NEWS
07/01/2016 09:18 EDT | Updated 07/02/2017 01:12 EDT

Flood of deals to start NHL free agency: Lucic, Eriksson, Ladd, Okposo all off the board

NHL free agency kicked off with a bang on Friday.

The deals flooded in as the free agent market officially opened at noon on Canada Day, highlighted by Milan Lucic joining the Oilers, Loui Eriksson joining the Sedin twins in Vancouver and Andrew Ladd agreeing to sign with the New York Islanders.

An hour wasn't even gone before most of the top free agents were off the board.

Long-time Blues captain David Backes signed with the Bruins on a five-year deal, Kyle Okposo landed in Buffalo for seven years, Frans Nielsen joined the Red Wings for six years and James Reimer headed to Florida to serve as the backup to Roberto Luongo, agreeing to a surprising five-year deal.

Veteran winger Troy Brouwer joined a blossoming forward contingent in Calgary on a four-year contract. Also landing with the Flames was goaltender Chad Johnson, set to serve as the backup to new No. 1 Brian Elliott, who was acquired by the club from St. Louis at the NHL draft.

Thought to be the top available free agent, Lucic joins the Oilers on a seven-year deal worth a reported US$42 million. Long of the Boston Bruins and more recently a member of the Los Angeles Kings, Lucic brings size, some grit and a knack for the net to Edmonton, perhaps a fit with Connor McDavid on the team's top line.

The 28-year-old had his fourth 20-goal season last year in L.A., totaling 55 points in 81 games.

Edmonton recently dealt its top left winger, Taylor Hall, in exchange for 23-year-old defenceman Adam Larsson.  

Eriksson, meanwhile, a 30 year old coming off a fine 30-goal season in Boston, landed with the Canucks for six years and a reported US$36 million.

Eight deals of at least four years were dished out in a wild opening hour, many to players over 30, including Eriksson, Backes, Nielsen, and Ladd, the 31-year-old former Winnipeg Jets captain who replaces Okposo as a top-six winger with the Islanders.

Other notable signings include long-time Hurricanes captain Eric Staal, who joined the Wild for three years and $10.5 million, Brian Campbell, who signed a one-year deal to return to Chicago, and David Perron, the former Oiler returning to St. Louis on a two-year deal worth US$7.5 million.

Darren Helm agreed to remain in Detroit, also on a five-year deal.