Analyzing big moves, rumors


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  • NHL free agency opens at noon ET Wednesday.
  • Forward Johnny Gaudreau is the best player available.
  • In the free agent class, there are many forwards and few defensemen and goaltenders.

The NHL free agent signing period officially began at noon ET Wednesday.

This year the free agent class is good on offense, but a bit poor on defense and goaltending.

Key players available at the opening included forwards Johnny Gaudreau, Nazem Kadri, Claude Giroud, Andrew Kopp, Ondrej Palat, Ryan Strom and David Perron, defensemen John Klingberg and Nick Leddy, and goaltenders Darcy Kemper, Jack Campbell and Ilya Samsonov.

Kadri and Kemper, along with Andre Burakovsky and several other unrestricted free agents, played for the Stanley Cup-winning Colorado Avalanche.

Follow NHL USA TODAY Sports staff to track and analyze signings and trades throughout the day:

Stanley Cup goaltender Darcy Kemper signed with the Washington Capitals.

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Darcy Kemper signed with the Capitals

The Stanley Cup-winning goaltender receives a five-year, $26.25 million contract. Last season, the Capitals were unhappy with their goaltender, trading Vitek Vanechek and not qualifying Ilya Samsonov. Kemper had a career-best 37 wins last season, and his .921 shooting percentage ranked fifth among players to start in the league.

Ilya Mikheev moves to the Canucks

The forward signed a four-year contract worth $19 million. agent Dan Milstein tweeted. Last season, he scored 21 goals in 53 games for the Maple Leafs.

Lightning lock extends the term from three to eight years

The Lightning, who reached the Stanley Cup Final for the third year in a row, retain the backbone. By granting defenseman Mikhail Sergachev an eight-year extension, Tampa Bay did the same to forward Anthony Cirelli and defenseman Eric Cernak. Sergachev’s median income is $8.5 million, Cirelli’s is $6.25 million, and Chernak’s is $5.2 million. Cirelli is the center of the team’s stoppage, and the role of Sergachev and Chernak will grow after the trade of Ryan McDonagh.

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