On a day that could have ended up being a lot of things for the Penguins (most of them bad), it turns out free agency 2022 will end up probably being mostly quiet and without a ton of drama for the Pens. After seeing Evgeni Malkin sign a four-year contract extension last night, Pittsburgh will have kept all of Bryan Rust, Casey DeSmith, Rickard Rakell and Malkin out of the free agent pool.
Evan Rodrigues just switched agents before today begins, curiously enough, and the Pens will probably see Danton Heinen join him in skating away. Here’s some of the scheduling to know:
When: 12:00 noon (eastern)
Where to watch: NHL Network will have live coverage starting at noon. You can also check streaming on ESPN+ for their show, “The Point” from 12-2pm and then ESPN+ will carry the TSN feed from 2-6pm today.
—Players whose contracts end after the 2022-23 season are eligible to sign extensions today (which they must play out the current terms of their contract, then the new extension and salary kicks in for 2023-24). For the Pens, this most notably includes Tristan Jarry, Brian Dumoulin, Jason Zucker and Teddy Blueger. Immediate extensions likely aren’t a priority at this moment for either side.
—Qualifying offers can be accepted by the restricted free agents starting today, if they choose to do so. Only one player for the Pens (Kasperi Kapanen) currently has a QO, and it was a low number of his 2021-22 base salary. Kapanen is not expected to sign and elect for salary arbitration in the next week.
—The NHL’s upper limit for the off-season increases 10% to $90.75 million. Teams are allowed a little more wiggle room if they want it, but the upper limit goes back to $82.5 million for the start of the regular season.
—Johnny Hockey watch: Malkin, Evander Kane, Valeri Nichushkin and Filip Forsberg have all recently re-signed with their respective teams. As always what looked like a rich and deep free agent class drops down to only having a few difference-making players hit the market. Johnny Gaudreau will be one of them, he told Calgary last night he will not be returning to the only team he has ever known. It was called a “family decision” with Gaudreau looking to head back East. That could mean the Metropolitan Division gains more, with Philadelphia, New Jersey and the NY Islanders all expected to be suitors for Gaudreau.
—Goalie carousel continues to spin: Most of the early free agency buzz places Jack Campbell signing in Edmonton and Darcy Kuemper ending up in Washington, but the supply of good goalies is lower than the number of teams looking for goaltening improvements. It could be a wild day for netminders.
—Former Pens looking for homes: in addition to Rodrigues and Heinen, several other ex-Penguins will be on the market. Brian Boyle presumably will have his phone line open, just in case...Louis Domingue will also be on the market...Phil Kessel is out there and looking to extend his ironman streak. As always with Phil, it will be fascinating to watch just where he ends up...The contract Olli Maatta signed with Pittsburgh in 2016 is finally up, and quietly he had a decent season last year...Justin Schultz is done with a two-year stint in Washington...David Perron is back on the market, even though it seems like St. Louis is the only place he should ever play...Ian Cole will be looking for another new team after finishing up in Carolina...Zach Aston-Reese is a free agent, with reports about Toronto showing interest in him...Erik Gudbranson will bring some size and toughness somewhere after a quietly decent year...Speaking of, Jack Johnson still wants to play after being along for Colorado’s Cup win...Riley Sheahan has Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman survival levels and will be out there again...Derrick Brassard, Carter Rowney, Scott Harrington, Dominik Simon, Alex Galchenyuk, James Neal, Colton Sceviour, Greg McKegg, Mark Jankowski and Daniel Sprong are all also free agents, with probably an emphasis on “free” for most of them.