The Philadelphia Flyers continued the significant restructure of their hockey club Friday, signing former Penguins star Jaromir Jagr to a one-year deal worth $3.3 million. The 39-year-old has spent the last three seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League with Avangard Omsk, scoring 145 points in 155 games over the past three years.
Known as one of the best European born players in the game, Jagr scored 646 goals and 953 assists in 1273 games in the NHL.
He still holds the record for most regular season points scored by a non-Canadian (149 in 1995-96), and has been nominated for the Hart Trophy six times throughout his
The Flyers weren't done making a splash yet, as they also signed forward Max Talbot, another former Penguin, to a 5-year deal worth $9 million. Talbot won the Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh in 2009, putting up 13 points in 24 games as well as scoring both Penguins' goals in their 2-1 win over Detroit to capture the Stanley Cup in seven games.
Though July 1 is generally reserved for big-name free agent signings, the Colorado Avalanche made trade headlines after acquiring goaltender Semyon Varlamov from the Washington Capitals in exchange for the Avalanche's first round pick in 2012, as well as another second-rounder in either 2012 or 2013. The Avalanche are coming off their worst season since relocating to Denver in 1995, and will be looking to make big changes over the off-season to make their team a contender again.
Elsewhere in the league, defenseman James Wisniewski signed a six-year, $33 million contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets, who had acquired his rights from Montreal for a conditional seventh-round pick. The pick now becomes a fifth-rounder since Wisniewski has signed. Wisniewski set career highs in goals and assists last year, and after being traded to in December of 2010, scored 30 points in his final 43 games for the Canadiens, becoming a key component of their powerplay.
Despite losing Wisniewski, the Canadiens solidified their defence last week, re-signing Andrei Markov. The Habs then added some help up front, signing unrestricted free agent Erik Cole to a four-year, $18 million contract. Cole has spent the majority of his nine seasons with Carolina, scoring a career high in goals in 2005-06 while helping the Hurricanes capture the Stanley Cup as well. Despite being plagued by injuries in the past few seasons, Cole showed no signs of slowing down, playing all 82 games last year for Carolina, putting up 52 points.
In other July 1 signings, the Buffalo Sabres signed forward Ville Leino to a six-year deal worth $27 million. Leino is coming off a career year with the Flyers, setting highs in goals with 19 and points with 53. The Dallas Stars signed forward Michael Ryder to a two-year, $7 million contract, as well as signing defensemen Sheldon Souray and Adam Pardy as well. Souray's deal is a one-year, $1.65 million deal, while Pardy's is a two-year deal worth $4 million. Souray cleared waivers yesterday after being sent down by the Edmonton Oilers. The 35-year old has spent the past three years in the American Hockey League after signing a big money contract with the Oilers following a career season in his final year in Montreal.
In other Oilers news, general manager Kevin Lowe was also busy July 1, inking forward Ben Eager to a three-year deal worth $3.3 million. The Oilers also signed defenseman Cam Barker as well as forward Darcy Hordichuck to one-year deals.
The Florida Panthers have been active today as they attempt to reach the new salary cap floor of $48.3 million for next year. The Panthers signed unrestricted free agents Ed Jovanovski, Scottie Upshall, and goaltender Jose Theodore as they try to raise their $40 million payroll to the league minimum. Jovanovski, who will make his return to Florida, signed a four-year $16.5 million dollar deal. Upshall also signed for four years, with his contract paying him $14 million over that span, and Theodore signed a two-year contract that will pay him $1.5 million a season.
The Panthers also acquired some salary via trade, dealing a second and third round pick to the Flyers in exchange for forward Kris Versteeg. Versteeg, who makes just over $3 million next season, split time between the Flyers and Toronto Maple Leafs last year, but was never able to get back into the form that saw him help the Chicago Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup in 2010.
With big names like Brad Richards, Simon Gagne, and Tomas Vokoun still on the market, free agency will likely continue throughout the summer as teams try to find missing pieces for their clubs before pre-season gets underway in September.