NHL teams making moves, not waiting for top free agents

Taylor Hall was not signed on the first day of the free agency. The same goes for Alex Pietrangelo and Mike Hoffman.
A handful of the best free agents are still available, but the NHL teams aren't waiting for those big fish to sign to take other steps. Boston halted its pursuit of Hall to sign great winger Craig Smith. Columbus bolstered his mid-depth by inking veterans center Mikko Koivu while keeping an eye on other options, and Carolina put his goalkeeping purchases on hold to add fast forward Jesper Fast.
"Some of these players are very unique and high-profile players and are probably looking for the right opportunity for them," said Don Sweeney, general manager of Bruins after giving Smith $ 9.3 million over three years. "And when it comes down to it, they will find their landing site. I think all the other teams are doing exactly the same thing. I think we will continue to have these talks."
Some conversations take place by phone or video chat, others in person. Pietrangelo flew to Vegas on Saturday to visit the Golden Knights, who cleared the space for salary caps to try the defender who won the Stanley Cup in 2019.
Vegas has yet to take a step or two to match Pietrangelo, and it's not alone when it comes to clearing the books for a big step. Nashville, which Kyle Turris had bought and left Smith into the free hand, exchanged Austin Watson for Ottawa for Ottawa.
The Blue Jackets bought out Alexander Wennberg and made some other salary saving decisions, but don't expect them to go hunting for big names. Koivu signed $ 1.5 million for the next season and they must rebuild the top center Pierre-Luc Dubois and other limited free agents.
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Columbus will also wait its time to wait for the market.
"There are teams that are in a tough spot, or whatever you want to call it, with their Cap Space," said GM Jarmo Kekalainen. “If we keep this flexibility, some opportunities could arise here. Teams need to move money, and in order to move money they may need to move some really good players. "
Some good free agents found new homes on Saturday. Almost signed a three-year deal with the Hurricanes for $ 6 million, the Detroit Red Wings added goalkeeper Thomas Greiss and defenseman Troy Stecher, and the Dallas Stars scored good value for a one-year deal with defenseman Mark Pysyk for $ 750,000 .
Stecher wasn't the only defender to leave Vancouver when Chris Tanev joined the Calgary Flames for four years and $ 18 million. Calgary spent even more money on its goal on Friday when it signed former Canucks netminder Jacob Markstrom on a six-year deal for $ 36 million.
The Buffalo Sabers signed a two-year contract for $ 4.5 million for the Cody Eakin Center, according to one person with direct knowledge of the business. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity as the move had not been announced.
While Pietrangelo traveled to Vegas, the teams took a handful of smaller steps on Saturday: Edmonton signed defenseman Tyson Barrie for $ 3.75 million and brought back goalkeeper Mike Smith for $ 2 million, Winnipeg added former Philadelphia center Nate Thompson added, and Pittsburgh first took a flight-round selection to Frederik Gauthier in 2013.
Barrie took on less money than his old team in Toronto T.J. Brodie and joined the Oilers instead of accepting a larger offer.
"This year wasn't about money," said Barrie. "It's about reestablishing myself and showing the league that I'm still a pretty good player."
With less cash available due to the flat cap of $ 81.5 million, many teams focused on re-signing restricted free agents. Colorado gave strikers Andre Burakovsky and Valeri Nichushkin two-year deals, San Jose signed Kevin Labanc for four years, and Minnesota signed Jordan Greenway for $ 4.2 million over two years.
Further steps are in the free hand and in retail to continue the general transition.
"We are sure to explore all options," said Sweeney. "We feel comfortable having conversations with the remaining free agents who we think would help our club."
NHL teams who make moves and don't wait for the best free agents originally appeared on NBCSports.com

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