July 1 has been a big news day for the National Hockey League in recent years thanks to the start of free agency. In addition to some big contracts getting signed, this date has also seen the birth of three different Hall of Fame forwards.
Free Agency Frenzy
July 1 has been the opening of free agency across the NHL for some time now. Usually, this date provides a bevy of new contracts and breaking news so we’ll take a look back at some of the biggest moves over the past few years.
Zdeno Chara signed with the Boston Bruins on July 1, 2006. His first contract with the team was worth $37.5 million over five years. Since this date, he has played 1,023 games with the Bruins, scoring 148 goals and 481 points. He won the Norris Trophy, in 2008, for being voted the best defenseman in the league. He won a Stanley Cup in 2011 and helped the Bruins reach the two more Eastern Conference titles in 2013 and 2019.
The Chicago Blackhawks added a major piece to their championship success when they signed Marian Hossa, on July 1, 2009, to a 12-year, $63.3 million deal. He scored 186 goals and 415 points in 534 games with the Blackhawks and helped them win three Stanley Cups between 2010 and 2015.
Paul Stastny signed a four-year, $28 million contract with the St. Louis Blues, on July 1, 2014, after eight seasons with the Colorado Avalanche. He never scored more than 49 points during his time with the Blues before he was traded to the Winnipeg Jets at the 2018 deadline.
Mike Green’s 10-year run with the Washington Capitals ended on July 1, 2015, when he signed a three-year contract with the Detroit Red Wings worth $18 million.
The Edmonton Oilers inked Milan Lucic to a much-criticized seven-year, $42 million contract on July 1, 2016. He never lived up the hefty salary he was getting paid and was traded to the Calgary Flames, for James Neal, prior to the 2019-20 season.
On this same date, David Backes signed a five-year, $30 million contract with the Bruins. He had played the previous 10 seasons with the Blues and served as their team captain since 2011.
On July 1, 2018, the Toronto Maple Leafs inked John Tavares to a huge seven-year, $77 million deal. The Toronto-area native returned home after nine seasons with the New York Islanders, who selected him first overall at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. He scored 272 goals and 621 points with the Islanders and wore the “C” on his sweater since 2013. He scored a career-high 47 goals and 88 points in his first season with the Maple Leafs.
The New York Rangers made a big splash on July 1, 2019. Just days after picking Kaapo Kakko with the second overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft, they signed Artemi Panarin to a seven-year contract worth a total of $81.5 million.
Corey Perry’s time with the Anaheim Ducks officially ended on this date in 2019, as well, when he signed a one-year deal with the Dallas Stars. He was a member of the Ducks since 2005 and won a Stanley Cup with them in 2007. He also won the Hart Trophy, for being the league’s most valuable player, after scoring 50 goals and 98 points during the 2010-11 season.
Penguins Make Moves
The Penguins became the first team since 1998 to win back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017. They made a big move to help in winning those two titles on July 1, 2015, in a trade with the Maple Leafs. The Penguins sent Nick Spaling, Kasperi Kapanen, Scott Harrington, a first and third-round pick to Toronto for Phil Kessel, Tim Erixon, Tyler Biggs and a second-round draft pick.
Kessel was an absolute stud during the 2016 and 2017 Stanly Cup playoffs. He had 10 goals and 22 points in 24 games during his first postseason run with the Penguins in 2016. The following season he scored eight goals and 23 points in 25 playoff games.
Odds & Ends
On July 1, 1989, Vancouver Canucks’ president, Pat Quinn flew to Moscow and signed Russian star Igor Larionov to a multi-year contract. He spent the first three seasons of his Hall of Fame career with the Canucks before being claimed off of waivers by the San Jose Sharks in 1992.
Exactly 11 years later, on July 1, 2000, Larionov signed with the Florida Panthers after five seasons and two Stanley Cups with the Red Wings. He only played 26 games with the Panthers before being traded back to Detroit in December for Yan Golubovsky.
Although it was hardly a secret at this point, the relocation of the Quebec Nordiques became official on July 1, 1995. The franchise headed to Denver and became know as the Avalanche, 13 years after the Colorado Rockies left and became the New Jersey Devils. Their first season as the Avalanche ended with a Stanley Cup championship.
The Phoenix Coyotes named Don Hay as their new head coach on July 1, 1996. He replaced Terry Simpson, who was not retained after the Jets announced they were relocating to Arizona following the 1995-96 season. The Coyotes’ first season in Phoenix was Hay’s only as head coach. He led the team to the Stanley Cup playoffs but lost to the Ducks in the first round.
On July 1, 1997, the Buffalo Sabres announced that head coach Ted Nolan would not return for the 1997-98 NHL season. This move came after Nolan went 73-72-19 over two seasons and won a division championship in the 1996-97 season. He as eventually replaced by Lindy Ruff.
Happy Birthday to You
Rod Gilbert was born on July 1, 1941, in Montreal. After appearing in one game in each of the previous seasons, Gilbert scored 11 goals and 31 points for the Rangers during the 1962-63 season. When he retired 18 seasons later, he was the franchise’s all-time leader with 406 goals and 1,021 points, two records he still holds. He put up consistent numbers despite dealing with multiple back injuries and undergoing spinal fusion surgery. Gilbert was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1982.
Steve Shutt, who joined Gilbert in the Hall of Fame in 1993, was born in Toronto on July 1, 1952. The left winger scored 408 goals and 776 points in 871 games for the Canadiens. He was a big part of five Stanley Cup championships during the 1970s in Montreal. He finished out his career with 59 games for the Los Angeles Kings during the 1984-85 season.
Jarome Iginla, who is part of the 2020 Hall of Fame class, was born on July 1, 1977, in Edmonton. The Flames acquired Iginla in a 1995 trade with the Stars that sent Joe Nieuwendyk to Dallas. After 16 seasons in Calgary, he holds the franchise records for games played (1,219), goals (525) and points (1,095). The Flames dealt him to the Penguins at the 2013 traded deadline. The then spent time with the Bruins, Avalanche and Kings before calling it a career.
Other current and former NHL players born on this date include Shaw Burr (54), Mike Eastwood (53), Dan McGillis (48), Karri Ramo (34), Brett Ritchie (27) and Chris Tierney (26).