Five things to know about NHL free agency
The NHL free agent frenzy will almost certainly include big-money, long-term deals for the likes of wingers Milan Lucic, Kyle Okposo and Loui Eriksson, and produce a trickle-down effect for several other players on the open market.
Here are five things to know about NHL free agency, which opens Friday at noon Eastern time:
The Buffalo Sabres, Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings and the rest of the league that lost the Steven Stamkos sweepstakes to the Tampa Bay Lightning will circle back to new candidates like Okposo, a three-time, 20-goal scorer who's just 28. No player will benefit more from Stamkos' $68 million, eight-year deal than Okposo, but Eriksson, Andrew Ladd, Troy Brouwer and David Backes could all sign early after the market opens.
After drafting left wing Jesse Puljujarvi and trading Taylor Hall to New Jersey, the Edmonton Oilers are the heavy favorites to land Lucic, the 6-foot-4 power forward who had 20 goals and 35 assists with the Los Angeles Kings last season. Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli had Lucic in Boston and could add him to a young mix in Edmonton.
CONTENDERS WALK AWAY
Many of the top contenders have so little salary-cap space left to use that they won't be a major factor, including the Lightning, Presidents' Trophy-winning Washington Capitals and the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins. The Blackhawks are in that group, too, though Florida defenseman Brian Campbell could take a discount to return to Chicago in the hopes of winning another title.
THIN GOALIE MARKET
James Reimer is the top goaltending option available, which says a lot about the quantity and quality of the pool. Reimer was a starter at one time for the Maple Leafs and backed up Martin Jones on the San Jose Sharks' run to the Cup Final. Beyond him are backups.
THIN BLUE LINE
Because Keith Yandle (Florida Panthers) and Alex Goligoski (Arizona Coyotes) are signed and Campbell has a defined focus for where he wants to go, that leaves Dan Hamhuis, Kris Russell and Jason Demers as the top options. Most GMs know they won't find a top-four defenseman in this class.
Bruins place Seidenberg on buyout waivers
The Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins are cutting ties with expensive defensemen to save some salary-cap space for next season.
According to a person with direct knowledge of the moves, the Lightning placed Matt Carle and the Bruins placed Dennis Seidenberg on buyout waivers. Nashville Predators defenseman Barret Jackman, Los Angeles Kings defenseman Matt Greene, Columbus Blue Jackets forward Jared Boll and Edmonton Oilers forward Lauri Korpikoski were also placed on waivers for the purpose of buying out their contracts.
The person spoke on the condition of anonymity Thursday because the teams didn't announce their decisions.
The person also said Predators forward Eric Nystrom cleared buyout waivers. The Calgary Flames announced Mason Raymond cleared waivers and will be bought out.
Carle had two years left on his contract at a salary-cap hit of $5.5 million. The buyout saves the Lightning $3.67 million in cap space for the next two seasons.
Tampa Bay wanted to clear space after re-signing Steven Stamkos to a $68 million, eight-year deal. With restricted free agents Nikita Kucherov, Alex Killorn, Vladislav Namestnikov and Nikita Nesterov in need of new contracts, general manager Steve Yzerman said the buyout window was one avenue he could explore.
Seidenberg had two years left on his contract at a cap hit of $4 million. The buyout saves the Bruins $2.83 million next season.
The Predators' buyouts save about $3.3 million during the same week they signed forward Filip Forsberg to a $36 million, six-year contract and acquired defenseman P.K. Subban in a trade with the Montreal Canadiens for captain Shea Weber.
The free agent market opens at noon Eastern on Friday.
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