves have fought Tom Wilson, the Washington Capitals forward who injured Artemi Panarin during a scrum.

July 29: Who's still out there?

Unsigned free agents include forwards David Krejci, Brandon Saad, Kyle Palmieri, Tomas Tatar, Nick Ritchie, Corey Perry and Zach Parise and defensemen Ryan Murray and Sami Vatanen.

July 28: Busy day in free agency

Top free agent Doug Hamilton went to the New Jersey Devils (seven years, $63 million). The massive goalie carousel included Philipp Grubauer going to the Kraken, Linus Ullmark going to the Boston Bruins and the Colorado Avalanche trading for Darcy Kuemper to replace Grubauer.

WINNERS AND LOSERS: Kraken strike with key additions, Devils add Hamilton

NHL FREE AGENCY: Breaking down the deals and rumors on July 28

July 27: Gabriel Landeskog re-signs

The Colorado Avalanche have re-signed captain Gabriel Landeskog.
The Colorado Avalanche have re-signed captain Gabriel Landeskog.

The Colorado Avalanche and captain Gabriel Landeskog got it done with an eight-year deal worth $56 million. Even with that signing, the Avalanche have $12 million in cap space, which will help as Philipp Grubauer and Brandon Saad are pending unrestricted free agents.

July 27: Lightning gain more cap space

The Tampa Bay Lightning traded forward Tyler Johnson to the Chicago Blackhawks, along with a 2023 second-round pick, for the rights to defenseman Brent Seabrook. That gets Johnson's $5 million cap hit off their books. Seabrook is done playing, but the Lightning can put him on long-term injured reserve and exceed the cap.

July 27: Fleury traded to Chicago

The Vegas Golden Knights have traded goalie Marc-Andre Fleury to the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Vegas Golden Knights have traded goalie Marc-Andre Fleury to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Marc-Andre Fleury, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner, is debating his hockey future after the trade, his agent, Allan Walsh, tweeted. The Vegas Golden Knights stayed with Fleury and Robin Lehner last season and it paid off when Lehner was hurt and Fleury had an award-winning season. The move clears $7 million in cap space and could allow the team to make another acquisition. If Fleury reports, the Blackhawks improve their shot at making the playoffs. They added defenseman Seth Jones and will get captain Jonathan Toews back from a season-long ailment.

Alex Ovechkin gets new deal

There was no chance that Ovechkin would sign anywhere but Washington, but the Capitals didn't announce the five-year, $47.5 million contract until after the expansion draft so they could protect Daniel Sprong. The five-year length of the deal should allow Ovechkin (730 goals) the time he needs to break Wayne Gretzky's goal-scoring record (894). The Capitals, who traded defenseman Brenden Dillon for draft picks on Monday, still need to sign goalie Ilya Samsonov.

July 27: More buyouts

The following players were put on waivers for purposes of buying out their contracts: Vancouver Canucks goalie Braden Holtby, San Jose Sharks' Martin Jones and Edmonton Oilers' James Neal. Holtby struggled in his first season in Vancouver and the net is ready to go to Thatcher Demko. The Canucks will need to find a backup goal in free agency. San Jose had acquired goalie Adin Hill before the expansion draft and Jones' play had dropped off the past two seasons. Neal's buyout will clear space for the Oilers' expected signing of Zach Hyman.

July 26: Free agency approaching

Teams are getting their rosters in shape with free agency two days away:

-The Winnipeg Jets re-sign center Paul Stastny. He took a pay cut to $3.75 million in his one-year deal. Stastny's return ensures that the Jets remains deep down the middle. Winnipeg also addressed its blue line by sending two second-round picks to the Washington Capitals for Brenden Dillon, a 6-4, 225-pound defenseman.

-The Florida Panthers re-sign Sam Bennett. He had an impressive debut in Florida after arriving near the trade deadline. He agreed to a four-year, $17.6 million contract. The Panthers also need to re-sign restricted free agent Sam Reinhart, who was acquired during the second day of the draft.

-Qualifying offers: Among players not qualified by Monday's deadline, making them unrestricted free agents: Boston Bruins' Nick Ritchie (15 goals), Chicago Blackhawks' Pius Suter (14 goals) and Edmonton Oilers' Dominik Kahun and Jujhar Khaira. The Seattle Kraken, as expected, qualified all of the restricted free agents they took in the expansion draft.

-Jake Virtanen clears waivers. The Vancouver Canucks will buy out the forward, who was placed on leave in May after being accused in a lawsuit that he sexually assaulted a woman in 2017.

July 24: Second day of draft

Rounds 2-7 were being conducted, but once again, other transactions also drew attention. The Buffalo Sabres dealt leading scorer Sam Reinhart to the Florida Panthers for a 2022 first-round pick (it could move to 2023 if it ends up in the top 10) and young goalie Devon Levi, who helped Canada win a silver medal at the world junior championship. Jakub Voracek returned to the Columbus Blue Jackets as the Philadelphia Flyers traded for Cam Atkinson. Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar got a six-year, $54 million contract, just short of the $9.5 million average agreed to by Seth Jones after his trade to the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Buffalo Sabres traded center Sam Reinhart to the Florida Panthers.
The Buffalo Sabres traded center Sam Reinhart to the Florida Panthers.

July 23: Busy draft

University of Michigan defenseman Owen Power was the No. 1 pick as expected, but he had to share the spotlight with a handful of high-profile trades. Moving to new teams were Seth Jones, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Pavel Buchnevich and Rasmus Ristolainen. There also was some controversy with the 31st-overall pick.

FIRST-ROUND PICKS: Scouting reports of the players selected on Friday

July 23: NHL draft tonight

The Buffalo Sabres are on the clock with the No. 1 overall pick in Friday's first round, which begins at 8 ET. There already have been trades. Click on the links for our live draft blog, our draft primer and our mock draft.

July 22: NHL releases schedule

The NHL regular-season schedule is out, though it could change. The league built in a break from Feb 7-22 in case a deal is reached to send players to the 2022 Olympics. If talks fall through, a revised schedule will be released.

The season starts Oct. 12 and ends April 29. The New York Islanders have to open with 13 games on the road before their home opener at UBS Arena.

NHL SCHEDULE: Day-by-day schedule

NHL SCHEDULE: Highlights of the 2021-22 regular season

July 22: Transactions resume

The expansion draft roster freeze lifted at 1 p.m. ET and there quickly was activity, including the first trade by the Seattle Kraken.

They sent forward Tyler Pitlick, who was picked up from the Arizona Coyotes, to the Calgary Flames for a fourth-round 2022 pick.

The Philadelphia Flyers, in a cap-clearing move, sent defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere to the Coyotes. They had to include a couple draft picks in the deal to get Arizona to take him. The money saved will give the Flyers room to re-sign Carter Hart and Travis Sanheim.

The New York Rangers signed recently acquired forward Barclay Goodrow to a six-year, $21.9 million deal.

The surprising move was the Carolina Hurricanes trading goalie Alex Nedelkjovic to the Detroit Red Wings. The Calder Trophy finalist was a restricted free agent and he agreed to a two-year, $6 million deal with Detroit, his agent tweeted.

The Carolina Hurricanes traded Calder Trophy finalist Alex Nedeljkovic to the Detroit Red Wings.
The Carolina Hurricanes traded Calder Trophy finalist Alex Nedeljkovic to the Detroit Red Wings.

The Red Wings get a 25-year-old goalie who led the league in goals-against average and save percentage. The Hurricanes got the rights to goalie Jonathan Bernier and a third-round pick. At this moment, Carolina has no goaltenders under contract.

July 22: Weber out for the season

Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin confirmed that defenseman Shea Weber will miss the season and his career could be over.

"He suffered many different injuries over the last few years, including injuries to his ankle, knee and thumb," Bergevin told reporters. "He's in a lot of pain. It even takes him a long time to prepare for practice."

The news is a blow to the Stanley Cup finalists. They'll be able to put Weber on long-term injured reserve, which will help their cap situation, but the defenseman was the team captain and second in ice time.

"We'll try our best, but I know deep down that you can never replace Shea Weber," Bergevin said.

July 21: Seattle Kraken expansion draft

The entire roster was figured out by reporters before the Seattle Kraken officially announced the members of the NHL's newest team.

But general manager Ron Francis assembled a team that's deep on defense, has flexibility on offense and includes rising goaltenders. He avoided big-name, big-contract players and might need to pursue more goal scoring with his approximately $29 million in cap space.

EXPANSION DRAFT: All 30 picks that the Seattle Kraken made

WINNERS AND LOSERS: Who made out best, worst in Seattle Kraken expansion draft

July 21: Expansion draft tonight

Here's a primer for the expansion draft announcement. In the meantime, names submitted at the 10 a.m. ET deadline are being leaked out, including Flames defenseman Mark Giordano, Panthers goalie Chris Driedger and Oilers defenseman Adam Larsson.

July 19: Expansion mock draft

USA TODAY's NHL desk takes a crack at picking the Seattle Kraken roster.

July 18: The expansion draft lists are out

The NHL released the list of players who are protected and players who are available to be taken by the Kraken in the expansion draft.

Some surprises on the available list: Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price, fresh off a trip to the Stanley Cup Final; Calgary Flames captain Mark Giordano, and St. Louis forward Vladimir Tarasenko, who has requested a trade and could bring the Blues assets if dealt. But all make significant money, which could deter the Kraken from taking them.

The defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning chose to protect four defensemen, so forwards Alex Killorn, Yanni Gourde and Tyler Johnson are among those available. Gourde is likely to be the one to be picked, though the Lightning might try to work a side deal for them to take Washington State native Johnson instead.

The Nashville Predators protected five defensemen.

July 17: Flurry of moves made before NHL roster freeze

The NHL roster freeze ahead of the Seattle Kraken expansion draft went into effect Saturday. It was a busy afternoon before the transaction pause, as teams made moves as they finalized their protection lists, which were due Saturday and will be revealed Sunday.

The biggest move of the day was the Philadelphia Flyers' acquisition of veteran defenseman Ryan Ellis from the Nashville Predators. In return, Nashville received defenseman Philippe Myers and forward Nolan Patrick, who the Preds flipped to Vegas for forward Cody Glass. Ellis should be a huge boon on defense for the Flyers, who were never quite able to replace the retired Matt Niskanen and finished last in the NHL in goals against in 2021. — Jace Evans

Ryan Ellis has been traded to the Philadelphia Flyers after 10 seasons with the Nashville Predators.
Ryan Ellis has been traded to the Philadelphia Flyers after 10 seasons with the Nashville Predators.

Other moves made Saturday:

  • The Dallas Stars inked cornerstone defenseman Miro Heiskanen to an eight-year, $67.6 million deal.

  • The Stars also traded forward Jason Dickinson to the Vancouver Canucks for a third-round pick.

  • The Arizona Coyotes traded goalie Adin Hill to the San Jose Sharks for fellow goalie Josef Korenar and a 2022 second-round pick.

  • The Coyotes also acquired forward Andrew Ladd, a second-round pick and conditional picks in the 2022 and 2023 NHL drafts from the New York Islanders, who received nothing in return as they sought to dump Ladd's contract.

  • The Pittsburgh Penguins traded forward Jared McCann to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Filip Hallander and a 2023 seventh-round pick.

  • The Tampa Bay Lightning moved a member of their back-to-back championship squads, shipping pending free agent Barclay Goodrow to the New York Rangers for a 2022 seventh-round pick.

July 16: Red Wings acquire veteran defenseman from Islanders

The Detroit Red Wings landed veteran defenseman Nick Leddy from the New York Islanders on Friday in exchange for forward Richard Panik and a 2021 second-round pick that originally belonged to Edmonton. The 30-year-old Leddy, who spent the last seven seasons on the Islanders after breaking into the league – and winning a Stanley Cup – with the Chicago Blackhawks, has one more year on his deal with a cap hit of $5.5 million. Panik, who the Red Wings acquired from the Washington Capitals in the Anthony Mantha-Jakub Vrana trade, has two more years left on his deal. Detroit is reportedly retaining 50% of Panik's salary in the deal. Leddy figures to be a work-horse for a Detroit team with a bunch of question marks on defense. As for the Islanders, Leddy could have been a player they lost in the expansion draft. — Jace Evans

July 15: Panthers buy out Keith Yandle

Yandle, 34, another casualty of the flat cap, becomes a free agent after five seasons with the Panthers. The defenseman, who had 27 points last season and averaged more than 17 minutes a game, will want to find a new team quickly because he's 43 games away from breaking Doug Jarvis' record ironman streak of 964 games. Florida also re-sign defenseman Gustav Forsling and forward Anthony Duclair to three-year deals on Thursday.

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July 15: Avalanche trade Ryan Graves

The Colorado Avalanche shipped 26-year-old defenseman Ryan Graves to the New Jersey Devils for forward Mikhail Maltsev and a second-round pick in the 2021 NHL draft. Graves, who led the NHL with a plus-40 rating in 2019-20, was a potential candidate to be selected by the Seattle Kraken in the expansion draft with the Avs likely to protect Norris Trophy runner-up Cale Makar, Samuel Girard and Devon Toews on defense. Instead of risk losing him for nothing, Avs GM Joe Sakic ensured a small return for the blue-line regular. — Jace Evans

July 14: NHL draft order released

The league released the order for all seven rounds of the July 23-24 entry draft. The draft will be conducted virtually for the second consecutive year. The Buffalo Sabres are drafting No. 1 overall.

July 14: Skinner waives no-movement clause

The Sabres got Jeff Skinner to waive his no-movement clause, The Athletic reported. Skinner, who scored seven goals last season and has a $9 million cap, won't be taken, but it frees up Buffalo to protect another player in the expansion draft.

BRUINS: Brandon Carlo gets lengthy deal. Kevan Miller retires.

July 13: Wild buy out Parise and Suter

Zach Parise and Ryan Suter signed front-loaded 13-year, $98 million contracts with much fanfare in July 2012, but the Wild are building around younger players. The buyouts will save money in the short run, but cost the team in cap recapture penalties for the three seasons after next one. Each becomes a free agent and should find a role on another team.

CANADIENS: Dominique Ducharme named head coach after playoff run

July 13: Pekka Rinne retires

He had an award-winning career with the Nashville Predators, earning a Vezina Trophy, a King Clancy Trophy and a trip to the Stanley Cup Final. Plus he scored a goal. The Predators need to re-sign restricted free agent Juuse Saros, who had supplanted Rinne as No. 1, and will need to find a backup goalie.

July 12: Duncan Keith traded to Oilers

Edmonton gets 16-year veteran Keith and minor league forward Tim Soderlund and the Chicago Blackhawks get back defenseman Caleb Jones and a conditional third-round draft pick that can become a second depending on how the Oilers and Keith fare in the playoffs. Keith, who played his entire career with the Blackhawks, wanted to be closer to his family in western Canada. Keith, who will be 38 next season, is no longer the player who won three Stanley Cups, two Olympic gold medals and two Norris trophies, but he plays more than 23 minutes a game and has championship experience. Jones is the younger brother of Seth Jones. Does that give the Blackhawks a leg up in acquiring the Blue Jackets defenseman? The money works after the Keith trade.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NHL rumors, news: Tracking moves in a busy hockey offseason

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