With training camps quickly approaching, there is a push from teams to get some contracts in place. Several of those highlight the key stories of the week.
Canadiens Re-Sign Two: Montreal was one of only three teams to still have multiple restricted free agents heading into September but they dealt with both of those soon after. First, Kirby Dach received a rare four-year bridge contract that carries an AAV of $3.3625MM; he will still be a restricted free agent at its conclusion with a $4MM qualifying offer. Acquired at the draft from Chicago, the 2019 third-overall pick will get a chance for a fresh start with Montreal. The following day, Cayden Primeau inked a three-year, one-way deal with a cap hit of $890K. With the team approaching the offseason cap ceiling (10% over the salary cap), Carey Price was moved to LTIR to allow the team to stay in compliance. At this point, the veteran isn’t expected to play this coming season.
Bernier Unlikely To Start Season: Devils goaltender Jonathan Bernier was hoping to be ready for training camp after missing the second half of last season due to hip surgery but that will not be the case. The 34-year-old has made just 34 appearances over the last two years due to injuries and now won’t be starting the final year of his contract on a high note. New Jersey was more prepared for this scenario this time as they added Vitek Vanecek from Washington earlier this summer. He and Mackenzie Blackwood will serve as their goalie tandem until Bernier comes back (if he’s able to).
Eight For Stutzle: Through his first two NHL seasons, Senators forward Tim Stutzle has shown some offensive promise while also transitioning to playing center. The team clearly believes there is much more to come as they handed the 20-year-old an eight-year extension that has a cap hit of $8.35MM. The deal will begin in the 2023-24 campaign. The third-overall pick in 2020, he had 58 points in 79 games last season and with Ottawa adding some impact forwards this summer in Claude Giroux and Alex DeBrincat, Stutzle should be primed for a big jump this coming season. The Senators have done quite well getting their young core to bypass bridge deals in favor of signing long-term contracts as Stutzle joins Brady Tkachuk, Joshua Norris, Drake Batherson, and Thomas Chabot as key players that have done so.
Talking Extension: Earlier this offseason, the Blues signed Robert Thomas to an eight-year extension. Now, they’ve apparently shifted their focus towards another key youngster entering the final year of his contract as the team has started extension discussions with winger Jordan Kyrou. The 24-year-old is coming off a career year that saw him put up 75 points in 74 games to finish fourth on the team in scoring, making his $2.8MM cap hit for 2022-23 quite a bargain. When Thomas signed his extension, it carried a cap hit of $8.125MM and it’s likely that Kyrou’s will come in fairly close to that number if it winds up being a max-term agreement as well.
Tryout Time: In recent years, there has been an influx of veteran players that need to settle for a training camp tryout with the hopes of landing a contract from there. This is shaping up to be no exception as six veterans all agreed to training camp PTOs. On the back end, Danny DeKeyser joined Vancouver, Calvin de Haan is with Carolina for a second stint, Scott Harrington will try to crack the lineup in San Jose, while Nathan Beaulieu tries to do the same in Anaheim. Meanwhile, forward Zach Aston-Reese will look to land a spot on Toronto’s fourth line while Calgary brought in Cody Eakin. Expect several more veteran players to go this route over the coming week.
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