July 28 — Buyouts, Ovie & FA Trivia

WE CAN’T WAIT FOR: NHL Free Agency — TODAY 12:00pm ET!!!

Days until start of 2021-22 NHL Season: 76 days

Monday’s Moon Shot

O’REE BILL ON THE HILL: Legendary Bruins icon Willie O’Ree is one step closer to receiving the U.S. Congressional Medal of Honor after a bill sponsored by a bipartisan group of lawmakers passed the Senate and moved into the House of Representatives for consideration.

TRADE-OFF: The NHL trade market has been incredibly active lately, and though we’ll call out some of the bigger deals below, you can find a complete list right here.

Tuesday’s Toe Drags

NOT BUYIN IT: Goalie Martin Jones (Sharks), Goalie Braden Holtby (Capitals), and forward James Neal (Oilers) were all placed on waivers Tuesday, just hours before the buyout deadline. A complete list of this year’s buyouts can be found here.

OVIE THE MOON: Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals agreed to a five-year, $47.5 million extension just one day before he would have become an unrestricted free agent. Let the chase begin.

FLEURY OF DEALS: The Blackhawks were involved in a number of trades on Tuesday, first acquiring Vezina-winner Marc-Andre Fleury from Vegas before later dealing for Tampa Bay’s Tyler Johnson.

BUCKLE UP: Though a number of deals have already happened, the real excitement begins today at noon ET when NHL Free Agency officially opens up. Stay up to date with THW’s Free Agent Signing Tracker.

Trivia Tuesday

Do you know your NHL Free Agency?

  1. Eric Lindros signed a one-year deal ahead of the 2005-06 season to play for which NHL franchise?
    • Dallas Stars
    • Toronto Maple Leafs
    • New York Rangers
    • Philadelphia Flyers
  2. Ahead of the 1991-92 season the New York Rangers signed forward Adam Graves. Which team did he play for before signing with the Rangers?
    • Detroit Red Wings
    • San Jose Sharks
    • Edmonton Oilers
    • Boston Bruins
  3. Marion Hossa found himself on the wrong side of the handshake line for back-to-back Stanley Cup Final appearances. It wasn’t until 2009 that he signed with a Stanley Cup-winning team. Which franchise did he sign with?
    • Detroit Red Wings
    • Pittsburgh Penguins
    • Boston Bruins
    • Chicago Blackhawks

Answers can be found at the bottom of the email.

Chasing 99

While it’s hard to believe Alex Ovechkin was ever really going to consider leaving the US capital, his new five-year $47.5 million contract is notable for a number of reasons.

First, the now 35-year-old will be on the other side of 40 at the conclusion of the deal — all but assuring he will retire as a Washington Capital. It also means that, barring a buyout or early retirement, KHL fans won’t see Ovie play pro hockey in his home country any time soon.

Perhaps most significantly – in a historical context — is that Ovechkin’s new deal represents a bold-faced statement that the chase for Wayne Gretzky’s NHL record of 894 goals scored is unquestionably on. The Russian sniper’s next goal will move him into a tie for fifth all-time with Marcel Dionne (731), and he should catch Brett Hull (741) for fourth in the season’s early months.

Wayne Gretzky #99 (Photo by B Bennett/Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

“The Great One’s” record, of course, is still a ways away — but is Ovechkin really that far off? Operating solely off of his new contract, the nine-time Rocket Richard Trophy winner would need exactly 33 goals a year to surpass Gretzky. That might be daunting to some, but not Ovie. If you remove the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season and last year’s pandemic-influenced campaign, his five lowest-scoring seasons still produced an average of just under 40 goals per season.

Yes, we know age-related decline has to be considered. Gretzky himself averaged only 18 goals a season past age 33. But Ovechkin just scored 24 goals in 45 games this past season and remains fully capable of comfortably exceeding 33 goals for now (he’s averaged 49 over his past three full seasons).

Much has been made of whether era-based considerations make Ovechkin the best goal-scorer ever. While everyone loves No. 99, it would be pretty cool to see “The Great 8” put that argument to bed by breaking his record. Heck — Gretzky has enough, anyway.

Free Agents of Chaos

When the clock strikes noon on the East Coast today — chaos will ensue. Free agency is a stressful but joyous time as general managers do their best to make their team competitive for the upcoming season and new faces are introduced to the fans. There are a variety of free agents that are hitting the market today. From depth forwards to veteran defensemen, let’s break down some of the best unrestricted free agents that will become available this afternoon.

Blake Coleman

“Started from the bottom, now we’re here.” I’m sure Drake didn’t have Coleman in mind when he wrote this song — but he should have. Very few knew Coleman’s name when he was traded to Tampa from New Jersey at the 2020 trade deadline. Now he is set to hit free agency with two Stanley Cup rings and any team looking for offensive depth should be giving his agent a call. Edmonton, I’m talking about you!

Dougie Hamilton

A handful of blueliners have found new homes over the past week or so. It seems that Hamilton is one of the few “big name” defensemen left on the market. A ton of teams have already made calls to his agent, and I have a feeling he will be one of the first signings announced. The Hurricanes’ loss will become another team’s gain. Here’s to hoping it is your team that can reap the benefits.

Linus Ullmark

This 27-year-old goaltender should be on every team’s radar that is in need of a goalie. He played exceptionally well for being a member of the Buffalo Sabres and finished the season with a record of 9-6-3 and a .917 save percentage. The Sabres will likely prioritize bringing Ullmark back as their number one — but with the organization in shambles, the Swedish goaltender may want a change of scenery.

Ryan Suter

Suter made headlines back in 2012 when he — along with Zach Parise — signed matching lucrative deals with the Minnesota Wild. The duo made headlines again recently when the Wild bought out both contracts on the same day. The veteran defenseman was by far the more surprising buyout — and, even at 36, he can still contribute to a team. Signing Suter could prove essential for a Stanley Cup run to a team that is lacking experience on the back end.

Trivia Answer

  1. Toronto Maple Leafs
  2. Edmonton Oilers
  3. Chicago Blackhawks

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