These are the notable free-agent signings and post-draft trades of the offseason. The most recent deals are at the top.
Connor Hellebuyck's new six-year contract carries a $6.167 million average annual value against the salary cap. Is he worth it? He's coming off the best season of his three-year career at 44-11-9, a .924 save percentage, a 2.36 goals-against average and a second-place finish for the Vezina. The contract makes him the sixth-highest paid goalie in the NHL in AAV, but here's the thing: At 25 years old, he's younger than all of them. In fact, he's the youngest goalie in the top 20 for netminders' salary cap hits. This isn't some lark on a guy after a career year. Hellebuyck has been groomed to be a franchise goalie, the Jets have proof of concept, and this is a solid deal for a keeper this young. A foundational piece for the Jets.
Grade: Kucherov gives Bolts a star player and cost certainty
Grade: Robin Lehner deal a rare win for the Islanders
Grade: Hurricanes earn a B-plus for de Haan deal
Grade: Sharks-Thornton deal grades out well for all parties
Grade: Flames earn A-minus for luring James Neal to Calgary
Grades: Ryan O'Reilly worth the price for the Blues
Grade: Maple Leafs win big in landing Tavares
Analysis:: What Tavares' deal means for his jilted suitors
John Tavares on deciding to leave the New York Islanders: "That place means a lot to me. Everything I've been through there, the impact people had on me. The things we went through as a group, the teammates I've been through there, um … it was such a hard decision just because how special it was. It's a great organization. A tremendous fanbase. Tremendously loyal. Tremendously passionate. You ever been to a game with Islander fans, it's something really unique. I think my message is … I made some statements on Twitter today, and I think I tried to put some things that really came from the heart. I think just what I want to reiterate is really ‘thank you.' Thank you for the impact you made on me. I don't know if words would describe how much I appreciated my time there. The impact everyone made on me. I think the organization's in great hands. There's some great people there. Obviously some new faces that are going to do some great things, some great talent there. You got some great pieces, starting with the kid who won the Calder Trophy this year. I think the future's bright there. I know it's been a bittersweet day. I've been connected to so many people in that organization. I think the future's bright there."
It's not exactly a one-for-one deal, but the Islanders addressed their John Tavares vacancy by signing former Maple Leaf Leo Komarov. The deal is for four years, $12 million. The 31-year-old Komarov is a versatile forward who can play any position. He excels defensively and is best suited in a bottom six role, but may have to play higher based off of need. The contract seems like an overpayment, but the Islanders were forced into contingency mode. While this is the Islanders' biggest free agent signing of the summer so far, it's clear: in the absence of Tavares, this is Mat Barzal's team now.
The Blue Jackets made a good depth signing by adding Riley Nash for three years at $2.75 million per year. The 29-year-old is a versatile forward and likely fills the exact role as Matt Calvert, who signed with the Avalanche. Nash is an upgrade offensively (15 goals and 41 points in 76 games last season compared to Calvert's nine goals and 24 points in 69 games) which gets GM Jarmo Kekalainen one step closer to his goal of getting Artemi Panarin some relief with depth scoring. The GM still has work to do, though (and of course still needs to convince Panarin to sign a long-term extension).
Matt Cullen, who turns 42 in November, postpones retirement yet again to sign a one-year, $650,000 contract with the Penguins. (For the league's oldest player, Cullen has Zdeno Chara beat by 136 days) This is as much a culture fit (Cullen helped Pittsburgh to back-to-back Cups and was a respected voice in the locker room) as it is about adding value to the fourth line. The Penguins' center group, already perhaps the best in the league, gets even stronger. Cullen didn't have the best season in Minnesota (22 points in 79 games) but he's a low risk signing at the price.
Grade: Coyotes add some scoring on the wing at a decent price
Fascinating to see Ryan McDonagh signed to a seven-year extension by the Tampa Bay Lightning as free agency opened on July 1. The contract, which kicks in 2019-20, pays him $6.75 million annually against the cap, up from $4.7 million on his current deal. It gives the Lightning three defensemen – McDonagh, Victor Hedman and Mikhail Sergachev – signed in 2019-20. Which is to say it gives them flexibility with Nikita Kucherov needing a new deal and, as of noon on July 1, John Tavares still a possibility. But by committing $6.5 million to McDonagh, does that mean they're out on Erik Karlsson?
Grade: Cole adds a steady, veteran presence to Colorado's blue line
Grade: Why there's some cause for concern with Hutton's new deal in Buffalo
Grade: Bernier a solid second option in goal behind Jimmy Howard
Grade: Ward a Corey Crawford insurance policy for the Blackhawks
How are the Blackhawks looking to correct themselves after a dispiriting 2017-18 season? Small tweaks. Chicago didn't make any splashy trades, couldn't lure in a Top 4 defenseman and found itself out on big free agents like James van Riemsdyk fairly early. Instead, the Blackhawks opted for a conservative approach. They addressed their biggest area of need (insurance for Corey Crawford) with a serviceable, if uninspiring, option in Cam Ward. They add a veteran winger in Chris Kunitz, who likely figures as a third or fourth liner. The Blackhawks also added 28-year-old defenseman Brandon Manning who has upside — but only adds to the defensive logjam coach Joel Quenneville needs to navigate. In other words, it feels like GM Stan Bowman is banking on last season being a one-off.
Grade: Bozak's fit and value in the Blues' lineup.
Grade: Blues earn a B-minus for their deal with Perron.
Grade: Penguins make sneaky-good move in adding Johnson, the latest reclamation project for assistant coach Sergei Gonchar.
Grade: Insight on where Stastny fits into the Golden Knights' lineup, and how he impacts the rest of the free agent market.
Apparently, stability on the fourth line was paramount for the Vancouver Canucks. They signed Stanley Cup champion Jay Beagle for four years at $3 million AAV, and they signed Antoine Roussel for four years at $3.25 million AAV. So that's two fourth-liners for the price of one Patrick Marleau, cap-wise. Beagle's great in the room. Roussel's a pain to play against. But what does taking ice time away from young grinders accomplish, exactly?
The Red Wings are straddled in rebuild mode, but still competitive for their fan base — and also set the tone for their young, transitioning roster. That's why a player like Thomas Vanek (one year, $3 million) makes sense. Vanek will turn 35 in January, but still has a scoring touch (24 goals in 80 games last season). His no trade clause is notable, but of course that can be waived depending on the landscape at the trade deadline. Without committing too much, the Red Wings can work deals for their important RFA's: Andreas Athanasiou, Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha.
Grade: How JVR fits into the Flyers' lineup for 2018-19 and beyond. Plus, how this could impact Wayne Simmonds.
Analysis:: How Doughty deal impacts the Kings' cap, other high-end defensemen and the Maple Leafs.
Analysis:: Kovalchuk picks the Kings: Now what?
Free agency guides for all 31 teams. Cap space, players leaving, dream/nightmare scenarios and more.
Ranking the NHL's top 50 (plus) free agents. From the superstars down to the role players, who teams are looking to add this summer.
Odds on where John Tavares will land. Ranking the favorites, along with why it's a good fit and whether the money will work.
Which team would Tavares help the most? How he would boost the favorites, including potential linemates with each.
The All-Value and All-Risk teams in free agency. Players that will offer a great boost on the cheap, and those who are poised to be overpaid.
The biggest NHL free-agency questions answered. Where will Tavares land? What will the Islanders do in goal? Which team will "win" free agency?