- NOON: Good afternoon everyone, and welcome to the first day of National Hockey League free agency. NHL teams are free to sign unrestricted free agents as of noon Eastern time today. There are some big names out on the open market, but we'll be keeping an eye mostly on what the Philadelphia Flyers and Adirondack Phantoms -- as well as their divisional opponents -- do today.
The Flyers got things started yesterday, re-upping bottom-six forward Adam Hall to a one-year deal.
- This morning, they re-signed captain Claude Giroux to an eight-year, $66.2 million contract.
- Giroux was not going to be a free agent today, he was signed through the 2013-14 season and would have been a restricted free agent when that contract expired. But the Flyers have now locked down the face of their franchise through the summer of 2022. He'll be 34 when it expires. He's getting a pretty substantial raise, too. Cap hit goes from $3.75 million to $8.275 million beginning with the 2014-15 season. That will be the ninth-highest cap hit in the NHL, according to this CapGeek list.
While we wait for some more signings to come in, here's an updated look at the Flyers organizational depth chart, plus Adirondack's contract statuses. Because the Flyers already have so many players locked down, it's possible they might not be all that active today. They only get 50 contracts. But they do have some positions that need to be filled, notably one goaltending job at the NHL level.
12:05 p.m.: That job won't be filled by Evgeni Nabokov, who re-signed with the New York Islanders.
- 12:23 p.m.: That didn't take long. The Flyers signed one-time Adirondack Phantoms goalie (literally one-time, he played one game on a conditioning assignment in 2009-10) Ray Emery to a one-year contract. He was 17-1 with good numbers for Chicago last year. Anthony SanFilippo has the terms:
- It's the second year in a row they've made a goaltender their first free agency signing. Last year they signed Michael Leighton to a one-year deal. He got traded to Columbus, and is now one of the best available AHL-level free agents out there. We ranked the Top 300 a few days ago, view that list here.
Florida took No. 22 off the big board, signing Hershey Bears winger Joey Crabb to a two-year deal.
- But Hershey replaced him with Jamie Johnson, who wasn't on the big board because he spent last season in Europe.
- 1 p.m.: If recent history is any indicator, don't expect the Flyers to make some blockbuster signing for the Phantoms today. It's simply not the way they've done things over the past few seasons.
I went back and looked through Flyers and Phantoms news releases since the team moved to Glens Falls in 2009-10. The first "Phantoms" signings have never transpired on the first day of free agency.
Here's a list of what things have looked like over the past few years:
2009-10: Lukas Kaspar, Krys Kolanos, Mika Pyorala, Jason Ward, Joey Mormina (July 23).
2010-11: Greg Moore (July 10)
2011-12: Jason Bacashihua, Jon Kalinski (July 19)
2012-13: Danny Syvret, Cullen Eddy, Mike Testwuide (July 3)
Maybe this is the year the Flyers break from tradition, though. The Phantoms did just have the worst season in franchise history. A few other big signings within the old Atlantic Division in the past hour:
- 1:16 p.m.: Scratch everything I just said about how not to expect a big splash. The Flyers announced they signed Yann Danis to a contract. Just what they needed at the AHL level. He was the 2011-12 AHL Goalie of the Year and has posted back-to-back 26-win seasons in Oklahoma City. He can play the veteran goalie role and be a viable NHL call-up should something happen to Emery or Steve Mason.
- 2:02 p.m.: Here's our first run-through on the Danis signing, which is a big deal as far as Adirondack is concerned. A sticking point from this is that he's a veteran goaltender who knows the ropes and is a proven performer, especially in the playoffs. He's taken the Barons to the Western Conference Finals in two straight seasons, including to within one victory of the Calder Cup Finals last season. There's very little playoff experience on Adirondack's roster. This sends a message that they want to win this year.
Meanwhile, some more AHL free agents coming off the big board. The best available:
- 2:33 p.m: Colorado has taken two of the best-available AHL defensemen off the board.
- Benoit was the top-ranked defenseman on the big board, No. 7 overall. Guenin, a one-time Flyers prospect, was ranked as the No. 3 defenseman and No. 21 overall free agent after a career year.
2:38 p.m.: Columbus, the parent club of the Springfield Falcons, made some noise today when they signed Boston star Nathan Horton to a seven-year contract. They just made a trio of AHL signings, picking up a collection of pretty good players. Springfield should be competitive yet again this season.