Wednesday Was The Craziest Free Agent Frenzy In NHL History And It Was Fucking Awesome

Giphy Images.

After a pandemic-induced dud of a free agent frenzy last year, NHL GMs more than made up for it today with a plethora of deals ranging from expected to head-scratching to shocking. There's too many to list them all but you can see them all right here:

I'd love to see an over/under set for how many of today's deals will be future buyouts.

This one broke late Tuesday but Colorado made sure its captain never got to market. Even though negotiations got a tad hairy, a fair resolution was certainly the expectation here and that's what we got. I couldn't see Landy leaving unfinished business in Denver to start all over somewhere else and was happy for him that he got 8 years at $7M per. 

This was a shocker on two fronts. First, that he and the Avs couldn't hammer out a deal to keep the Vezina finalist in Denver. The team was offering 5x5.25 and the player wanted 6 (per @NHLRumorsDaily) and its seemed doable but both held the line and now he'll wear the tax-free Tentacle. Second, that Grubauer left the #1 role on a bona fide contender for an expansion team and, presumably, no guarantee of the #1 job given the team also employs Chris Driedger, who swiped the starter's net from Sergei Bobrovsky in Sunrise last season. I'll never begrudge a guy for maxing his value but this move was still the most unexpected of the day. Later in the day, Colorado temporarily rectified the situation by obtaining Darcy Kuemper (1yr left at $4.5M) from Arizona for prospect Conor Timmons and a 1st rounder in '22.

Of course Seattle is going to try to win now in the weakest division where the playoffs are a realistic goal. Shit, the new owners didn't spend north of half a bill just to draft a kid in 2-3 years. They want to be competitive and will be. Grubauer will help that effort greatly and even GM Ron Francis was surprised they landed him. The Kraken also added Cup winner Jaden Schwartz for 5yrs/$27.5M and Alex Wennberg for 3yrs/$13.5M and quickly halved their cap space. The team doesn't play for another two months so expect much more roster tinkering from Ronnie New Franchise.

Dougie Hamilton going to New Jersey for 7yrs/$63M was a huge move for a team with plenty of money to spend as well as a need for a top-pair D-man. They may not be a contender anytime soon but they got the biggest target on the board for many teams. They also have two defensemen making $9M this season (P.K. Subban is heading into the last year of the mammoth deal he signed 7 years ago). 

Ceci had a nice bounceback year in Pittsburgh but I didn't see him nearly tripling last year's $1.25M salary and getting four years. But Kenny Holland gave the 27-year-old D-man a 4yr/$13M deal as he continues to revamp Edmonton's D. Holland also brought back Tyson Barrie for 3yrs/$13.5M after the rearguard's nice bounceback season. The Oilers also helped their top-six by signing the versatile Zach Hyman to a 7yr/$38.5M deal, over a $3M raise for the former Leaf. The 32-year-old Cole ended up in Raleigh for a year at $2.9M. The Avs traded him to Minny early last season for Greg Pateryn who was flipped for playoff insurance Devan Dubnyk. They certainly could've used him in the post-season.

GOALIES WERE THE HOT COMMODITY

Following along on Twitter and the TSN feed on ESPN+, I couldn't believe how many moves were getting made. It felt like an NFL off-season taking place over the course of a few hours with the amount of big-name players switiching unis. But the goalie carousel was wild. At least 24 (TWENTY-FOUR!) goalies who started an NHL game last season signed with new teams yesterday. 

Most notably, Carolina completely revamped its crease. UFAs James Reimer (SJ for 2yrs/$4.5M) and Petr Mrazek (TOR for 3yrs/$11.4M) went elsewhere while the Canes gave Freddie Anderson 2yrs/$9M and Antti Raanta 2yrs/$4M; both goalies will be 32 when the season starts. The team appeared to have 25-year-old Alex Nedeljkovic as the heir apparent or at least given a shot at it after he was a playoff starter as a rookie just a few months back. But the team suprisingly traded the Calder finalist to Detroit for a 3rd rounder last weekend and pending UFA goalie Jonathan Bernier. Bernier got 2yrs/$8.25M from New Jersey while RFA Ned signed with the Wings for 2yrs/$6M. I'm still trying to make sense of it all. The Canes also inked former Rags D-man Tony DeAngelo to a 1yr/$1M deal.

Other notable G moves were Braden Holtby to Dallas (1yr/$2M) where both Anton Khudobin and Ben Bishop are signed for two more years at a combined $8.250M per year. Not to mention Jake Oettinger kicking at the door with his minor ELC cap hit. The Stars can use LTIR depending on how Bishop's off-season knee surgery rehab goes for the 34-year-old. 

Linus Ullmark left Buffalo for a 4yr/$20M deal from the Bruins. The Bs needed to bring in a goalie no matter what as Tuukka Rask rehabs from surgery that will keep him off the ice into the winter. Rather than a cagey vet or journeyman to mentor Jeremy Swayman, Don Sweeney signed a #1 guy who put up some pretty good numbers over six seasons with the worst team in the NHL over that timeframe: 50-47-13 in 112 starts with 2.78 and .912. He was one of the few bright spots on Buffalo last year. This doesn't really change anything with free agent Rask who made it known he'll only play for Boston. He's gonna convalesce after surgery and see where things are at in January or so. One of those options is retirement so the Bs had to cover their ass and not get caught with their pants down (I think Jeremy Swayman looks great but you can't bet the farm on him just yet). If Rask wants back in, the Bs can accomodate to a team-friendly, pro-rated number in addition to the $6M committed to Ullmark and Swayman. I like this combo. The Bs also shored up their forwards by adding Nick Foligno (2yrs/$7.6M), Tomas Nosek (2yrs/$3.5M), and Erik Haula (2yrs/$4.75M) as well as Derek Forbort (3yrs/$9M) on the back end. Sean Kuraly scored a sweet 4yr/$10M deal from Columbus, the latest in a long line of Boston fourth liners to get paid after building their rep wearing the spoked-B. Good for him.

Former Bruin Jaroslav Halak went to the Canucks for a year for $1.5M that he can double with bonuses…Brian Elliott scored the sweet gig backing up The Big Cat in Tampa for 1yr/$900K…Martin Jones was bought out by San Jose and will go to (drumroll please) Philly for 1yr/$2M to form a tandem with Carter Hart, who also had some stumbles last year. A slumping goalie and the Flyers? What could go wrong?…To help fill the void left by Ullmark's departute, the Sabres signed a pair of vets to the vet minimum in 40-year-old Craig Anderson and 32-year-old Aaron Dell with Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen expected to get a shot at the gig.

SONK JAWNS

Our guy KY ended up in Philly with our other guy Kevin Hayes after the Panthers bought him out. He signed for 1yr/$900K to play on the new-look Flyers back end. Philly fans, get the latest SONK tees here: