A day after the New Jersey Devils missed out on the top prize in NHL free agency, they landed two-time Stanley Cup champion Ondrej Palat on Thursday.
The Ottawa Senators, meantime, followed up on signing former Flyers captain Claude Giroux in free agency by locking up third-year centre Josh Norris through the 2029-30 season with a $63.3 million, eight-year deal.
The Devils signed Palat to a $30 million, five-year contract in a deal announced Thursday. The left-winger had 52 points in 71 games during Tampa Bay’s three consecutive trips to the Cup Final. He finished sixth in Conn Smythe Trophy voting as playoff MVP this year.
Tampa Bay attempted to keep the 31-year-old from Czechia and defenceman Jan Rutta, who signed with Pittsburgh, but couldn’t make the salary cap numbers work. Instead, general manager Julien Brisebois signed defencemen Mikhail Sergachev and Erik Cernak and centre Anthony Cirelli to eight-year extensions through 2031.
The Devils landed Palat after losing the Johnny Gaudreau sweepstakes to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Gaudreau signed a $68.25 million, eight-year contract with Columbus after deciding to leave Calgary. His decision came after an initial frenzy of signings, including the Washington Capitals getting Cup-winning goaltender Darcy Kuemper and Giroux leaving Florida for Ottawa.
The spree of signings which occurred during the first day of free agency slowed to a trickle on Thursday, with forward Nazem Kadri and defenceman John Klingberg the most notable names still on the market.
The reigning champion Colorado Avalanche have said they would like to bring back Kadri, who helped them win it all. The Dallas Stars all but ruled out keeping Klingberg, who could still sign one of the biggest contracts of the off-season.
The Senators continued building on what could be the most promising off-season in the franchise’s 30-year history with Norris’ signing.
Selected 19th in the 2017 draft, the 23-year-old from Michigan is considered a key fixture on a young, developing team. He’s coming off a season in which he scored a team-leading 35 goals and 55 points in 66 games.
Norris’ signing comes on the heels of the Senators landing Giroux in a move that brings the 34-year-old captain back to the region where he played junior hockey. Ottawa also acquired winger Alex DeBrincat and goaltender Cam Talbot in trades over the past week in signalling the team is prepared to take the next step toward contending in the Eastern Conference.