The National Hockey League off-season has been about the new collective bargaining agreement, but many forget that NHL free agency is still open. Normally by the end of July and beginning of August, the free agency period has wound down and teams are focusing on going to training camps. However this off season has been relatively different as there are still many big name free agents left on the table.
Let’s not forget about the rookies who were drafted back in June at the NHL Draft. Many of those players are just now finalizing contracts with the teams that had draft them. Here are some of the off-season signings of the past week in the NHL.
Oilers Sign First-Round Pick Yakupov to Three-Year Contract
Last Monday, the Edmonton Oilers announced the club had signed forward Nail Yakupov to a three year entry level contract. General Manager Steve Tambellini was happy to sign Yakupov to a three year deal. Tambellini and the Oilers feel Yakupov will play a crucial role in the Oilers line up this coming season.
Yakupov, was draft first overall by the Oilers at the NHL Draft back in June. He collected 69 points in 42 games with the Sarnia Sting. Yakupov had recorded 101 points in 65 career games with the Sting. He has been named OHL Rookie of the Month three times as well as being named OHL Rookie of the Year and BMO Rookie of the Year in the CHL.
Yakupov hails from Nizhnekamsk, Republic of Tatarstan, having been part of Team Russia at the World Junior U18 championships. He collected 13 points and scored a hat trick in the bronze medal game to defeat Canada 6-4. At the 2012 World Junior Championships, he was a part of the silver medal Russian that lost to Sweden in overtime of the gold medal game.
Blue Jackets Sign First Round Pick Murray to Entry Level Contract
Last Wednesday, a day after they traded franchise player Rick Nash to the Rangers, the Columbus Blue Jackets announced they had signed defenseman Ryan Murray to a three year entry level contract.
Murray was selected second overall by the Blue Jackets back in June at the NHL Entry Draft. Murray, who is only 18, scored nine goals and 22 assists for 31 points and had 31 penalty minutes in 46 games with the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League during the 2011-12 season. He also played for Canada at the 2012 World Junior and World Hockey Championships.
Canadiens Sign First Round Pick Galchenyuk to Entry Level Deal
The Montreal Canadiens last week announced they had signed forward Alex Galchenyuk to a three year entry level contract. The Canadiens took Galchenyuk with the third overall pick at the draft back in June.
He only played in three games this past season with the Sting as he was sidelined for most of the season with a knee injury. He did return to play in all six playoff games for the Sting registered four points; two goals and two assists. The 18 year old is a native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and in the 2010-2011 season he registered 31 goals and 52 assists in 68 games with the Sarnia Sting.
Sabres Sign Center Grigorenko to Entry Level Contract
The Sabres announced last Wednesday they had signed their top draft choice, forward Mikhail Grigorenko, to a three year entry level contract. Sabres General Manager is thrilled to have him on the Sabres and is excited to see his skill level and ability play out at the NHL level.
During his first season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Grigorenko had 40 goals and registered 85 points. Grigorenko led all first-year players in the QMJHL in goals and points and finished second in assists with 45. In an interview with the Sabres he said, “Now I can really feel I am 100 per cent a part of this organization. The next step for me is to make the team and play in the NHL.”