Steve Mason has a new crease partner in Philly.
On Wednesday, the Flyers signed former Caps, Sabres and Isles goalie Michal Neuvirth to a two-year, $3.25 million deal, one that carries an average annual cap hit of $1.625M.
It’s an interesting acquisition. Prior to signing, agent Patrick Stefan was insistent that Neuvrith was “ready to be the No. 1 goalie” wherever he signed but, obviously, that won’t be the case in Philly as Mason is coming off a pretty solid campaign and firmly entrenched as the starter.
But that said, Neuvirth gets a two-year pact out of the deal and the Flyers get an upgrade at the goalie position, especially after Ray Emery failed to impress as Mason’s backup last year.
In Buffalo, Neuvirth showed flashes of a guy that could be a No. 1, especially in the weeks leading up to his trade to New York. The Czech netminder posted a .938 save percentage in February and, overall, had a .918 in 27 games — pretty good, considering the Sabres were the NHL’s worst team.
The San Jose Sharks have scored one of the biggest UFA defenseman prizes, inking former Pittsburgh blueliner Paul Martin to a four-year deal.
UPDATE: Per CSN Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz, it’s a $4.85 million average annual cap hit — $19.4 million total. It makes Martin the team’s second highest-paid defenseman, behind Brent Burns.
Martin, 34, has spent the last five seasons in Pittsburgh and further established his reputation as a solid, all-around veteran defenseman. After an injury-filled ’13-14 campaign he rebounded nicely last year, scoring 20 points in 74 games while averaging 22:47 per night — and in the playoffs, with the Penguins’ defense decimated by various ailments, Martin averaged a whopping 24:36.
In San Jose, he’ll add to a defense that already included Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Justin Braun and Brenden Dillon, who recently inked a five-year pact with an average annual cap hit of $3.27 million. On paper, it’s a good defensive unit with nice depth that should help with new head coach Peter DeBoer’s prediction of a “big bounce-back” season in San Jose.
Michal Neuvirth is out, and Thomas Greiss is in.
That’s the move Isles GM Garth Snow pulled off to open free agency on Wednesday, signing former Pittsburgh goalie Thomas Greiss to a two-year, $3 million deal (per Newsday).
Griess had a somewhat forgettable stint with the Penguins last season, largely due to Marc-Andre Fleury carrying such a heavy workload. The 29-year-old started just 18 times (9-6-3, 2.59 GAA, .908 save percentage), got the mumps and played just a handful of times down the stretch.
That said, player agent Rey Petkau said Greiss was interested in returning to Pittsburgh.
“We’ve spoken and neither side has closed the door,” he explained in late May. “But we’re not actively negotiating at this time either.”
At $1.5 million per season, Greiss is an affordable and seasoned backup to Jaroslav Halak. He has 89 games of NHL experience under his belt and will look to replicate the success he had as Mike Smith’s backup in Arizona two years ago, when he went 10-8-5 with a .920 save percentage.
In another move today, the Isles also confirmed what we posted yesterday — a new three-year deal for Thomas Hickey. It’s a $6.6 million pact, with an average annual cap hit of $2.2M.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have kicked off free agency with a minor signing, agreeing to a two-year pact with veteran blueliner Matt Hunwick.
The deal, per Sportsnet, is worth $2.4 million and carries an average annual cap hit of $1.2M.
Hunwick, 30, scored 11 points in 55 games for the Rangers last year and made six playoff appearances. The former Bruin and Avalanche played on a one-year, $600,000 deal in ’14-15 and headed to unrestricted free agency after what was, all things considered, not a bad effort in his lone year as a Blueshirt.
The Jets have kept physical defenseman Adam Pardy in the fold with a one-year, $1 million deal, per TSN.
Pardy, 31, appeared in 55 games for the Jets last year, scoring nine points while racking up 40 PIM. He also appeared in two playoff games in the club’s opening-round loss to Anaheim, scoring one goal.
This new deal represents a nice raise for the former Flame, Star and Sabre — Pardy made $700,000 on his last contract, and likely earned this pay bump after performing well when Winnipeg’s blueline was decimated by injury.
At 6-foot-4 and 227 pounds, Pardy is just one of several big bodies on the Jets’ defense, joining the likes of Dustin Byfuglien (6-5, 260), Tyler Myers (6-8, 219) and Ben Chiarot (6-3, 215).