World News – CA – NHL Free Agency to Launch Amid Pandemic


The NHL’s first day of free agency was like almost everything else in 2020: affected by the coronavirus pandemic

Two branded unlimited free agents landed long terms and big dollars on Friday Defenseman Torey Krug signed a seven-year, $ 45 contract 5 million deal with the St Louis Blues Goalkeeper Jacob Markstrom signed a contract six years and $ 36 million with the Calgary Flames

But several big names remained unsigned, at least for now, and the rest of the contracts were for four years or less. Most were for two or one

Teams are tight on salary cap and internal budgets, and economic outlook uncertain Cap will remain at $ 81.5 million for 2020-21 season NHL and NHL Players’ Association aim for Jan 1 start and hoping that the fans will be the pits, but no one knows what the future holds For the cap to increase in the coming seasons, income will have to increase

« In the economy we are in and all the uncertainty of playing in front of the fans, not in front of the fans, how we’re going to be, short-term deals in many cases make sense for both sides » said Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman, who signed two players for one-year contracts: forward Bobby Ryan and defenseman Jon Merrill

The goalie market was active beyond Markstrom Cam Talbot signed a three-year, $ 11 million contract with the Minnesota Wild; Anton Khudobin a three-year, $ 10 million contract with the Dallas Stars; Braden Holtby two-year, $ 8 $ 6 million contract with the Vancouver Canucks; Corey Crawford two-year, $ 7 million contract with the New Jersey Devils; and Henrik Lundqvist one year, $ 1 $ 5 million contract with the Washington Capitals

“The goalie market seems to be history, I guess,” said Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff, whose team has defending Vezina Trophy winner Connor Hellebuyck. different musical chairs when it comes to goalies Luckily we didn’t need to be in that market I’m sure it can be quite stressful if you shop there « 

Krug signed late in the day, and the question became how the rest of the dominoes would fall and how fast

Several big names have remained available, including forwards Taylor Hall, Mike Hoffman and Tyler Toffoli; defenders Alex Pietrangelo, Tyson Barrie and Sami Vatanen; and goalies Craig Anderson and Mike Smith

“Well, I think maybe we’re all a little used to not being surprised by anything,” said Bill Zito, general manager of the Florida Panthers. « So I can tell you that as a staff, that’s how we prepared, it’s kind of being ready for anything

« And I don’t yet know where the… bigger names are going, or what we anticipate to be the higher value contracts They may still materialize at those higher numbers, and in fact I think some of these higher numbers have arrived « 

Another factor: there was no maintenance period this year Free agents could not visit cities or host teams to discuss their suitability and explore contract parameters before the market opened

“I think the goalie push was a first big push that needed to be resolved, and that’s pretty good now,” said all-star general manager Jim Nill. “Now the next thing is that there are famous defenders, famous attackers out there We will see how it falls

« These players are going to take their time, and until they move the market will be hanging. Then you’ve got three or four teams that have hood issues that need to move bodies Where are these guys going? moving? There must be jobs here It’s going to be interesting to watch « 

Canucks general manager Jim Benning said he received many calls late afternoon about trades

« I think this free agency period, it’s not going to be like years gone by, like a five or six hour deal and it was over, » Benning said « It can be three or four days , even a week « 

« It can last three to four weeks, » said Nill « It may take a while for this flat cap, the pandemic, to really sink in »

We will see The situation obviously creates difficulties in some respects But in another way it creates urgency

« I think it definitely changed the landscape on how people think on the management side and the player side, » said wild GM Bill Guerin. « I think you don’t want to risk anything for too long on either side, because maybe that doesn’t make sense As a player you might miss out if you wait too long for a better deal to come in You might be left behind « 

NHLcom Editors Amalie Benjamin, Tim Campbell and Tracey Myers and NHLcom Independent Correspondent Kevin Woodley contributed to this story

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World News – CA – NHL free agency on tentative start amid pandemic


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