July 1 signings around the Atlantic Division

On Canada Day, as is the case every year, the National Hockey League’s free agent period re-opened and free agent frenzy was a crazy one. Led by the Toronto Maple Leafs winning the John Tavares sweepstakes and the Montreal Canadiens bringing back Tomas Plekanec who is at 998 career games, many teams added pieces for the 2018-19 season and beyond.

This piece looks at the signings in the Atlantic Division on July 1st, specifically. While the graphics exclude entry level contracts and trades, some notable ones are mentioned in the explanation.

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On Canada Day, the Montreal Canadiens kicked off Free Agent Frenzy bringing back long time Hab Tomas Plekanec. Plekanec was dealt to the Toronto Maple Leafs at the trade deadline months ago in exchange for Kerby Rychel, Rinat Valiev and a 2nd Round Pick (2018) which was used to select Jacob Olofsson. Montreal grabbed one more NHL’er on the day, French-born Xavier Ouellet, who spent time in Montreal with the former Montreal Juniors in his Quebec Major Junior Hockey League days. Plekanec comes off of a 26-point season, 24 of which he recorded with the Canadiens. Ouellet picked up seven assists on a struggling Red Wings team.

The Habs dipped into the American Hockey League (AHL) three times yesterday to sign a number of scoring minor league players in their mid-20s for the Laval Rocket. Peca, Agostino and Chaput all recorded more than 40 points in less than 65 minor league games played. They are primarily Laval signings, but could serve as temporary call-ups. Tampa Bay fans on Twitter praise Peca for his work ethic.

In addition, Montreal awarded Jesperi Kotkaniemi (3rd Overall Pick – 2018 NHL Entry Draft) a three-year entry level contract with a European clause allowing him to choose between his Finnish club and Laval should he not make the team for 2018-19.

The Toronto Maple Leafs sent the hockey world into absolute chaos yesterday afternoon when they signed Mississauga native John Tavares. Tavares was drafted from the Oshawa Generals (OHL) first overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft and has been the captain of the New York Islanders for the last five seasons. The highly sought after free agent has topped 80 points three times in his career and has recorded 0.93 points per game over 669 career regular season games, and 22 points in 24 playoff games.

Toronto added another hometown boy to the books as Josh Jooris (Burlington, Ont.) signed for one year after playing for two NHL teams and two AHL teams last season. Adam Cracknell was also one of five signings of the day. If you recognize his name, it is because the Habs traded Peter Holland for him last November and played for Laval for the remainder of the season. The Leafs also re-signed Martin Marincin after becoming a free agent yesterday and the youngest Subban brother, Jordan.

To round out the Canadian teams, the Ottawa Senators had expectedly the quietest free agent frenzy. Signing two Americans, the Senators acquired an NHL-level forward in Paul Carey who played in 60 games for the New York Rangers last season. They also signed 35-year old Mike McKenna who spent most of the season with the Dallas Stars AHL-affiliate in Texas. The most newsworthy action of the day was General Manager Dorion admitting to offering star Erik Karlsson a new contract.

The Buffalo Sabres added two goaltenders in Carter Hutton and Scott Wedgewood, along with forward Scott Wilson. The biggest part of their day was not a signing but rather a trade. During the evening, the Sabres finally dealt Ryan O’Reilly in exchange for Tage Thompson, Vladimir Sobotka, Patrik Berglund, a 1st round pick (2019) and a 2nd round pick (2021).


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The Boston Bruins were the most active Atlantic Division team today, signing six new members to their organization. Boston added three new low production NHL regulars in Moore, Wagner and Nordstrom. Jaroslav Halak is the Bruins newest addition in net and played 33 games with the New York Islanders last season. Winger Mark McNeill and defenceman Cody Goloubef were likely signed as depth options for the Providence Bruins (AHL).

After losing out on the Tavares sweepstakes yesterday, the Tampa Bay Lightning had a quiet afternoon. After becoming a free agent, the Bolts re-signed minor leaguer Kevin Lynch. They also added Cameron Gaunce for the Syracuse Crunch. Both players played the entire 2017-18 season in the AHL.

Not a free agent signing, but the Lightning came to terms with Ryan McDonagh on a contract extension which begins in 2019-20. McDonagh will have a cap hit of $6.75-million through 2025-26 with a no move clause.

Across the state, Florida also had a light day signing minor leaguers Kevin Lynch and Cameron Gaunce for their AHL affiliates in Springfield.

The Detroit Red Wings signed six free agents on the first day of free agency, most notably Thomas Vanek and Jonathan Bernier. The Wings added four regular AHL players, including Chris Terry who had over a point per game with the Laval Rocket last season with 71 points in 62 games.

With the entire summer ahead, keep an eye out for more transactions around the National Hockey League.

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2 Responses to July 1 signings around the Atlantic Division

  1. not sure why Montreal allowed Chris terry to get awayY.i guesss he wanted a shot at the NHL which he did not get in Montreal

    Bay_Bye July 2, 2018 at 8:42 pm Reply
  2. Well Zach who really hasLynch and Gaunce. Gonna be tough playing for both Springfield and the Crunch. Seems nobody edits writing anymore.

    Wayne McCrae July 2, 2018 at 9:57 pm Reply

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