July 15th, 2024

Bolts, Leafs, Panthers, Preds make big moves on first day of NHL free agency


By Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press on July 1, 2024.

Carolina Hurricanes' Jake Guentzel (59) skates against the New York Islanders during the third period in Game 2 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series in Raleigh, N.C., Monday, April 22, 2024. The Atlantic Division got down to business ahead of NHL free agency's opening bell.The Tampa Bay Lightning signed prized winger Jake Guentzel to a seven-year, US$63-million deal Monday - roughly three hours before players on expiring contracts went to market at 12 p.m. ET. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Karl B DeBlaker

The Atlantic Division got down to business ahead of NHL free agency.

The Nashville Predators made the biggest splash once the opening bell sounded.

The Tampa Bay Lightning signed prized winger Jake Guentzel to a seven-year, US$63-million deal Monday – roughly three hours before players on expiring contracts went to market at 12 p.m. ET.

The Toronto Maple Leafs, meanwhile, locked up Chris Tanev on a six-year, $27-million pact that will see the defenceman play in his hometown.

Those moves bookended the Stanley Cup champion Florida Panthers announcing winger Sam Reinhart had signed an eight-year extension worth a reported $69 million.

The Predators – making moves in the Central Division – then went to work with three major additions.

Nashville reportedly signed former Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, who leaves Tampa after 16 seasons, to a four-year, $32-million contract, got winger Jonathan Marchessault on a five-year, $27.5-million deal, and inked defenceman Brady Skjei for seven years at a total of $49 million.

The Vancouver Canucks signed winger Jake DeBrusk to a seven-year, $38.5-million deal, and the Seattle Kraken got defenceman Brandon Montour on a seven-year, $49.98-million agreement.

Seattle also inked centre Chandler Stephenson for seven years at $43.75 million.

The Blue Jackets reportedly signed centre Sean Monahan to a five-year, $27.5-million contract that reunites him with former Calgary teammate Johnny Gaudreau in Columbus.

The Flames re-upped winger Yegor Sharangovich on a five-year, $28.75-million deal that begins in 2025-26.

The Ottawa Senators, meanwhile, traded Jakob Chychrun – set to enter the final year of his current deal – to the Washington Capitals for fellow defenceman Nick Jensen.

The Senators also signed David Perron to a two-year pact worth a reported $8-million, while the Edmonton Oilers gave the same dollars and term fellow winger Viktor Arvidsson.

The Capitals signed blueliner Matt Roy to a six-year, $34.5-million contract and the Carolina Hurricanes locked up defenceman Jaccob Slavin to an eight-year, $51.69 extension that begins in 2025-26.

The New Jersey Devils added Brett Pesce to their back end with a six-year, $33-million deal.

The Lightning acquired Guentzel’s rights Sunday from Carolina for a 2025 third-round pick and got to work on putting pen to paper.

“The pedigree behind Tampa Bay, the winning culture,” Guentzel said when asked what attracted him to the team. “Just a lot of high-end players that really made it intriguing to come to Tampa.

“Excited for the opportunity.”

The Lightning cleared more than $11-million in salary cap space Saturday when they shipped defenceman Mikael Sergachev to the Utah Hockey Club and winger Tanner Jeannot to the Los Angeles Kings.

Dealt from the Pittsburgh Penguins to Carolina ahead of March’s trade deadline, Guentzel had 30 goals and 77 points in 77 games last season. He added four goals and five assists in 11 playoff contests.

Toronto jumped the queue to negotiate with Tanev when the Leafs made a minor trade with Dallas for his rights Saturday after the Stars previously snagged him from the Calgary Flames in February before the trade deadline.

The undrafted blueliner had two goals and 19 points in 75 games in 2023-24. His true value, however, comes at the other end of the rink in a shutdown role the Leafs were desperate to fill.

“I’m a Toronto kid,” Tanev said. “Definitely excited to raise my family here.”

The Leafs also got to work on its crease combination, extending goaltender Joseph Woll on a three-year, $10.98-million agreement that begins in 2025-26.

Reinhart, meanwhile, is staying in South Florida after putting up a career-high 57 goals and 94 points in 2023-24. He scored nine more times and added six assists in 22 playoff contests.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 1, 2024.

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