2019 has been a very busy year throughout the hockey world. There have been several big trades and free agent signings (including a record-setting contract), plenty of changes behind the bench, and much more. Over the coming days, PHR will take a look back at the top stories from around the game on a month-by-month basis. Next up is the month of July, which of course is highlighted by unrestricted free agency.
Free Agent Frenzy: Millions and millions of dollars were spent on the UFA market, including huge deals for players like Artemi Panarin (seven years, $81.5MM), Sergei Bobrovsky (seven years, $70MM) and Matt Duchene (seven years, $56MM), who all happened to be leaving the Columbus Blue Jackets. July 1st saw the majority of money, with only the Anaheim Ducks sitting out day one of the frenzy.
Extension Season: It wasn’t just the unrestricted free agents getting big contracts however. Several players signed long-term deals with their current clubs, including Andrei Vasilevskiy (eight years, $76MM), Jacob Trouba (seven years, $56MM), and Samuel Girard (seven years, $35MM). Anders Lee actually became a UFA for a little while, before heading back to the New York Islanders on a seven-year deal of his own.
The Elusive Offer Sheet: We finally had an offer sheet again in the NHL, with the Montreal Canadiens trying to pry Sebastian Aho away from the Carolina Hurricanes. They didn’t really come close however, as the Hurricanes front office quickly announced they would match the five-year, $42.27MM deal. Aho turned out to be one of the few high profile restricted free agents to sign before training camp, not a bad outcome for the Hurricanes in the end.
Francis Hired, Fenton Fired: The Seattle expansion franchise got their first general manager, hiring former Carolina executive Ron Francis. The team already has plenty of hype around their future entrance into the league, and Francis has quite a bit of time to slowly build out the structure of the organization. That structure was something the Minnesota Wild lacked under their previous leadership, as Michael Russo of The Athletic (subscription required) laid out in great detail after the team fired Paul Fenton. After only 14 months on the job and just a few weeks after handing Mats Zuccarello a $30MM contract, Fenton was out.
Trade Winds Blowing: There were also several trades around the league, including big ones that saw names like Tyson Barrie, Nazem Kadri, Nikita Gusev and others swapping conferences. Perhaps the one that got the most attention though was between two provincial rivals. The Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames swapped bad money when they completed a Milan Lucic–James Neal trade, players (or perhaps contracts) that had previously been deemed untradeable.
New Money In The Desert: The ownership of the Arizona Coyotes was officially transferred to Alex Meruelo, who purchased a majority stake in the team. Not only did the change stabilize the organization for the time being, but Meruelo’s influence has been felt all around the team as they attempt to involve the Hispanic market in the area. There is an increased buzz around the Coyotes this season, which has only fueled their strong play on the ice.
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