A day after the Devils missed out on the top prize in NHL free agency, they landed two-time Stanley Cup champion Ondrej Palat on Thursday.
The Capitals, meanwhile, continued their busy offseason by signing former Blackhawks forward Dylan Strome.
The Devils signed Palat to a $30 million, five-year contract. The left winger had 49 points in 77 games during Tampa Bay’s third consecutive trip 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 defenseman Jan Rutta, who signed with Pittsburgh, but couldn’t make the salary cap numbers work. Instead, general manager Julien BriseBois signed defensemen Mikhail Sergachev and Erik Cernak and center Anthony Cirelli to eight-year extensions through 2031.
The Devils landed Palat after losing the Johnny Gaudreau sweepstakes to the Blue Jackets. Gaudreau signed a $68.25 million, eight-year contract after deciding to leave Calgary. His decision came after an initial frenzy of signings, including the Capitals getting Cup-winning goaltender Darcy Kuemper and Claude Giroux leaving Florida for Ottawa.
Strome, who signed for $3.5 million on a one-year deal, became Washington's latest addition after Chicago decided against a qualifying offer to keep him around. The 25-year-old scored a career-high 22 goals last season and added 26 assists in 69 games.
The Capitals previously signed y Kuemper to be their starting goaltender and Charlie Lindgren to be their backup, re-signed winger Marcus Johansson and defenseman Matt Irwin, and signed two other Blackhawks castoffs, Erik Gustafsson and Henrik Borgstrom. They acquired winger Connor Brown from the Senators for a 2024 second-round pick.
Kadri, Klingberg remain unsigned
Ottawa followed up on signing former Flyers captain Giroux by locking up third-year center Josh Norris through the 2029-30 season with a $63.3 million, eight-year deal.
The spree of signings that occurred during the first day of free agency slowed to a trickle Thursday, with forward Nazem Kadri and defenseman John Klingberg the most notable names still on the market.
The reigning champion Avalanche have said they would like to bring back Kadri, who helped them win it all. The Stars all but ruled out keeping Klingberg, who could still sign one of the biggest contracts of the offseason.
The Senators continued building on what could be the most promising offseason in the franchise’s 30-year history with Norris’s 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’s signing comes on the heels of the the Senators landing Giroux in a move that brings the 34-year-old 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 signaling the team is prepared to take the next step toward contending in the Eastern Conference.
The Golden Knights made two bargain signings, adding forwards Sakari Manninen and Spencer Foo on one-year deals each worth $750,000. Manninen was Finland’s leading goal-scorer on the way to winning gold at the Beijing Olympics, while Foo played for host China.