NHL free agency recap: Vegas gets Pietrangelo

BY GRACE CARLO, guest writer
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Griggs via Creative Commons St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo was the prize of the NHL Free Agency cycle, and he left the
Blues to sign with the Vegas Golden Knights. Pietrangelo will likely slot in on Vegas’ top defensive pairing.

In a normal, non-pandemic year the NHL would be undergoing the beginning of the 2020-21 season. However, the end of the 2020 season was pushed back to August due to COVID-19, and the regular season is now pushed back until at least January 2021. 

The free agency period would typically open July 1st, but instead it opened October 9, immediately following the draft.

A free agent player is eligible to sign with any team where the two parties can agree. In the NHL, a player becomes an Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA) if their current contract ends after either seven accrued seasons or they are 27 or older as of June 30.

 A highlight of the 2020 free agent class is defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, leaving the St. Louis Blues on a seven-year contract with the Vegas Golden Knights for $61.6 million.

Pietrangelo was a captain of the 2019 Stanley Cup winning team and arguably the best player on the market. 

Taylor Hall, forward for the Arizona Coyotes, won the Hart Trophy in 2017-18 while with the New Jersey Devils. He signed a one-year contract with the Buffalo Sabres for $8 million.

Defenseman Torey Kurg left the Boston Bruins after five years to sign with the St. Louis Blues on a seven year, $45.5 million contract. 

His skills will be missed on the Bruins after he put up over 330 points during his career with them. He’ll be a solid replacement for Pietrangelo in St. Louis, and help add a new element with his abilities as an offensive defenseman. 

Tyler Toffoli, forward from the Vancouver Canucks who put up six goals and 10 points in 10 regular season games after being acquired via trade, has signed a four-year contract for $17 million with the Montreal Canadiens.

Goalie Jacob Markstrom signed with the Calgary Flames for six years on a $36 million deal.

His save percentage is 0.918, and the Vancouver Canucks will miss having him as a powerhouse on the team.

Most notably, Henrik Lundqvist left the New York Rangers after 15 years and signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal with New York rival, the Washington Capitals. 

The Capitals lost goalie Braden Holtby in free agency, and Lundqvist is expected to start over Ilya Samasonov. However, Lundqvist will have a short career left in the NHL due to his age of 38. 

Not every one of the  348 NHL free agents has been signed with a team yet. Some remaining forwards who have yet to be signed are: Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov of the Florida Panthers, Joe Thornton of the San Jose Sharks and Mikael Granlund of the Nashville Predators.

Additionally, defenseman who remain unsigned include Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins, Sami Vatanen of the Carolina Hurricanes, Travis Hamonic of the Calgary Flames, Andy Greene of the New York Islanders, and Dimitry Kulikov of the Winnipeg Jets remain free agents. 

Lastly, goalies Ryan Miller of the Anaheim Ducks, Aaron Dell of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Craig Anderson of the Ottawa Senators and Jimmy Howard of the Detroit Red Wings all are yet to sign a contract. Most of the goalies still left on the open market project to be backups for whoever their next team may be. 

As of right now, the NHL 2020-21 season is predicted to start Jan. 1, 2021. There is always the possibility that the season will get pushed back though.