Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy has a new three-year contract, and a bright future as an NHL goalie.
NHL free agency lived up to its billing this year as frenzied NHL GMS awarded 32 contracts totaling $334 million in just the first hour Friday.
Media and fans understandably focused on big-ticket signings this week such as eight years/$68 million for Steven Stamkos, seven years/$42 million for Milan Lucic and seven years/$42 million for Kyle Okposo. Columbus quickly inking third overall pick Pierre-Luc Dubois and Montreal signing ninth overall selection Mikhail Sergachev even got some attention.
However, GMs began earlier to delve into owners’ treasuries by signing admittedly smaller RFA deals for lesser players. Since rosters include more than just stars, here are some lower-profile deals for players who in many cases are still considered prospects.
We’ll include Tampa Bay signing goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy to a three-year, $10.5-million contract extension in this category, although it’s a stretch to call this a low-profile transaction. The 19th overall pick in 2012 emerged in the post-season to the extent that the Lightning are likely to trade No. 1 Ben Bishop, because they can protect only one of the two in an expansion draft – and because Tampa needs all the cap relief it can find. Don’t be surprised if the talented Russian is the Tampa starter within a year.
Buffalo locked up defenseman Jake McCabe for three years with a deal worth $4.8 million. The second-round puck-mover, paired with Zach Bogosian for much of his rookie season, likely has some PP time in his future if not his present.
The Islanders, whose roster has regressed so far this off-season (adding UFAs Andrew Ladd, Jason Chimera and P-A Parenteau) while losing Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen and Matt Martin), signed RFA LW Shane Prince to a two-year, $1.6-million pact. Acquired with a seventh-round pick from Ottawa at the trade deadline for a third-round pick, Prince is a useful player who will nonetheless not replace Okposo’s scoring nor Martin’s physicality.
You can’t say Louis Domingue saved the season for the Coyotes because they were never playoff contenders, but he filled in ably while injured starting netminder Mike Smith missed three months. Domingue, who won 15 games in 39 starts for a bad squad, signed a two-year deal as a backup that will take Arizona two-thirds of the way through the rest of Smith’s contract.
In other goaltender signings, Dallas inked unheralded Maxime Lagace to a one-year deal and L.A. secured the services of Jeff Zatkoff for two. Zatkoff, a 29-year-old prospect(?) who has played in just 35 NHL games, was squeezed out of Pittsburgh by Matt Murray’s emergence and the presence of younger, more-promising options. If the Kings don’t re-sign Jhonas Enroth, Zatkoff might be the one to get infrequent starts as Jonathan Quick’s backup.
Former Boston first-round winger Jordan Caron signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Blues. Caron has established himself as a solid AHLer who can fill in at the NHL level. At 25, he’s running out of chances to show he can do more.
Michael Bournival will have to maximize any chance he gets with the Lightning to add to his NHL goal total.
Tampa signed versatile former Montreal forward Michael Bournival to a one-yea