Welcome to July 1st, the first day of the new year in hockey. Rumours and reported signings have been flying left, right, and centre all weekend, but today at noon is when everything becomes official. Signing bonuses get paid, teams lose player rights, and offer sheets continue to not be signed.
In terms of the Leafs, they expect to be very busy come the first day of Free Agency. Auston Matthews, John Tavares, William Nylander, Nazem Kadri, Andreas Johnsson, Kasperi Kapanen, Connor Brown, Nikita Zaitsev, Frederik Andersen, and a bunch of minor league prospects earned their signing bonuses today. MLSE dished out a total of $56,365,500 to 25 of these players.
The great thing about the Maple Leafs is that they are so rich that they can do this without barely twitching. Not only will they invariably sign more players today (there are lots of reported contracts), but they’re poised to pay Zaitsev and Brown $3.5 million in signing bonuses and ship them to the Ottawa Senators for Cody Ceci. There is reportedly at least three other assets moving between Toronto and Ottawa, so when this trade becomes official after the bonuses have been deposited we’ll be to see the full extent of the move.
The OTT-TOR trade that will send Nikita Zaitsev and Connor Brown to the Sens for Cody Ceci should be consummated tomorrow morning once TOR pays Zaitsev’s $3M signing bonus. At least six pieces (players or picks) included but the primaries are Zaitsev, Brown and Ceci. https://t.co/Rwx0hoF8fs— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) July 1, 2019
It’ll be really interesting to see what comes back in the deal and what goes. Brown has perceived value around the league so if he’s in the deal, the Leafs better be getting a pick or prospect of moderate value back. Who’s available from Belleville to bolster the Leafs’ pipeline? Or does Ottawa want to get rid of a high-salary, low cap hit player like Mike Condon? Garret Sparks has been in trade rumours in recent weeks, could he be one of the contracts going back the other way to make the numbers work. We’ll find out sometime after this article goes live.
Also on the Leafs’ front, Kyle Dubas has begun to dig around in the bargain bin and he’s reportedly found goal-like objects.
First, Kenny Agostino is reportedly coming to town on a two-year contract at or near the league minimum salary. You can read a quick analysis piece with charts and video here.
Next, we heard that KHLer and the internet’s favourite 4C, Nick Shore, is coming back to the NHL on a one-year deal also at the league minimum. His numbers are very nice as well as his story getting here. Fulemin is very happy with the signing.
With those two signees officially putting pen to paper tomorrow morning, and Mitchell Marner hopefully returning to Toronto, the Leafs will have 14 forwards on their NHL roster. That group — plus Ilya Mikheyev, Mason Marchment, Pierre Engvall, and any other Marlies looking to make the jump — should have a fierce battle in training camp for spots on the team.
Former Leafs Branches
Old Friend Luke Schenn is heading to Florida to play for the Tampa Bay Lightning on a league-min deal. He should have a lot of fun watching the Tesla Coil spark up every night from the press box.
James Reimer was also traded yesterday, to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for Scott Darling and a pick. Darling was sent to Florida to be bought out while Reimer remains the lone goaltender on Carolina’s roster. He’s expected to be moved again at some point.
Further to this @FriedgeHNIC report, Florida had been struggling to trade James Reimer because of his $2.25M signing bonus due in 2020. This was a creative solution to offset that cost. https://t.co/IMS4y9Ws9k— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) June 30, 2019
Other Other Branches
The Montreal Canadiens made a pair of trades, acquiring a bunch of 2020 draft picks ahead of the 2020 Draft in Montreal. Might as well get on it early, right! But seriously, they traded Andrew Shaw back to the Chicago Blackhawks because the Hawks like to do that stuff.
The Canadiens have acquired Chicago’s 2nd round pick and 7th round pick in 2020, and the Blackhawks’ 3rd round pick in 2021, in return for forward Andrew Shaw and the Canadiens’ 7th round pick in 2021.— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) June 30, 2019
DETAILS ➡️ https://t.co/4BhpDBFbNX#GoHabsGo
And finally the big fish: Artemi Panarin. Numbers started to bounce around late last night as to what his number is going to be. Reports ranged from $11 million to $13 million on deals between four- and seven-years in length. The Colorado Avalanche attempted to get him on a short-term, high-money deal but failed. The Columbus Blue Jackets were prepared to throw $96-$100 million on a eight-year deal ($12-$12.5 million AAV) to re-sign him, but that apparently also was rejected.
Elliotte Friedman’s 31 Thoughts article that went out at the dead of night and probably got a million views in 20 minutes goes into some depth on the matter. It really sounds like Lou Lamoriello’s New York Islanders are going to burn all of Marner’s offer sheet money on Panarin for too much money and sign adequate backup Semyon Varlamov to a big deal to boot.