Analysis of the big movements, rumors


Analysis of the big movements, rumors

  • NHL Free Agency opens Wednesday noon ET.
  • Forward Johnny Gaudreau is the best available player.
  • The free agency class is strong on forwards and thin on defense and goalies.

The NHL free agency signing period officially opened Wednesday at 12 p.m. ET.

This year’s free agent class is strong up front but a little thin on defense and goalkeeping.

The key players available at the buzzer were forwards Johnny Gaudreau, Nazem Kadri, Claude Giroux, Andrew Copp, Ondrej Palat, Ryan Strome and David Perron, defenders John Klingberg and Nick Leddy, and goalies Darcy Kuemper, Jack Campbell and Ilya Samsonov.

Kadri and Kuemper, along with Andre Burakovsky and a handful of other unrestricted free agents, played for the Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche.

Join USA TODAY Sports as NHL staff follow and analyze the signings and trades happening throughout the day:

Vincent Trocheck becomes Rangers' No. 2 center after signing a seven-year deal.

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FREE AGENCY:A look at the top 25 players testing the market

Darcy Kuemper signs with Capitals

The Stanley Cup goaltender has signed a five-year, $26.25 million deal. The Capitals were unhappy with their goalkeeping behavior last season and did not trade Vitek Vanecek and qualified Ilya Samsonov. Kuemper had a career-best 37 wins last season and his .921 save percentage ranked fifth among league starters.

Ilya Mikheyev goes to Canucks

The forward signed a four-year, $19 million deal. Agent Dan Milstein tweeted. He had 21 goals in 53 games with the Maple Leafs last season.

Lightning lock-up extensions from three to eight years

Reaching the Stanley Cup finals for the third straight year, the Lightning holds the core together. After defenseman Mikhail Sergachev received an eight-year extension, Tampa Bay did the same for forward Anthony Cirelli and defenseman Erik Cernak. Sergachev earns an average of $8.5 million, Cirelli $6.25 million and Cernak $5.2 million. Cirelli is the team’s shutdown center and the roles of Sergachev and Cernak grow after Ryan McDonagh’s trade.

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