NHL teams committed more than half-a-billion dollars (U.S.), a record amount, to sign more than 70 players to new contracts. The rush to sign players as soon the signing window opened at noon (Eastern) Tuesday came about largely because of a change in the collective bargaining agreement, which gave NHL teams a “grace” period to explore contract talks with free agents five days before their old deals actually expired. Teams used that window to get a head start on the negotiations – and it was evident in how quickly the signings occurred that most players and teams had contracts virtually in place before the shopping window opened. -- Eric Duhatschek
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