Matthew Tkachuk will be trading his winter coat and gloves for sunglasses and sandals after a blockbuster trade sent him from the Calgary Flames to the Florida Panthers on Friday.

In a deal with two of the league’s best players swapping teams, the Panthers acquired high-scoring forward Tkachuk from the Flames in exchange for Jonathan Huberdeau, defenseman MacKenzie Weegar, prospect Cole Schwindt and a conditional 2025 first-round draft pick. 

Tkachuk, coming off career bests of 42 goals, 62 assists and 104 points this past season, signed an eight-year extension with Florida, a deal that will keep him with the team through the 2029-30 season. He said earlier in the week that he would not sign a long-term contract to stay in Calgary and that led to trade talks, with no shortage of teams hoping to land the 24-year-old. 

''Matthew is a tenacious, physical competitor who possesses a tremendously unique skillset,'' Panthers general manager Bill Zito said. ''He is a consistent elite offensive contributor and has emerged as one of the most complete and dynamic young players in the National Hockey League. We are thrilled to be able to add a generational talent to our lineup.'' 

The Flames, who recently lost standout forward Johnny Gaudreau to free agency, get back a big-time playmaker in Huberdeau, who tied a career best with 30 goals last season, while setting personal bests with an NHL-high 85 assists and 115 points. Only Connor McDavid (123) had more points last season than Huberdeau, the Florida franchise leader in games, assists and points.  

''We would like to thank Jonathan and MacKenzie for their immense contributions to the Florida Panthers, both on and off the ice, during their tenures in South Florida,'' Zito said. ''They have both blossomed into exceptional athletes and people. Their contributions as players and people made an indelible mark on our franchise.'' 

Weegar tallied eight goals with 36 assists last season in 80 games for the Panthers, who had a league-best 122 points in 2021-22 and won a playoff round for the first time since 1996 before they were swept by Tampa Bay in the second round.  

Both Huberdeau and Weegar are set to be unrestricted free agents next summer.  

The New Jersey Devils are set to begin with competition for the starting goaltender position when training camp opens in a few months.

Vitek Vanecek agreed on Tuesday to terms on a $10.2million, three-year contract with the Devils, a deal that will give him a salary just slightly less than incumbent starter MacKenzie Blackwood.

New Jersey acquired Vanecek from the Washinton Capitals at the NHL draft to provide some depth after the team used a franchise-record seven goalies last season.

"There's an opportunity for me, you know, to play lots of games, and I'm really happy for it," Vanecek said. “And then I will battle with Mackenzie, you know, and that's, that's what I need."

The 25-year-old Blackwood, who is going into the final year of his contract, made a team-high 24 starts in 2021-22, but also missed nearly three months due to a heel injury.

The 26-year-old Vanecek started 38 games for the Capitals last season, going 20-12-6 with a 2.67 GAA and .908 save percentage.

Blackwood, meanwhile, went 9-10-4 with a 3.39 GAA and .892 save percentage last season after going 46-41-12 with a 2.83 GAA and .911 save percentage in his first three seasons with New Jersey.

"We feel really good about, again for another summer, adding depth to our goaltending and watching Mackenzie and Vitek challenge each other and push each other," Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald said at the draft. "You have to have depth. You saw teams in the playoffs lost depth and ended up losing a series."

The Devils missed the playoffs for the fourth straight year last season and have just one playoff appearance since the 2012-13 season.

When prized free agent Johnny Gaudreau chose to sign a massive deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday, the hockey world was stunned by the news.  

But Gaudreau himself did not give the decision a second thought, signing for seven years and $68million.  

"I wanted to come here. This was always a place circled on my list," Gaudreau said during his introductory news conference.  

The Blue Jackets have developed a reputation with some in NHL circles as struggling to retain talent after trading away young core players like Seth Jones and Cam Atkinson, and Gaudreau addressed those concerns head-on.  

"I'm not really sure about any other players. We're not talking about why people don't want to be at Columbus; it's not a topic in the locker room," he said.

"For me, I just heard so many great things from former players, and it made me feel really comfortable with my decision to come here." 

Since their inception in 2000, Columbus have never won a division crown and have yet to play in a Conference final series. The Blue Jackets missed the playoffs last season with a 37-38-7 record.  

"I think there's a lot of potential," the 28-year-old winger said. "I thought it was a good spot for me personally. We can have a lot of success here.

"They've got good players on this team. And I'm really looking forward to jumping in with this group. I've heard a lot of great things. 

"They're a close-knit group, and that's who you want to play with are guys who get along in the locker room and love coming to the rink and working together every single day, and it's just a healthy environment to be around, and that's exciting to me."

Gaudreau spent the beginning of his career with the Calgary Flames, tallying 609 points (210 goals, 399 assists) in 602 games. He set career highs with 40 goals and 75 assists last season.  

A New Jersey native, Gaudreau had been linked to teams in the U.S. Northeast, including the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers, before ultimately choosing Columbus.  

The biggest name in this year’s NHL free-agent market has found a new home, as high-scoring forward Johnny Gaudreau signed a seven-year contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets. 

According to reports, the deal has an average annual value of $9.75 million. 

Gaudreau had the best season of his nine-year career in 2021-22, setting career-highs with 40 goals, 75 assists and 115 points in 82 games with the Calgary Flames. Only Edmonton Oilers superstar Connor McDavid (123) had more points last season than Gaudreau, who led the NHL with a plus-64 rating.  

A native of Salem, New Jersey, Gaudreau had been speculated to be eyeing a deal with the Philadelphia Flyers or New Jersey Devils, but the Blue Jackets, by all accounts, entered the mix later in the day and landed the six-time All-Star.  

Columbus finished sixth in the Metropolitan Division last season and missed the playoffs for the second straight year.  

Gaudreau has 210 goals and 609 points in 602 career games, all with the Flames. 

The Washington Capitals have filled their biggest need on the NHL's first day of free agency by signing Stanley Cup champion goaltender Darcy Kuemper to a five-year, $26.25million contract.

Kuemper joins the Capitals off a highly successful lone campaign in Colorado in which he tied for fourth in the NHL in wins (37) and shutouts (five) and ranked fifth among qualified goaltenders with a .921 save percentage during the regular season.

The 10-year veteran then posted a 10-4-1 record with a 2.57 goals against average in 16 postseason starts to help the Avalanche to their first championship since 2001.

"Darcy is an established starting netminder who proved that he can win on the game's biggest stage, and we are excited to welcome him to Washington," Capitals senior vice president and general manager Brian MacLellan said Wednesday in a statement.

"We feel this signing will provide our team confidence and stability in net."

Kuemper, an All-Star in 2019-20 with the Arizona Coyotes, will be asked to stabilise a position that was often inconsistent for the Capitals last season.

Washington netminders combined for an .898 save percentage in 2021-22, the lowest of any team who reached the playoffs, and the team have since parted ways with their two main goalies from last season in Vitek Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov.

Vanecek was traded to the New Jersey Devils last week, and Samsonov signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs after the Caps declined to tender a qualifying offer to the restricted free agent.

Washington also signed former St. Louis Blues goaltender Charlie Lindgren to back up Kuemper, who owns a 143-95-36 record with a 2.48 GAA and .918 save percentage in 299 career games with Minnesota, Los Angeles, Arizona and Colorado.

The Avalanche prepared for Kuemper's expected departure by acquiring Alexandar Georgiev from the New York Rangers last week and signing him to a three-year, $10.2m deal. Georgiev will compete with holdover Pavel Francouz for Colorado's number one netminder job.

The Carolina Hurricanes have completed a trade with the San Jose Sharks for defenseman Brent Burns.

The six-time All-Star was expected to be moved this week, with both the Hurricanes and the Dallas Stars said to be interested.

And the Canes soon confirmed Burns was dealt on a busy Wednesday in the NHL as free agency opened.

Former Norris Trophy winner Burns is heading to Carolina, along with AHL forward Lane Pederson, while the Sharks receive forward Steven Lorentz, AHL goalie Eetu Makiniemi and a conditional 2023 third-round pick.

Burns has three years left on his contract with an average annual value of $8million, although the Sharks have retained a third of his cap hit.

"Brent has been an elite offensive defenseman in the NHL for a long time," said Canes president and general manager Don Waddell.

"He has produced at a consistent level throughout his career, and we believe adding him brings us closer to our goal of winning the Stanley Cup."

Evander Kane re-signed with the Edmonton Oilers on a four-year, $20.5 million contract shortly before the start of NHL free agency, having resurrected a career in the midst of turmoil after joining the team midway through the 2021-22 season.

Kane, who totalled 35 goals in 58 games with Edmonton when including the playoffs, announced his decision in a Twitter post late on Tuesday.

The 13-year veteran forward signed with the Oilers in January following an ugly departure from the San Jose Sharks, who terminated his contract earlier that month for violating COVID-19 protocols while playing in the American Hockey League.

Kane did not play a game for the Sharks last season due to a handful of off-field issues. The 30-year-old began the campaign away from the team as the NHL investigated accusations from his ex-wife that he assaulted her and wagered on league games, and he also served a 21-game suspension for submitting a fake COVID-19 vaccine card to the Sharks and the NHL.

The NHL announced in October that it could not corroborate the domestic assault claims and said it found no evidence that Kane gambled on league games.

"Throughout the last 12 months, there have been lots of road blocks, tons of adversity and many tough days," Kane wrote. "I'm grateful for the tremendous amount of support from family, friends, team-mates and others who have helped me stay strong through these difficult times.

"I want to thank the Edmonton Oilers for giving me the opportunity to REMIND people who I am as a player and person."

A two-time 30-goal scorer, Kane rediscovered his touch by producing 22 goals and 17 assists in 43 regular-season games with Edmonton. He was even better in the postseason, tallying 13 goals and four assists in 15 games to help the Oilers advance to their first Western Conference final since 2006.

"A big part of my decision to stay in Edmonton was because of the opportunity given to me only seven months ago but also the chance to be a part of a championship team," he said.

"I want to win, and I believe after signing this deal we will be able to add the right pieces along with myself to accomplish that goal, a championship."

Selected by the Atlanta Thrashers with the fourth overall pick of the 2009 draft, Kane has compiled 286 goals and 259 assists in 812 career regular-season games. The Vancouver native is one of seven players to have scored 20 or more goals in each of the past seven seasons.

Defenseman Duncan Keith announced his retirement on Tuesday after an illustrious 17-year career in the NHL with the Chicago Blackhawks and Edmonton Oilers.

Considered one of the best blue-liners of the past two decades, Keith helped the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup in 2010, 2013 and 2015, and was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2015 as the playoff MVP.

He also earned two Norris Trophies in 2010 and 2014, making him one of only 12 players in NHL history to win the award given to the league's top defensemen twice.

A second-round pick by the Blackhawks in 2002, the 38-year-old spent his first 16 seasons in Chicago before being traded to the Oilers prior to last season.

Known as a two-way defenseman and an adept stick-handler, Keith finished his career with 106 goals and 540 assists in 1,256 regular-season games. Since his 2005-06 rookie season, Keith's 646 points and 159 +/- rating both rank fourth among all defenseman, while only Kris Russell blocked more shots (2,044) than Keith's 2,010.

Named one of the 100 Greatest Players during the NHL's Centennial season in 2017, Keith also routinely rose to the occasion and displayed his phenomenal endurance the longer the season went on, adding another 19 goals and 72 assists in 151 playoff games.

During Chicago's run to its third Cup title in a six-year span in 2015, Keith tallied three goals and 21 points in 23 playoff games with a plus-16 rating while averaging 31:07 minutes per game in ice time.

Joe Sakic has been promoted to president of hockey operations by the Colorado Avalanche just over two weeks after he helped build the team that captured its first Stanley Cup since 2001.

The move was officially announced on Monday, along with assistant general manager Chris MacFarland moving into Sakic's former position as Avalanche GM.

Sakic had recently been awarded the 2021-22 Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year Award and became the first person in NHL history to win a Stanley Cup as a GM and a captain for the same organisation after leading the Avs to titles in 1996 and 2001.

The 53-year-old Sakic retired from playing in 2009, and had served as Colorado's executive vice president and GM for the past nine seasons.

Under his direction, Colorado vaulted from a last-place finish in the 2016-17 season to Stanley Cup champions in just five years, becoming the fifth team in the expansion era (1967-68) to accomplish such a turnaround.

With 56 victories in the regular season – 34 more than five seasons ago – the Avs established a franchise record for wins.

After recording 16 more playoff victories en route to raising the Cup, Colorado's 72 combined wins matched the NHL record set by the 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens and equalled by the 1983-84 Edmonton Oilers and 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings.

The 52-year-old MacFarland spent the last seven seasons as assistant GM for the Avs, and his name had been recently linked to other GM jobs with other franchises.

Sakic and MacFarland will turn their attention to constructing a roster this offseason in a bid to repeat as champions.

The Nashville Predators have agreed a deal committing forward Filip Forsberg to an eight-year contract extension, the team announced on Saturday.

According to multiple reports, the contract is worth $68million, carrying an average annual value of $8.5million.

Last season Forsberg registered career-high figures, with 42 goals and 42 assists while playing in 69 games.

Forsberg just completed a six-year, $36million contract, and the 27-year-old would have become a free agent if a deal had not been signed by July 13.

The franchise's all-time leading scorer with 220 goals, Forsberg has only played at the NHL level for Nashville and has become an alternate captain.

He has 29 career goals and 53 career points in Stanley Cup playoff games, both franchise bests.

Forsberg was drafted 11th overall by the Washington Capitals in 2012 but was traded before making his NHL debut to the Predators for Martin Erat and Michael Latta.

The Predators were swept in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs last season by the eventual champions, the Colorado Avalanche. Nashville have made the postseason in four of the last five seasons but have failed to advance to the second round since 2018.

From the time he was granted an exception to play in the Ontario Hockey League at 15 years old, Shane Wright appeared destined to be the number one overall pick in the NHL draft someday.  

Even in the moments leading up to the 2022 draft, Wright was the presumptive top candidate to be taken by the Montreal Canadiens to open the proceedings on Thursday.  

Instead, Wright had to wait until the fourth pick to hear his name called when the Seattle Kraken selected him, and the 18-year-old center is already motivated by his drop. 

"I've always been self-motivated," Wright told reporters at the draft. "I am always going to push myself internally, but [getting picked fourth overall] is definitely going to give me a little more fire for sure."

The Canadiens opted to take winger Juraj Slafkovsky first overall, and the New Jersey Devils and Arizona Coyotes also passed on Wright, but his comments quickly turned toward the team that did select him.  

"You obviously want to go first," Wright said. "It's definitely something every guy wants to go to do going into the draft. But you know, I couldn't happier being Seattle ... really excited about the future ahead in Seattle."

Wright tallied 32 goals and 62 assists in 63 games for the Kingston Frontenacs last season and added 14 more points in 11 playoff games.  

He joins a Seattle franchise still in its infancy after going 27-49-6 in its inaugural season. The Kraken used the second overall selection in last year's draft on center Matty Beniers, who recorded three goals and six assists in 10 NHL games last season.  

The Chicago Blackhawks’ rebuild officially began hours before the start of Thursday’s NHL draft and continued right into the opening moments of the first round. 

Chicago’s teardown began in the afternoon with Alex DeBrincat being traded to the Ottawa Senators for the seventh and 39th pick in this year’s draft, and a third-round selection in 2024. 

The Blackhawks didn’t stop there, however, as Kirby Dach was then traded to the Montreal Canadiens for the 13th and 66th overall picks. 

In a statement, the Blackhawks' first-time general manager Kyle Davidson said in a statement that he feels it is the right way to go about building a contender.

"It was an incredibly difficult decision to trade a player of Alex’s caliber," he said. "We feel as if this move sets the Blackhawks up for future success by giving us additional flexibility and future talent.

"Securing this early of a first-round pick for tonight and an additional second-round selection tomorrow allows us to fortify our prospect base with high-end players who we expect to be difference-makers in the coming years." 

DeBrincat was an All-Star for the first time this past season, as he led the team with an equal career-high 41 goals to go with a career-best 37 assists. In five seasons with the Blackhawks, the 24-year-old winger racked up 160 goals and 147 assists in 368 games, but Chicago was in danger of losing the young playmaker, as he’s due to fetch a big payday once his current contract expires after the 2022-23 season. 

Dach just finished up his third season with the Blackhawks, registering career highs of nine goals and 17 assists. The 21-year-old centre has 19 goals and 40 assists in 152 career games, but has not yet reached the production Chicago envisioned after selecting him with the third overall pick of the 2019 draft. 

The Blackhawks, who haven’t made the playoffs in four of the past five seasons and have won just one playoff series since capturing the 2015 Stanley Cup, also made a deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs for the 25th pick by helping the Leafs free up cap space by taking on goaltender Petr Mrazek’s salary. 

After beginning the night without a first-round selection as a result of last year’s trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets for defenseman Seth Jones, Chicago ended up with three picks in the first 25. 

The Blackhawks took Canadian junior defenseman Kevin Korchinski at pick seven, U.S. development team centre Frank Nazar at 13, and Minnesota high school defensemen Sam Rinzel with the 25th selection. 

The Montreal Canadiens selected Juraj Slafkovsky with the first overall pick of the 2022 NHL draft on Thursday. 

The 18-year-old left wing became the first Slovakian to ever be picked first overall in the draft. 

Slafkovsky excelled for Slovakia at the 2022 Winter Olympics, leading the tournament with seven goals in seven games to earn MVP honours while helping the country capture the bronze medal. 

Speaking to ESPN after being presented with his Canadiens jersey, Slafkosvky was lost for words.

"It’s unbelievable, I still can’t believe that this actually happened," he said.

"When I heard from Slovakia, I was like 'what is happening'. It's just a special moment in my life."

When asked how he thought his family and friends would have reacted to the news, being 2am local time in Slovakia, Slafkosvky said "I think people are going crazy, they have to be... I think they are all awake."

With the second pick, the New Jersey Devils selected another Slovakian in defenseman Simon Nemec. 

"This is a special night for Slovak hockey," Slafkovsky said. 

The Pittsburgh Penguins and veteran defenseman Kris Letang have agreed to a six-year, $36.6 million contract extension, the team announced on Thursday.  

The deal runs through to the 2027-28 season, during which Letang will turn 41 years old.  

"Kris epitomises what it means to be a Pittsburgh Penguin," general manager Ron Hextall said in a statement. "The role he plays on our team is irreplaceable.

"He is a leader in our locker room, and has made countless contributions to the organisation over the last 15-plus years, which includes three Stanley Cup Championships.  

"We are thrilled to make him a Penguin for life."

Letang has only played for Pittsburgh in his NHL career after being drafted by the Penguins in the third round in 2005.  

He has hoisted the Stanley Cup three times – in 2009, 2016 and 2017 – and set career highs last season with 58 assists and 68 points, helping Pittsburgh to a 46-25-11 record. 

Letang has played 941 games in a Penguins sweater, passing Mario Lemieux for third in franchise history last season.

Only team-mates Sidney Crosby (1,108) and Evgeni Malkin (981) have played more games for the Penguins.

The San Jose Sharks have named former NHL forward Mike Grier as their general manager, making him the first black GM in league history.

San Jose announced the historic hire on Tuesday.

The 47-year-old Grier, who spent three of his 14 seasons playing for the Sharks from 2006-09, replaces Doug Wilson after he stepped down in April following 19 seasons at the helm for health reasons.

"I am extremely proud and grateful to be given the opportunity to be the general manager of the San Jose Sharks," said Grier.

"Along with my staff, I look forward to the challenge of building a fast, competitive, and hardworking team that Sharks fans will enjoy watching and be proud of.”

His first order of business as GM will be hiring a coach. The Sharks are the only team without one after firing Bob Boughner.

San Jose finished in sixth place in the Pacific Division this past season, missing the playoffs for a third year in a row after qualifying in 14 of the previous 15 seasons.

"Really excited to work and to be back in the Bay Area," Grier said. "I know there's been lots of ups and downs but I'm ready to work hard and get at it and get this thing back on the tracks. We're going to start winning some games in the Shark Tank and get it going again."

In addition to his time with the Sharks as a player, Grier also suited up for the Edmonton Oilers, Washington Capitals and Buffalo Sabres.

Since retiring from the NHL as a player in 2011, Grier served as an assistant coach with the New Jersey Devils and a scout with the Chicago Blackhawks before spending this past season as hockey operations advisor for the New York Rangers.

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