Adam Gretz

Tkachuk’s likely departure adding to Flames’ grim offseason

tkachuk flames
Claus Andersen/Getty Images

The Calgary Flames 2021-22 season was a fairly surprising success.

They finished with the second best record in franchise history, came out of nowhere to win the Pacific Division, and had the league’s most dominant top-line duo in Johnny Gaudreu and Matthew Tkachuk. There were a lot of positives there, even if the playoffs ended in a bitterly disappointing second round loss to their long-time rivals from Edmonton.

Now? Everything is falling apart.

Gaudreau already left Calgary to sign a seven-year contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets, and now it seems that Tkachuk is about to follow him out the door. And that departure seems to be imminent.

Currently unsigned as a restricted free agent, speculation around Tkachuk’s potential exit started to really boil over when the team elected for salary arbitration this week. Long time Flames writer Eric Francis reported that could be the first step to a trade sooner rather than later.

[Related: 2022 NHL Free Agency Tracker]

That hot stove ignited into a raging inferno on Wednesday when The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford and Hailey Salvian reported that Tkachuk has informed the Flames he will not sign a long-term contract with the team. Given that Tkachuk is one year away from unrestricted free agency, Calgary may have no choice but to trade him now. According to Wednesday’s report, Tkachuk has supplied the Flames with a list of teams he would be willing to sign a long-term contract with. And while he does not have any no-trade protection, that list could impact where Calgary sends him as a team not on that list is unlikely to pay a premium price for a player that will not stay long-term.

The Athletic reports St. Louis, Vegas, Florida, Nashville and Dallas are among the teams on Tkachuk’s list. There are obvious salary cap complications for almost all of those teams outside of Nashvillle, but as we have seen time and time again there are always ways for teams to get around that for a player they want. And every player on that list should be doing whatever it can to make room for Tkachuk.

He is in the prime of his career and the type of player that everybody associated with hockey loves. He is a top-line scorer coming off of a 104-point season, he defends well, he drives possession, and he plays with a nasty streak that makes him a pest to play against. He does everything on the ice.

This is a brutal situation for the Flames. For one, it is nearly impossible to win a trade like this or get anything close to equal value back in return. There are typically only two types of trades that get made involving star players: Either the one-for-one that involves a comparable player (think the Subban-for-Weber type of trade), or the usual top prospect, first-round pick, NHL roster player trio that we always see. Tkachuk is so good and so young that the Flames might be able to get an extra first-round pick out of that.

[Related: Blue Jackets sign Gaudreau in free agency stunner]

Beyond that, it would completely wipe out the driving force behind all of the Flames’ success this past season.

When the Gaudreau-Tkachuk duo was on the ice during 5-on-5 play the Flames held a better than 60 percent share of total shot attempts, expected goals, scoring chances, and high-danger scoring chances, while also outscoring teams by a whopping 86-32 margin. It is nearly impossible for a line to do better than that. They completely dominated almost every game.

Without either of them on the ice, the possession and scoring chance numbers dropped down closer to 50 percent while the team was outscored by a 94-97 margin.

Losing Gaudreau was already a massive loss. Losing both him and Tkachuk in the same offseason would be difficult to rebound from.

The Flames are also still facing potential arbitration cases with two other restricted free agents, forward Andrew Mangiapane and defenseman Oliver Kylington.

(All dada via Natural Stat Trick)

NHL Free Agency: Kadri, Klingberg top list of best available UFAs

NHL Free Agency
Michael Martin, Getty Images

We are a week into the NHL’s Free Agent signing period, and even though most of the top players have already found new homes there are still some pretty good players (and relatively big names) remaining on the market.

Let’s take a look at 10 of the most significant.

1. Nazem Kadri. It is a little surprising that Kadri is still available as he was one of the top players to the UFA market. Coming off a career-year offensively and playing a major role on the Avalanche’s run to a Stanley Cup, Kadri figured to be one of the big earners in free agency. And he still probably will be. It is just taking some time. There was a report over the weekend that Kadri is wanting to play for a contender and might need some teams to clear salary cap space before signing him. We will see if that ends up being true. As good as Kadri is, he is not without his risks on a free agent contract. He is already 32 years old, and for as good as his 2021-22 season was there is no guarantee he repeats that production, especially on a team that is not as loaded as Colorado’s is offensively.

2. John Klingberg. After Kris Letang re-signed in Pittsburgh it made Klingberg that top defenseman on the open market, and arguably the only top-pairing defenseman. And he remains unsigned more than a week in. That is odd, and might suggest that the market for him is not as strong as originally thought. If teams think they can add a top-pairing defenseman, they are going to jump at that chance.

[Related: 2022 NHL Free Agency Tracker]

3. Nino Niederreiter. This one is also a little surprising. Niederreiter is an excellent middle-six forward that drives possession and will score 20-25 goals for you over the course of an 82-game season. Not a superstar, but a heckuva player that will make any line (and team) he plays on better.

4. Paul Stastny. Stastny will turn 37 early this season but is still, very quietly, a really productive player. Strong two-way presence that can drive possession and chip in second-line offense. On a one-year deal this would be a solid add for a contender that needs center depth.

5. Danton Heinen. Heinen was a really good find for the Penguins a year ago in free agency, but they were clearly afraid of what his arbitration number would look like. So they did not qualify him an offer and allowed him to become an unrestricted free agent. A better defensive player than he gets credit for, Heinen can be a 15-20 goal scorer in the right spot.

6. Phil Kessel. His goal scoring has dried up, but he is still a really good playmaker and can help out on a power play. If you are not expecting him to carry your offense there is still a good contributor here offensively.

7. Evan Rodrigues. Through the first two months of the 2021-22 season Rodrigues was scoring like a top-line player and stunning the league. He cooled off considerably in the second half, but still finished with 19 goals and 43 total points. Maybe he does not repeat those numbers, but he is still a really good two-way player that will work on any team’s bottom-six.

[Related: Best NHL Free Agent Signings So Far]

8. P.K. Subban. Like Kessel, you are getting a former star at the end of his career that you are going to have to play in a specialized/sheltered role. And that is fine, because Subban can still shoot it from the point and still has some speed from the back end. As long as you have reasonable expectations and a coaching staff that does not expect him to play 25 minutes a night you can still get a good player here.

9. Jonathan Dahlen. Really intriguing player here. Dahlen is going to turn 25 in December and has just one year of NHL experience. He was a dominant offensive player in Sweden and scored 12 goals in 61 games in his first taste of NHL action on a bad Sharks team. Maybe this year’s Mason Marchment or Michael Bunting on the UFA market?

10. Johan Larsson. Larsson is not going to bring a lot of offense to your team, but you might not find a better defensive forward on the open market at this point. If he brings that and can chip in 10 goals you have a heckuva a bottom-six forward.

NHL Power Rankings: Top free agents for 2022 offseason

nhl free agents
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With the NHL Free Agency starting on Wednesday we are taking an updated look at our top unrestricted free agent Power Rankings from back in May, removing the players that have already re-signed with their teams (Kris Letang, Filip Forsberg, Valeri Nichushkin, Marc-Andre Fleury, and Rickard Rakell) and adding some of the restricted free agents that were not given qualifying offers on Monday.

The latter list includes former Blackhawks Dylan Strome and Dominik Kubalik, goalie Ilya Samsonov, and winger Danton Heinen.

You might notice one name missing from the list: Boston Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron. We made the decision to leave him out of the rankings because while his contract is technically expiring, he has made it clear that there are only two realistic options for him: Re-signing with the Boston Bruins or retirement. That does not really make him a fit here with the rest of the players on the rankings.

Which players make the cut and where do they rank?

To this week’s NHL Power Rankings!

1. Johnny Gaudreau. Gaudreau picked a heck of a team to have a career year and be the second-leading scorer in the NHL. Gaudreau is an incredible talent, one of the most productive players in the league, and is still at an age where he should have a lot of productive hockey ahead of him. Whether it is Calgary or somewhere else, he is going to cash in this offseason. [UPDATE: Johnny Hockey is heading to the Blue Jackets on a seven-year, $68.25 million deal.]

2. Nazem Kadri. The pro: He had an incredible season and is a really good two-way player at a premium position. The concern: He will be 32 when his next contract begins and he has never really produced at this level prior to this season. Can he duplicate that on a different team, and for how many years?

3. Evgeni Malkin. If he is healthy he is still an impact player, especially on the power play. Maybe not as dominant as he was at his peak, but you would take him on your team if given the opportunity. It seems weird imagining him in a uniform other than the Penguins but that seems to be the way this is heading after it was revealed on Monday that he is testing the open market. [UPDATE: Malkin has signed a four-year, $24.4 million extension to stay in Pittsburgh.]

4. Claude Giroux. Pretty similar to Malkin in the sense that he is not quite the player he was at his peak, but he will definitely make somebody a better hockey team. Would Philadelphia bring him back? Or does he want to take another serious run at a Stanley Cup? [UPDATE: Giroux has signed a three-year, $19.5 million deal with the Senators.]

[NHL free agency tracker 2022: Full list of offseason signings]

5. David Perron. Perron is a steady producer with a track record of being a top-line player on winning teams. Also an overlooked mean streak that some teams will probably love. It probably does not matter where he actually signs because he always finds his way back to St. Louis anyway. [UPDATE: Perron is moving on after signing a two-year, $9.5 million deal with the Red Wings.]

6. Vincent Trocheck. Trocheck is a strong second line center option. Can do everything well, good production, and solid player. The bad news: This is the type of signing in free agency that will look good for two years and then by year three or four you are wondering what you are going to do with him and his salary. [UPDATE: Trocheck is heading to the Rangers after signing a seven-year, $39.375 million deal.]

7. John Klingberg. Klingberg seems to be the type of player whose reputation will depend on who you ask and when you are asking it. His defense gets a lot of criticism, but he can provide some offense from the blue line and is a better all-around player than his critics might have you believe. But is he the player you want to build your defense around? With Letang staying in Pittsburgh he is by far the top defenseman available.

8. Ondrej Palat. Palat might sometimes get overlooked on that Tampa Bay roster, but he has been one of the top players for one of the league’s top teams for a decade. Great second or third line forward for a contender. Not sure Tampa Bay will be able to re-sign him with that salary cap situation. [UPDATE: Palat heads to New Jersey with a five-year, $30 million deal with the Devils.]

9. Andrew Copp. Outstanding defensive forward whose offensive game reached another level this season. Also had a very strong playoff showing that will boost his value for sure. [UPDATE: Copp is moving on to the Red Wings with a five-year, $28.125 million deal.]

10. Evander Kane. Kane is a good player and has been very productive in Edmonton, but when you sign him you are not just signing the player. You are signing everything that comes with the player off the ice, and his off-ice issues are well documented and quite significant (read about them here, here, here, and here). There is a reason Edmonton was able to sign him for so cheap mid-season. But like with Edmonton, it only takes one team being willing to do it. [UPDATE: Kane has re-signed in Edmonton with a four-year, $20.5 million extension.]

11. Darcy Kuemper. Finally, a goalie on the list. Kuemper had a great regular season and has a very solid resume over his career. But teams might look at what happened to Phillip Grubauer when he left Colorado and wonder what happens when a 32-year-old Kuemper is playing behind a worse team. He is leaving Colorado after the team traded for Alexandar Georgiev. [UPDATE: Kuemper signs a five-year, $26.25 million deal with the Capitals.]

12. Jack Campbell. Campbell can be very hit and miss. At times over the past two years he has looked like he put everything together, and at other times he has looked just ordinary. How much faith do you have that you are consistently getting the good version? [UPDATE: The Oilers have given Campbell a five-year, $25 million contract.]

[Related: Tkachuk, Gaudreau headline offseason questions for Flames]

13. Andre Burakovsky. Really productive player and one of the younger players on the list, so his play will probably not drop off too much right away. [UPDATE: Burakovsky heads to the Kraken on a five-year, $27.5 million contract.]

14. Nino Niederreiter. Not a superstar, but he is going to score you 20-25 goals and be a strong possession driver. That is a valuable top-six winger.

15. Ryan Strome. He ended up being a really good addition for the Rangers the past few years and a solid No. 2 center. [UPDATE: Strome heads west after inking a five-year, $25 million deal with the Ducks.]

16. Dylan Strome. There is an argument to be made that Dylan might be an even more attractive option than Ryan given his age and the fact he might be a little cheaper and a better value. It is a mild surprise that the Blackhawks did not want to retain him, but the problem might be that he is just too good for what Chicago wants to accomplish this season. [UPDATE: Strome has signed a one-year, $3.5 million deal with the Capitals.]

17. Dominik Kubalik. Kubalik came out of nowhere with a 30-goal (in only 68 games) performance as a rookie three years ago but has not been able to match that number ever since. He does have some finishing ability and could be a good scoring option for a team that needs some depth. Like Strome, he was not given a qualifying offer by the Blackhawks. [UPDATE: Kubalik is a Red Wing after signing a two-year, $5 million deal.]

18. Max Domi. Creative playmaker with some defensive shortcomings. Good complementary player but probably not much more than that. [UPDATE: Domi heads to the Blackhawks with a one-year, $3 million deal.]

19. Reilly Smith. Very similar player to Niederreiter in terms of what to expect production wise, but maybe not quite the same level of possession driving ability. [UPDATE: Smith is staying in Las Vegas on a three-year, $15 million extension.]

20. Ilya Samsonov. Samsonov was supposed to be the Capitals’ long-term solution in goal and replace Braden Holtby. It has not worked out at all. With the trade of Vitek Vanecek and not qualifying Samsonov the Capitals are now completelly overhauling their goalie position. He might draw some strong interest in an alarmingly thin goalie market with somebody hoping he can still reach some of his potential. [UPDATE: Samsonov has signed a one-year, $1.8 million contract with the Maple Leafs.]

21. Brett Kulak. The former Montreal defenseman teams should have been trying to acquire when the Ben Chiarot bidding war happened. Nothing flashy about his play, but he is a very good mid-pairing defender. [UPDATE: Kulak moves to the Oilers with a four-year, $11 million contract.]

22. Danton Heinen. Heinen had a strong season for the Penguins, scoring a career high 18 goals. But that was probably going to drive up his price tag due to arbitration and the Penguins obviously did not want to go there, especially with the re-signing of Rickard Rakell. Good all around player with some scoring touch.

23. Mason Marchment. A late bloomer, Marchment had a really nice year for the Panthers. Can he repeat it? How much is that one year at age 26 worth on the open market? [UPDATE: Marchment is heading to Dallas after signing a four-year, $18 million deal.]

24. P.K. Subban. Still a big name, still extremely talented with the occasional “wow” moment, but not quite the consistent impact player and superstar he was in his prime.

25. Phil Kessel. Kessel is a new addition to the list with some of the other wings re-signing. He is not an elite goal scorer anymore, but he is always going to be in the lineup and while his goal scoring has started to dry up he remains an excellent playmaker. You need a specialized role for him, but he can still provide something.

Rangers still have concerns, big questions to answer

rangers offseason
Al Bello, Getty Images

The start of the 2022-23 NHL season is still a couple of months away, so there is still time for teams to round out their roster and make moves this offseason. That is good news for the New York Rangers because after the first month of the NHL offseason their roster still has some pretty significant question marks and concerns.

This was always going to be an important offseason for the Rangers because we were going to find out what they learned about why they had their success this past season and what they felt they still needed to do. For as successful as the season was, their playoff formula (sensational goaltending and a dominant power play overshadowing bad 5-on-5 play) is not exactly one that you want to rely on long-term. Being content with the progress and status quo was not going to be good enough.

The early returns are not exactly promising.

The Rangers’ one big move so far this offseason has been to sign unrestricted free agent Vincent Trocheck to a seven-year, $39.75 million contract.

[Related: 2022 NHL Free Agency Tracker]

Trocheck is a very good player, and in the short-term should be a nice fit as the team’s new second-line center. The seven-year term is a big picture concern, but the Rangers do not have to cross the bridge just yet.

The more immediate concern is that the signing of Trocheck (a really good player) came at the expense of losing Ryan Strome (also a pretty good player), Andrew Copp (also a pretty good player), and Frank Vatrano (also a pretty good player) in free agency.

That is one good player in and three good players out the door.

Strome and Trocheck have been pretty close to a wash offensively over the past few years, while Trocheck has a nice defensive advantage. So there is an upgrade there at the second-line center spot. That is fine.

The problem is they not only lost Strome, but also lost Copp and Vatrano. Strome has been replaced. Copp and Vatrano have not.

[Related: Rangers sign Trocheck]

While they did not spend a lot of time with the Rangers last year (both joining the team at the trade deadline) their arrivals were significant in taking them from a nice young, up and coming team, to a dangerous team that would be capable of doing real damage in the playoffs. They gave a team that needed scoring depth and more punch offensively exactly that. Copp, along with his offensive production (14 goals, 18 assists and 32 total points in 36 regular season and playoff games), was also a significant defensive upgrade.

There is still time for them to be replaced. But it is going to be a challenge. Most of the major trades have been made. The main free agents have mostly been picked over (though bargains and value can still be found). Even worse, the Rangers have less than $4 million in salary cap space to work with while still needing to re-sign restricted free agent Kaapo Kakko. They almost have to more salary out for another move.

At this point the Rangers seem to be counting on three things happening this season: Shesterkin being as dominant as he was a year ago, Chris Kreider‘s goal scoring surge being for real and not an outlier, and their young players taking a big step forward.

Igor Shesterkin
Al Bello/Getty Images

Can Shesterkin carry them again?

Shesterkin was the biggest factor in the Rangers’ regular season and postseason success. He was the best goalie in the league by a substantial margin and at times put the team on his back.

But for as dominant as he was, can he be that good again over a full season?

The problem with relying on percentages is that percentages fluctuate, even for great players. Since the start of the 2000 season we have seen 18 goalies play at least 40 regular season games and finish with a save percentage better than .930, including Shesterkin. Those goalies, no matter how good they are, almost always regress the following year. The only one that did not was Carey Price in 2015-16 whose save percentage went up by .001 …. while playing in only 12 games due to injury.

The full list.

On average, it was a .015 drop the next season. Even if you took .010 or .015 off of Shesterkin’s numbers this season he would still be in the top-five of the league, and perhaps even still lead the league. He was that much better than everybody else. But a 10-15 point drop in save percentage on the same number of shots is an additional 15-25 goals against. That is significant.

“Our goalie is better than your goalie, so let’s just see what happens” is not a sound plan. It did not get Henrik Lundqvist a Stanley Cup in New York, and it will not get Shesterkin one, either.

The young players will dictate everything

This is going to be the biggest key for the Rangers, and it can go a long way toward fixing a lot of the questions listed above, from scoring depth, to a potential Kreider regression, to improving 5-on-5 play.

This is where the Rangers can make their noise. Quite honestly, it is where they are going to have to make their noise.

We saw some promise from their Kid Line of Kappo, Alexis Lafrenière, and Filip Chytill in the playoffs. And they were great together. But it was also only a 140-minute sample size of 5-on-5 play. And while each of them has shown flashes of potential at different times in their young careers, they still have to show they can do it over a full season. Lafrenière and Kakko are still very young, and even though they were both top-two picks those players progress at different speeds. Not every top pick is an immediate superstar. But we are still getting to a point where we are going to need to see a significant jump if they are going to be star players, or just pretty good players. If it is the former, that is a positive game-changer for the Rangers. If it is the latter, it still leaves some questions.

[Related: Rangers took big step forward, but work still needs done]

K'Andre Miller and Braden Schneider can also make a significant impact on defense, and then there is the wild card that is Vitaly Kravtsov.

There is a ton of potential there with all of them. But not every young player or prospect pans out exactly as you hope, especially when you are dealing with five or six of them all at once. Some will exceed expectations, some will match them, some will get hurt, some will just be a disappointment.

This is still a good team. But is it as good as the 2021-22 team? Will it be better?

The success or failure of this group of players is going to go a long way toward determining how their 2022-23 season goes.

Given the roster moves they have made (and not made) this offseason, they almost have no choice.

NHL Power Rankings: Best free agent signings so far this offseason

NHL Power Rankings
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In this week’s edition of the NHL Power Rankings we take a look at the best free agent signings of the offseason (so far).

While there are still a handful of top free agents still available (Nazem Kadri, John Klingberg), most of the top players have already found new homes. Some of those signings are going to work out very well. Others might not.

So let’s try to figure out which ones might be the best investments. We are limiting it this to players that signed after the opening of the free agent signing period this past Wednesday. So players that re-signed with their teams before that are excluded from the list. Also a reminder: This is not a ranking of the best players to sign. It is a ranking of the best signings, taking into account the player, production, contract term, salary cap hit, risk, and total value.

Who all makes the cut?

To this week’s NHL Power Rankings!

1. Johnny Gaudreau, Columbus Blue Jackets (seven years, $68.25 million). The most stunning free agent signing was also the best. Yes, most long-term free agent contracts end in a buyout or a trade. But there are always exceptions. This could very easily be an exception. Gaudreau is a top-tier offensive force and is still at an age where he should perform at an extremely level for the foreseeable future. The Blue Jackets needed a star, and they got one. Even If Gaudreau is not a 115-point player again and levels off at an 80-or 90-point level he will still be worth it.

[Related: How good can Blue Jackets be after signing Gaudreau?]

2. Claude Giroux, Ottawa Senators (three years, $19.5 million). Giroux might be getting older, but he is still an outstanding player and the Senators are getting him on a really good deal. Not too much term, reasonable salary cap hit, not much risk, and it helps round a rapidly improving Senators’ top-six. Are they a playoff team because of it? Probably not. But they are better. And more entertaining.

3. Darcy Kuemper, Washington Capitals (five years, $26.25 million). The Capitals badly needed a goalie and completely revamped the position by dumping Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek and signing Kuemper in free agency. Kuemper drew some criticism in the playoffs this year, but his overall track record in the NHL is very strong. Among goalies with at least 100 games played over the past three years, Igor Shesterkin is the only goalie with a better all situations save percentage than Kuemper’s .920.

4. Frank Vatrano, Anaheim Ducks (three years, $10.95 million). Absolutely love this signing by the Ducks. Vatrano is not a star, but he can do two things really well: Generate shots and score goals. The Panthers never should have traded him, the Rangers are going to miss him, and the Ducks got him on a nice three-year deal for just $3.6 million per year.

[Related: 2022 NHL Free Agency Tracker]

5. David Perron, Detroit Red Wings (two years, $9.5 million). Perron is getting older, but this is a really strong deal for a Red Wings team making to take a big leap forward. He is a legit top-line winger and the Red Wings have almost no risk on a two-year contract.

6. Andrew Copp, Detroit Red Wings (five years, $28.25 million) . This deal reminds me a lot of the Philip Danault signing in Los Angeles a year ago. Similar term, player, cap hit, and team situation. I like Copp over somebody like, say, Vincent Trocheck because he is a year younger, better defensively, and has a term that is two years shorter.

7. Vincent Trocheck, New York Rangers (seven years, $39.375 million). Trocheck is a very good player and will be a nice second-line center for the Rangers. But this is also the type of free agency contract I hate and the type that should scare the heck out of you as a fan of a team. A seven-year term for a soon-to-be 30-year-old non-star is not going to end well. Also, the Rangers had to watch Copp, Ryan Strome, and Vatrano all leave to make this signing happen. Does that make them a better team?

8. Andre Burakovsky, Seattle Kraken (five years, $27.5 million). Good player on an okay contract, but I do wonder what the overall plan is here for Seattle? Just a weird approach from the very beginning. How will he produce away from the high powered Avalanche offense?

9. Ryan Strome, Anaheim Ducks (five years, $25 million). Strome averaged a 22-goal, 60-point pace per 82 games during his time with the Rangers and was a legit second-line center offensively. He has had some shortcomings defensively at times, but if he repeats what he did in New York with the Ducks he will be a fine addition.

10. Dylan Strome, Washington Capitals (one year, $3.5 million). What I love about this deal is just how cheap it is. One year and only $3.5 million? For a player that will probably a produce a similar level of offense as Copp or Trocheck down the middle? He might be a half-tier below those two as overall players, but the price is certainly right as they look to get by without Nicklas Backstrom.

11. Mason Marchment, Dallas Stars (four years, $18 million). If he is just a late-bloomer and his 2021-22 season was not a fluke this contract could be one of the best signed all summer. But he has so little NHL track record to go by it is tough to be fully convinced of that.

12. Ondrej Palat, New Jersey Devils (five years, $30 million). He is not Johnny Gaudreau or Alex DeBrincat, but Palat is a strong top-six addition to a Devils team that badly needs some complementary players for Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier. In the short-term, at least. How many more years does he have as a top-six producer?

13. Calle Jarnkrok, Toronto Maple Leafs (four years, $8.4 million). Jarnkrok is one of the steadiest players you will find in the NHL in terms of what he brings. He will score 15 goals, 30 points, play good defense, and be a really solid third-line player. The four-year term is maybe a year too long, but you can not beat the salary cap number.

14. Brett Kulak, Edmonton Oilers (four years, $11 million). Kulak is not going to carry the Oilers’ defense, but he was very good after being acquired at the trade deadline and this is a very strong re-sign by the Oilers after he went to market. In a thin defense crop, the Oilers did well.

15. Dominik Kubalik, Detroit Red Wings (two years, $5.5 million). This is a nice gamble for the Red Wings. Kubalik has his flaws, but he does have some finishing ability as a goal scorer even if it it peaked as a rookie. The price is right for this.

16. Ilya Mikheyev, Vancouver Canucks (four years, $19 million). The Canucks always have a couple of random players in the middle of their lineup making far more than you realize for too many years. This one might continue that trend. Mikheyev does a lot of things well, but I am not sure he is going to score 20 goals again.

17. Jack Campbell, Edmonton Oilers (five years, $25 million). Just not sure how much I trust Campbell to be the answer behind a weak defensive team. That contract is concerning.

18. Josh Manson, Colorado Avalanche (four years, $18 million). Manson was a good addition for Colorado at the trade deadline, but this also seems like a luxury re-signing (and maybe even an overpay) for a team that is already loaded on defense.

19. Jan Rutta, Pittsburgh Penguins (three years, $8.25 million). The Penguins really tried to overhaul their defense this offseason and it started with the Rutta addition. He is not going to be one of their top defenders, but given what players like Erik Gudbranson and Ben Chiarot signed for this is not a bad deal for what the Penguins will expect of him.

20. Justin Schultz, Seattle Kraken (two years, $6 million). Another bizarre move for Seattle, but again, given the market for other defenders it is not a terrible deal.