On Monday morning it was announced that former Vegas Golden Knights star forward James Neal had signed for five years with the Calgary Flames. Later in the afternoon, Joe Thornton announced his intentions on coming back to San Jose for one more kick at the can with the Sharks on another one-year deal.
The Winnipeg Jets have remained quiet through the first 28 hours of free agency, but the Jets aren’t the only NHL team that Manitoba cheers for.
Two Manitoba-born athletes signed fresh NHL contracts in new cities on the opening day of NHL free agency, as Winkler’s Eric Fehr signed on for one year in Minnesota, and Brandon’s Matt Calvert locked himself into a three-year deal in Colorado.
Fehr revitalized his career following a trade from Toronto to San Jose, where he proved to still be an excellent third/fourth line grinder, helping the Sharks to a strong regular season finish, and a push in the postseason. Fehr – who turns 33 this September – will make $1 million this coming season.
Matt Calvert had his tenure in Columbus end on a rough note. As the recipient of some negatory comments from Head Coach John Tortorella at season’s end, the longest serving playing on the Blue Jackets’ current roster made it clear he was ready to move on.
In signing with the Central Division’s Colorado Avalanche, Calvert will have the chance to visit his home province upon more occasions than he had playing for Columbus. The 28-year-old’s new three-year deal will carry an annual average value of $2.8 million.
Although a free agent, Winnipeg’ Ryan Reaves decided to stick with the Vegas Golden Knights, and signed a two-year, $5.55 million deal to remain in Nevada with the league’s newest franchise. Reaves made his presence felt in the playoffs, scoring the series-winning goal against his hometown Winnipeg Jets, in Manitoba, in the Western Conference Final.
Both the June 30th and July 1st signings came shortly after Swan River product, Michael Ferland, was dealt in a five player deal along with Dougie Hamilton and Adam Fox to Carolina. Calgary received forward Elias Lindholm and defenceman Noah Hanifin as a return.
With a handful of other Manitoban talent yet to sign, look for a busy upcoming two months in the NHL transaction department.