Center Paul Stastny is returning to the Winnipeg Jets after a trade with the Vegas Golden Knights, a move completed just before the NHL’s free-agency signing period opened on Friday.
The Golden Knights acquired defenseman Carl Dahlstrom and a conditional 2022 fourth-round draft pick in dealing the 14th-year forward.
The trade kicked off what is expected to be a busy day of signings and moves made by NHL teams challenged by a flat salary cap of $81.5 million. The cap remains unchanged from last year as a result of revenues lost because of the coronavirus pandemic, adding a layer of uncertainty as to how much money teams will be able to spend to improve their rosters this offseason.
In a reversal from two years ago, the Jets had little room to maneuver under the salary cap, and were unable to re-sign Stastny after being outbid by the Golden Knights. This time, the Golden Knights made the trade in part to free space under their cap.
Stastny had 30 goals and 80 points in 121 games for Vegas. Overall, the 34-year-old Stastny has been a productive and dependable forward. But his production has dropped since his first eight seasons in Colorado where he topped 20 goals six times.
Stastny has one year left on his three-year, $19.5 million contract.
The cap constraints were reflected in the Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning placing forward Tyler Johnson on waivers. Johnson, who had four goals and seven points in 25 playoff games, has three years remaining on a seven-year, $35 million contract that includes a no-trade clause.
The Lightning entered the offseason projected to have about $4.5 million of room under the cap.
Veteran forward Wayne Simmonds was among the first free agents to sign, reaching a one-year $1.5 million deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The 12-year veteran split last season between New Jersey and Buffalo.
The rebuilding Detroit Red Wings agreed to a one-year deal with 33-year-old winger Bobby Ryan, who is hoping to revive his career after battling alcohol issues. Ryan missed more than two months of last season in Ottawa after entering the NHL/NHLPA players assistance program in November, 2019.
Ryan, this year’s Masterton Trophy winner for perseverance, was on the market after the Senators bought out the remaining two years of his contract, in which he was owed $15 million. Drafted No. 2 overall by Anaheim in 2005, he has 254 goals and 301 assists with the Ducks and Senators.
In Chicago, the Blackhawks agreed to sign rookie of the year finalist Dominik Kubalik to a two-year, $7.4 million contract extension. With starting goalie Corey Crawford entering free agency, the Blackhawks also signed goalie Malcolm Subban to a two-year, $1.7 million contract.
AP Hockey Writers Larry Lage and Stephen Whyno contributed to this report.
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