Quick Strikes: Maple Leafs snag Tavares

So, how was your free agency day?

The Bolts

First off, the Tampa Bay Lightning locked up one of the most recent additions to their core in Ryan McDonagh. The former New York Ranger signed a seven-year deal for $6.75 million per. [Raw Charge]

This seven-year contract will beging with the 2019-20 season. He will turn 37 just after the last season of the contract ends. His $6.75 million cap hit is similar to contracts given to Mark Giordano with the Calgary Flames ($6.75 million, six years) and Cam Fowler ($6.5 million, eight years) with the Anaheim Ducks. McDonagh will be paid like a top pairing defenseman that puts up 30-35 points a year.

Ryan considers the Lightning a “perfect fit” for him, especially at this time when the Lightning have a spot for him high in the lineup and there’s a real chance to win a Cup. [NHL dot com]

“We really liked his two-way game. We like the fact he’s big, strong, a good skater, a strong skater, especially like the character of the person,” Yzerman said. “When he came in, we felt he made us a better team. We knew he made us a better team.”

Switching gears a little bit, Martin St. Louis got the “call to the hall” and will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame this summer. Here is a transcript of the phone call MSL had with HHOF officials when the broke the news to him. [Raw Charge]

John Davidson: “Marty! It’s John Davidson and Lanny MacDonald calling you from the Hockey Hall of Fame from up here in Toronto. Congratulations you were nominated and you were voted in today to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Congratulations again.”

The Prospects

Cameron Gaunce is our big free agent fish this July 1st. He signed an AHL-friendly one-year, two-way contract with the Lightning and Syracuse Crunch. The 28-year-old should be a strong veteran presence in the locker room and on the ice this season for the young Crunch. [Local Syr]

Gaunce, 28, skated in 67 games with the Cleveland Monsters last season, recording three goals and 24 points to go along with 96 penalty minutes. The 6-foot-2, 204-pound defenseman led all Cleveland defensemen for assists with 21 and points. Gaunce also paced the team for penalty minutes during the 2017-18 season.

Raw Charge is also reporting a couple of other AHL signings that were made official today, including contracts to Kevin Lynch, and Hubert Labrie. you can read about them here. [Raw Charge]

According to a few Instagram posts, forward Kevin Lynch was actually signed by the Lightning weeks ago, but apparently the change in his contract from an AHL-only to a two-way necessitated waiting until 7/1 to announce it. This contract is Lynch’s first one with an NHL team, something that is quite an achievement for the 27-year-old.

Continuing our Draft prospect profiles, Radim Salda is a promising young left-handed defenseman out of the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL. [Raw Charge]

Salda scored 41 points last season, putting him in the top twenty among QMJHL defenders. Of those 41 points, 10 were goals and 31 were assists. He scored 26 primary points, which also puts him in the top twenty in the league, so his production wasn’t only a function of being on the power play. The Sea Dogs were the worst team in the QMJHL, but were better with Salda on the ice.

The Game

The Toronto Maple Leafs got John Tavares. They will likely compete with us for the top spot in the Atlantic Division next season. Kudos to them for going 1/2  in the top free-agent sweepstakes. [Pension Plan Puppets]

After trying to win the draft lottery to pick him (no thanks to Boyd Devereaux), after trying to trade up for him (we still love you Nazem Kadri!) at the 2009 NHL Draft, even after trying to sign him to an AHL contract with the Toronto Marlies at age 17, the Toronto Maple Leafs have now signed the first ever ‘exceptional player’ in the Ontario Hockey League.

While one center comes into our division, another leaves. Ryan O’Reilly has been traded from the Buffalo Sabres to the St. Louis Blues (who also signed former Leaf Tyler Bozak to a multi-year contract). [NBC Sports]

It really makes you wonder what the asking price would have been like if the deadline passed and the Sabres had to pay the $7.5M signing bonus. This bold move also makes you wonder if Blues GM Doug Armstrong believes that his job is on the line depending upon how the 2018-19 season goes.

And the drama remains at an all-time high in Ottawa, as it is reported that the team has offered defenseman Erik Karlsson an contract extension. It was widely speculated earlier that they would do this so that the message coming from the front office can be one where Karlsson spurned them to sign with a different team next July. [NHL dot com]

“I think Erik wants to be a Senator for life,” Dorion said then. “I don’t want to speak for him, I’ll let him speak for himself. We’ll see what the next few months bring, but if Erik Karlsson is here on July 1, we will be making him a contract offer.” Karlsson had 62 points (nine goals, 53 assists) in 71 games for the Senators last season. He has led Ottawa in points, or finished tied for the lead, each of the past five seasons.