2019 Free Agency Day One: Talking is Fine, Offer Sheets are Fine, Big Money is Fine

Unlike Corey Hirsch– who I respect as a solid voice on commentary– I don’t have a problem with the talking period that the NHL has instilled in the league prior to the Free Agency period opening. Honestly, it actually makes things more fun when it comes to guessing where players are going. In fact, even if there’s some contract details that leak out– that’s fine– less work for everyone and people in Canada can actually enjoy their day off for Canada Day.

Even with the terms of collusion and tampering coming up– if the team that had their contract wanted then so badly; they would have given the offer they wanted before it got to the courting process. Maybe by talking to other teams, it gives the leverage to the players in getting more money on where they’re at now. It’s a thing that these players fought for in terms of getting free agency earlier and then be able to choose where they want to be.

And choose they did.

As of this writing, 118 players were selected to a total of a 229 years in contract terms and almost $700M in contract dollars being thrown around on the first day of the new season.

When it comes to big splashes, you have to think the Florida Panthers made some move in not only picking up Sergei Bobrovsky after Roberto Luongo retired and James Reimer was traded, but smaller deals like Brett Connolly, Noel Acciari, and Anton Stralman give the Panthers more of a well-rounded look to them.

The biggest fish was, of course, Artemi Panarin, who went to the New York Rangers for seven seasons. At just over $11.6M a year, that’s a lot of dough to throw around for a team that was in the middle of a rebuild that has seemingly been put on hiatus. With many fans being happy for the move, the more logical among them are cautious when it comes to the move; citing that it’s a fancy move, but maybe not one to propel them far in the playoffs if they get there.

Though the best move of the day had to go to Marc Bergevin by actually have a pair to give out an offer sheet…and to have the player in Sebastian Aho sign it. There’s plenty of bonus money in the deal, including $11.3M in the first year and $9.8M in the second year. If nothing else you have to give the Canadiens credit for at least attempting something.

While all signs put to the Canes matching the offer, this was the year that teams needed to make offer sheets on RFAs or else it was a worthless clause to have in the CBA. One of the biggest things now is to see what will happen, if anything, when it comes to Mitch Marner. It does add another layer to the whole process; which is something we didn’t think we’d ever see again.

Pacioretty Dealt in Middle of Night to the Knights

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Marc Bergevin either traded Max Pacioretty in the middle of the night to avoid the onslaught of opinion pieces that are going to come out when people start to wake up or he did it because he wanted people to talk about that to overshadow the Laval Rocket coach calling out prospects for not standing up for their teammates. Late Sunday/early Monday, the Habs traded Pacioretty to the Vegas Golden Knights for Tomas Tatar, Nick Suzuki, and a draft pick.

A lot of the contention comes from Pacioretty not wanting to negotiate a contract extension during the season, while Bergevin shuffled his feet for some reason to get his captain under a new contract. Pacioretty said he wanted to stay in Montreal, but it seemed the feeling wasn’t mutual. Injuries hassled Pacioretty last year– which was a down year all around for the Habs, but you can’t discount his four 30+ goals in the previous four season and hitting that mark five times during his ten seasons in Montreal.

For his return, Tatar provides the ability to be a consistent 20-goal scorer, though he was moved from Detroit to Vegas last season and was a scratch during much of the playoffs for the Golden Knights on their miraculous run to the Cup Final. Suzuki is a highly-touted prospect, who has put up 87 goals and 196 points in the last two seasons in the OHL– which means he’ll have people put too much pressure on him to succeed immediately with the Canadiens franchise; which leads for ultimate let-down in the end.

If Suzuki doesn’t come up as a big part of the Habs rebuild and Pacioretty becomes a bigger star in Vegas, it’ll just add to the shot-sheet of Bergevin’s demise as a GM. While he’s trying to get a fresh start with his team– he hasn’t gotten much a return on investment for what he’s already given away. You can bet that the people will be even more up in arms if Carey Price were to get traded from the Habs, which will take a lot of doing because Price holds a no-move clause now in his $10.5M deal for the next eight seasons. With already trading their old core of youth in PK Subban, Alex Galchenyuk, and Lars Eller; the Habs faithful are split between if this is ultimately good or bad….though the outside looking in seems to be the it’s not the best thing in the world for the Canadiens unless their return on investment gets them back to Cup contender quick.

For George McPhee, he continues to build up the Golden Knights– adding another solid center for their line-up. On top of picking up Paul Statsny and extending Jonathan Marchessault, the Golden Knights are going to stay complacent after their amazing first season. William Karlsson is probably the only one they wanted to get re-signed to an extension that they haven’t, but with his core of players going forward– they seem pretty damn solid for their second season.

While this is a deal for a 5 PM Friday news dump, it’ll create plenty to talk about in the hockey world as we lead up to the opening of training camp and the opening of new hope for a season. Though the return in the short-term wasn’t the best for the Habs, it could pay off for the long-term. However, there’s not a guarantee that Bergevin will be around to see the fruits of his labor. The fans haven’t been too impressed with what Bergevin has done, but Geoff Molson still sees something in him. While a lot of the prospects haven’t turned out; Molson still sees some kind of progress in what Bergevin’s  doing or else he wouldn’t be there. And if Suzuki doesn’t turn out and Pacioretty gets a bump by moving out of Montreal– it could be the last straw…if it isn’t something else first to get Bergevin out of there.