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NHL Free Agency: July 1 mega discussion

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Let’s talk about the events of the day here

Pittsburgh Penguins v Columbus Blue Jackets

Welcome to July 1st and happy Canada day to our friends north of the border. It’s also become a holiday of sorts for NHL fans as the teams go shopping for the biggest free agent prizes around. Players can be officially signed at 12 noon eastern time as the market fully opens.

Pittsburgh’s position

As we wrote yesterday, the Penguins enter today with $5.7 million cap space for 10 forwards, seven defensemen and two goalies. They will need to sign their three restricted free agents out of that remaining space.

So put it together and the Pens really shouldn’t be that active today. Teams are allowed to exceed the salary cap’s upper limit, but that is probably not a method that’s advisable to go down, as everyone must be cap compliant by the beginning of the season.

Biggest names

Thanks to the relatively new “interview period” (impending free agents have been allowed to talk to teams for about a week now) we know where many are expected to go. None of these have been confirmed officially, but seem just a matter of time.

  • Sergei Bobrovsky -> Florida (possibly around $9.5-$10m AAV)
  • Matt Duchene -> Nashville (expected $8.0 million annually for seven years)
  • Joe Pavelski -> Dallas (near $7.0m annually for three years)
  • Mats Zuccarello -> Minnesota ($6.0m for five years)
  • Tyler Myers -> Vancouver ($6.0m for five years)
  • Brett Connolly -> Florida ($3.5m for four years)
  • Cam Talbot -> Calgary ($2.75m for one year)
  • Richard Panik -> Washington ($2.5ish for four years)
  • Mike Smith -> Edmonton ($2.0m plus performance bonuses)
  • Ryan Hartman -> Minnesota (a bit under $2.0m for one year)
  • Corey Perry -> Dallas ($1.5m for one year plus additional performance bonuses)
  • Curtis Lazar -> Buffalo
  • Luke Schenn -> Tampa (one year, $700,000)
  • Deryk Engelland -> Vegas

Bread man

While most the biggest names are pretty much widely known where they’ll be going, Artemi Panarin still has some drama and unknowns as of Monday morning. That’s because it looks like Columbus made a huge $12m annual offer last night to keep him, but it looks like the NY Islanders are willing to match it or come close. And the Rangers even think they’re still in the mix, which must have meant another massive offer

Unfortunately all of these teams are in the Metropolitan division, so it looks like one of the Pens’ rivals will be getting a lot stronger. Hopefully they at least continue to drive the price up on what’s looking like could rival the highest AAV in the league (Connor McDavid’s $12.5m).

Biggest remaining names

Here’s some of the biggest names that I haven’t yet seen tied to an expected immediate signing. So I guess if you’re still hopeful on which players could still be in play or need a list of actual new news today, this would be a good place to start for guys whose next locations remain either in flux as other dominoes fall or just haven’t been leaked publicly yet.

  • Gustav Nyquist
  • Marcus Johansson
  • Anders Lee
  • Wayne Simmonds
  • Joonas Donskoi
  • Ryan Dzingel
  • Micheal Ferland
  • Jake Gardiner
  • Anton Stralman
  • Robin Lehner

All of these players surely figure to be above about the $1-2 million one would think that Pittsburgh has to play with at the moment. But, who knows, July 1 can also be an active day for trades to open up more space.

This market looks very heavy on forwards and not having a lot of quality defensemen, not that the Pens could afford one anyways. But it definitely has a lot more up front to add.

Will Pittsburgh “be players” as Jim Rutherford has said he’s wanted to be? I guess we’ll see as the day goes on. Feel free to use this comment section to chop it up and talk about all the news of the day as teams fall over themselves to hand out a ton of money to perhaps players that will only marginally help them.