New Faces in New Places: 2019 NHL Free Agent Frenzy

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The floodgates opened July 1st as a mammoth 84 players signed on the dotted line the first day of NHL Free Agency.

Nearly every squad in The League was active in the market but none so more than the New York Rangers which signed prize free agent Artemi Panarin to a seven-year, $81.5 million dollar contract. Panarin, affectionately known as “The Bread Man,” is entering the prime of his career after amassing 116 goals and 204 assists for 320 points in 322 career games with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Chicago Blackhawks, who signed him as Free Agent in 2015. Producing at nearly a-point-per-game level, the 27-year old Panarin will be given every opportunity to shake ‘n bake in The Big Apple.

Artemi Panarin #9 of the Columbus Blue Jackets (at right), skating against the New York Rangers at Nationwide Arena in 2018, traded jerseys, signing a seven-year deal with New York. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

Several other big name players signed big contracts as well including Matt Duchene, who parlayed a career-tying 70-point campaign with the Blue Jackets and Ottawa Senators, into a seven-year, $56 million dollar deal with the Nashville Predators. Duchene is a 10-year veteran with 232 goals and 547 points on his resume.

The goaltending carousel circled with several new faces in new places beginning with Sergei Bobrovsky who inked a seven-year, $70 million dollar contract with the Florida Panthers. A two-time Vezina Trophy Winner in 2012-13 and 2016-17, “Bob” is a proven winner with 255 wins in the regular season behind a career 2.46 goals-against average and .919 save percentage.

The Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers, in effect, exchanged Mike Smith and Cam Talbot, respectively, hoping for a rebound from two goaltenders who have lost some of their luster. Smith has a career .912 save percentage, but saw that number slip to .898 his second season in Calgary. With 243-career wins under his belt, Smith will look for a return to form with the Oilers. Edmonton had seen enough of Talbot to ship him in-season to the Philadelphia Flyers after a brutal two-and-a-half year stretch following his breakout Vezina-worthy 2016-17 season.  Both signed “prove-it” one-year deals $750K apart.

Matt Duchene #9 (at right) battles Mattias Ekholm of the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. Next season, the two players will be teamates in “Smashville.” (Photo by Danny Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Seymon Varlamov did well signing a four-year, $20M deal with the New York Islanders. He was losing playing time with Philipp Grubauer with the Colorado Avalanche and will now be paired with Thomas Greiss in Long Island. Despite posting a 25-win, 2.13/.930 season, which included the Bill Masteron Trophy for perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey, market interest was curiously low for Robin Lehner. Signing the 6’4” 240-pound behemoth between the pipes for one year at $5 million could be a steal for Blackhawks’ GM Stan Bowman.

The Dallas Stars made a push adding leadership and grit with the additions of Joe Pavelski (three-years, $21M) and Corey Perry (one-year, $1.5M). The veteran forwards, with a combined 727 goals and 1,537 points have made seven All-Star Game appearances between them, but it is their 84 goals and 189 points in the playoffs the Stars are banking on. Perry won a Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007 and Pavelski scored 14 goals in 24 games helping the Sharks reach the finals for the first time in franchise history in 2015-16.

Both the Islanders and the Carolina Hurricanes were forced to pay up in order to retain Anders Lee and Sebastian Aho at seven-years, $49M and five-years, $42.27, respectively. The Montreal Canadiens tried to steal Aho, but Carolina wisely held on and matched the Habs’ offer sheet.

Sergei Bobrovsky (#72) battles Evgenii Dadonov and the Florida Panthers as Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman David Savard (58) looks on. Bobrovsky will be the “Big Cat” for Joel Quenneville’s Panthers in the Sunshine State next season. (Photo by Adam Lacy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

To offset the balance after losing what was in effect, Panarin, Bobrovsky and Duchense, the Blue Jackets went out and signed Gustav Nyquist to a four-year, $22M deal. Columbus may have overpaid for Nyquist, a player with just 131-career goals in 500 NHL games.

Other notable signings include Mats Zuccarello to the scoring-needy Minnesota Wild for five-years, $30M, Brett Connolly to the Panthers for four years, $13M, Brandon Tanev for six-years, $21M to the Pittsburgh Penguins, Tyler Myers to the Vancouver Canucks for five-years, $30M and Marcus Johannson to the Buffalo Sabres at two-years, $9M. The Sharks retained Timo Meier at a friendly, four-years, $24M after losing Pavelski and Joonas Donskoi to the Avalanche (four-years, $15.6M)

Related: Singing the Blues! St. Louis Captures First-Ever Stanley Cup

Jason Spezza took a leap of faith and a big pay cut to return home and play for his childhood team, the Toronto Maple Leafs. A veteran of 1,065 NHL games, the Toronto-born Spezza has 332-career goals and a 53.8-career faceoff win percentage. The second overall pick by the Senators in 2001, Spezza signed a one-year deal for just $700K.

Other players forced to take one-year “prove it” deals include Wayne Simmonds to the New Jersey Devils ($5M), Markus Granlund to the Oilers ($1.3M), Cody Ceci to the Maple Leafs ($4.5M), Kevin Labanc ($1M) and Colin Wilson ($2.6) and Nikita Zadrov ($3.2) in Colorado.

2019 NHL Free Agency Period


July 1, 2019

  • PETR MRAZEK (Goaltender), UFA, 2 Years, $6.25M (Cap Hit $3.125M)
  • SEMYON VARLAMOV (Goaltender), UFA, 4 Years, $20M (Cap Hit $5M)
  • ROBIN LEHNER (Goaltender), UFA, 1 Year, $5M (Cap Hit $5M)
  • JOAKIM RYAN (Defenseman), RFA, 1 Year, $725K (Cap Hit $725K)
  • ANDERS LEE (Forward), UFA, 7 Years, $49M (Cap Hit $7M) 
  • BRENDAN GAUNCE (Forward), UFA, 1 Year, $700K (Cap Hit $700K) 
  • BRETT RITCHIE (Forward), UFA, 1 Year, $1M (Cap Hit $1M)
  • PAR LINDHOLM (Forward), UFA, 2 Years, $1.7M (Cap Hit $850K)
  • ANDREW AGOZZINO (Forward), UFA, 2 Years, $1.4M (Cap Hit $700K)
  • DAVID WARSOFSKY (Defenseman), UFA, 2 Years,  $1.4M (Cap Hit $700K)
  • AARON NESS (Defenseman), UFA, 2 Years, $1.4M (Cap Hit $700K)
  • BEAU BENNETT (Forward), UFA, 1 Year, $700K (Cap Hit $700K)
  • ANDY MIELE (Forward), UFA, 2 Years, $1.4M (Cap Hit $700K)
  • BRENDAN LEIPSIC (Forward), UFA, 1 Year, $700K (Cap Hit $700K)
  • PHILIPPE MAILLET (Forward), UFA, 2 Years, $1.4M (Cap Hit $700K)
  • NICK SHORE (Forward), UFA, 1 Year, $750K (Cap Hit $750K)
  • CHRIS BIGRAS (Defenseman), UFA, 2 Years, $1.4M (Cap Hit $700K)
  • KYLE CRISCUOLO (Forward), UFA, 1 Year, $700K (Cap Hit $700K)
  • CALVIN PICKARD (Goaltender), UFA, 2 Years, $1.5M (Cap Hit $750K)
  • DANIEL CARR (Forward), UFA, 1 Year, $700K, (Cap Hit $700K)
  • SAMMY BLAIS (Forward), UFA, 1 Year, $850K (Cap Hit $850K)
  • ANDY WELINSKI (Defenseman), UFA, 1 Year, $750K (Cap Hit $750K)
  • TYLER WOTHERSPOON (Defenseman), UFA, 2 Years, $1.4M (Cap Hit $700K)
  • TOMAS JURCO (Forward), UFA, 1 Year, $750K (Cap Hit $750K)
  • JUJHAR KHAIRA (Forward), UFA, 2 Years, $2.4M (Cap Hit $1.2M)
  • NATHAN WALKER (Forward), UFA, 2 Years, $1.4M (Cap Hit $700K)
  • KEVIN GRAVEL (Defenseman), UFA, 1 Year, $700K (Cap Hit $700K)
  • WAYNE SIMMONDS (Forward), UFA, 1 Year, $5M (Cap Hit $5M)
  • BRANDON PIRRI (Forward), UFA, 2 Years, $1.55M (Cap Hit $775K)
  • TOMAS NOSEK (Forward), UFA, 1 Year, $1M (Cap Hit $1M)
  • JORDAN SWARZ (Forward), UFA, 1 Year, $800K (Cap Hit $800K)
  • RILEY BARBER (Forward), UFA, 1 Year, $700K (cap Hit $700K)
  • J.F. BERUBE (Goaltender), UFA, 1 Year, $700K (cap Hit $700K)
  • PIERRE-EDOUARD BELLEMARE (Forward), UFA, 2 Years, $3.6M (Cap Hit $1.8M)
  • PATRICK BROWN (Forward), UFA, 2 Years, $1.4M (Cap Hit $700K)
  • COLIN WILSON (Forward), UFA, 1 Year, $2.6M (Cap Hit $1.8M)
  • JEAN-SEBASTIEN DEA (Forward), UFA, 2 Years, $1.4M (Cap Hit $700K)
  • GABRIEL DUMONT (Forward), UFA, 2 Years, $1.4M (Cap Hit $700K)
  • NATE PROSSER (Defenseman), UFA, 2 Years $1.4M (Cap Hit $700K)
  • KURTIS GABRIEL (Forward), UFA, 1 Year, $700K (Cap Hit $700K)
  • ANDY ANDREOFF (Forward), UFA, 2 Years, $1.5M (Cap Hit $750K)
  • BRETT CONNOLLY (Forward), UFA, 4 Years, $13M (Cap Hit $3.25M)
  • CURTIS MCELHINNEY (Goaltender), UFA, 2 Years, $2.6M (Cap Hit $1.3M)
  • ALEX CHIASSON (Forward), UFA, 2 Years, $4.3M (Cap Hit $2.15M)
  • LUKE JOHNSON (Forward), UFA, 2 Years, $1.4M (Cap Hit $700K)
  • MAXIME LAGACE (Goaltender), UFA, 1 Year, $700K (Cap Hit $700K)
  • RICHARD PANIK (Forward), UFA, 4 Years, $11M (Cap Hit $2.75M)
  • GUSTAV NYQUIST (Forward), UFA, 4 Years, $22M (Cap Hit $5.5M)
  • VALTERRI FILPPULA (Forward), UFA, 2 Years, $6M (Cap Hit $3M)
  • TIM HEED (Defenseman), UFA, 1 Year, $960K (Cap Hit $960K)
  • ANDREW HAMMOND (Goaltender), UFA, 1 Year, $700K (Cap Hit $700K)
  • RYAN CARPENTER (Forward), UFA, 3 Years, $3M (Cap Hit $1M)
  • TIMO MEIER (Forward), RFA, 4 Years, $24M (Cap Hit $6M)
  • MATS ZUCCARELLO (Forward), UFA, 5 Years, $30M (Cap Hit $6M)
  • NATHAN BEAULIEU (Defenseman), UFA, 1 Year, $1M (Cap Hit $1M)
  • RYAN MURRAY (Defenseman), RFA, 2 Years, $9.2M (Cap Hit $4.6M)
  • JOONAS DONSKOI (Forward), UFA, 4 Years, $15.6M (Cap Hit $3.9M)
  • GARNET HATHAWAY (Forward), UFA, 4 Years, $6M (Cap Hit $1.5M)
  • OSCAR FANTENBERG (Defenseman), UFA, 1 Year, $850K (Cap Hit $850K)
  • NOEL ACCIARI (Forward), UFA, 3 Years, $5M (Cap Hit $1.67M)
  • BRANDON TANEV (Forward), UFA, 6 Years, $21M (Cap Hit $3.5M)
  • JOHN GILMOUR (Defenseman), UFA, 1 Year, $700K (Cap Hit $700K)
  • ARTEMI PANARIN (Forward), UFA, 7 Years, $81.5M (Cap Hit $11.642M)
  • KEITH KINKAID (Goaltender), UFA, 1 Year, $1.75M (Cap Hit $1.75M)
  • PATRIK NEMETH (Defenseman), UFA, 2 Years, $6M (Cap Hit $3M)
  • JORDIE BENN (Defenseman), UFA, $4M (Cap Hit $2M)
  • RYAN HARTMAN (Forward), UFA, 2 Years, $3.8M (Cap Hit $1.9M)
  • CURTIS LAZAR (Forward), UFA, 1 Year, $700K (Cap Hit $700K)
  • ANTON STRALMAN (Defenseman), UFA, 3 Years, $16.5M (Cap Hit $5.5M)
  • ANDREJ SEKERA (Defenseman), UFA, 1 Year, $1.5M (Cap Hit $1.5M)
  • MIKE SMITH (Goaltender), UFA, 1 Year, $2M (Cap Hit $2M)
  • SERGEI BOBROVSKY (Goaltender), UFA, 7 Years, $70M (Cap Hit $10M)
  • JOE PAVELSKI (Forward), UFA, 3 Years, $21M (Cap Hit $7M)
  • TYLER ENNIS (Forward), UFA, 1 Year, $800K (Cap Hit $800K)
  • KENNY AGOSTINO (Forward), 2 Years, $1.4M (Cap Hit $700K)
  • MATT DUCHENE (Forward), UFA, 7 Years, $56M (Cap Hit $8M)
  • LUKE SCHENN (Defenseman), UFA, 1 Year, $700K (Cap Hit $700K)
  • COREY PERRY (Forward), UFA, 1 Year, $1.5M (Cap Hit $1.5M)
  • TYLER MYERS (Defenseman), UFA, 5 Years, $30M (Cap Hit $6M)
  • MARKUS GRANLUND (Forward), UFA, 1 Year, $1.3M (Cap Hit $1.3M)
  • RON HAINSEY (Defenseman), UFA, 1 Year, $3.5M (Cap Hit $3.5M)
  • CAM TALBOT (Goaltender), UFA, 1 Year, $2.75M (Cap Hit $2.75M)
  • JASON SPEZZA (Forward), UFA, 1 Year, $700K (Cap Hit $700K)
  • CONNOR CLIFTON (Defenseman), RFA, 3 Years, $3M (Cap Hit $1M)

July 2, 2019

  • BLAKE PIETILA (Forward), UFA, 1 Year, $700K (Cap Hit $700K)
  • ANDREW POTURALSKI (Forward), RFA, 1 Year, $700K (Cap Hit $700K)
  • MARK LETESTU (Forward), UFA, 1 Year, $700K (Cap Hit $700K)
  • DALTON PROUT (Defenseman), UFA, 1 Year, $800K (Cap Hit $800K)

July 3, 2019

  • PHIL VARONE (Forward), UFA, 1 Year, $700K (Cap Hit $700K)

July 4, 2019

  • CHRISTIAN WOLANIN (Defenseman), RFA, 2 Years, $1.8M (Cap Hit $900K)
  • BEN CHIAROT (Defenseman), UFA, 3 Years, $10.5M (Cap Hit $3.5M)
  • ALEX KERFOOT (Forward), RFA, 4 Years, $14M (Cap Hit $3.5M)
  • CODY CECI (Defenseman) RFA, 1 Year, $4.5M, Cap Hit, $4.5M

Related: NHL Trade Tracker

July 5, 2019

  • NIKITA ZADOROV (Defenseman), RFA, 1 Year, $3.2M (Cap Hit $3.2M)
  • NICK COUSINS (Forward), UFA, 1 Year, $1M (Cap Hit $1M)
  • ZEMGUS GIRGENSONS (Forward), RFA, 1 Year, $1.6M (Cap Hit $1.6M)
  • CEDRIC PAQUETTE (Forward), RFA, 2 Years, $3.3M (Cap Hit $1.65M)
  • JOSH LEIVO (Forward), RFA, 1 Year, $1.5M (Cap Hit $1.5M)
  • SCOTT HARRINGTON (Defenseman), RFA, 3 Years, $4.9M (Cap Hit $1.633M)

July 6, 2019

  • MARCUS JOHANSSON (Forward), UFA, 2 Years, $9M (Cap Hit $4.5M) 

July 7, 2019

  • SEBASTIAN AHO (Forward), RFA, 5 Years, $42.27M (Cap Hit $8.454M)

July 8, 2019

  • KEVIN LABANC (Forward), RFA 1 Year, $1M (Cap Hit $1M)

July 9, 2019

  • MALCOLM SUBBAN (Goaltender), RFA, 1 Year, $850K, (Cap Hit $850K)
  • ZACH SANFORD (Forward), RFA, 2 Years, $3M (Cap Hit $1.5M) 




Written by John Christian Hageny  @JCCSPORTS 

Special to HockeyClan


Main Image: Columbus Blue Jackets left wing Artemi Panarin (9) celebrates after scoring a goal against the New York Rangers on January 13, 2019 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, OH. (Photo by Adam Lacy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)


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