NHL offseason tracker: Nathan MacKinnon's eight-year extension to make him top-paid player

·27 min read

The first days of NHL free agency were extremely busy, with Johnny Gaudreau, Claude Giroux, Andrew Copp, Darcy Kuemper, Ondrej Palat and others changing teams.

The rest of the offseason has been busy with Nazem Kadri and Evan Rodrigues getting under contract later in the offseason and other unrestricted free agents still to sign, restricted free agents to get under contract, salary arbitration cases settled and teams needing to make moves to get under the salary cap before the end of training camp.

The Flames and Panthers pulled off a stunning trade, the Sharks filled the last remaining coaching vacancy and Bruins center Patrice Bergeron made a decision on his future.

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Follow along for news and analysis from NHL offseason moves:

Sept. 20: Nathan MacKinnon signs eight-year extension

Nathan MacKinnon celebrates with the Stanley Cup.
Nathan MacKinnon celebrates with the Stanley Cup.

Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon's first Stanley Cup championship will earn him another title: His eight-year contract extension averaging $12.6 million a year will make him the NHL's highest-paid player when it kicks during the 2023-24 season. The annual average value will pass the $12.5 million of Oilers star Connor McDavid. MacKinnon was drafted No. 1 overall in 2013 and won the Calder Trophy as top rookie in 2013-14, won the Lady Byng Trophy for sportsmanship in 2019-20 and was an MVP finalist three times. He has averaged 1.22 points a game the past five seasons. He had 24 points in 20 games as Colorado won the Stanley Cup for the first time since 2001.

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Sept. 19: Rangers trade Nils Lundkvist to Stars

New York Rangers defenseman Nils Lundkvist was traded to the Dallas Stars.
New York Rangers defenseman Nils Lundkvist was traded to the Dallas Stars.

Nils Lundkvist is getting what he wants − and, apparently, so are the Rangers. New York agreed to trade the former first-round pick to the Dallas Stars in exchange for one in the future. The first-round pick coming back is for the 2023 NHL draft, the team announced Monday night, and is top-10 protected. In the event that the pick lands in the top 10, the Rangers would instead receive the Stars' unprotected 2024 first-rounder. The team also announced that they're receiving a conditional 2025 fourth-round pick in the deal. If Lundkvist accumulates 55 points or more between the 2022-23 and 2023-24 seasons, the pick will jump to the third round. The two picks add up to a notable haul for the Rangers and team president Chris Drury. Lundkvist had made it increasingly clear that he wants out, with his agent, Claude Lemieux, telling lohud.com that the 22-year-old defenseman was not planning to show up when training camp begins Wednesday.

-Vince Z. Mercogliano, lohud.com

Also: The Oilers signed forward Jake Virtanen to a professional tryout agreement, two months after he was found not guilty of sexual assault. ... The Flyers said forward Sean Couturier is week-to-week with an undisclosed injury. He had season-ending back surgery in February.

Sept. 12: Evan Rodrigues signs with Avalanche

He was the last of our top 25 unrestricted free agents to sign, getting a one-year, $2 million contract from the defending Stanley Cup champions. It's a good bargain. He's no Kadri, but he did fill in well when the Penguins' Evgeni Malkin was hurt last season.

Sept. 7: Tim Stutzle agrees to long-term deal with Ottawa

Senators forward Tim Stutzle has 34 goals and 87 points in 132 NHL games.
Senators forward Tim Stutzle has 34 goals and 87 points in 132 NHL games.

The deal, which carries an average annual value of $8.35 million and kicks in following the 2022-23 season, is the latest move by general manager Pierre Dorion to solidify Ottawa’s core.

The 20-year-old, selected No. 3 overall in the 2020 draft, finished second on the Senators with 58 points (22 goals, 36 assists) in 79 appearances in 2021-22.

- Associated Press

Sept. 2: Canucks' J.T. Miller gets seven-year extension

Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller agreed to a seven-year, $56 million extension.
Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller agreed to a seven-year, $56 million extension.

Miller probably led the league in trade rumors this offseason. He'll average $8 million in the extension, which starts in 2023 and runs through 2029-30. The deal was important to the Canucks' hopes because his 99 points were 31 points better than his next-closest teammates. He'll be 37 when the contract expires.

Also: The Oilers signed defenseman Ryan Murray to a one-year, $750,000 contract. He's a depth addition after the retirement of Duncan Keith. ... The Jets signed forward Sam Gagner to a one-year, $750,000 deal.

Sept. 1: Stars re-sign Jake Oettinger for three years

The goaltender will average $4 million a season after he assumed the No. 1 role during the 2021-22 season. Oettinger, 23, shined in the playoffs, recording a 1.81 goals-against average and .954 save percentage against the Pacific Division-leading Flames. That included 64 saves in a 3-2 overtime loss in Game 7. During the regular season, he went 30-15-1 with a 2.53 goals-against average. The Stars still have 40-goal scorer Jason Robertson to sign and about $6.3 million in cap space.

Dallas Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger made 64 saves in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Calgary Flames in Game 7.
Dallas Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger made 64 saves in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Calgary Flames in Game 7.

Aug. 31: Ducks acquire defenseman Dmitry Kulikov

Anaheim gives up future considerations for the Wild defenseman. General Pat Verbeek traded defenseman Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson at last season's trade deadline and now has added veterans John Klingberg and Kulikov. Both have one year left on their deals and could be moved at the deadline if the Ducks ended up being sellers again.

Aug. 30: Penguins' Mike Sullivan receives contract extension

Mike Sullivan is the winningest Penguins coach with 297 victories.
Mike Sullivan is the winningest Penguins coach with 297 victories.

The coach's three-year deal kicks in after the 2023-24 season and runs through 2026-27. That keeps together the group that won back-to-back Stanley Cup titles in 2016 and 2017, Sullivan's first two seasons with the team. Sidney Crosby is signed through 2024-25 and Evgeni Malkin (2025-26) and Kris Letang (2027-28) signed new deals this offseason. Sullivan leads Penguins coaches with 297 regular-season wins and has 367 total NHL victories.

Also: The Sabres signed forward Tage Thompson to a seven-year, $50 million contract extension that kicks in during 2023-24. He scored 38 goals last season, 30 more than his previous career best, and led the team with 68 points. ... The Wild signed center Sam Steel to a one-year, $825,000 contract. He had spent the last four seasons with the Ducks, compiling 65 points in 197 games.

Aug. 29: Golden Knights acquire goalie Adin Hill

Vegas sent a 2024 fourth-round pick to the Sharks to get Hill, who played in a career-high 25 games last season. The Golden Knights need the depth because Robin Lehner (hip surgery) will miss the season and Lauren Brossoit had offseason surgery. If Brossoit can't go right away, Vegas' tandem would be Logan Thompson and Hill. Hill, who also played for the Coyotes, has played in 74 career NHL games with a 2.74 goals-against average and .908 save percentage. He was available because the Sharks have Kaapo Kahkonen and James Reimer.

Aug. 26: Red Wings sign Filip Zadina for three years

The Red Wings put the finishing touches on their 2022-23 roster by re-signing forward Filip Zadina to a three-year deal worth $5.475 million. He played in a career-high 74 games last season, notching 10 goals and 24 points. He saw some time on the top two lines and power play, but was largely ineffective and will likely be knocked down the pecking order after the acquisition of forwards Andrew Copp, David Perron and Dominik Kubalik this offseason.

- Kirkland Crawford, Detroit Free Press

Also: Lightning defenseman Philippe Myers signed a one-year extension for $1.4 million. He had been acquired from the Predators in the Ryan McDonagh trade.

Aug. 24: Golden Knights sign Phil Kessel

Phil Kessel has signed a one-year deal with the Vegas Golden Knights.
Phil Kessel has signed a one-year deal with the Vegas Golden Knights.

Phil Kessel has signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Golden Knights, the team announced. The two-time Stanley Cup champion scored eight goals and recorded 44 assists last season for the Coyotes. Kessel, 34, has not missed a game since the 2009-10 season. Should he play the first eight games of the 2022-23 season, he will break the NHL consecutive games played record now held by Keith Yandle, who played in 989 consecutive games. – Jace Evans 

Also: Blue Jackets forward Alexandre Texier won't play in 2022-23, per the advice of the NHL/NHLPA Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program. He'll be permitted to sign with a team in Europe for the season. Texier was granted a leave of absence in March after the deaths of two close family members. – Columbus Dispatch

Aug. 23: Hurricanes sign Paul Stastny

He gets $1.5 million in his one-year deal. The Hurricanes were short up front with the news that offseason acquisition Max Pacioretty would miss six months with Achilles tendon surgery. Stastny, 36, will help with that, plus is a solid, two-way player and a leader. Last season, he had his first 20-goal season since 2013-14.

Paul Stastny had 21 goals and 45 points last season.
Paul Stastny had 21 goals and 45 points last season.

Aug. 22: Islanders re-sign three players

Defensemen Noah Dobson and Alexander Romanov received three-year deals and forward Kieffer Bellows got one year. Dobson, who led Islanders defensemen and finished third overall with 51 points, will average a reported $4 million and Romanov, who was acquired last month from the Canadiens, will average a reported $2.5 million. The Islanders, who had been mentioned as possible destinations for Johnny Gaudreau and Nazem Kadri, end up having a quiet offseason outside of their coaching change.

Aug. 19: Kyle Turris retires

The 14-year veteran is leaving the NHL at 33 to join the Coquitlam (British Columbia) junior hockey team as a special adviser. He was drafted third overall in 2007 and played for the Coyotes, Senators, Predators and Oilers. He topped 20 goals three times in Ottawa and finished with 168 goals, 257 assists and 425 points in 776 NHL games.

Aug. 18: Nazem Kadri signs with Calgary Flames

He gets a seven-year, $49 million contract and will be 38 at the end of it. The Stanley Cup winner’s name had been linked to the New York Islanders, so this was a surprise, but it’s a smart signing for Calgary. The Flames started out the free agent period losing Johnny Gaudreau to the Blue Jackets and then had to trade Matthew Tkachuk when he wouldn’t commit to a long-term deal. Now, they have Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar from the Tkachuk trade, plus Kadri to help their chances of repeating as division champions. Huberdeau, who signed an eight-year extension, had 115 points last season, matching Gaudreau, and Kadri is feisty with an offensive touch, similar to Tkachuk's skill set. Weegar is a solid defenseman and is open to a long-term deal. Kadri had a career-best 87 points in 71 games, scored some key playoff goals for the Avalanche and avoided the suspensions that plagued him in the past. To make the money work, the Flames traded often-injured Sean Monahan to the Canadiens. They had to give Montreal a 2025 conditional first-round pick to make the deal work and will receive future considerations.

Nazem Kadri scored a career-best 87 points last season and won a Stanley Cup.
Nazem Kadri scored a career-best 87 points last season and won a Stanley Cup.

Also: Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes said Carey Price's injured knee isn't responding to rehab, and the goaltender could miss the season. He's expected to go on long-term injured reserve, which would allow Montreal to accommodate Monahan's salary. ... The NHL announced that Nashville will host the 2023 NHL draft and the awards show, the first time a city has hosted both since Vancouver in 2006.

Aug. 17: Blackhawks sign defenseman Jack Johnson

Johnson, 35, gets a one-year, $950,000 contract. He played 74 games last season for the Avalanche, scoring nine points, and had no points in 13 playoff games. He'll provide a veteran presence for a team that is rebuilding.

Aug. 12: Blackhawks re-sign two players

Defenseman Caleb Jones ($1.35 million) and forward Philipp Kurashev ($750,000) got one-year deals.

Aug. 11: Golden Knights goalie Robin Lehner likely out for season

Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner needs hip surgery and could miss the season.
Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner needs hip surgery and could miss the season.

The Golden Knights' bid to get back to the playoffs got a little harder with the announcement that the No. 1 goaltender could miss the whole season because he needs hip surgery. That leaves duties to Logan Thompson, who played well last season but has only 17 career starts, and Lauren Brossoit, who's coming off an undisclosed surgery in the offseason. Vegas last month signed Michael Hutchinson to a two-way deal. Lehner played 44 games last season but missed time with a concussion and had season-ending shoulder surgery. The cap-strapped Golden Knights can put him and his $5 million average salary on the long-term injured reserve to get some cap relief.

Aug. 10: Final salary arbitration case is settled early

The Red Wings avoided arbitration in the final case of the summer and re-signed defenseman Jake Walman for one year, $1.05 million, but where he ultimately fits in is a work in progress. Walman, 26, was part of the trade-deadline deal, along with Oskar Sundqvist and a 2023 second-round pick, that sent Nick Leddy to the St. Louis Blues. Walman had no goals and four assists in 19 games with Detroit and will miss the start of the season after offseason shoulder surgery. The Wings haven't given a timeline for his return, but if everyone else is healthy, Walman will find himself in a crowded job market. The Wings are deep on left-side defense, with general manager Steve Yzerman adding Ben Chiarot, Olli Määttä and Robert Hägg in free agency. Chiarot and Määttä project to be in the top four paired with Moritz Seider and Filip Hronek.

- Helene St. James, Detroit Free Press

Also: The Sabres signed forward Riley Sheahan to a one-year, $950,000 deal that would pay him less if he's sent to the American Hockey League. Sheahan had 13 points in 53 games with Buffalo in 2020-21 and played last season with the Kraken.

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Aug. 9: Good news, bad news for Hurricanes

The Hurricanes got forward Martin Necas under contract with a two-year, $6 million deal. He had a second consecutive 40-point season and set a career record with six game-winning goals and 24 even-strength assists. Later in the day, the Hurricanes announced that forward Max Pacioretty, who was acquired from the Golden Knights in an offseason trade, would have surgery on his Achilles tendon and be out about six months.

Also: The Rangers named defenseman Jacob Trouba captain. The Rangers had been without a captain since Ryan McDonagh was traded to the Lightning in 2018.

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Aug. 8: Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci return to Bruins

Center Patrice Bergeron is returning for a 19th season with the Bruins.
Center Patrice Bergeron is returning for a 19th season with the Bruins.

The Bruins faced a tough season if captain Patrice Bergeron decided to retire rather than return for a 19th season. Not only is he back, but Boston is even deeper at center after David Krejci returned to the team and spending one season in the Czech Republic. Bergeron, 37, is getting a one-year deal that will pay him $2.5 million and has another $2.5 million in attainable performance bonuses. Krejci's deal is for $1 million, with $2 million in bonuses. "Super excited we could make it work," Bergeron said. Bergeron, who had offseason elbow surgery, won a record fifth Selke Trophy last season as top defensive forward and put up 65 points in 73 games. Krejci, 36, who will appear in his 16th season with Boston, had 44 points in 51 games in the shortened 2021 season before leaving for his native country and playing in the Olympics. His absence last season left the Bruins searching for answers at No. 2 center and eventually led to them splitting up their top line. Now, new coach Jim Montgomery has the option to put David Pastrnak, Bergeron and Brad Marchand (when he returns from offseason hip surgery) back together while Krejci can team up again with Taylor Hall. Bergeron and Krejci were members of the Bruins' 2011 Stanley Cup championship team.

Also: The Bruins later announced that offseason acquisition Pavel Zacha signed a one-year, $3.5 million contract. That puts Boston $2.2 million over the salary cap, meaning a player will need to be moved. ... The Coyotes and forward Lawson Crouse agreed to a five-year contract - worth $4.3 million a year, according to Sportsnet, avoiding arbitration. He had a career-best 20 goals and 34 points last season. ... The Golden Knights signed forward Nicolas Roy to a five-year, $15 million contract ext after he recorded career highs in goals (15), assists (24) and points (39).

Aug. 7: Jets re-sign Mason Appleton

He got a three-year, $6.5 million contract and avoids arbitration. The Jets reacquired Appleton from the Kraken in March after losing him in the expansion draft. With Andrew Copp traded last season, Appleton should have a bigger role.

Aug. 5: Predators re-sign Yakov Trenin

The forward, who went to arbitration, received a two-year, $3.4 million award after he scored a career-best 17 goals and 24 points. He'll be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the deal.

Aug. 4: Flames give Jonathan Huberdeau eight-year, $84M extension

Winger  Jonathan Huberdeau (pictured) and defenseman MacKenzie Weegar went to Calgary as part of the Panthers' trade for winger Matthew Tkachuk.
Winger Jonathan Huberdeau (pictured) and defenseman MacKenzie Weegar went to Calgary as part of the Panthers' trade for winger Matthew Tkachuk.

The big question in the Matthew Tkachuk trade was whether the Flames would be facing the same issue next summer when Jonathan Huberdeau became a free agent. That was settled when the newcomer agreed to an eight-year contract extension averaging $10.5 million, or $1 million a year more than Tkachuk got in Florida. Huberdeau, acquired along with MacKenzie Weegar, a prospect and a conditional 2025 first-round pick, scored 115 points last season, the same as Johnny Gaudreau, who left in free agency. The Flames had offered Gaudreau the same money that Huberdeau got, according to The Athletic, though Gaudreau signed with the Blue Jackets. The Huberdeau agreement occurred three days after Flames general manager Brad Treliving had flown to Montreal to have dinner with the two-time All-Star.

Also: The Devils and forward Miles Wood agreed to a one-year, $3.2 million contract, avoiding Saturday's arbitration hearing. .... Sharks defenseman Mario Ferraro signed a four-year, $13 million contract. The third-year player averaged 23 minutes a game, good for third on the team. He scored 14 points, but his role will grow with the trade of Brent Burns to the Hurricanes.

Aug. 3: Devils' Jesper Bratt re-signs for one year

Jesper Bratt led the Devils with 73 points last season.
Jesper Bratt led the Devils with 73 points last season.

Bratt, the Devils' leading scorer, agreed to a $5.45 million contract before his Wednesday arbitration hearing. He set career highs last season in goals (26), assists (47), shots (197), power play points (18), time on ice (17:26) and points (73). Bratt will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season, giving the Devils more time to reach a long-term deal. The Devils still have Miles Wood to re-sign, and they are taking him to arbitration, with a hearing scheduled on Saturday. According to CapFriendly, the team has $3.2 million in cap space.

Also: The Oilers and forward Kailer Yamamoto agreed to a two-year, $6.2 million contract, avoiding arbitration. Edmonton is about $6 million over the cap, according to CapFriendly, though it can make up for that if injured Mike Smith and Oscar Klefbom go on long-term injured reserve.

Aug 2: Four settle early, but one arbitration case goes ahead

Flames forward Andrew Mangiapane (three years, $17.4 million), Flames defenseman Oliver Kylington (two years, $5 million), Flyers forward Zack MacEwen (one year, $925,000) and Devils forward Tyce Thompson (two years, $1.525 million) settled before this week's scheduled arbitration hearings. According to reports, however, the arbitration hearing with Predators forward Yakov Trenin took place, with the team offering two years at $1.35 million a year and his side seeking $2.4 million for one year. Trenin had a career-best 17 goals last season. The arbitrator will pick one year or two and can choose either figure or something between.

July 29: Ducks sign defenseman John Klingberg

Defenseman John Klingberg signed a one-year deal with the Ducks.
Defenseman John Klingberg signed a one-year deal with the Ducks.

He gets one year at $7 million, according to The Athletic. That's a $1 million raise from the salary he made at the end of his team-friendly, seven-year contract he had signed with the Stars. Klingberg turns 30 next month and will be in position to land a longer deal with a strong season or general manager Pat Verbeek could move him for assets at the deadline. Klingberg's 47 points were more than any Ducks defenseman had last season. He adds a veteran presence to the blue line after Verbeek traded Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson last season. He also has playoff experience, including 21 points in 26 games when the Stars reached the 2020 Stanley Cup Final.

Also: Owen Tippett, whom the Flyers acquired from the Panthers in the Claude Giroux trade, signed a two-year, $3 million contract with Philadelphia.

July 28: Kaapo Kakko re-signs with Rangers

The Rangers announced a two-year bridge deal with restricted free agent Kaapo Kakko worth an average annual value of $2.1 million, a person familiar with the situation told lohud.com. The deal leaves them with roughly $900,000 in available cap space if we project a 22-man roster. It's hard to see how the Rangers can carry the maximum 23 unless they shave salary. If they enter the 2022-23 season with that $900,000 figure in cap space and maintain it, they should be able to accrue $4 million or so in salaries by the time the trade deadline rolls around. Kakko posted 18 points in 43 games last season, but his underlying numbers suggest a solid possession player who's improved defensively.

-Vincent Z. Mercogliano, lohud.com

Also: Two more players agreed to terms, avoiding arbitration hearings: Senators forward Mathieu Joseph (four years, $11.8 million) and Hurricanes defenseman Ethan Bear (one year, $2.2 million). ... The Sharks announced that they'll retire Patrick Marleau's No. 12 on Feb. 25.

July 27: Ryan Donato re-signs with Kraken

Donato, who scored the first goal in franchise history, got a one-year, $1.2 million contract. He had a career-best 31 points, but wasn't given a qualifying offer, making him an unrestricted free agent, because he would have been eligible for salary arbitration. He made $750,000 last season.

Also: Penguins winger Danton Heinen re-signed for one year at $1 million. He averaged $2.8 million on his last contract but didn't get a qualifying offer after scoring a career-best 18 goals last season.

July 26: Sharks hire David Quinn as coach

He went 96-87-25 in three seasons with the Rangers and never officially made the playoffs (New York went 0-3 in the qualifying round during the 2020 bubble). The Sharks like his record at developing younger players at Boston University and with the Rangers. Of the 11 coaching hires this season, eight had previous NHL head coaching experience.

Also: Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi agreed to a one-year, $3 million deal, avoiding arbitration. He gets another chance to prove himself after he had a strong start, then struggled to produce points down the stretch. ... The Devils signed defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler to a five-year, $17 million extension. ... The Kings announced they'll retire the No. 23 of two-time Stanley Cup captain Dustin Brown on Feb. 11 and unveil a statue of him.

July 25: Ryan Dzingel back with Hurricanes

Carolina signed the forward to a one-year, $750,000 contract, but it's a two-way deal that would pay him less if he's sent to the American Hockey League. Dzingel, who had two 20-goal seasons earlier in his career with the Senators, has bounced around a lot recently, playing for the Blue Jackets, Hurricanes, Senators again, Coyotes and Sharks. That doesn't include going to the Maple Leafs as part of a trade from the Coyotes last season, being waived immediately and then claimed by San Jose.

Also: The Ducks reached a two-year, $3.6 million contract with center Isac Lundestrom, avoiding an arbitration hearing.

July 24: Kraken sign two players

Another arbitration hearing is avoided as forward Morgan Geekie gets a one-year, $1.4 million contract after a career-best 22 points. Seattle also signed defenseman Michael Kempny to a one-year, $750,000 contract. He had played the last four seasons with the Capitals and was part of the 2018 Stanley Cup team, but has dealt with injuries recently.

July 22: Flames trade Matthew Tkachuk to Panthers in stunner

It had become clear in recent days that Matthew Tkachuk's time in Calgary was nearing its end. That became official Friday night as the talented young winger was traded to the Florida Panthers along with a conditional 2025 pick for forward Jonathan Huberdeau, defenseman MacKenzie Weegar, prospect Cole Schwindt and a first-round pick in 2025.

It's a fairly stunning trade all the way around.

Tkachuk, 24, and Huberdeau, 29, both recorded over 100 points this past season. Huberdeau, in fact, trailed only Connor McDavid for most points in the NHL, tied with former Calgary star Johnny Gaudreau at 115. Weegar, 28, has been a dependable – and underrated – player for the Panthers for years.

Huberdeau and Weegar both have one year left on their deals. Tkachuk has agreed to a new eight-year deal with the Panthers, reportedly for $76 million (a $9.5 million AAV).

For the Flames, getting players as talented as Huberdeau and Weegar should help salvage what has been a brutal offseason after Gaudreau walked and Tkachuk made clear he wanted out. The Panthers lose two key pieces from the NHL's best regular-season team last year but gain a young star in his prime and perhaps alleviated even more future salary cap headaches.

— Jace Evans

July 22: Blue Jackets sign Patrik Laine to extension

Columbus Blue Jackets winger Patrik Laine scored 26 goals last season.
Columbus Blue Jackets winger Patrik Laine scored 26 goals last season.

He'll average $8.7 million in the four-year deal. Laine, 24, scored 56 points in 56 games last season, and getting him re-signed was a priority, especially after they added star Johnny Gaudreau ($9.7 million cap hit) in free agency. Laine and Gaudreau could end up as linemates. The Blue Jackets traded forward Oliver Bjorkstrand ($5.4 million average salary), their leading goal scorer last season, to the Kraken to help their cap situation.

Also: The Jets re-signed forward Pierre-Luc Dubois for one year at $6 million, nearly doubling his salary. He'll be a restricted free agent again next summer.

July 21: Predators sign winger Nino Niederreiter

The former Hurricane gets a two-year, $8 million contract. It's a smart move by the Predators, who had re-signed Filip Forsberg and traded for Ryan McDonagh. Niederreiter scored 24 goals in a third line role and has five other 20-goal seasons. He scored 39 of his 44 points at even strength. The Predators ranked 16th in even strength goals.

Also: The Penguins and forward Kasperi Kaspanen reached a two-year, $6.4 million contract, avoiding arbitration. His cap hit is the same as last season, when he struggled and scored only 11 goals.

July 20: Report says Matthew Tkachuk likely to be traded

Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk is likely to be traded.
Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk is likely to be traded.

The Athletic reported that Tkachuk told the Flames that he wouldn't sign a long-term deal and the team is likely to trade him soon rather than lose him for nothing next summer as they did with Johnny Gaudreau. The website also said that Tkachuk provided a list of teams where he would be willing to sign a long-term contract. Among them: the St. Louis Blues, where his father, Keith, used to play.

July 19: Devils sign Vitek Vanecek for three years

He'll average $3.4 million and avoids arbitration. Vanecek was acquired from the Capitals at the draft and will get a raise from $750,000 and will make more than Devils goalie Mackenzie Blackwood ($2.8 million), who can become a restricted free agent next season.

July 18: Flames to take Matthew Tkachuk to arbitration

The move prevents a team from making an offer sheet to the rugged winger, who topped 40 goals and 100 points for the first time in his career. Ideally, the Flames would like to get Tkachuk signed long-term before his Aug. 11 hearing because a ruling would be for one year and he's eligible to become a UFA next summer. They lost Gaudreau for nothing and don't want the same to happen with Tkachuk. The Flames could end up trading him. Calgary players Andrew Mangiapane and Oliver Kylington filed for arbitration.

Also: Sharks goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen agreed to a two-year deal, avoiding arbitration.

July 17: 24 file for salary arbitration

The following 24 players filed for salary arbitration: Isac Lundestrom (Anaheim), Lawson Crouse (Arizona), Pavel Zacha (Boston), Andrew Mangiapane, Oliver Kylington, Matthew Phillips (Calgary), Ethan Bear, Maxime Lajoie (Carolina), Jake Walman (Detroit), Jesse Puljujarvi, Kailer Yamamoto (Edmonton), Yakov Trenin (Nashville), Jesper Bratt, Vitek Vanecek, Tyce Thompson (New Jersey), Mathieu Joseph (Ottawa), Zack MacEwen (Philadelphia), Kasperi Kapanen (Pittsburgh), Niko Mikkola (St. Louis), Kaapo Kahkonen, Steven Lorentz (San Jose), Morgan Geekie (Seattle), Keegan Kolesar (Vegas) and Mason Appleton (Winnipeg).

The biggest names are Mangiapane (35 goals) and Bratt (73 points in 76 games). Puljujarvi's case is interesting because the Oilers have tried him in the top six but he hasn't put up big numbers. Most players filing for arbitration settle before their hearings, which are scheduled for July 27 to Aug. 11. Mikkola signed after filing.

July 16: Penguins shake up defense

The Penguins added defensemen Jeff Petry and Ty Smith in separate trades, sending Mike Matheson to the Canadiens and John Marino to the Devils. Petry had a strong 2021 season but struggled like the rest of the Canadiens last season. The trade of Matheson was a little surprising because he's six years younger than Petry and signed for four years, compared to Petry's three.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NHL news, rumors: Nathan MacKinnon extension to put him atop league