Rangers sign defenseman Nemeth, add depth with Tinordi and McKegg, DeAngelo put on trial in conference call with Hurricanes, More on a hectic July Frenzy

It was a busy first day in NHL free agency. When it was over, more than $500 million had been spent on 98446712562 players. At least that’s how it felt.

Headlining the long list was top free agent defenseman Dougie Hamilton, who signed with the Devils for seven years at an average cap hit of $9 million. The former Hurricane will help a team that has lacked a number one defenseman for a while. He’s a superb skater who excels at puck possession. There’s little doubting his ability to contribute at both five-on-five and the power play which the Devils need. Obviously, Hasan is thrilled. It was a Devilish Day.

While all the hoopla surrounded bigger names on the move, the Rangers quietly went about their business and formally announced the signing of veteran defenseman Patrik Nemeth. As had been rumored, it’s for three years at an AAV of $2.5 million for the gritty left D who is expected to form the third pair with rookie favorite Nils Lundkvist. We’ll see how that goes in two months.

Nemeth isn’t the only new Blueshirt. Joining the roster is former Bruin Jarred Tinordi. A role player who is a depth signing for the blue line, the son of former NHL defenseman Mark Tinordi is a physical player who can drop the gloves. He’s best known for beating Tom Wilson in a fight when things got very heated between the Bruins and Caps. Signed for two years at $900,000 per season, he’ll likely be ticketed for Hartford. But you know he’ll be around early when the Rangers faced the Capitals.

As much as I get the move, it seems like overkill. I would’ve preferred to keep Brendan Smith. Hopefully, he catches on with another team. The difference is he’ll cost more than Tinordi. I was also interested in Ian Cole, but he signed for similar money to Nemeth with Carolina. Might he pair up with newest Cane Tony DeAngelo? We’ll see.

In another move for Hartford, the Rangers brought back Greg McKegg. He got a year at $750,000. The Keg Man returns after spending 2021 in Boston. You have to figure he’ll play mostly with the Wolf Pack and possibly become the captain. So, the Pack should be strong. Bringing in proven vets with the character of McKegg and Tinordi can help develop kids such as Zac Jones, Matthew Robertson and Braden Schneider. If all remain Rangers that is.

There was one other signing. Dryden Hunt inked a two-year deal worth $762,500 per season. I don’t know anything about him. So, the less said. The better.

I wouldn’t have minded Chris Drury going out and adding a gritty player like Brock McGinn, who left Carolina for Pittsburgh. Ditto for Nick Ritchie, who remains unsigned after Boston let him go. He’s still just 25. He can help someone.

Maybe Buffalo, who had another futile day due to their rebuild. Their biggest moves were dealing for Will Butcher and signing vet netminders Craig Anderson and Aaron Dell. Yikes. They watched the rival Bruins scoop up former starter Linus Ullmark. It’s all about tanking for a team still holding firm on their huge demands for Jack Eichel. The Wild pulled out. Eventually, nobody will be left. If I’m Drury, I wait it out and see what happens. This is in no way a suggestion to get Eichel. I’m on the fence due to what Buffalo GM Kevyn Adams wants and Eichel’s medical issue involving his neck. He has five years left on a contract that pays him $10 million per year. I am curious to see how things play out.

Vegas has interest because they lack a top center. Who aren’t they in on? Unless it involves dumping a Vezina winner who was extremely popular with their fans. Nice of them to thank Marc-Andre Fleury in a tweet. Do you know how ridiculous that is? I love Fleury. He’s been a great goalie for two decades and is a terrific personality. He deserved better. I don’t want him to retire. If you are an MAF fan, check out my friend Alyssa’s Fleury Video Tribute on YouTube. Obviously, she’s a big Pens fan. The music selection is great and the editing top notch. Click below.

In expected news, DeAngelo found a new NHL home when he agreed to a one-year, $1 million deal with the Hurricanes. The 25-year old joins his fourth team. After having success in NYC by posting consecutive seasons of 30 points or more including a career high 53 (15-38-53) in ’19-20, he got into a skirmish with Alex Georgiev following a tough road loss at Pittsburgh. Six games was all it took to end his 2021. He didn’t perform well with only one assist and a minus-six during that rough stretch. It also included a perplexing benching by David Quinn for DeAngelo showing frustration after taking a penalty. It never felt right.

Much has been said about DeAngelo. Too much. There are a lot of obnoxious people out there who don’t want to know the truth. They want to treat him like an axe murderer. I’ve seen criminals treated better. The truth is he made a mistake and admitted he regretted it during the Tony DeAngelo Trial introductory press conference via Zoom on Wednesday afternoon. He faced all the tough questions about his past. It’s definitely something that he’s trying to move on from. He even told The Athletic reporter Sara Civian that he’s had counseling, or as he said, “Sports Psychology.”

It’s painfully obvious that DeAngelo has struggled to control his emotions. Something he openly admitted during the 14 and a half minute press conference. He was very cordial and indicated that it was his behavior on the ice that got him in trouble. He was open enough to discuss a junior incident a decade ago with a player that he regretted. They’re still friends today. He talked about past suspensions where he got into it with officials. It was like being on trial. Most of this is ancient history. The dismissal from the Rangers had to hurt as he really loved playing here. But what’s done is done.

It’s obvious that DeAngelo wants to put it all behind. The question is will these reporters ever let it go along with some Carolina fans who threatened to cancel their season subscription. The strongest remarks came when he said he wants a shot to prove himself to those fans. I guess they’ve never messed up. This is it for him. You can tell he knows it. He likes coach Rod Brind’Amour and felt it would be a perfect fit. Given the style he plays, which emphasizes skating with puck possession, great vision and an accurate shot, DeAngelo is being counted on for his offense. He can’t try to replace Hamilton, who was low balled for some reason. All he can do is be Tony DeAngelo minus the distractions. Having former Ranger teammates Brady Skjei and Jesper Fast should help. We’ll see how it goes.

There are far too many free agent moves to cover. You had Boston basically overturn their roster in an attempt to stay in the discussion. They added Ullmark, who will pair up with Jeremy Swayman to form a goalie tandem. Tuukka Rask is out until January. We have no idea if he’ll play. He doesn’t want to be anywhere else. They’re trying to get David Krejci re-signed. Boston brought in Derek Forbort while adding good forward depth with Nick Foligno, Erik Haula and Tomas Nosek. Sean Kuraly left.

The Islanders had a quiet day. Despite reports Kyle Palmieri is staying, nothing was announced. As expected, Zach Parise is said to have agreed to a one-year deal. I think the same thing is happening with Palmieri. Who knows. Lou Lamoriello operates in mysterious ways. Obviously, Cizikas is a must. Are they going to make a trade to bolster scoring or add defense? That’s Lou.

Ryan Suter landed in Dallas with the Stars willing to go four years at an AAV of $3.65 million for him. The Isles were unwilling to give him that term. Dallas also added goalie Braden Holtby. What does he got left? Surprisingly, Blake Coleman landed in Calgary where they paid him an AAV of $4.9 million over six years. As much as I like Coleman, good luck with that.

Can anyone explain why the Flyers signed Martin Jones? Please don’t tell me they think it’s a good idea to have him backup Carter Hart. The rest of the moves they made should improve them enough to compete for the playoffs. I especially like the additions of Cam Atkinson and Ryan Ellis. We’ll see about Rasmus Ristolainen and Keith Yandle.

Colorado wouldn’t go six years for Philipp Grubauer, who got paid ($5.9 million AAV) by the Seattle Kraken. They then predictably traded Vitek Vanecek back to the Caps for a 2023 second round pick. Instead, the Avalanche believe Darcy Kuemper is the answer. They sent the Coyotes a 2022 first round pick and defenseman Conor Timmins. The Kraken also added Jaden Schwartz for five years at $5.5 million per season and Alex Wennberg for four years at an AAV of $4.5 million. Moves that’ll improve their offense. It’s really all about second overall pick Matty Beniers, who’ll likely play at Michigan. Plus the Kraken should be in the mix for Shane Wright in ’22 and Connor Bedard in ’23. They should be competitive in net and on the back end.

I liked the day Montreal had. They re-signed Joel Armia while adding Cedric Paquette, David Savard and Mike Hoffman. Of course, they lost valuable two-way checking pivot Phillip Danault, who surprisingly signed with the Kings for an AAV of $5.5 million over six years. He cashed in. It was a bit shocking because the Golden Knights, Blackhawks and Rangers were linked to him. Given the price, I’m relieved the Rangers stayed away. That’s too much. He’s a good player who certainly proved his worth during the Habs’ run. But the offense isn’t great.

For now at least, Ryan Strome remains a New York Ranger. He is due $4.5 million on a contract that expired next summer. Similar to Mika Zibanejad, who comes in at $5.35 million. Obviously, Drury has some tough decisions around the corner. Does he decide to stay in the Eichel Watch by moving Strome? What about possibly extending Zibanejad off an uneven season? I know the COVID alibi being used. Why was he so ineffective in those last three games versus the Islanders? Artemi Panarin wasn’t any better. Personally, I’d wait. They don’t have to do anything now.

If it’s true as Larry Brooks hinted that Georgiev might want to be traded, that’s understandable. I’m sure he’d love the opportunity to become a number one goalie. I’m not sure it’s realistic. There’s no way any team will give up a first round pick for him. If Georgiev was moved, they could then bring in a veteran for cheaper. But there isn’t much out there. A Henrik Lundqvist reunion? I don’t think so. They may as well stick with what they have.

There’s a lot more moves I could blog about. But it was total chaos. Let’s see if anything new breaks locally. See you soon.

About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of Hudson administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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