FILE - In this April 30, 2021, file photo, Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog (92) skates past goaltender Philipp Grubauer during the first period of the team's NHL hockey game against the San Jose Sharks in Denver. Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic still is not sure the team will be able to bring back Landeskog and Grubauer.“I don’t know,” Sakic said. “We’re hopeful we can come to terms, as well, and have them signed and to be part of us.” (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

Grubauer, Hamilton among top names entering NHL free agency

Hockey’s annual spending season kicks off this morning

The stars available at the top end of the NHL free agent market should make things interesting Wednesday afternoon.

And scratch Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog off the list, after the Avalanche captain signed an eight-year, $56 million contract late Tuesday night.

Elsewhere, two-time Stanley Cup champion Blake Coleman is a lock to leave the Tampa Bay Lightning, and there will be no shortage of suitors interested in a gritty forward who can help get a contender over the hump.

Meanwhile, the New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers and expansion Seattle Kraken are among the teams that could be active with more than $20 million in salary cap space. And the Vegas Golden Knights could go big-name shopping after clearing space by trading Marc-Andre Fleury to Chicago.

“We’ll use our resources to work to make the team as strong and competitive as possible,” Vegas general manager Kelly McCrimmon said. “There’s never any guarantees you’re going to be able to do the things you might like to do. There’s a lot of factors at play, obviously, when you get to free agency.”

A handful of free agents already have deals in place.

Zach Hyman got permission from Toronto to speak to other teams when the Maple Leafs knew they couldn’t afford to replace him, and he’s expected to sign long term with the Edmonton Oilers. Veteran defenseman Keith Yandle was free to talk to other teams as soon as he was bought out by Florida and has an agreement in place with Philadelphia on a $900,000 contract for next season.

Other players who were bought out, including defenseman Ryan Suter and forward Zach Parise whose stints in Minnesota are over after next season, could find homes very quickly after noon EDT. Former New York Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo is also in that camp and has been linked to Carolina.

The 28-year-old Landeskog was re-signed shortly before midnight EDT, when both sides faced an NHL deadline allowing players to sign eight-year contracts. Any deals struck afterward are capped at seven years.

Landeskog represents a key piece to a team coming off a President’s Trophy-winning season, before being eliminated in six games by Vegas in the West Division final. He finished second on the team with 20 goals — his eighth 20-goal season in nine years — and his 218 career goals rank sixth on the team list, and third since the Avalanche relocated to Colorado in 1995.

“We are thrilled to have our captain signed to a long-term deal,” said Avalanche GM Joe Sakic. “Gabe is the heart and soul of this team and an integral part of our organization both on the ice and in the community.”

The players whose contracts expire Wednesday will be part of a talking and signing frenzy, since the league and NHLPA eliminated the negotiation period for free agents.

“You might have a bit of a feel of where you stood with respect to a certain player,” McCrimmon said. “Now it opens with a starter’s pistol on Wednesday, so it’s a little harder to predict.”

One prediction that’s easy to make is a flurry of goaltender movement. Beyond Grubauer, former starters Petr Mrazek and James Reimer from Carolina and Frederik Andersen from Toronto are expected to be available.

Braden Holtby, the 2016 Vezina Trophy winner who backstopped Washington to the Stanley Cup in 2018, should attract interest despite being bought out by Vancouver following a down season. Same goes for Martin Jones, who struggled the past three seasons before San Jose bought him out Tuesday.

Sharks GM Doug Wilson is now looking for a replacement and should not have much trouble on that front.

“We need one more guy that I think is a quality veteran that is a stabilizer — you know what you’re going to get,” Wilson said. “There’s a few of them out there, and we’ll be exploring that.”

— Stephen Whyno And John Wawrow, The Associated Press

RELATED: First openly gay, NHL-contracted player gained insight from B.C. agent



FILE - Vancouver Canucks goaltender Braden Holtby (49) eyes the loose puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Toronto, in this Thursday, April 29, 2021, file photo. At right is Toronto forward Pierre Engvall (47). Carey Price's questionable injury status clouds the Seattle Kraken's selection process in their expansion draft. The Montreal Canadiens goaltender with connections to the Pacific Northwest could become the cornerstone and face of the franchise if picked. Stanley Cup champion and 2016 Vezina Trophy winner Braden Holtby would also fit that bill. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press via AP, File)

Be Among The First To Know

Sign up for a free account today, and receive top headlines in your inbox Monday to Saturday.

Sign Up with google Sign Up with facebook

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Reset your password

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

A link has been emailed to you - check your inbox.

Don't have an account? Click here to sign up