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Free Agency is Coming - A Recap of the Exciting NHL Offseason So Far

Leading up to the 2024 NHL free agency period, this year’s offseason has proven to be exciting. Between the draft, trades, signings, and waivers, there has been plenty of action and turnover among the 32 teams. With free agency beginning at noon ET on July 1 and the draft taking place on June 28 and 29, many teams have made significant roster changes to free up cap space for new players. These strategic moves are setting the stage for a highly anticipated free agency period, as teams position themselves to secure top talent and enhance their lineups for the upcoming season. 

June 13-24

On June 13, the New York Rangers reached an agreement with forward Kaapo Kakko, extending his contract by one year. As the second overall pick by the Rangers in the 2019 Draft, he has accompanied the team to the conference finals two out of the past three years. Despite extending his contract with the Rangers, there are rumors that he could still be traded.

The next day, Jalen Chatfield re-signed with the Carolina Hurricanes for a three-year contract. Then, on June 17, Adam Ginning, who only played nine games with the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2023-24 season, extended his contract with them for one year. The following day, June 18, forward Barclay Goodrow was placed on waivers by the New York Rangers and claimed by the San Jose Sharks, whom he originally played for. On the same day, defenseman Filip Hronek signed an eight-year contract to stay with the Vancouver Canucks.

Also from the Canucks, defenseman Mark Friedman re-signed with a one-year extension on June 19. Kyle McLean extended his contract that day but with a three-year contract with the New York Islanders. 

The 19th also kicked off a huge string of trades leading up to the 2024 draft. The Dallas Stars traded Ty Dellandrea to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for a 2025 fourth-round pick, effectively clearing up cap space. The Los Angeles Kings acquired goalie Darcy Kuemper from the Washington Capitals for Pierre-Luc Dubois, who was the 2016 third overall pick. Lastly, the Calgary Flames received Kevin Bahl and a conditional 2025 first-round pick (top 10 protected) from the New Jersey Devils for Jacob Markström. 

On June 20, goalie Alex Nedeljkovic re-signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins for a two-year extension and center Cole Guttman signed a one-year extension with the Chicago Blackhawks. Then, on June 21, the Columbus Blue Jackets extended forward Yegor Chinakhov’s contract by two years. The next day, center Alex Turcotte re-signed with the Los Angeles Kings for another three years. 

June 24 was another big day of roster changes leading up to the 2024 Draft. To start, the Boston Bruins traded their goalie Linus Ullmark to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for goalie Joonas Korpisalo, center Mark Kastelic, and the 2024 first-round pick (which would end up being #25 Dean Letourneau). This move ultimately split up the iconic goalie tandem between Boston’s Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman. Another move by the Bruins included extending goalie Brandon Bussi’s contract by one year, who has been primarily playing with the AHL Providence Bruins. Perhaps this will be Bussi’s chance to play for the major league on a more frequent basis. Two more one-year extensions took place this day, one with forward Samuel Fagemo of the LA Kings and the other with defenseman Nick DeSimone of the New Jersey Devils.

June 25

On June 25, the Detroit Red Wings acquired Jesse Kiiskinen and the 2024 second-round pick from the Nashville Predators for Andrew Gibson. Then, the Red Wings traded this second-round pick (who would end up being #53 Leo Sahlin Wallenius) and Jake Walman to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for future considerations. It looks like Detroit is desperately trying to clear out cap space ahead of free agency, possibly looking to make some big moves. 

Also on the 25th, a couple of teams decided to extend some players’ contracts. The Colorado Avalanche agreed to terms for a three-year extension of center Casey Mittelstadt’s contract, who was the eighth pick in the 2017 Draft. 

June 26-27

On June 26, the Chicago Blackhawks received Sam Lafferty, Ilya Mikheyev, and the 2027 second-round pick from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for a 2027 fourth-round pick. Also that day, the Vancouver Canucks gave center Teddy Blueger a two-year extension to his contract. The following day, the Canucks also extended center Dakota Joshua’s contract by four years and defenseman Tyler Myers’ by three years. It was a big couple of days for Vancouver. 

A few trades were also made on June 27, including the Washington Capitals acquiring forward Andrew Mangiapane from the Calgary Flames for a 2025 second-round pick. The San Jose Sharks acquired the 2024 first-round pick (who would become #11 Sam Dickinson) from the Buffalo Sabres for the 2024 first-round and second-round picks (#14 Konsta Helenius and #42 Adam Kleber respectively). The Sharks also acquired forward Carl Grundström from the LA Kings for defenseman Kyle Burroughs. 

June 28

June 28 was the first day of the 2024 NHL Draft, meaning that teams were working overtime beforehand to solidify which number picks they wanted as well as who. One of the first trades that day was between the Carolina Hurricanes and Chicago Blackhawks. The Canes received two second-round picks in exchange for a first-round pick. They chose #34 Dominik Badinka and #50 Nikita Artamonov while the Blackhawks chose #27 Marek Vanacker.

Another draft day trade included the Montreal Canadiens receiving a first-round pick (#21 Michael Hage) from the LA Kings for a first-round pick, second-round pick, and seventh-round pick (who would be chosen as #26 Liam Greentree, #57 Carter George, and #198 James Reeder, respectively). The Toronto Maple Leafs acquired a first-round pick (#31 Ben Danford) and a second-round pick, which would be traded to the Panthers the next day, from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for a first-round pick (#23 Stian Solberg). The Utah Hockey Club, waiting for its new official name, received a first-round pick (#24 Cole Beaudoin) from the neighboring Colorado Avalanche, who in return acquired a second-round pick (#38 Ilya Nabokov), a third-round pick, which they would trade to Buffalo the next day, and a 2025 second-round pick.

The 28th was also a big day for trading for the Philadelphia Flyers, with them making trades with both the Minnesota Wild and the Edmonton Oilers. Their first trade was with the Minnesota Wild, who received a first-round pick (#12 Zeev Buium), with the Flyers obtaining a first-round pick (#13 Jett Luchanko) and a 2025 third-round pick. Philadelphia also received a conditional 2025 first-round pick from the Oilers, whose top 12 are protected in 2025, in exchange for the 2024 first-round pick (#32 Sam O’Reilly). 

Additionally, the Columbus Blue Jackets traded with the St. Louis Blues, acquiring a 2025 fourth-round pick from them for center Alexandre Texier. The Blues, after just acquiring Texier, decided to extend his contract by two years. 

This day wasn’t only packed with trades and the first round of the draft – it also included released players and contract extensions. Starting with those placed on waivers or released is Cam Atkinson, who was waived by the Flyers on the 28th and officially released via contract buyout the following day. The Dallas Stars also released defenseman Ryan Suter, effectively buying out his contract. 

The Stars, however, did decide to extend defenseman Alexander Petrovic’s contract by two years. Similarly, goalie Calvin Pickard of the Edmonton Oilers also received a two-year extension.

June 29

June 29 was another busy day, with the other six rounds of the draft as well as many trades happening to improve each team. Additionally, the Sharks put Nikolai Knyzhov on waivers with the intention for his contract to be bought out, which happened the following day. 

One of many exciting trades began when the Washington Capitals acquired a third-round pick (#75 Ilya Protas) from the New Jersey Devils for third- and fifth-round picks, #82 Carson Wetsch and #146 Veeti Louhivaara. The Devils then turned around and traded the #82 pick to the San Jose Sharks, getting a third-round pick (#85 Kasper Pikkarainen) and a 2025 sixth-round pick in return. New Jersey was busy that day, also making trades with the Utah Hockey Club and the Vegas Golden Knights. To Utah, they gave up defenseman John Marino and a fifth-round pick (#153 Ales Cech) to receive a second-round pick (#49 Mikhail Yegorov) and a 2025 second-round pick. The Devils also traded goalie Akira Schmid and forward Alexander Holtz to Vegas, acquiring Paul Cotter and a 2025 third-round pick in return. 

The Washington Capitals also had more than just the trade with New Jersey. They also acquired second-round pick from the Buffalo Sabres, #43 Cole Hutson, the brother of Montreal Canadien Lane Hutson, in exchange for forward Beck Malenstyn. They also received Logan Thompson from the Golden Knights for third-round pick (#83 Pavel Moysevich) and a 2025 third-round pick. The Caps also had another trade with Vegas, acquiring seventh-round pick (#212 Miroslav Satan) in exchange for a 2025 sixth-round pick. 

Another trade with the Buffalo Sabres came from the Colorado Avalanche, who gave up the third-round pick they received the day before, allowing the Sabres to choose #71 Brodie Ziemer, in exchange for third- and fifth-round packs (#76 William Zellers and #161 Maxmilian Curran, respectively). The Sabres also acquired fourth- and seventh-round picks (#123 Simon-Pier Brunet and #219 Ryerson Leenders) from the Winnipeg Jets for a fourth-round pick (#109 Kevin He).

The Toronto Maple Leafs also made a similar move to the Avalanche, giving up their second-round pick to the Florida Panthers who would choose #58 Linus Eriksson, in exchange for a seventh-round pick (#225 Nathan Mayes) and a 2025 second-round pick. The Leafs also acquired defenseman Christopher Tanev from the Dallas Stars for forward Max Ellis and a 2026 seventh-round pick. 

The Tampa Bay Lightning were another big trader, making deals with three different teams that day. The first was with the Utah Hockey Club, whom they gave defenseman Mikhail Sergachev to in exchange for defenseman J.J. Moser, center Conor Geekie, a seventh-round pick (#199 Noah Steen), and a 2025 second-round pick. Tampa also traded forward Tanner Jeannot to the LA Kings, receiving fourth-round pick (#118 Jan Golicic) and a 2025 second-round pick in return. They also acquired center Jake Guentzel from the Carolina Hurricanes, giving up a 2025 third-round pick to earn his rights. 

Trading Jake Guentzel wasn’t the only change the Carolina Hurricanes were up to on June 29. They also acquired a third- and fifth-round picks (#69 Noel Fransén and #133 Oskar Vuollet, respectively) from the Columbus Blue Jackets for a second-round pick (#60 Evan Gardner). The Canes traded with another midwestern team, the Chicago Blackhawks, receiving a 2025 third-round pick by giving up their 2024 third-round pick (#92 Jack Pridham). 

The two teams of Pennsylvania were also making some moves, with the Pittsburgh Penguins taking forward Kevin Hayes and a 2025 second-round pick off of the St. Louis Blues for future considerations, meaning they will receive their return at some other time. As for the Philadelphia Flyers, they were able to acquire a second-round pick (#59 Spencer Gill) from the Nashville Predators for a third-round pick (#77 Viggo Gustafsson) and a 2025 third-round pick. Philadelphia also received a fourth-round pick (#107 Heikki Ruohonen) from the Calgary Flames for fifth- and sixth-round picks (#150 Luke Misa and #177 Eric Jamieson). 

A few more trades were made that day, including the New York Rangers acquiring a fourth-round pick (#119 Raoul Boilard) from Nashville for a fourth-round pick (#127 Viktor Nörringer) and a 2026 seventh-round pick. The Boston Bruins received center Vinni Lettieri and a fourth-round pick (#110 Elliott Groenewold) from the Minnesota Wild for center Jakub Lauko and fourth-round pick (#122 Aron Kiviharju). The Florida Panthers had a second trade on June 29 but with the Seattle Kraken, receiving sixth- and seventh-round picks (#169 Stepan Gorbunov and #201 Denis Gabdrakhmanov) in exchange for a fifth-round pick (#141 Clarke Caswell). Then, two of the California teams struck up a deal. The Los Angeles Kings traded a sixth-round pick (#164 Jared Woolley) to the Anaheim Ducks, receiving sixth- and seventh-round picks (#182 Austin Burnevik and #214 Darels Uljanskis) in return.

June 30

Being the last full day before free agency begins, June 30 was full of trades and signings. As for trades, the New Jersey Devils acquired defenseman Johnathan Kovacevic from the Montreal Canadiens for a conditional 2026 fourth-round pick (*must be the highest fourth-round pick the Devils have). The Pittsburgh Penguins traded center Lukas Svejkovsky to the Tampa Bay Lighting, receiving forward Bennett MacArthur in return. 

A few players’ contracts were waived for the purpose of a contract buyout, including the Columbus Blue Jackets’ Adam Boqvist, Nate Schmidt of the Winnipeg Jets, and Jack Campbell of the Edmonton Oilers. 

Forward Patrick Kane signed a one-year contract extension to stay with Detroit Red Wings, despite the New York Rangers showing interest. The Toronto Maple Leafs extended two of their players’ contracts, center Max Domi by four years, and defenseman Timothy Liljegren by two years. The San Jose Sharks also extended two of theirs, with a one-year extension for both forward Justin Bailey and center Luke Kunin. Another California team, the Anaheim Ducks, gave center Isac Lundestrom a one-year contract extension.

July 1, before noon ET

On July 1, before noon, teams are still able to make some last minute adjustments before the players whose contracts are ending become free agents and can sign with whoever. 

Some teams made qualifying offers to their players whose contracts were ending, with some players accepting the terms, and others not. Forward Connor Brown of the Edmonton Oilers re-signed with them, deciding to stay for another year. Another Canadian team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, re-signed their goalie, Joseph Woll, to another three years. Three teams made big extensions, including the Carolina Hurricanes, who gave defenseman Jaccob Slavin an eight-year, $51.69 million contract to remain on the team. Center Sam Reinhart, who scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal, re-signed with this year’s champions, the Florida Panthers for an eight-year, $69 million contract. Another big extension of the day went to the Nashville Predators’ goalie, Juuse Saros, whose contract was extended by eight years. 

After being traded, some players signed contracts with their new teams. One example is forward Jake Guentzel, who Tampa had received signing rights to just days before. The Florida team decided to give him a seven year, $63 million contract. Defenseman Christopher Tanev received a six year, $4.5 million average annual value contract from his new team, the Toronto Maple Leafs. Lastly, the Buffalo Sabres signed forward Sam Lafferty on a two-year, $2 million contract. 

The excitement of the offseason has only just begun, with more on the way as the free agency period begins.

Edited by Breanna Ebisch

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