Today at noon Eastern, the NHL kicked off their free agency. The action was fast and furious. For me, the focus will be on the former University of North Dakota hockey players that are currently NHL free agents. There are quite a few that will be looking for new homes.
First, the Buffalo Sabres like the Drake. The former UND forward, Drake Caggiula, who was an unrestricted free agent, remained a member of the Buffalo Sabres. Caggiula re-signed a one-year deal worth $750,000.
Over the course of five NHL seasons, Caggiula has played in 260 NHL games scoring (44g-42a—86pts). He’s also a minus-24. Caggiula has also played in 21 Stanley Cup Playoff games scoring (4g-2a—6pts).
The Sabres want role players to help guide Dylan Cozens, Casey Mittelstadt and Tage Thompson, among others.
Drake Caggiula fits the bill. More on the decision to bring back the 27-year-old winger:https://t.co/Ohe6H2ySsi
— Lance Lysowski (@LLysowski) July 27, 2021
As of today, the Winnipeg Jets lost two former UND hockey players. Tucker Poolman signed a four-year deal worth $10 million. That’s an average salary of $2.5 million a year.
#Canucks GM Jim Benning announced today that the club has signed defenceman Tucker Poolman to a four-year contract with an annual average salary of $2.5 million.
— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) July 28, 2021
Another Jet is gone. Former UND defenseman Derek Forbort has signed with the Boston Bruins. Forbort’s deal is worth $3 million a year for three years. In 331 NHL games, Forbort has scored (8g-57a—65pts), he’s also a plus-eight. Last season, in 56 games with the Jets, Forbort scored (2g-10a—12pts).
Derek Forbort, 29, is a defensive-minded, 6’4” — 215lbs defender. Low-maintenance guy that blocks shots, kills penalties and brings some needed friction in his own end. $3m AAV isn’t a steal, but I really don’t think it’s something to be worked up over. He’s fine. #NHLBruins https://t.co/8C2CMmWnuo
— Bruins Network (@BruinsNetwork) July 28, 2021
Subtract two and add another. Former Grand Forks native and UND hockey player Luke Johnson has signed a one-year, two-way deal with the Winnipeg Jets. If he plays the entire season in the NHL, he will make $750,000. Johnson has played in 31 NHL games scoring (1g-1a–2pts).
The #NHLJets have signed forward Luke Johnson to a one-year, two-way contract!
— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) July 28, 2021
As I had mentioned in an earlier post, I like the Winnipeg Jets. Last season, their roster had a nice mix of American players with college hockey backgrounds. Many of these players played big roles with the Jets. Even with Poolman and Forbort leaving, the Jets still have a nice core of American players.
Former UND goalie Aaron Dell has signed with the Buffalo Sabres. Dell’s contract is a one-year deal that will pay him $750,000. Dell’s Salary will pay him $350,000 if he spends the season in the minors. In seven seasons, Dell has played in 114 NHL games, with two teams. He has a (49-39-12, a 2.83 GAA, and a .906 save percentage).
We have signed goaltender Aaron Dell to a one-year contract worth $750,000.
Welcome to the Sabres, Aaron!
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) July 29, 2021
Another former UND hockey player has taken his skills elsewhere. Former UND and St. Louis Blues forward Austin Poganski has signed a one-year deal with the Winnipeg Jets. Throughout three seasons, Poganski has played in six NHL games and has yet to record a point.
From Dave Minuk of the Illegal Curve: It’s official. The Jets are in Friendly Manitoba but the organization is officially Minnesota Nice as they added another player from the state southeast of here with the addition of Austin Poganski from St. Cloud, Minnesota. The right shooting winger was drafted in the 4th round by the Blues in 2014 and has spent most of his time as a pro the last couple of seasons with the AHL franchise of St. Louis in San Antonio.
Will Poganski find a way to make the Jets opening day lineup? Or, will he spend the majority of his time playing with the Manitoba Moose?
The #NHLJets have signed forward Austin Poganski to a one-year, two-way contract.
— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) July 31, 2021