Update 5:17 p.m.: That’s it for the live updates folks. We’ll have updates on the blog should the Capitals make any moves later this evening, but so far they’ve been quiet as expected.
Update 4:29 p.m.: Defenseman Jeff Schultz, who was bought out by the Capitals earlier this week, signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Los Angeles Kings.
Update 4:05 p.m.: Montreal trades for toughness, picking up George Parros from Florida for Philippe Lefebvre and a seventh round pick in 2014.
Update 3:56 p.m.: In restricted free agent news, the Islanders have re-signed defenseman Travis Hamonic to a seven-year deal worth $27 million.
Also, Carolina found a backup goaltender at a value signing Anton Khudobin to a one-year, $800,000 deal.
Update 3:35 p.m.: Perhaps the mourning in Ottawa over the departure of Daniel Alfredsson to Detroit won’t last so long after all. The Senators have acquired winger Bobby Ryan from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for second-year forward Jakob Silfverberg, prospect Stefan Noesen and a first-round pick in 2014.
Update 3:12 p.m.: Center Valteri Filppula leaves Detroit and joins the Tampa Bay Lightning on a five-year deal worth $5 million annually.
Update 2:32 p.m.: Matt Hendricks, the Capitals other prominent unrestricted unrestricted free agent, has found a new home with the Nashville Predators on a four-year deal worth $1.85 million per season. Hendricks was due a raise from the $800,000 salary he earned in 2012-13 and given the other items on their to-do list the Capitals weren’t willing to offer the type of security that he ultimately received from the Predators.
Update 2:19 p.m.: Stephen Weiss, one of the top free agent centers, lands with the Detroit Red Wings on a five-year deal worth $4.9 million per season. It’s the second significant move of the day for Detroit, which already added Daniel Alfredsson.
Update 2:05 p.m.: Earlier this afternoon, Nashville signed former Chicago Blackhawks forward Viktor Stalberg to a four-year, $12 million deal. Also the terms for Boyd Gordon’s deal with the Edmonton Oilers is three years at $3 million per season.
Update 1:55 p.m.: Toronto re-signed center Tyler Bozak to a five-year, $21 million contract and landed free agent forward David Clarkson to an eye-popping seven-year, $36.75 million deal as well.
Update 1:30 p.m.: Former Capitals and Hershey forward Keith Aucoin will join the St. Louis Blues on a one-year, $625,000 million deal.
Update 1:16 p.m.: Winger Clarke MacArthur heads to the Senators on a two-year, $6.5 million contract.
Update 1:04 p.m.: Catching up on a few other deals, the Islanders re-signed goaltender Evgeni Nabokov (one-year, $3.25 million) and inked forward Pierre-Marc Bouchard (one-year, $2 million). Out west, former Capitals center Boyd Gordon is headed to Edmonton on a three-year deal.
Update 1:01 p.m.: Two-time Stanley Cup winning defenseman Rob Scuderi returns to Pittsburgh on a four-year, $13.5 million deal. Scuderi was one of the top available left-handed defensemen in this year’s crop of free agents.
Update 12:58 p.m.: Forward Ryane Clowe joins the New Jersey Devils with a five-year deal worth $4.85 million annually.
Update 12:55 p.m.: Elsewhere in the Caps’ yet-to-be-named new division, the Columbus Blue Jackets have made quite the addition. Winger Nathan Horton inked a seven-year, $37.1 million ($5.3 AAV) deal with the Blue Jackets.
Update 12:45 p.m.: Mike Ribeiro is headed to the desert. According to Renaud Levoie of RDS, the 33-year-old center signed a four-year deal worth $22 million with the Phoenix Coyotes, who only found out earlier this week they would be staying in Arizona — for the time being anyway.
The Capitals didn’t want to go beyond a three-year term with Ribeiro, who is already in the latter half of his career. And a salary cap hit of $5.5 million would have forced Washington to retool their cap management and plan for the future, especially considering that Karl Alzner and Marcus Johansson have yet to be re-signed.
Update 12:31 p.m.: Defenseman Mike Komisarek, who was bought out by Toronto, signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Carolina Hurricanes.
Update 12:26 p.m.: The Flyers have signed goaltender Ray Emery on a one-year, $1.65 million deal. While Philadelphia made quite a few splashes so far this offseason by buying out Danny Briere, Ilya Bryzgalov and then landing Vincent Lecavalier they will rely on Emery and Steve Mason in net next season.
Update 12:21 p.m.: The biggest surprise on this first day of free agency? It’s that Daniel Alfredsson will not return to Ottawa, where he spent the previous 17 years of his career. Alfredsson has agreed to a one-year $5.5 million deal with the Detroit Red Wings. That should make for some interesting divisional games next year between the Senators and Red Wings.
Update 12:18 p.m.: Former Capitals winger Joey Crabb, who knew early on he wouldn’t be returning to Washington, inked a two-year, one-way deal worth $600,000 with the Florida Panthers according to TSN’s Darren Dreger.
Update 12:15 p.m.: One of the left-handed defenseman who could have been a good fit with the Capitals is already off the market. Andrew Ference, 34, signed a four-year, $14 million deal ($3.25 AAV) with his hometown Edmonton Oilers
Update 12:06 p.m.: Free agent signings haven’t been the only excitement this week. On Thursday, Boston and Dallas completed one of the biggest trades of the offseason thus far. The Bruins sent forward Tyler Seguin, center Rich Peverley and defenseman Ryan Button to the Stars for forward Loui Eriksson along with prospects Joe Morrow, Reilly Smith and Matt Fraser.
That’s not all new Dallas General Manager Jim Nill did on Thursday. He acquired center Shawn Horcoff from Edmonton for defenseman Philip Larsen and a seventh rounder in 2016 as well, to rebuild the Stars’ depth down the middle in one day.
Update 12:01 p.m.: And away we go. NHL free agency is officially open for business.
The NHL free agency signing period opens at noon Friday. Thanks to the new collective bargaining agreement, players and teams had the last two days as an interview period and many clubs may be quick to finalize deals once the clock strikes 12 p.m.
Some free agents — like Vincent Lecavalier (Philadelphia), Danny Briere (Montreal) — have already agreed to terms with their new club and are simply waiting for the signing period to begin to make it official. But many players still have yet to sign on with a new team, which could make for an interesting flurry of activity around the league.
The Capitals likely won’t jump head first into the fray, though, despite having a rather clear need for another top-four defenseman and center depth as General Manager George McPhee would prefer to bolster the roster internally rather than through a UFA bidding war. Heading into the start of free agency, Washington has a little more than $8.4 million in space under the salary cap with restricted free agents Karl Alzner and Marcus Johansson still to sign.
As for the two key unrestricted free agents from last year’s roster Mike Ribeiro and Matt Hendricks, both will likely call a new team home by the end of the day. Hendricks almost certainly will not return, given the raise and term he is seeking this offseason. But Ribeiro is an interesting case. The Capitals are still open to bringing Ribeiro back, but only if it’s for a three-year term. The 33-year-old center who was a key part of Washington’s league-best power play last season would prefer a four- or five-year deal.
Follow along and discuss all the day’s signings here, where I’ll be posting updates in reverse chronological order from all the big signings around the league along with anything the Capitals do on the first day of free agency.