NHL free agency is right around the corner, and teams are going to start reshaping their rosters to try and catch the Los Angeles Kings. Meanwhile, the Kings will try and stay the king. While teams cannot sign other team's free agents just yet, teams can re-sign their own players, and two guys who were traded during the season have signed new deals with their new teams. Ryan Callahan is staying with Tampa Bay, while Marian Gaborik has signed a deal with the aforementioned Kings.
Callahan, who was captain of the New York Rangers where he was traded to Tampa for Martin St. Louis, has signed a six year deal for $34.8 million, which gives him a cap hit of $5.8 million. That's not insignificant, but it's not huge either, especially since the cap is going to be rising in the near future, perhaps substantially. However, it may still be too much for Callahan, unless you are interested in paying for "leadership" or whatever. He has one 29 goal, 54 point season to his credit, but last year he only had 17 goals and 36 points. He's a winger, and he doesn't really drive possession. He was made a captain though, because of grit or whatever. That's not nothing, even if I don't put much stock into it. He's also 29, so by the time this deal is done he'll be out of his prime. I'm not thrilled about this for the Lightning, but they aren't really a free agent draw, and they are a good team already, and they will add Jonathan Drouin. Sometimes you have to overpay.
Gaborik, meanwhile, earned himself some straight cash with his playoff performance. He spent the regular season hurt in Columbus, got traded to the Kings, and then scored 14 goals to lead all postseason performers en route to LA's Cup win. Gaborik added a new dimension to a team that had trouble scoring. That was enough to get him a seven year deal. The cap hit is $4.875 million, so Gaborik is getting almost a million bucks less per season than Callahan, even though he's a better player. However, he's better now, but he's also 32 and has a history of injuries. I bet he could have gotten more cash on the open market, but he got security, and he got to stay in a situation that worked out well for him.
He's not going to be a 40 goal scorer anymore. At best, he probably has a couple 25 goal seasons, but he'll get his shots and be dynamic... at least for now. This deal takes him until he's 39, though. He could retire, which means cap recapture penalties. The Lightning paid to keep a leader in a city that doesn't have a ton of cache in the NHL. The Kings paid to keep a Cup winning team together (they also re-signed Matt Greene for what it's worth). And so it begins.