The NHL’s regular season ended on April 9. Since then, there have been six notable contracts handed out by teams who either missed the playoffs or were eliminated early. We also saw the first major signing by the expansion Vegas Golden Knights.
At the half-way mark of the playoffs, let’s take a look at the bigger contracts signed so far:
April 24 – The New York Islanders re-signed Dennis Seidenberg to a one-year extension worth $1.25MM. A year removed from being bought-out by the Boston Bruins, Seidenberg signed with the Islanders during training camp. The defensive defenseman scored five goals and 22 points in 73 games with the Islanders. Seidenberg will be exposed in the expansion draft, but is not the most-appealing option that will be available to the Golden Knights from the Islanders roster.
May 2 – The Toronto Maple Leafs finally confirmed the long-rumored signing of defenseman Nikita Zaitsev to a seven-year, $31.5MM extension. That’s an average of $4.5MM per season, which is fair value for a top-four defenseman on a long-term deal. The 25-year old transitioned exceptionally to the NHL, registering 36 points while leading the Maple Leafs in ice-time and playing in all 82 regular season games. The term is likely longer than most Maple Leafs’ fans wanted, but will keep the cap hit down. He will also be exempt from this spring’s expansion draft.
May 4 – The Vegas Golden Knights made their first major acquisition (sorry, Reid Duke) by signing KHL star Vadim Shipachyov to a two-year, $9MM contract. The 30-year-old center scored 76 points in 50 games this season for SKA St. Petersburg. That was good for third in the KHL and second on SKA, behind only Ilya Kovalchuk. Shipachyov is a highly-skilled offensive player, but isn’t a big body at 6’1, 190 lbs. Vegas hopes he’ll be a marquee talent for the expansion club.
May 5 – The Carolina Hurricanes traded for Chicago Blackhawks backup goaltender Scott Darling in late April, and spent less than a week negotiating a new four-year, $16.6MM contract. Darling spent three seasons with the Blackhawks, going from a little-known name to one of this summer’s most highly sought-after goaltenders. In 32 games this season, Darling went 18-5-5 with a 0.924 SV% and a 2.38 GAA. The Hurricanes still owe Eddie Lack and Cam Ward over $6MM for the upcoming season.
May 9 – The Los Angeles Kings’ new GM Rob Blake locked up one of his team’s key young players to a four-year, $15MM contract. Tanner Pearson finished third on the Kings in scoring, with a career-high 44 points. The Kings had a disappointing season, but Pearson was one of their few bright spots.
May 11 – After a 22-goal season, Richard Panik signed a two-year, $5.8MM extension with the Chicago Blackhawks this morning. Panik caught on with the Chicago Blackhawks last season and has been a regular fixture with captain Jonathan Toews on the top line. Prior to his 44-points this season, Panik’s previous career-high was 17 points. While he left some money on the table, it was unlikely that he would find a better spot than on Toews’ wing.