2024 NHL free agency blog: Latest Rangers & League news, rumors

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-New Jersey Devils at New York Rangers
Danny Wild-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Known within the League as the “silly season,” NHL free agency kicked off Monday with the New York Rangers and 31 other teams looking to improve their lot for next season and beyond.

Several big names, including Rangers target Patrick Kane, never made it to July 1, signing with their previous teams during the exclusive negotiating window. But there will be plenty of moves beginning Monday, many of the head-scratching variety and others more shrewd that could swing the balance of power one way or the other in the NHL.

There’ll be trades — did anyone say Jacob Trouba? — and plenty of rumors, as well.

Here’s our Forever Blueshirts Blog of everything going on in 2024 NHL free agency.

Related: ‘Disappointed, shocked’ Jacob Trouba could try to block Rangers trade

Kraken land two key free agents

Seattle Kraken general manager Ron Francis was justifiably happy and crowing a bit after they signed defenseman Brandon Montour and forward Chandler Stephenson on Monday. Montour helped the Florida Panthers win the Stanley Cup this season. He landed a seven-year, $50 million contract with the Kraken.

Stephenson helped the Vegas Golden Knights win the Stanley Cup in 2023, and had 65 points that season. He signed a seven-year contract, with an AAV of $6.25 million.

Alex Wennberg gets $10 million over two years from Sharks

In a head-scratcher, former Rangers center Alex Wennberg signed a two-year, $10 million deal with the San Jose Sharks. That $5 million AAV is a slight raise on his previous contract but seems like a lot for a complementary player who’s solid defensively but a non-factor offensively and liability in the face-off circle.

Hurricanes fill some holes

After trading Jake Guentzel and losing Brett Pesce, Brady Skjei, Teuvo Teravainen and Stefan Noesen in free agency, the Hurricanes re-signed gritty forward Jordan Martinook and signed a pair of veteran defensemen, Sean Walker and Shayne Gostisbehere.

Carolina’s big move was inking defenseman Jaccob Slavin to an eight-year contract extension.

Rangers send picks to Penguins for Reilly Smith

The New York Rangers made a move at wing, trading for 13-year veteran Reilly Smith, sending a 2027 second-rounder and 2025 fifth-round pick to the Pittsburgh Penguins in return.

Smith recorded 13 goals and 40 points in 76 games with Pittsburgh, following a 26-goal, 56-point season in Vegas the year prior. With Jack Roslovic departing in free agency, the Rangers will take on 75 percent of the final year of Smith’s $5 million AAV contract ($3.75 million), likely looking for the 2023 Stanley Cup champion to slot in to a top-six role.

Islanders add former Rangers winger

The New York Islanders inked winger Anthony Duclair, who was drafted by the Blueshirts and made his debut with them in 2014-15, to a four-year deal at $3.5 million annually.

Duclair stumbled after beginning last season with the San Jose Sharks, but turned it on after he was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning, closing out the season with eight goals and 15 points in 17 games following the trade.

Yakov Trenin to Minnesota

The Minnesota Wild acquired a very strong defensive forward in Yakov Trenin, who played an important checking and penalty-kill role for the Nashville Predators and Colorado Avalanche last season

Trenin signed a four-year deal with a $3.5 million AAV, adding some needed depth to a Wild team that finished sixth in the Central Division this past season.

Viktor Arvidsson stays in-division, signs with Oilers

After three seasons with the Los Angeles Kings, winger Viktor Arvidsson departs for the rival Edmonton Oilers, staying in the Pacific Division to join the team that eliminated the Los Angeles Kings in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

It’s a relatively short term deal as the 31-year-old who’s coming off an injury-filled season signs for just two years at $4 million annually.

Arvidsson returned in February, logging six goals and 15 points in 18 regular season games. He wasn’t a huge presence in the opening round of the playoffs but he’ll add a solid scoring touch to Edmonton, who will be unable to bring back all 10 of their unrestricted free agents.

The Oilers also re-signed forwards Corey Perry and Connor Brown, and lost forward Warren Foegele, who signed a three-year contract with the Los Angeles Kings.

Sean Monahan reconnects with Jonny Gaudreau in Columbus

After spending the past half-season with the Winnipeg Jets, Sean Monahan is departing to sign with the Columbus Blue Jackets on five-year deal with an average annual value of $5.5 million. He reunites with Jonny Gaudreau, whom he played with on the Calgary Flames for nine seasons.

After three straight seasons battling injuries and failing to reach 30 points, Monahan rebounded strongly this season with 26 goals and 59 points, his best totals since his 2018-19 season in Calgary when he posted NHL career highs with 34 goals and 82 points. As Columbus looks to dig out of the basement in the Metro, Monahan adds a talented offensive presence down the middle.

Rangers target re-signs with Colorado Avalanche

A slew of NHL teams, including the Rangers, had interest in Jonathan Drouin, but the 29-year-old forward decided to re-up with the Colorado Avalanche. He likely took a team-friendly one-year, $2.5 million contract to remain with good friend Nathan MacKinnon after he had an NHL career-high 56 points this past season.

Canucks clap back at Bruins, sign Jake DeBrusk

After watching Elias Lindholm and Nikita Zadorov walk out the door and sign lucrative free-agent deals with the Boston Bruins, the Vancouver Canucks struck, signing former Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk to a seven-year, $38.5 million contract.

DeBrusk has scored 25+ goals three times in the NHL, and had 19 this past season.

Former Rangers goalie, defenseman sign with Red Wings

Former Rangers goalie Cam Talbot signed a two-year, $5 million contract with the Detroit Red Wings. This is the seventh team for Talbot since the start of the 2018-19 season (Oilers, Flyers, Flames, Wild, Senators, Kings). Talbot, who turns 37 in four days, won 27 games for the Kings this past season and was an NHL All-Star.

Detroit also added goaltender Jack Campbell, another former Oilers goalie. Campbell played just five games in the NHL this past season and was demoted to the AHL after recording a 4.50 goals-against average and .873 save percentage. The Oilers bought out his five-year, $25 million contract at the conclusion of the season, allowing the Red Wings to pick him up and sign him to a League-minimum one-year, $750,000 deal.

The Red Wings also have goalies Alex Lyon and Ville Husso under contract next season so Yzerman will have some decisions to make regarding his goalie tandem.

Defenseman Erik Gustafsson, who scored 31 points for the Rangers last season, signed a two-year, $4 million contract to join the Red Wings next season.

Bruins lure Lindholm, Zadorov from Canucks

The Boston Bruins raided the Vancouver Canucks, signing forward Elias Lindholm and defenseman Nikita Zadorov.

GM Don Sweeney had been open about the team’s desire to add down the middle and the Bruins did just that, signing Lindholm to a seven-year, $7.8 million AAV deal that fills the hole left at 1C by Patrice Bergeron’s retirement at the conclusion of the 2022-23 season.

The Bruins also beefed up their blue line, signing the rugged Zadorov to a six-year, $30 million contract. Both Lindholm and Zadorov started this past season with the Calgary Flames before heading to the Canucks in separate trades. Now they’ll be joining the Bruins together as Boston looks to contend in a very tight Eastern Conference.

Washington trades for Jakob Chychrun, signs Matt Roy

The Metropolitan division continued to beef up as the Washington Capitals made a pair of major upgrades on the back end, acquiring defensemen Jacob Chychrun and Matt Roy.

Chychrun arrives in a trade with the Ottawa Senators, who had been dangling the defenseman who can be an unrestricted free agent at the end of next season. Washington traded defenseman Nick Jensen and a third-round pick to the Senators for the 26-year-old, who had 41 points (14 goals, 27 assists) in 82 games this past season.

Roy signed a six-year, $5.75 million AAV contract, bringing an extremely talented defensive defenseman to DC. These moves on defense follow earlier trades for center Pierre-Luc Dubois and goalie Logan Thompson.

Nashville makes big splash, lands Stamkos, Marchessault, Skjei

The Nashville Predators have received a gigantic boost offensively, signing two of the top available forwards in Steven Stamkos and Jonathan Marchessault.

Talks stalled between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Stamkos, who turned down their eight-year, $3.5 million AAV offer. Now the former Lightning captain, who had spent all 16 seasons of his NHL career in Tampa Bay, will be donning a new jersey as he heads to Nashville on a four-year, $8 million AAV deal.

The Predators didn’t stop there, inking Marchessault for five years at $5.5 million AAV after he was unable to negotiate a return to the Vegas Golden Knights. Just like that, the Predators added two 40-goal scorers who are also Stanley Cup champions to a playoff-team that just inked goalie Juuse Saros to an eight-year extension.

And if that is not enough, general manager Barry Trotz opened up the checkbook again Monday to sign defenseman Brady Skjei to a seven-year contract worth $7 million annually.

Sharks sign Tyler Toffoli

The San Jose Sharks acquired a top-line winger, signing Tyler Toffoli to a four-year deal worth $6 million annually. It is the highest AAV that the 32-year-old has ever signed for in his 12-year career as the Sharks acquire a scoring wing to help with the development of their young roster, that includes No. 1 overall pick Macklin Celebrini.

Hurricanes extend Jaccob Slavin, losing other key pieces

The Carolina Hurricanes will announce a contract extension with defenseman Jaccob Slavin this afternoon. It will be an eight-year contract with an AAV of $6.143 million and will kick in with the 2025-26 season.

However, the Hurricanes already traded Jake Guentzel to the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the star forward signed a seven-year contract worth $9 million annually with Tampa. Then it’s been reported that the Hurricanes will lose defenseman Brett Pesce to the New Jersey Devils and forward Teuvo Teravainen to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Panthers to lose key defenseman to Kraken

The Stanley Cup champion Florida Panthers were able to re-sign 57-goal scorer Sam Reinhart and veteran defenseman Dmitry Kulikov before free agency officially started Monday, but, as expected, they won’t be able to keep defenseman Brandon Montour.

The Seattle Kraken reportedly are swooping in with a seven-year contract for Montour that will pay him $7.14 million annually.

Matt Duchene re-upping with Stars

Chris Johnston just reported that Matt Duchene is the latest potential UFA to re-up with his current team before the market officially opens.

Reportedly Duchene signed a one-year contract for the same $3 million he made last season with the Stars, who signed the veteran forward after his contract was bought out by the Nashville Predators.

Maple Leafs sign Chris Tanev, Joseph Woll

After acquiring Chris Tanev’s rights from the Dallas Stars at the 2024 NHL Draft in Las Vegas, the Toronto Maple Leafs signed the veteran defenseman to a six-year contract with a manageable $4.5 AAV. As they continue to rework their defense corps, Toronto reportedly is interested in signing Florida Panthers UFA defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

In addition, the Maple Leafs inked their own goalie, Joseph Woll, to a three-year contract. Woll was not a UFA but in need of a deal coming off his best NHL season yet.

On Sunday, the Maple Leafs also re-signed their own pending UFA Max Domi to a four-year contract.

Devils make Brett Pesce and Brenden Dillon signings official

The Devils’ active offseason continued Monday After rumors of a reported agreement, the Devils officially signed Brett Pesce to a six year, $33 million deal. They later confirmed the signing of rugged defenseman Brenden Dillon to a three-year contract.

The Devils were in on both Stamkos and Marchessault, both of whom ultimately landed in Nashville. Nonetheless, the Devils bolster a defensive unit that struggled mightily this season and will be expected to play sharp in front of new goaltender Jacob Markstrom.

New Jersey also signed forward Stefan Noesen, who had previously played with them and who was solid this past season with the Carolina Hurricanes.

Will Sam Carrick replace Barclay Goodrow on Rangers’ 4th line?

The Rangers signed free-agent center Sam Carrick to a three-year contract, reportedly with a $1 million AAV.

The 32-year-old center should effectively slide into Barclay Goodrow’s spot on the fourth line. Goodrow was claimed off waivers by the San Jose Sharks earlier in the offseason.

Carrick is a more affordable option, though he’s not a two-time Stanley Cup champion like Goodrow either. Carrick has 240 games of NHL experience, mostly with the Anaheim Ducks. He was traded ahead of the 2024 deadline to the Edmonton Oilers and played in 10 playoff games this spring. He combined for 10 goals and 16 points this past season with the Ducks and Oilers.

Tyler Bertuzzi heading to Blackhawks: report

Connor Bedard is getting more scoring help with the Chicago Blackhawks, it appears. Per several reports, Tyler Bertuzzi will ink a four-year contract with the Blackhawks when free agency officially begins.

The 29-year-old forward scored 21 goals and had 43 points with the Toronto Maple Leafs this past season, after signing a one-year contract as a free agent last summer. Though he’s battled injuries in his career, Bertuzzi has scored 20 goals four times, including an NHL career-high 30 in 2021-22 with the Detroit Red Wings.

The Maple Leafs likely weren’t going to be able to keep both Bertuzzi and Max Domi in free agency. So, when Domi signed a four-year, $15 million contract to stay in Toronto on Sunday, it was clear Bertuzzi was going to hit the open market.

‘Decision has been been made’ by Rangers to move on from Jacob Trouba

As has been reported by Forever Blueshirts and many other outlets, the Rangers are looking to move Jacob Trouba to free up some or all of $8 million salary cap hit the next two seasons. The most likely scenario has the Rangers trading their captain to the Detroit Red Wings and retaining $2.5 million in salary each season.

This is not sitting well with Trouba, who could try and block the Rangers’ preferred trade option. Trouba’s no-move clause became a 15-team no-trade clause Monday.

Due in part to a business decision, and now with the bad feelings mixed in, Trouba’s days on Broadway are numbered.

“If Trouba does not approve a trade to Detroit that is believed in place, he will ultimately be sent somewhere else, perhaps by waivers. The decision has been made,” Larry Brooks reported in the New York Post.

Patrick Kane, Jake Guentzel, Sam Reinhart off the board before July 1 arrives

Three of the biggest names in free agency never made it to the open market. Patrick Kane signed a one-year, $4 million contract to stay with the Red Wings. His deal includes another $2.5 in bonuses. The Red Wings didn’t provide terms, but did announce the signing Sunday night.

Sam Reinhart reportedly re-upped with the Florida Panthers after helping them win the Stanley Cup last week. Reports say he’s getting $69 million over eight years. His contract has not been officially announced yet by the Panthers.

Jake Guentzel and the Tampa Bay Lightning, who acquired the forward’s rights from the Carolina Hurricanes for a 2025 third-round draft pick Sunday, agreed to a seven-year, $63 million contract Monday morning.

So, that’s three stud forwards off the board before free agency officially begins July 1.

Kane was the one who was most tied to the Rangers. It was widely believed New York had significant interest in a reunion with Kane, who played for the Rangers down the stretch in 2023 and in their first-round playoff loss to the New Jersey Devils.

Guentzel always appeared more of a pipe dream for the Rangers, with his AAV expected to be above $9 million. And it was expected that Reinhart and the Panthers would do everything possible to keep the 57-goal scorer in South Florida.

Jim Cerny is Executive Editor at Forever Blueshirts and Managing Editor at Sportsnaut, with more than 30 years of... More about Jim Cerny

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