Center Paul Stastny is returning to the Winnipeg Jets after a trade with the Vegas Golden Knights, a move completed just before the NHL’s free-agency signing period opened on Friday.
And the expected shuffle of goalies didn’t take long to materialize once free agency opened.
Henrik Lundqvist signed a one-year contract with Washington, two weeks after having his contract bought out by the New York Rangers. The Minnesota Wild quickly addressed their goaltending needs after trading Devan Dubnyk to San Jose, signing Cam Talbot signing a three-year, $11 million deal.
Braden Holtby, the 2016 Vezina Trophy and 2018 Stanley Cup-winner, left Washington after 10 season to sign a two-year, $8.6 million contract with Vancouver, where he’ll replace Jacob Markstrom. And Anton Khudobin, who backstopped the Dallas Stars run to the Stanley Cup Final, is staying put in Dallas after signing a three-year, $10 million contract.
Among skaters, defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk agreed to a three-year deal worth $11.7 million, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deal has not been announced.
Shattenkirk signed what stood as the most lucrative deal four hours into free agency, and after he played a key role in helping the Tampa Bay Lightning win a Stanley Cup, defeating Dallas in six games last month. The 31-year-old defenseman had 13 points in 25 playoff games, and scored the overtime goal in the Lightning’s 5-4 win in Game 4.
In the meantime, the higher profile free agents such as defensemen Alex Pietrangelo and Torey Krug and winger Taylor Hall, remained on the market.
The Golden Knights acquired defenseman Carl Dahlstrom and a conditional 2022 fourth-round draft pick in dealing the 14th-year forward in a trade kicked off what is expected to be a busy day of signings and moves made by NHL teams challenged by a flat salary cap of $81.5 million. The cap remains unchanged from last year as a result of revenues lost because of the coronavirus pandemic, adding a layer of uncertainty as to how much money teams will be able to spend to improve their rosters this offseason.
In a reversal from two years ago, the Jets had little room to maneuver under the salary cap, and were unable to re-sign Stastny after being outbid by the Golden Knights. This time, the Golden Knights made the trade in part to free space under their cap.
”It’s 2020. that’s how you sum it up, right?” Stastny said of his unexpected return to Winnipeg. ”You always have to expected the unexpected. And when stuff like this happens, you always have to be ready to move on and brace for the next challenge that comes ahead.”
He’s not complaining, after enjoying his brief stint with the Jets in 2018, when he helped the team reach the Western Conference finals.
Stastny had 30 goals and 80 points in 121 games for Vegas, and has one year left on his three-year, $19.5 million contract.
”Everything’s different this year,” said Holtby, who is making a cross-continent move after he priced himself out of re-resigning with Washington. ”It’s not an experience that I think is fun, not knowing and all that. I’m excited to have it over now.”
In Washington, Lundqvist is changing uniforms after 15 seasons in New York, where he won the Vezina Trophy in 2011.
After years of tormenting Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals in the playoffs, he will try to help them win it again at the tail end of his illustrious time in the NHL. Lundqvist will share the duties with Ilya Samsonov.
”It’s kind of crazy,” Lundqvist said of now being teammates with Ovechkin
As for Talbot, the 33-year-old was 12-10-1 with the Calgary Flames last season. He has 150 career wins, including 42 in Edmonton during the 2016-17 season when he was tied for No. 1 in the NHL with Holtby.
The cap constraints were reflected in the Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning placing forward Tyler Johnson on waivers. Johnson, who had four goals and seven points in 25 playoff games, has three years remaining on a seven-year, $35 million contract that includes a no-trade clause.
The Lightning entered the offseason projected to have about $4.5 million of room under the cap.
The rebuilding Detroit Red Wings agreed to a one-year $1 million deal with 33-year-old winger Bobby Ryan, who is hoping to revive his career after battling alcohol issues. Ryan missed more than two months of last season in Ottawa after entering the NHL/NHLPA players assistance program in November, 2019.
Ryan, this year’s Masterton Trophy winner for perseverance, was on the market after the Senators bought out the remaining two years of his contract, in which he was owed $15 million. Drafted No. 2 overall by Anaheim in 2005, he has 254 goals and 301 assists with the Ducks and Senators.
In other moves:
– Veteran forward Wayne Simmonds was among the first free agents to sign, reaching a one-year $1.5 million deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The 12-year veteran split last season between New Jersey and Buffalo.
– The Rangers agreed to sign defenseman Jack Johnson, who had the final three years of his contract bought out by the Pittsburgh Penguins.
– The Blackhawks agreed to sign rookie of the year finalist Dominik Kubalik to a two-year, $7.4 million contract extension. With starting goalie Corey Crawford entering free agency, the Blackhawks also signed goalie Malcolm Subban to a two-year, $1.7 million contract.
AP Hockey Writers Larry Lage and Stephen Whyno contributed to this report.
For more AP NHL coverage: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports