Aside from defensemen Kevin Shattenkirk and Karl Alzner attracting $20 million-plus contracts, NHL free agency isn't what it used to be. Not in a stagnant salary cap era.
Though plenty of players switched teams once the signing period opened Saturday, missing were the high-priced, long-term contracts that were once the norm.
Shattenkirk, considered the top free agent available and a Lightning target, signed a four-year, $26.6 million contract with the Rangers, reportedly passing up larger offers to join a team he grew up rooting for.
"New York was a place I wanted to play," said Shattenkirk, a New Rochelle, N.Y., native. "If I passed that up, I couldn't live with that. The opportunity to win a Stanley Cup as a hometown kid, that's the reason I came here."
After nine seasons in Washington, Alzner signed a five-year, $23.1 million deal with Montreal. He acknowledged he had few other options.
The most lucrative deals were to retain young stars. The Sharks locked up defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic with an eight-year, $56 million contract, and the Ducks signed defenseman Cam Fowler to an eight-year, $52 million deal. The Sharks also extended the contract of goalie Martin Jones with a six-year, $34.5 million deal.
That's a drastic change from a year ago, when three free agents signed seven-year contracts, including aging veteran Milan Lucic's $42 million deal with Edmonton.
"There's a whole lot of factors," Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said, noting players' age was one and so were moves by teams to sign players to extensions well before they might hit the market.
A primary factor, Holland said: "The cap used to go up $4 million to $5 million a year."
Nick Bonino left the Penguins for a four-year, $16.4 million deal with the Predators. Pittsburgh added defenseman Matt Hunwick and goalie Antti Niemi.
UNCERTAIN TIME FOR JAGR: The Panthers severed ties with Jaromir Jagr, 45. GM Dale Tallon said it was a business and hockey decision, but it hurt just the same. "It's an honor to be touched by a legend," Tallon said. The Sun Sentinel reported Jagr felt disrespected and left twisting in the wind since April. Jagr will now see if there is interest from what would be his ninth team, or he could return home to the Czech Republic and play for the Kladno Knights, a team he owns.