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Dan’s Daily: Dubas Unleashed, Free Agency & NHL Trades Edition



Pittsburgh Penguins, NHL free agency, Noel Acciari
Pittsburgh Penguins sign Noel Acciari. Toronto Maple Leafs center Noel Acciari (52) scores against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period in Game 4 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series Monday, April 24, 2023, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

The NHL free agent frenzy wasn’t quite the barrel over the falls drama and action of years past. The biggest names were locked up days or weeks ago. However, the Pittsburgh Penguins and president of hockey operations managed to insert the drama with a flurry of free agent signings in one hour and a heavyweight chase of Erik Karlsson on the NHL trade block. This is the Dan’s Daily free agency and trade edition, so we’ll cut to the chase today.

Also, I’d like to thank Jim Colony. The long-time radio personality at 93-7 the Fan and ESPN holds an annual Fourth of July party and still invites me (for some unknown reason). It’s always an honor by one of the great guys in Pittsburgh media who avoided petty squabbles and rivalries. Just a nice guy. Thanks, Jim!

Pittsburgh Penguins:

Where to begin?! Five free agents between about 3:30 and 4:30 p.m.

The Penguins re-signed Tristan Jarry. And goalie Alex Nedeljkovic. And Dubas said he wants one more goalie.

The Penguins signed tough-to-play against center Lars Eller.

The added speed, physicality, and lots of energy with Noel Acciari.

The big contract of the day — the Penguins signed a big, stay-home defenseman who can skate and clear the net with Ryan Graves.

Near the crack of noon, as free agency began, Dubas signed a player he had wanted for a while but could never get done: Speedy and responsible bottom-six winger Matt Nieto.

The Penguins are about $1.5 million over the cap. However, they don’t figure to keep three NHL goalies on the roster, and Nedeljkovic spent a good portion of last season in the AHL. In his press conference, Dubas dismissed worries about being over the cap and said they know, internally, they’re under it. So, we’ll wait and see what he’s got up his sleeve.

Also, I like this guy. He’s having some fun with the job, and it comes through. We’ll surely praise and criticize when earned, but the enthusiasm is a much-needed change from the dark clouds that have hung over the organization.

OK…now the former Penguins.

Seattle Sports: Nick Bonino signed with the Rangers. Josh Archibald signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Brian Dumoulin gets a 2 x 3.15m with the Seattle Kraken.

Pittsburgh Hockey Now: Jason Zucker inked a one-year deal with the Arizona Coyotes, with a slight pay cut. The COyotes might not be completely terrible next year. They also signed Alex Kerfoot. Still, the massive overreaches in the draft, that arena situation, it’s a dumpster fire.

And the coup-de-gras of the day, the Pittsburgh Penguins made a hard push for San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson.

Summarizing our reports and my Tweet, sources told us the Penguins were one of two finalists and expressed optimism it would get done. It obviously did not, but Dubas made a run at it. His press conference also seemed to throw cold water on its future potential. The door might not have slammed shut, but it sounds like it closed … for now.

I think that was for the best. The gong show that was the San Jose Sharks trying to balance two No. 1 defensemen didn’t help them, but I’m also occasionally wrong.

NHL Free Agency Notables:

Detroit Hockey Now: The Yzerplan has been the Wings fans’ belief bedrock for a few years. The Red Wings made some moves on Saturday but didn’t sync with what fans expected. Daniel Sprong and Justin Holl? Now there are questions about the Detroit Red Wings.

Nashville Hockey Now: Culture shift. Ryan O’Reilly and Luke Schenn to the Nashville Predators.

Washington Hockey Now: The Capitals didn’t add much, or did they? They signed Max Pacioretty for one year.

NYI Hockey Now: The Islanders stayed in-house Saturday. They splashed major money on Ilya Sorokin and re-signed Scott Mayfield, Pierre Engvall, and more. New York Islanders big money day.

Philly Hockey Now: The Flyers signed a pair of players, including Ryan Poehling. A quiet day but expect more from the Philadelphia Flyers.

NY Post: The Rangers opened a retirement village on Saturday. Bonino. Blake Wheeler. Riley Nash. Tyler Pitlick. They went OLD.

Colorado Hockey Now: The Avalanche re-signed Bo Byram and took a chance on Jonathan Drouin, but their big get was a six-year deal for Miles Wood.

Boston Hockey Now: The Bruins had an interesting day. Lots of smaller moves and some bigger names. Kevin Shattenkirk and Milan Lucic will wear the B. Morgan Geekie got a couple of million bucks, too. The Boston Bruins added bodies.