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Saturday Offseason Caterwaul: Florida Panthers Open Forum

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NHL defensemen continue to break the bank in free agency

Florida Panthers v Edmonton Oilers Photo by Dale MacMillan/NHLI via Getty Images

Remember when Florida Panthers fans were concerned about the ramifications of signing Aaron Ekblad to an eight-year, $60 million contract extension back on July 1, 2016? Well, with a spate of expensive new deals handed out this summer, Ekblad, who was in the Norris Trophy conversation before getting injured, is looking like a bargin at an average annual value of $ 7.5 million for the next four seasons.

Edmonton Oilers blueliner Darnell Nurse joined the likes of Seth Jones, Dougie Hamilton and Cale Makar in the $9 million and up club by inking a monster eight-year contract extension worth $74 million. Nurse’s new deal, which will kick in to start the 2022-23 season, includes a full no-move clause for the first six years and a modified no-trade clause for the final two seasons. (Copper & Blue)

New York Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech also cashed in with an eight-year deal worth $46 million, avoiding a scheduled arbitration hearing. I know Pelech is a shutdown defender, but Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello did really, really well here by keeping the valuable 26-year-old Pelech’s AAV under $6 million. (Lighthouse Hockey)

The new Seattle Kraken were busy on Friday. Ron Francis avoided an arbitration hearing with Vince Dunn by signing the former St. Louis Blues defenseman to a new two-year contract that carries a $4 million AAV. Seattle also signed unrestriced free agent forward Marcus Johansson to a one-year deal worth $1.5 million and right wing Kole Lind, who taken from the Vancouver Canucks in the expansion draft, to a one-year, two-way deal worth $874,125 at the NHL level. Look for Lind to possibily spend some time with the Charlotte Checkers this season. (Kraken Official)

The Chicago Blackhawks signed 22-year old forward Brandon Hagel to a three-year contract with an annual salary cap hit of $1.5 million. Hagel’s 24 points in 52 NHL games trailed only the now departed Pius Suter among Blackhawks rookies. (Second City Hockey)

The Anaheim Ducks signed forwards Sam Steel and Isaac Lundestrom to one-year, two-way deals. Both players produced six goals for the Ducks during the 2020-21 season. (Hockey 1 on 1)

The Arizona Coyotes signed defenseman Conor Timmins to a two-year contract worth $1.7 million. Arizona acquired Timmins on July 28 from the Colorado Avalanche as part of the package for goalie Darcy Kuemper. The Desert Dogs also signed forward prospect Bokondji Imama to a one-year, two-way contract. (Five For Howling)

The Calgary Flames signed centers Luke Philp and Matthew Phillips to one-year, two-way deals. Both players were members of the AHL’s Stockton Heat last season. (Calgary Sun)

Goaltender Michael McNiven inked a one-year, two-way contract to remain with the Montral Canadiens, avoiding an arbitration hearing. McNiven appeared in 13 AHL games with the Laval Rocket in 2020-21. (Eyes On The Prize)

The Los Angeles Kings signed defenseman Kale Clague to a one-year, two-way deal to stay with the organization. Clague split time between the Kings and Ontario Reign last season. (LA Kings Insider)

Oskar Olausson has signed an entry-level contract with the Colorado Avalanche. The Avalanche took the Swedish forward with the 28th overall pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. (Mile High Hockey)

The New York Rangers inked forward Ty Ronning to a one-year, two-way deal. Ronning spent the 2020-21 season with the Hartford Wolf Pack and put up 18 points in 18 games. (Blue Seat Blogs)

Friday’s signings have reduced the NHL’s docket of arbitration hearings down to the following eleven cases.

Calgary Flames: Nikita Zadorov, D (Aug. 26)

Colorado Avalanche: Dennis Gilbert, D (Aug. 21)

Detroit Red Wings: Jakub Vrana, F (Aug. 11); Adam Erne, F (Aug. 21)

Minnesota Wild: Kevin Fiala, F (team-elected; Aug. 17)

Nashville Predators: Juuse Saros, G (Aug. 18)

Philadelphia Flyers: Travis Sanheim, D (team-elected; Aug. 26)

Tampa Bay Lightning: Ross Colton, F (Aug. 16)

Vancouver Canucks: Jason Dickinson, F (Aug. 20)

Winnipeg Jets: Neal Pionk, D (Aug. 13); Andrew Copp, F (Aug. 26)

Eight players who elected arbitration have signed new contracts.