Mike Halford

DALLAS, TX - MAY 07:  Troy Brouwer #36 of the St. Louis Blues celebrates with Robby Fabbri #15 of the St. Louis Blues after scoring a goal against Kari Lehtonen #32 of the Dallas Stars in the second period in Game Five of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at American Airlines Center on May 7, 2016 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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Brouwer lands in Calgary — four years, $18 million

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Calgary has added some physicality to its young, talented forward group — per TSN, veteran winger Troy Brouwer has agreed to a four-year, $18 million deal with the Flames.

The contract will pay Brouwer $4.5M annually, slightly up from the $3.66M he made on his previous deal. The 30-year-old played well last season — his first and only with the Blues — scoring 18 goals during the regular season, then really upping his value in the playoffs with eight goals in 20 games.

It’s easy to see why Calgary wanted to add Brouwer to the mix. The likes of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Sam Bennett and company are extremely gifted offensively, but not the toughest or largest group on earth.

Brouwer, meanwhile, is 6-foot-3, 213 pounds, and is a good net-front presence with a nose for finding the back of the net. He also finished third on the Blues in hits last year, with 200.

If there’s another key element Brouwer will bring to Calgary, it’s experience. He’s played for three different teams over his 10-year career, and captured a Stanley Cup with Chicago in 2010. As mentioned above, this year’s playoff exploits with St. Louis probably played a role in his deal with the Flames, as the club is looking to get back to the postseason after missing last year.

Boston signs former Blues captain Backes — five years, $30 million (Update: re-signed Liles, too)

ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 17:  David Backes #42 of the St. Louis Blues looks on in Game Two of the Western Conference Final against the San Jose Sharks during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 17, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Boston wasted little time finding a replacement for Loui Eriksson.

The B’s have landed former St. Louis captain David Backes with a five-year, $30 million extension — one that carries a $6 million average annual cap hit, per Sportsnet.

Backes, 32, had previously spent his entire 10-year career with the Blues and is coming off a pretty solid ’15-16 — 21 goals and 45 points during the regular season, seven goals and 14 points in 20 playoff games.

A big, physical and tough forward that can play both center and wing, Backes checks a lot of boxes for Boston. He definitely fits the “Big Bad Bruins” mold, and has some good leadership qualities, having worn the “C” in St. Louis for the last five years.

As mentioned above, the Bruins needed to fill a gap in the top six forward group with the exodus of Eriksson, who signed with Vancouver to kick off free agency.

Speaking of exoduses, this is a significant one for the Blues. Backes had been the face of the franchise over the last few seasons but, with the team now being turned over to youngsters like Vladimir Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz and Robby Fabbri, Backes was allowed to leave.

His exit came after two other highly visible Blues — Barret Jackman and T.J. Oshie — also departed.

UPDATE: Boston has also re-upped with veteran d-man John-Michael Liles, who they acquired from Carolina at the deadline. It’s a one-year, $2 million deal, per Cap Friendly, and shouldn’t come as a huge surprise.

Last night, we passed along word the Bruins were having “very productive talks” with Liles. Makes sense, given how badly the B’s need help on defense.

Sabres reel in ‘big fish’ Okposo with seven-year, $42 million deal

PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 07:  Kyle Okposo #21 of the New York Islanders looks on before a face off against the Philadelphia Flyers on April 7, 2015 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.The Philadelphia Flyers defeated the New York Islanders 5-4.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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At the draft, Sabres GM Tim Murray said he would “chase the big fish” in free agency.

Didn’t take him long to hook one.

Murray made one of the biggest early splashes on the opening day of free agency, signing former Isles winger Kyle Okposo to a seven-year, $42 million deal, per TSN.

That’s a $6M AAV for Okposo, and a really nice pay bump from the $2.8M he was making on his previous contract.

Okposo, 28, had spent his entire nine-year career with the Isles prior to this move. He’s been a pretty consistent goalscorer over the last three season, averaging 22 goals per, and has cracked the 60-point plateau in two of his last three campaigns.

In Buffalo, he’ll be reunited with a familiar face in Matt Moulson, his former Islanders running mate. It remains to be seen who Okposo’s center will be, though there’s no shortage of quality options with Ryan O'Reilly and Jack Eichel slotted in as the club’s top two pivots.

While Okposo wasn’t Buffalo’s No. 1 target — that was Steve Stamkos, who went off the market on Wednesday by re-upping with Tampa — the club was looking to add some more veteran presences to insulate youngsters like Eichel, Sam Reinhart, Zemgus Girgensons.

Murray was also looking to make more of a splash after failing to land a marquee player in consecutive free agent periods. He believes it’s time for the Sabres to make a significant leap forward.

“We want to get going here,” Murray said, per the Buffalo News. “We made up a big chunk last year and everybody says, ‘Well, you had no choice,’ and I kind of agree with that, to be truthful. But it’s time to take another big jump.”

As expected, Oilers ink Lucic to massive seven-year, $42 million deal

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 26:  Milan Lucic #17 of the Los Angeles Kings during the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on December 26, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. The Kings defeated the Coyotes 4-3 in overtime.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Edmonton has found its new top-line left wing.

Just days after trading Taylor Hall to New Jersey in a blockbuster deal for Adam Larsson, the Oilers have inked one of the biggest prizes available in free agency — former Bruins and Kings power forward Milan Lucic.

Per Sportsnet, it’s a seven-year deal worth $42 million. That’s good for a $6M average annual cap hit, which is the same money Lucic pulled down annually on his previous deal.

This contract reunites Lucic with his former GM in Boston, Peter Chiarelli, who has drastically made over the Edmonton roster this week. Lucic will give the Oilers even more “snarl” — something the club had a decent amount of in the form of fellow big-bodied forwards Patrick Maroon and Zack Kassian.

Lucic, though, should play a far more prominent role than both.

It’s expected he could open as a top-line winger next to Connor McDavid, which could put Lucic back on track for 30 goals — a mark he hasn’t hit since 2010-11. The 28-year-old would also (presumably) serve as an unofficial bodyguard for McDavid.

 

Isles sign Ladd to monster seven-year, $38.5 million deal

Winnipeg Jets' Andrew Ladd lines up for a faceoff during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Vancouver Canucks in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck)
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The New York Islanders have dipped into free agency — well, more like splashed — with one of the biggest signings of the day.

Former Winnipeg captain Andrew Ladd has agreed to a seven-year, $38.5 million deal to join the Isles, per multiple reports (here and here).

Ladd, 30, split last season between Winnipeg and Chicago, having been flipped to the ‘Hawks at the trade deadline. He finished the year with 25 goals and 46 points in 78 games, but his time in Chicago ended with disappointment — acquired for a lengthy playoff run, Ladd had just one goal in seven games in an opening-round loss to St. Louis.

In Brooklyn, though, optimism should be high.

Ladd will presumably get to ride shotgun next to John Tavares on the club’s top line, and will look to eclipse his career-high of 29 goals (with Atlanta in ’10-11.) He’ll also take some of the sting away from the forwards New York lost via free agency — Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen, Matt Martin — and brings some additional Cup-winning experience to the Isles’ dressing room, having won with Carolina in ’06 and Chicago in ’10.

Financially speaking, this is a win for Ladd. He just wrapped a five-year, $22 million deal with a $4.4M average annual cap hit and, per reports from earlier this season, had been seeking a six-year extension “with an average annual value north of $6 million” (per TSN).