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  • The first day of free agency was a whirlwind of impressive and baffling signings. Here are the highlights from the frenzy:
By Michael Blinn
July 02, 2018

John Tavares is going home.

The prize of the 2018 free agent class and Toronto-area native, Tavares ended at least a week's worth of anxiety on Sunday by signing a seven-year contract with the Maple Leafs worth $77 million.

"As a kid, cheering for the Leafs growing up, you start to get those feelings again," he told media at his introductory press conference, "once I went through the interview process and got that and what it was like as a kid watching the Leafs and following my favorite players. I thought the timing was too good. It was an opportunity I didn't want to turn down."

Toronto now has one of the most enviably deep center corps with Tavares, Auston Matthews and Nazem Kadri, but also saw longtime Leafs forwards Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk leave for new teams.

NHL
John Tavares Joins Promising Maple Leafs With Seven-Year Deal

They weren't the only ones, with over 100 free agents getting new deals—and that doesn't count the extensions handed out to defensemen Drew Doughty, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Ryan McDonagh and forward Logan Couture, nor the numerous entry-level contracts inked by prospects around the league.

Here's a look at some of the more notable names to get new homes on Sunday:


* All contract info via CapFriendly.com

FORWARDS

James van Riemsdyk, W - PHI, 5 yrs/$7M AAV

JVR goes back to where it all began, now a seasoned veteran coming off a career-high 36-goal season. A big body in front of the net, van Riemsdyk should have plenty of opportunities to keep scoring on the power play with the Flyers' young defense slinging pucks from the blue line. Does this spell the end of Wayne Simmonds's time in Philly?

Paul Stastny, C - VGK, 3yrs/$6.5M AAV

One of the top centers available, all signs pointed to Stastny re-signing with the Jets after a very successful postseason run, but instead, he went with the team that beat Winnipeg in the Western Conference Final. The Golden Knights' loads of cap space made it possible to lure him in and give the team a verifiable No. 2 center who stood out in the locker room in Winnipeg after being traded at the deadline.

Tyler Bozak, C - STL, 3 yrs/$5M AAV

The Blues will enter the 2018-19 season with a rebuilt center corps, with Bozak joining Ryan O'Reilly and Brayden Schenn. Bozak Has been a pretty consistent scorer over his nine-year career, averaging out to just over 50 points in an 82-game season and is strong in the faceoff circle. He won't be a franchise-changing signing, but will help the St. Louis prospects develop during his three-year term.

David Perron, W - STL, 4ys/$4M AAV

Coming off a career-best season with 66 points, Perron didn't quite fit with the direction Vegas wanted to move in—especially after a subpar playoff performance. Instead, he returns to the team he's signed all five of his NHL contracts with, and should quickly play a big role on offense, though there's not a big chance the 30-year-old matches his 2017-18 output with the Golden Knights.

Riley Nash, C - CBJ, 3 yrs/$2.75M AAV

The Blue Jackets scored a pretty big bargain with a player who netted 15 goals and 46 points while playing in a variety of roles for the Bruins last season-including some top-line duty. His breakout season put him on many a top free agent list, including those of NHL general managers. Versatile and flexible, he'll fill the role left by the departed Matt Calvert.

DEFENSE

John Moore - BOS, 5 yrs/$2.75M AAV

The lefty is a solid player who can chip in a bit offensively when the time comes, though his arrival in Boston likely signifies a trade with a deep set of defenseman. A former first-round pick, Moore plays a steady defensive game and established career highs in TOI, hits and blocked shots during 2017-18 with the Devils.

Jack Johnson - PIT, 5 yrs/$3.25M AAV

By most metrics, Johnson is among the NHL's worst defensemen, and the Penguins just locked him up for quite some time. The Pittsburgh coaching staff has shown a propensity for improving underperforming defenseman, but it'll have its work cut out with Johnson, who found himself a healthy scratch at the end of the 2017-18 season with the Blue Jackets.

GOALIES

Jonathan Bernier - DET, 3yrs/$3M AAV

Bernier will fill the void left in Detroit after Petr Mrazek was traded to Philly. He was great in a No. 2 role with the Avalanche, providing steadiness in net behind Semyon Varlamov, a role he'll reprise with the Red Wings with Jimmy Howard.

Carter Hutton - BUF, 3 yrs/$2.75 AAV

Hutton was one of the most sought-after goaltending options in a weak free agent class, and rightfully so. He found his groove in his sixth NHL season with the Blues and will be a mentor to help ease in Linus Ullmark in the Buffalo crease.

Jaroslav Halak, G - BOS, 2 yrs/$2.75M AAV

The former Islanders starter heads to Boston to back up Tuukka Rask. With some concerns in recent seasons about the Bruins' starter staying fresh, bringing in Halak to ease the load makes sense, but don't expect him to push for extra playing time.

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