NHL free agency: Avalanche and Lightning go through a flurry of signings

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The recent Stanley Cup winners spent their first day of free agency in the NHL re-signing key players to long-term contracts.

NHL Champion Colorado Avalanche. brought back big guard Josh Manson and the team they beat in the Finals, the Tampa Bay Lightning, extended center Anthony Cirelli, and defensemen Mikhail Sergachev and Eric Chernak for eight years each. St. Louis Blues retained Nick Leddy for another four years and extended the contract of talented forward Robert Thomas until 2031.

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Colorado Avalanche defenseman Josh Manson raises the Stanley Cup during a rally outside the City/County Building honoring NHL hockey champions after a parade through the streets of downtown Denver, Thursday, June 30, 2022.

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Josh Manson raises the Stanley Cup during a rally outside the City/County Building honoring NHL hockey champions after a parade through the streets of downtown Denver, Thursday, June 30, 2022.
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Manson received $18 million on a four-year contract, which is $4.5 million of the salary cap.

Acquiring a 6-foot-3, 218-pound quarterback at the deadline was one of several moves that helped Colorado win the Cup for the first time since 2001. Avalanche and he had eight points and several key hits in 20 playoff games.

Tampa Baylost in the final after winning the Cup twice, signed Sergachev for $68m, Cirelli for $50m and Chernak for $41.6m, all through 2031. Ryan McDonagh to Nashville earlier this month.

NHL FREE AGENCY: DEVILS EXCHANGE PAVEL ZACHA TO THE BRUINS

Tampa Bay Lightning center Anthony Cirelli, 71, practices a puck off the ice against the Colorado Avalanche in the second period of Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Hockey Finals on Friday, June 24, 2022, in Denver.

Tampa Bay Lightning center Anthony Cirelli, 71, practices a puck off the ice against the Colorado Avalanche in the second period of Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Hockey Finals on Friday, June 24, 2022, in Denver.
(AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

St. Louis, who won the Cup in 2019 and has since redone her blue line, re-signed with Leddy for $16 million over four years. The Blues got Leddy out of Detroit on time and hooked him up to a team that has gotten faster and more experienced since winning the championship three years ago.

The Blues have signed Thomas, who just turned 23, to a $65 million contract extension, capping the deal at $8,125 million.

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The Eastern Conference champions also added defenseman Ian Cole and brought back winger Vladislav Namestnikov with one-year contracts. Cole signed for $3 million and Namestnikov for $2.5 million.

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Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev celebrates his goal against the Colorado Avalanche in the second period of Game 1 of the NHL Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday, June 15, 2022, in Denver.

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev celebrates his goal against the Colorado Avalanche in the second period of Game 1 of the NHL Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday, June 15, 2022, in Denver.
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Along with Philip Myers, Cole must help fill the void left by the McDonagh deal and Ian Rutta’s pending departure. The experienced left back won the Stanley Cup. with Pittsburgh in 2016 and 17, and last year played for the Carolina Hurricanes.

Namestnikov has played in the league with five different teams since his first tenure with Tampa Bay. He was with the Lightning when they reached the Cup final in 2015.