We have made it through the first few days of NHL Free Agency! General managers around the NHL are putting in the work toward building their NHL rosters for the 2019-20 season and plenty of players have been on the move. It has been a whirlwind for several franchises and players and I took a look at several of your Free Agent stories around the NHL after the opening 48 hours.
Video: 1-ON-1 | Ray Shero on Free Agency
Here are your 10 Takeaways from the opening of NHL Free Agency:
1. We'll begin this 10 Takeaways with Devils general manager Ray Shero, who dipped into the free agency market on day one with the addition of forward Wayne Simmonds. Simmonds signed on the dotted line for one year at $5 million dollars, after spending last season split between the Philadelphia Flyers and Nashville Predators. Both sides were just as excited as the other with the addition. Simmonds, who will wear No. 17 for New Jersey, said, "first and foremost, I'm going to help the Devils win. I think that's the most important part, to come in and create a winning culture and just help the team win."
Shero also added three players on two-way deals to continue building up the depth of the franchise. Defensemen Dakota Mermis signed a one-year deal, defenseman Matt Tennyson signed for two years and forward Ben Street was added on a one-year contract.
2. It took six years, but the NHL saw another offer sheet tendered between a club and restricted free agent. On the opening day of free agency, the Montreal Canadiens and Carolina's restricted free agent Sebastian Aho agreed to an offer sheet worth $42.27 million dollars. This was the first time an offer sheet had been signed by an RFA since Ryan O'Reilly signed one with the Calgary Flames in 2013 while with Colorado Avalanche.
And much like the teams that came before Carolina, the offer was matched. On the afternoon of July 2, the Carolina Hurricanes announced their intention to match the offer, thus keeping Aho with the Canes for another five seasons.
The last time an offer sheet was accepted was back in 2007 when Dustin Penner went from Anaheim to the Edmonton Oilers on a five-year deal.
3. They weren't a packaged deal, after all! The speculation was running rampant heading into Free Agency that both Columbus UFA's goalie Sergei Bobrovsky and forward Artemi Panarin would be a package deal for whatever team could fit them under their salary cap. The anticipation was that both would manage to find their way to the Florida Panthers on significant contracts.
Instead, as noon rolled around on July 1, the two went their separate ways after being teammates in Columbus for two seasons. Bobrovsky inked the most lucrative goaltender contract of the off-season agreeing to a seven-year, $70-million deal, while Panarin was lured to the Rangers on a seven-year $81.5-million deal.
4. While we're talking about Bobrovsky, the goalie carousel was quite a wild ride on day one of free agency. If you can believe it, 13 goaltenders were on the move in the first 12 hours of July 1. Bobrovsky, who cashed in with the longest and highest term, while Semyon Varlamov's four-year deal with the Islanders was the second-longest goaltender contract handed out this week.
5. You'll see on the list above by NHL.com's Mike Morreale that former New Jersey Devil goaltender Keith Kinkaid was on the move. He's just one of several former Devils to find themselves a new home so far this off-season. Kinkaid joined the Canadiens on a one-year contract, while Kenny Agostino, after spending the latter half of the year with New Jersey moved on to the Toronto Maple Leafs on a two-year deal. Captain of the Binghamton Devils Nick Lappin, who played 11 games with New Jersey last season, signed with the St. Louis Blues. Forward Blake Pietila joined the Anaheim Ducks on a one-year deal as well.
6. Just when you thought the big moves were completed on Monday, the Maple Leafs and Colorado Avalanche swooped in with a big swap in players. The Leafs sent forward Nazem Kadri, defenseman Calle Rosen and a 2020 third-round pick to Colorado for defenseman Tyson Barrie, forward Alex Kerfoot and a 2020 sixth-round pick, with Colorado retaining half of Barrie's salary.
Kerfoot was a New Jersey Devils prospect, drafted by the club in 2012 although he never suited up for New Jersey.
7. Matt Duchene and the Nashville Predators made it official. In what was another 'worst-kept-secret' of free agency, Duchene joined the Predators on a seven-year contract. The rumors were swirling prior to free agency opening that the two sides would come together on a contract and he was one of the first deals announced on July 1. Duchene, one of the more coveted free agents, spent the 2018-19 NHL season split between the Ottawa Senators and Columbus Blue Jackets.
8. It will certainly be a bit weird next season! After spending their entire careers with just one franchise, two players have moved on in the latter playing years - and the Dallas Stars scooped them both up!
A San Jose Shark since he was drafted by the club in 2003, Pavelski has moved on to the Dallas Stars as a free agent. Pavelski spent the last four seasons captaining the Sharks, before agreeing to a three-year contract with the Stars. Sharks GM Doug Wilson called it a difficult decision to see Pavelski go.
"It's emotional," Wilson said. "You have a heart, you have a head, and you understand these decisions have to get made. So, you have mixed emotions."
Also on the move to the Stars is Corey Perry, a staple in the Anaheim Ducks lineup since 2005. Perry was bought out by the Ducks after playing just 31 games in the 2018-19 season and agreed to a one-year deal worth $1.5 million.
9. There was a ton of player movement in just the first 12 hours of free agency on Monday, with a grand total of 125 contracts signed on July 1st with total contract dollars toppling over $700-million in total money* (Credit: CapFriendly.com). The first four hours of free agency was where most of the money was dropped, with a total of $582-million handed out in contracts, surpassing 2018's $445-million.
It took just 20 minutes for NHL General Managers to commit to $167.6-million dollars in contract, while we're keeping count! That number will continue to grow as we head into the off-season and the remaining UFA's land in new spots.
10. So, who is still out there? Well, there's still plenty of fish out there on the free agent sea. There are still plenty of players looking for new NHL homes. Devils general manager Ray Shero says that the phones quite a bit after July 1st, heading into the July 4th weekend - but that doesn't mean that the work isn't done. Here is a list of free agents still currently on the market:
Notable names include defenseman Jake Gardiner and a pair of former New Jersey Devils in Marcus Johansson and Brian Boyle.