NHL free agency tracker 2020: Full list of signings, best available players

When the NHL’s free agency period will open is anyone’s guess, but contracts are definitely going to expire and new ones will need to be signed.

Whether it’s unrestricted or restricted free agents, there are some big fish to reel in for teams across the league. Where they’ll land is a big unknown, but the salary cap is expected to, for now, rise to between $84 million and $88.2 million. This will impact who can reel in a big fish and who will net a group of minnows. There’s also the fun game of roulette that teams sometimes play when they risk their next four first-round draft picks for one of the surefire restricted free-agent stars.

NHL FREE AGENCY 2020: Complete list of all 31 teams’ RFAs, UFAs

Sporting News has all the top free-agent signings for you right here.

NHL free agency tracker: Full list of signings in 2020

Top 50 UFA players available

Top 25 RFA players available

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Oilers’ Alex Chiasson focused on family’s safety during NHL’s coronavirus delay

We’re often reminded that the NHL stars we watch on TV are just normal people off the ice, and that’s especially true given everything that’s going on with the coronavirus pandemic. The Oilers’ Alex Chiasson is no different.

“I’m not a medical expert,” Chiasson told reporters on a video chat Wednesday. “I get the news just as everyone else does.”

Chiasson has been riding out the pandemic at his home in Edmonton and doing much the same things everyone else has since the NHL paused all operations March 12: hanging out at home, working out as much as possible and waiting for this global crisis to pass.

“Obviously, life is a lot different,” he said. “We’re doing our best with social distancing and staying home as much as we can. Obviously, it seems to me it’s the way that medical experts are saying that it’s helping the most, so we’re doing our best.” 

When the pandemic first began to spread in North America, the Montreal native thought primarily about his family. 

“I think that the biggest thing was my close family,” he said. “My grandma, my mom and dad . . . My parents are healthy, they’re doing well, but I think the biggest message was trying to make my point that this COVID-19 could really impact them. So I think for us . . . we’re hockey players but we’re also human beings and you want everyone around you to stay healthy. For me, I was really protective of my mom and dad, just making sure that they stay home.” 

On the ice, Chiasson has helped the Oilers climb to second place in the Pacific Division this season. He has tallied 11 goals and 13 assists in 65 games as a reliable fourth-line winger.

The team, led by explosive playmakers Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, who have 110 and 97 points, respectively, was building momentum ahead of the playoffs. Then everything froze — but Chiasson still liked what he saw.

“There were a lot of new faces at the start of the year. Obviously a new coach (Dave Tippett), with that comes a new system, a different way of playing and practicing and things like that,” he said. “I think it took a little bit of time as a team to mesh together and for everyone to find where they fit and how they fit on the team, so it was a little adjustment period. We’ve had a few ups and downs throughout the year but it felt like the last month the team was really coming along together.”

He added that he had been looking forward to a postseason run.

“We’ve had a few injuries and we’ve had guys step up and play well,” he said. “I thought our team was prepared to go into the playoffs and be a good playoff team.”

As for a return to action, Chiasson is hopeful, but he knows it will be difficult if the season resumes in the next few months. 

“Whatever decision the league makes, everyone’s going to start at the same point,” he said, “so that’s going to be on us. We’re professional athletes, we’ve got to make sure we prepare, and it’s not easy, but it is what it is and you’ve got to deal with the situation as best as you can.”

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Dallas Stars executives Jim Lites and Jim Nill take 50% pay cut to help team employees

As NHL teams begin laying off workers or cutting pay because of the uncertainty of the length of the coronavirus shutdown, one team's management corps is taking another strategy.

Dallas Stars president Jim Lites and general manager Jim Nill took a voluntary 50% pay cut, according to ESPN.

"We're just looking to help somebody else," Nill told the network. "Jim and I are very fortunate. The game's been great to us. But within our organization, we have a lot of younger people working who live paycheck to paycheck. We hope this is something that can help them down the road."

Pittsburgh Penguins executives David Morehouse and Jim Rutherford earlier took undisclosed pay cuts, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. 

Stars owner Tom Gaglardi and billionaire father Bob run Northland Properties, but Nill noted that the business is involved in hotels and restaurants, which have been hit hard by the pandemic.

“The Gaglardis have been really good to us, they’ve always said yes to us on things we’ve needed to do to build the franchise," Lites told The Dallas Morning News. "I feel a personal thanks to them, they’ve been really good to both of us.”

Uncertainty remains about when sports can resume as coronavirus cases increase.

The NHL paused the season on March 12 and recently told players and staff to remain in self-isolation until April 6. Wednesday, the NHL postponed the scouting combine, draft and NHL Awards show, which were scheduled for June.

The Boston Bruins are among teams with cutbacks, with Delaware North announcing that starting April 1, 68 full-time salaried employees at the team and TD Garden will go on temporary leave and another 82 will have their pay cut.

The Montreal Canadiens are doing temporary layoffs, too, and have set up an assistance fund for affected workers. 

Nill told ESPN that the Stars are still discussing finances and staffing. 

"But we felt that if we got ahead of this ourselves, maybe that helps out that part of it," he said.

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Doc Emrick did play-by-play for a windshield-wiper installation — and it was brilliant

If you think the current lack of sports has hit you hard, spare a thought for the play-by-play announcers of the world.

Their entire livelihood consists of talking into a microphone while sports are taking place and, believe it or not, live commentary is a skill that requires a lot of practice. But without sports, some broadcasters have been forced to get creative. 

Fox Sports’ Joe Buck has already revealed his plan to avoid getting rusty: do play-by-play for videos of everyday events submitted by his Twitter followers. However, it seems that NBC’s Doc Emrick is one step ahead of him. 

Take a listen to this absolute gem of a call from the legendary NHL commentator:

That, ladies and gentlemen, is poetry. 

Notice how he sets the scene at the beginning by describing the setting. A car repair shop that’s been open for over 100 years? Right away he emphasizes the tradition of success at this establishment. 

Emrick then introduces us to the star of the show: the mechanic. He’s a Red Wings fan, which makes him relatable to a large part of the audience that knows what it’s like to be a fan of a struggling team. Standing at 5-9, he’s the kind of plucky underdog America can’t get enough of.

He’s also a master at his craft, a veteran with 34 years of service under his belt.

“This is like having Gordon Ramsey come to your house,” Emrick quips, “and having him make microwaved popcorn.” 

He uses the joke to draw in viewers before diving into the nitty-gritty analysis. A thorough explanation of how a windshield-wiper works leads us right up to the moment of truth. The mechanic, cool under pressure, puts on a clinic. 

While some commentators have been criticized for their “announcer voice” during broadcasts, we like to think this is how Doc Emrick sounds during any daily interaction. For the sake of hockey fans across the country, we hope we’ll hear him calling games from the booth again before too long.

In the meantime, we’ll have to be content with broadcasters commentating events from their everyday lives, which is certainly better than nothing. 

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On this day in sports history, Bill Mosienko made NHL history with a 21-second hat trick

On this day in sports history 68 years ago, Bill Mosienko scored the fastest hat trick in NHL history.

The Chicago Black Hawks captain needed just 21 seconds to make history against the New York Rangers before a crowd of 3,254. Despite trailing by four goals in the final period, Chicago won 7-6 on Mosienko’s fifth and final career hat trick of his career. 

"I remember it like it was last night," Mosienko said in the book, "The Game I'll Never Forget – 100 Hockey Stars' Stories". Just three days earlier he said, "we were thumbing through the record book. I remarked how nice it would be to have my name in there with some of the hockey greats."

Mosienko's NHL career ended in 1955 and he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1965. He died of cancer in 1994 at the age of 72.

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Canadiens prospect Cole Caufield to stay at Wisconsin

The Montreal Canadiens have updated the status of Cole Caufield, announcing Tuesday that the forward is going to play another season at the University of Wisconsin.

“This additional year in the NCAA will benefit Cole and will allow him to continue developing his skills within the Badgers’ environment,” Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said in a statement. “Cole is an important part of the Montreal Canadiens’ future and we will continue to follow his development with interest.”

Caufield, SN’s 31st-ranked NHL prospect, was rumored to be following Badgers teammates Alex Turcotte and K’Andre Miller to the NHL after both agreed to entry-level contracts with the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers, respectively.

In his first season at Wisconsin, Caufield led the team with 36 points (19 goals, 17 assists) in 36 games and became the first player in school history to win a league scoring title. He notched 24 points in 24 Big Ten games this season.

Wisconsin head coach Tony Granato felt the Canadiens made the right decision by not signing Caufield at this point.

“When they’re not ready, they’re better off staying to give themselves a better chance of when they get there, they can stay there,” Granato told the Wisconsin State Journal. “Working through the hurdles, working through some of the things that we worked through this year, individually and as a team, are experiences and battles that you have to have to get ready for an NHL season.”

After representing the United States at the 2020 World Junior Championship, Caufield will look to improve his play without the puck before making the leap to the NHL.

With Caufield returning to school for another season, Granato said he hopes the former first-round pick follows the Cale Makar model. The defenseman spent two seasons at UMass before signing with the Colorado Avalanche.

 

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NHL allows players to return to offseason homes, but must self-quarantine during coronavirus pandemic

Two days after telling its players to stay close to their NHL cities, the league is now allowing players to return to their homes — no matter what city or country — as the world grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, the NHL said in a news release.

The league announced it is letting its players go home but to self-quarantine until the end of March.

The CDC recommended Sunday night that gatherings of 50 people or more not be held for eight weeks, meaning it’s likely that if the NHL returns for this season, it won’t be with fans until at least mid-May.

"Our objective will be that, in addition to continuing regular updates, we will be able to provide high-level guidance on potential of opening a training camp period roughly 45 days into the 60-day period covered by the CDC’s directive,” the memo said.

The league said that after the self-quarantine period and depending on the state of the pandemic, "consideration" will be made to open club facilities for small workout groups.

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About 3 1/2 weeks remain on the regular-season slate, and no team has more than 14 games remaining on its schedule.

When the league paused its season March 12, it included in its statement that, "Our goal is to resume play as soon as it is appropriate and prudent, so that we will be able to complete the season and award the Stanley Cup."

As of Monday morning, there has been no known case of a player testing positive for COVID-19.

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NHL asks players to self-quarantine, stay in shape during coronavirus postponement

One day after the NHL hit pause on the 2019-20 season, a league-wide memo went out to players addressing what’s next amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

According to Los Angeles Times columnist Helene Elliott, “players are being asked to self-quarantine for six days.” The move comes after it was announced that the Utah Jazz’s Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell tested positive for the coronavirus on Wednesday, leading to the suspension of the NBA season. 

“While ‘self-quarantine’ will undoubtedly impose lifestyle limitations and may seem like an overly precautious measure,” a memo from deputy commissioner Bill Daly to the board of governors, general managers and players read, as relayed by The Athletic’s Adam Portzline, which also told players to out at home or outdoors, “adherence to the principles for the relatively brief period of time that our medical experts deem important should allow us to be in the best position possible to assess next steps regarding the potential resumption of play.”

Coronavirus and the NHL: Tracking how the pandemic has impacted hockey’s landscape

Considering NHL and NBA teams share facilities and arenas, the quarantine was prudent in light of recent events; however, commissioner Gary Bettman continues to reiterate that there has not been a confirmed case among this league’s players. 

But what comes after the quarantine?

The Associated Press’ John Wawrow reported the memo dictated a two-phase plan where “team facilities [would be] closed except to players requiring rehab to long-term injuries,” followed by opening them up to the rest of the roster for workouts and skates.

Portzline noted that after these steps, and when it appears the season may be close to resuming, there would be a “training camp period.”

As of now, players are expected to remain in their team’s city unless their immediate family resides somewhere else in North America.

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NHL assures players will be paid through season

    Greg Wyshynski is ESPN’s senior NHL writer.

National Hockey League players will receive their final three scheduled paychecks despite the season being suspended for the coronavirus outbreak, deputy commissioner Bill Daly told ESPN on Friday.

The players are scheduled to receive three more payments before the scheduled end of the regular season. The first paycheck, which they received today, was for services rendered from Feb. 24 to March 5. The second pay period was March 6 through March 23. The other paycheck covers the rest of the regular season.

This wasn’t guaranteed for the players when the season was officially put on hold this week. The Collective Bargaining Agreement gives NHL owners the ability to negotiate a different salary level for players in the event the league “suspends, ceases or reduces operations” in its season due to “a state of war or other cause beyond the control of the League or of the Club.”

The salary listed in their standard player contract (SPC) “shall be replaced by that mutually agreed upon between the Club and the Player, or, in the absence of mutual agreement, by that determined by neutral arbitration” if there is a reduction if operations, such as the regular season being truncated due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“This paragraph would authorize Clubs to withhold payment of [players’] salary in the current circumstance, but we have advised Clubs not to rely on [the] paragraph and to pay Players and provide benefits in accordance with CBA and SPC,” Daly said.

There was some speculation that the NHL could collect these pay checks while the league wasn’t active, in an effort to ensure the CBA-mandated 50-50 split in revenue between the owners and players, on top of the 14-percent escrow withholdings from players’ contracts during the season.

The NHLPA said any increase in withholdings has to be determined in accordance with the Players Association, and that the potential shortfall in the 50-50 split “won’t be covered by one paycheck. Depending on how long the league’s season is delayed – or if the season is outright cancelled – the revenue difference could be covered by an increase in withholdings next season or subsequent seasons.

The NHL paused its season on Thursday, joining the NBA, Major League Soccer and Major League Baseball in putting their seasons on hold to help stem the coronavirus outbreak and as more communities with pro sports teams enact bans or make recommendations to limit mass gatherings of people in places like sporting events.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said that after the NBA had its first positive test for a player with coronavirus, his league needed to put its season on hold.

“For the last couple of weeks, we’ve been monitoring what’s been going on. We went from dealing with things on a day-to-day basis to an hour-by-hour basis, and then it was in minutes. We were constantly evolving our strategy about our teams playing or not playing,” he told CNBC on Thursday evening.

“But when the NBA had a positive test, and they had to cancel a game at that moment, it was clear to me – and through all of our calculous, we knew – that once a player tested positive it would be a game-changer. I decided to get ahead of it. In all likelihood, we weren’t going to get through the rest of the season without a player testing positive. Particularly because the Utah Jazz had used locker rooms within 24 hours of our teams using the same locker rooms in buildings that we share with the NBA. I just decided that instead of waiting for it to happen, to just get ahead of it.”

Bettman said that the NHL’s objective is to hold the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season, even if the postseason potentially stretches into what would normally be the league’s offseason.

The NHLPA tells ESPN that any change to the regular-season or playoff format would have to be mutually agreed upon between the players and the owners, per the CBA.

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NHL suspends regular season games indefinitely due to coronavirus pandemic

The NHL has followed the NBA's lead by suspending games across the league indefinitely due to the coronavirus outbreak. No timetable has been set for when the contests may resume. 

“In light of ongoing developments resulting from the coronavirus, and after consulting with medical experts and convening a conference call of the Board of Governors, the National Hockey League is announcing today that it will pause the 2019‑20 season beginning with tonight’s games," the league said in a statement released Thursday afternoon.

“The NHL has been attempting to follow the mandates of health experts and local authorities, while preparing for any possible developments without taking premature or unnecessary measures. However, following last night’s news that an NBA player has tested positive for coronavirus – and given that our leagues share so many facilities and locker rooms and it now seems likely that some member of the NHL community would test positive at some point – it is no longer appropriate to try to continue to play games at this time.

A previous version of this video incorrectly stated how many people the 1918 Spanish influenza killed.

USA TODAY

“We will continue to monitor all the appropriate medical advice, and we will encourage our players and other members of the NHL community to take all reasonable precautions – including by self-quarantine, where appropriate. Our goal is to resume play as soon as it is appropriate and prudent, so that we will be able to complete the season and award the Stanley Cup. Until then, we thank NHL fans for your patience and hope you stay healthy.”

The league had announced Wednesday night it would consult with medical experts in the wake of the NBA's decision, which occurred after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert received a preliminary positive test for coronavirus. Unlike in the NBA, no NHL player has tested positive for coronavirus. 

Coronavirus, scientifically known as COVID-19, has infected more than 1,300 individuals in the U.S., resulting in 39 deaths as of Thursday afternoon. Health experts have called for large gatherings to be limited. 

The NHL had not played games on four other occasions, but that was because of labor disputes: a 1992 strike and lockouts in 1995, 2004 and 2012. The 2004 lockout cost the league an entire season. 

WHAT WE KNOW: Where U.S. sports stand amid coronavirus pandemic

THE LATEST: Coronavirus updates: Stocks dive; EU rips travel ban

The 1919 Stanley Cup was not awarded because the series between the NHL champion Montreal Canadiens and the Pacific Coast Hockey Association champion Seattle Metropolitans was called off after five games because of the Spanish influenza epidemic.

The @NHL pauses 2019-20 season. https://t.co/WMePei4clHpic.twitter.com/W5Hqmk3kX7

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