The Capitals signed defenseman Matt Niskanen, 27, to a seven-year, $40.25 million contract soon after sealing a $27.5 million, five-year deal with defenseman Brooks Orpik on Tuesday in the opening hours of NHL free agency. Washington also damaged a Metropolitan Division rival: Both players were with Pittsburgh last season.
Avalanche veteran Paul Stastny cashed in, signing a $28 million, four-year contract with the Blues, a Central Division rival.
The Wild signed forward Thomas Vanek to a $19.5 million, three-year deal, two summers after investing a lot in free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.
The Canucks gave goaltender Ryan Miller a three-year deal worth $18 million, hoping he will provide stability after trading away Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider.
The Stars got a jump on the competition before free agency began, acquiring high-scoring forward Jason Spezza in a trade with the Senators, taking advantage of space under the salary cap.
The Panthers invested tens of millions on free agents, adding centers Dave Bolland ($27.7 million, five years) and Jussi Jokinen ($16 million, four years), along with Stanley Cup-winning defenseman Willie Mitchell ($8.5 million, two years).
The Sabres infused its roster with veteran talent, giving forward Matt Moulson $25 million over five years and forward Brian Gionta a $12.75 million, three-year contract.
Jarome Iginla signed a three-year, $16 million deal with the Avalanche on his 37th birthday after the wing had 30 goals to tie for the most with the Bruins last season. The Avs also acquired a veteran defenseman, Brad Stuart from the Sharks, for a second-round pick in two years and a sixth-round selection in 2017.
The Blackhawks signed Brad Richards to a one-year deal. He had 20 goals and 31 assists in 82 games for the Rangers last season, then had 12 points in the playoffs to help his team make it to the Stanley Cup final. The 34-year-old has 276 goals and 591 assists in 982 career games for Tampa Bay, Dallas and New York. "When you look at the opportunity to play here, it's pretty exciting because you know that if you're playing center on the top two lines, you're playing with a great player or probably two great players, actually," Richards said. "So it wasn't hard for me to love Chicago."
Former Lightning Dan Boyle, a 15-year NHL veteran who turns 38 on July 12, joins the Rangers after six seasons with the Sharks.