NHL Free Agency: Flat cap, what flat cap? Teams go crazy in opening hours

Zach Hyman #11 of the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Zach Hyman #11 of the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

It has been a wild, wild start to NHL Free Agency.

We’re just a couple of hours in to NHL Free Agency yet we’ve already seen more money spent than was dished out in total on the first day of Free Agency in 2020, and there are still some blockbuster deals to be made.

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As of 1:00 P.M. Eastern Time, around $300 million dollars had been splashed out on 47 signings in the National Hockey League, despite the fact that all 32 teams are living in a flat cap world due to the lingering impact made by the COVID-19 Pandemic.

However, despite a number of teams being close to the cap heading into today, we’ve seen a crazy amount of dollars thrown about already and we’re still waiting to see where stud defenseman Dougie Hamilton signs, with the New Jersey Devils expected to offer a huge contract to the Free Agent.

Goaltender Tuukka Rask is still hanging out there on the open market, as are the likes of Zach Parise, David Krejci, Mike Hoffman and Brandon Saad, so we could be looking at a mammoth amount of money spent by the time the first day of NHL Free Agency is done and dusted.

And that is somewhat surprising given the financial landscape throughout the league after a tough couple of years due to the Pandemic.

Ryan Suter (20)
Ryan Suter #20 of the Minnesota Wild. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

Teams show little regard for flat cap world after wild start to NHL Free Agency

So, what’s exactly happened in the opening hours of NHL Free Agency?

The short answer – a hell of a lot.

We’ve seen some big contracts handed out to some notable names with veteran defenseman Ryan Suter signing a four-year, $14,600,000 million contract with the Dallas Stars, who also gave out a one-year, $2 million deal to goaltender Braden Holtby.

One of the biggest deals of the days – and one we’ve been expecting for a while – was gritty forward Zach Hyman leaving the Toronto Maple Leafs to sign a blockbuster seven-year, $38,500,000 million contract with the Edmonton Oilers.

That deal should make it abundantly clear that the Oilers are desperate to win now in order to appease superstar center Connor McDavid, and Hyman should help with his hard-nosed, two-way game.

Other contracts dished out today include a gigantic payday for forward Blake Coleman, who got a six-year, $29,400,000 deal from the Calgary Flames after being a huge reason why the Tampa Bay Lightning won back-to-back Stanley Cups.

Blake Coleman (20)
Blake Coleman #20 of the Tampa Bay Lightning. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Power play specialist Tyson Barrie signed a three-year, $13,500,000 contract to stay with the Oilers, the Vegas Golden Knights gave veteran blueliner Alec Martinez a three-year, $15,750,000 deal and the Seattle Kraken made a splash by signing center Alexander Wennberg to a three-year, $13,500,000 contract.

With goalie Frederik Andersen signing a two-year, $9 million deal with the Carolina Hurricanes and gritty defenseman David Savard agreeing to terms on a four-year, $14 million contract with the Montreal Canadiens, not to mention the Nashville Predators throwing five years and $20 million at forward Mikael Granlund, then you get the picture as to what kind of a day it has been so far.

And we haven’t even mentioned yet the Kraken making a huge statement by snagging the best goaltender available in Philipp Grubauer, signing the former Colorado Avalanche netminder to a six-year deal with a $5.9 million AAV.

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After what was a dud of an opening day in 2020 Free Agency, this year’s edition has lived up to the hype and beyond and it is clear that even a flat cap won’t stop teams from going all out and drastically improving their rosters no matter the cost or the consequences later, and that is good news for hockey fans on what is one of the craziest days of the year.