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NHL free-agent signings: Garland with Canucks, Blues ink Buchnevich

NHL free-agent signings: Garland with Canucks, Blues ink Buchnevich

With 2021 NHL Free Agency just a day away, teams are locking up players to some significant extensions.

Not every signing is as big as the Capitals signing Alex Ovechkin for five more years. But these pre-free-agency contracts are still plenty-noteworthy for the Blues, Canucks, and (to a lesser extent) Flyers.

To keep up with all the contract signings (before, and during 2021 NHL Free Agency), head to PHT’s tracker. You can also follow all of the trades here.

Canucks’ busy offseason continues with Garland extension

Personally, the best Canucks’ takeaway from the Oliver Ekman-Larsson trade wasn’t ‘ol OEL. Instead, the most obviously positive part of the deal revolved around landing Conor Garland, 25. Of course, that was with the caveat that we didn’t know how much Garland would cost. Now we do.

The Canucks were even kind enough to just make it official. They signed Garland to a five-year contract that carries a $4.95M AAV. So, that’s $24.75M over five years.

In the cases of the Garland (Coyotes) and Buchnevich (Rangers), we’ve received some insight about money. If the Rangers and Coyotes didn’t truly believe in Buchnevich and Garland, respectively, then they probably didn’t want to hand them these substantial contracts.

That doesn’t mean that Garland and Buchnevich aren’t worth it. Quite the contrary. Garland was a revelation for the Coyotes, and most metrics predict that he’ll be well worth near-$5M for Vancouver.

More to do after Garland signing

This continues a busy offseason for the Canucks, who still have plenty of work to do.

Just looking at this Tuesday before 2021 NHL Free Agency, the Canucks also put the wheels in motion for a Braden Holtby buyout. Thanks to that buyout, Vancouver will probably hunt the free-agent market for a backup to Thatcher Demko.

In addition to OEL and Garland, the Canucks also brought in Jason Dickinson from the Stars.

It’s unclear how much more they can buttress the rest of their roster, though. That’s because two huge RFA hurdles await: new free-agent deals for Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes. To make it work, the Canucks probably still need to find a way to trade Nate Schmidt.

Phew! *Wipes sweat off of brow*

After trading for Buchnevich, Blues sign him for four years

As great as Garland was for the Coyotes (and could be for the Canucks), Pavel Buchnevich built up a longer resume with the Rangers. The Blues signed Buchnevich, 26, to a four-year, $23.2M deal ($5.8M).

Again, if the Rangers never truly bought Buchnevich as a genuine top-six (if not first-line) talent, then it’s understandable if a $5.8M price tag was too rich. When it comes to Buchnevich, it sure feels like the Rangers’ loss is the Blues’ gain, though.

Perhaps the elevator pitch is that Buchnevich could replace Vladimir Tarasenko for the Blues? Either way, it seems like a smart signing after a wise trade.

We may look back at this and think, “the Blues really stumbled onto something by trading for Buchnevich and keeping Tarasenko.” Strong stuff, either way.

Other NHL free-agent signings

  • Multiple reporters, including Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, report that the Flyers signed Keith Yandle to a one-year, $900K deal. Interestingly, Friedman and others report that Yandle’s contract includes a no-trade clause.
  • Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli reports that the Hurricanes are closing in on a one-year contract with controversial defenseman Tony DeAngelo.
  • Read here about Patrik Laine accepting the Blue Jackets’ qualifying offer.
  • The Canadiens re-signed Joel Armia.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.