The NHL's free-agency period opened with a bang in late July, as nearly every team got in on the action. There were numerous big names on the open market, and the majority of them inked new deals right out of the gate.
On Day 1 alone, 96 deals were struck worth a total of $529 million, and many more contracts trickled in over the following days. With so many deals and so much money dished around, there were sure to be a number of surprising moves that caught NHL fans off guard. Let's take a look at five of them.
Ovechkin eyeing Gretzky's record
Alex Ovechkin entered the offseason in need of a contract for just the second time in his career. After his entry-level deal with the Washington Capitals expired, he inked a 13-year contract, which he's played on until now. It was a given that the 35-year-old was going to re-sign with the Capitals, but it wasn't known how many years or how much money he'd command. When the deal came in at five years and with a $9.5-million average annual value, many were left shocked.
The Russian sniper will be nearing 41 years old when the deal expires. He hasn't shown any decline yet, and there's no reason to believe he's going to start anytime soon. There's been a looming threat that he'll return to his home country to play in the KHL before he retires from hockey, which caused some to believe his NHL career might have been nearing its end. Now, Ovechkin has at least five more seasons to accumulate 165 goals and break Wayne Gretzky's once seemingly unreachable record.
Perry joins Lightning
If you can't beat them, join them, right? Corey Perry and the Montreal Canadiens indicated they were interested in striking a deal. However, Perry broke Montreal fans' hearts several days into free agency when he opted to join the Tampa Bay Lightning – the team he lost to in back-to-back Stanley Cup Finals.
The move was shocking at first, but blame can't be put on Perry. Following an impressive campaign with the Habs, the Lightning handed him an attractive two-year contract. Tampa Bay gives him a much better chance of winning another Cup over the next two seasons. With the Lightning's top six still intact, Perry will provide a major boost to the third or fourth line.