The Nashville Predators have bought out the contract of defenceman Barret Jackman, effectively ending his time as a Predator. He was one year into a two-year, $4 million deal.
Jackman was brought into Nashville prior to last season to add a solid veteran defensive presence, managing to register five points and a +1 plus/minus rating through 73 games played. The 13-year pro had spent the entirety of his career with the division rival St. Louis Blues before transferring to Nashville and becoming a point of knowledge amongst a young defensive core. Jackman was used sparingly and averaged a career-low 13:51 of ice time last season, however, a fearless veteran, he totaled 342 blocked shots in the last three years.
Prior to free agency Friday, Nashville had five defensemen under contract that regularly played in the NHL last season — P.K. Subban, Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm, Ryan Ellis and Anthony Bitetto. The Predators then added free agents Yannick Weber, defenceman from the Vancouver Canucks, and former Boston Bruins d-man Matt Irwin, along with forward Trevor Smith and Harry Zolniercyk of the Anaheim Ducks.
The Nashville Predators were taking a $2 million cap hit from an active Jackman, and will now see a $666,666 cap hit from the buyout for the next two years that will earn the franchise a savings of $1.3 million in 2016.
Free agent signings: The deals flooded in as the free agent market officially opened at noon on Canada Day, highlighted by Milan Lucic joining the Oilers, Loui Eriksson joining the Sedin twins in Vancouver, and Andrew Ladd agreeing to sign with the New York Islanders.
An hour wasn’t even gone before most of the top free agents were off the board. Long-time Blues captain David Backes signed with the Bruins on a five-year deal, Kyle Okposo landed in Buffalo for seven years, Frans Nielsen joined the Red Wings for six years and James Reimer headed to Florida to serve as the backup to Roberto Luongo, agreeing to a surprising five-year deal.
Veteran winger Troy Brouwer joined a blossoming forward contingent in Calgary on a four-year contract. Also landing with the Flames was goaltender Chad Johnson, set to serve as the backup to new No. 1 Brian Elliott, who was acquired by the club from St. Louis at the NHL draft.
Thought to be the top available free agent, Lucic joins the Oilers on a seven-year deal worth a reported US$42 million. Long of the Boston Bruins and more recently a member of the Los Angeles Kings, Lucic brings size, some grit and a knack for the net to Edmonton, perhaps a fit with Connor McDavid on the team’s top line.
The 28-year-old had his fourth 20-goal season last year in L.A., totaling 55 points in 81 games.
Eriksson, meanwhile, a 30 year old coming off a fine 30-goal season in Boston, landed with the Canucks for six years and a reported US$36 million.
Eight deals of at least four years were dished out in a wild opening hour, many to players over 30, including Eriksson, Backes, Nielsen, and Ladd, the 31-year-old former Winnipeg Jets captain who replaces Okposo as a top-six winger with the Islanders.
Other notable signings include long-time Hurricanes captain Eric Staal, who joined the Wild for three years and $10.5 million, Brian Campbell, who signed a one-year deal to return to Chicago, and David Perron, the former Oiler returning to St. Louis on a two-year deal worth US$7.5 million.