Free Agent Frenzy officially hit us today as NHL teams opened their wallets and players made some of the biggest decisions of their professional lives.
The biggest fish of the day, John Tavares, pulled a Zach Parise and went home to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs leaving Lou Lamoriello and the Islanders in a bit of a lurch. Tavares will be getting $77 million over 7-years from the Leafs as he tries to guide them to their first Stanley Cup since 1967. There were a few other names out there too.
James van Riemsdyk, the Middletown, New Jersey native and the second biggest catch of the day, returned to the club where he began his NHL career. He moved from the Leafs back to the Flyers. He got $35 million over 5-years from Philly as per TSN. Paul Stastny went from the Jets to the Golden Knights in a “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” type of move ($19.5 million over 3-years according to TSN) and a bunch of goalies moved from team to team in a game of musical chairs. Former Devil Scott Wedgewood was one of those, going from Los Angeles to Buffalo.
On the Devils front there was not too much noise. They began early by re-signing goalie Eddie Lack to a 1-year contract worth $650,000 according to TSN. Lack will remain the third goalie behind Cory Schneider and Keith KInkaid, likely.
The Devils also signed defenseman Eric Gryba from the Edmonton Oilers organization to a 1-year, two-way contract worth $700,000 at the NHL level and $300,000 at the AHL level ($350,000 guaranteed) according to a press release put out by the team and announced by GM Ray Shero.
Gryba is a 30-year-old native of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan who spent the last three years in the Edmonton system following five with the Ottawa Senators organization. He was drafted with Ottawa’s third choice, 68th overall in 2006 and then traded to Edmonton on June 27, 2015.
Last season, he spent time between the Oilers and the Bakersfield Condors of the AHL. At the NHL level, he played 21 games, netting two assists for two points and 31 penalty minutes according to the press release. In the AHL, he played in 24 games and had 27 PIMs.
If sent to Binghamton, the right-hand shooting former Boston University standout does have some history there. He was a 2013 AHL All-Star with the Binghamton Senators and also won the Calder Cup with that team in 2011. He also won a NCAA national title with the Terriers in 2009.
In 279 total NHL regular season games, Gryba has seven goals and 36 assists for 43 points toal and 358 penalty minutes. He is also a plus-16. Add to that 13 playoff games where he has 35 PIMs. At the AHL level, he has played in 207 games and has 14 goals and 25 assists to total 39 points plus 332 PIMs and a plus-15 plus/minus rating. All of this information comes from the Devils’ press release on the matter.
Beyond that, it was a lot of addition by subtraction for New Jersey. TSN reported that the Boston Bruins signed defenseman John Moore to a 5-year, $2.75 million deal. Also per TSN, forward Michael Grabner left for the Arizona Coyotes for a 3-year, $10.05 million contract.
The Devils still have Patrick Maroon as an unrestricted free agent, but he has been linked to his hometown St. Louis Blues. Although he does have New Jersey connections (his mother is from the state and he spent summers as a kid with family in East Rutherford of all places), he grew up in St. Louis and his son still lives in that area and goes to school there, so the Blues might be more of an attractive situation for him.
Other than that, the Devils have not made any other moves. Should that change, we will try to keep you updated here.