NHL Free Agency opening day has been a sleepy affair in recent memory, but this year it opened up with a bang, and a massive number of players moving across the whole league. It’s widely believed there is a lot of instability due to the mostly frozen salary-cap that is pushing players to seek deals outside of their current teams. It helps too that some teams like the Ottawa Senators turned on the money taps and dramatically increased their spending.
For the Maple Leafs, there was no big name involved in yesterday’s contracts with the team already on a “run it back” course to keep the roster mostly as it was last season—goaltending being an exception—but one mostly resolved last weekend at the draft where the Leafs acquired Matt Murray.
Only a few needed depth pieces were required to be signed immediately, and that’s what the Leafs did. Here’s our coverage of all the additions made yesterday:
The Leafs, like many teams, have now wound up with a somewhat imbalanced roster. Across the league there appears to be a need for many trades to swap forwards for defenceman and vice versa. I expect this to shake out over the next few days and weeks, though there are still some names out there available from the free agency pool. Call Tyler Bozak’s agent, Kyle!
Maple Leafs Moving On
Here are the Leafs on the team last season that have officially left for greener pastures.
Sabres Sign Defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin - Die By The Blade
A two-year deal worth $2.75 million AAV.
Blackhawks to sign forward Colin Blackwell - Second City Hockey
The reported two-year deal comes with an AAV of $1.2 million.
Canucks break the bank on Ilya Mikheyev, sign winger to four-year, $19 million contract - Nucks Misconduct
The 27-year-old scored at a 32-goal pace last season for the Maple Leafs.
Carolina Hurricanes sign Ondrej Kase - Canes Country
The Czech winger is joining the Canes on a one-year $1.5 million deal.
As of the time of writing, it is still assumed Jack Campbell will go to the Edmonton Oilers, but he unexpectedly hasn’t made that official yet. It could be last minute minor contract details, or it could be some dark horse team has showed up in the running that has caught his eye.
The Big Move of the Day
What everyone is talking about is Johnny Gaudreau signing with the Columbus Blue Jackets. We already knew he was leaving the Calgary Flames after playing there since 2014, and he was expected to go to a team in the east, but it was expected to be one of the big city coastal teams in the New York City area, or Philadelphia. How he wound up deciding to play in Ohio is a mystery for now; he is the first big name free agent to sign there since Nathan Horton in 2013, so it’s truly a coup for the team and their GM Jarmo Kekäläinen to have pulled this off and brought the superstar to the state college city, one of the NHL’s smallest markets.
Jackets land Johnny Gaudreau, sign forward to 7 year, $9.8M/year contract - The Cannon
It’s the biggest free agent signing in Blue Jackets history.
Sounds like Johnny Gaudreau left somewhere between $15-17.5 million on the table in Calgary by choosing Columbus, depending on final total.— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) July 13, 2022
Not sure anyone saw that coming.
Selected Familiar Names Changing Teams:
Claude Giroux is Coming Home - Silver Seven
The Ottawa Senators have signed Giroux to a three year deal with a $6.5M AAV.
Capitals Acquire Connor Brown - Japers' Rink
The Capitals get the ex-Leafs prospect from the Ottawa Senators.
Carolina Hurricanes acquire Brent Burns - Canes Country
This one was actually a trade, with the Sharks retaining 33% of the long time Sharks’ salary.
Stars Sign Mason Marchment to 4 Years, $4.5M AAV Contract - Defending Big D
After a breakout season with the Florida Panthers, Marchment cashes in with the Stars.
Ondrej Palat signed with the Devils in the wee hours last night so no one has actually written more than tweets about it yet.
Hearing Ondrej Palat's five-year deal with the #NJDevils is expected to carry a $6M AAV.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) July 14, 2022
Some details are still being finalized, though.
Meanwhile, the Leafs are getting ready to start their development camp on the weekend. Draft picks from all over the world have started to fly in to Toronto already. Finnish forward Roni Hirvonen got in some leisure time in advance of the camp and definitely scored big on Lake Ontario.
Leafs prospect Roni Hirvonen doing well in Toronto so far: pic.twitter.com/I27yKFj8c5— Joshua Kloke (@joshuakloke) July 13, 2022
Indian farmers streamed fake pro cricket matches to Russian bettors for two weeks - The Verge
A group of Indian farm labourers set up an elaborate fake professional cricket tournament and livestreamed the game to a Russian audience that placed real bets. They almost got away with it too.
How did the Leafs fair yesterday?
This poll is closed
They basically did what I expected, given what’s already happened.
I was hoping for more. They should have made a big move.
Meh. I’ll wait and see what else they might pull off before deciding.
I’m still mad about the Mason Marchment trade.