NHL roster freeze lifts, flat cap prompts money-saving moves

Carolina traded its playoff starting goaltender to Detroit to avoid arbitration. Philadelphia sent a high draft pick to Arizona to take on a pricey defenseman. The New York Rangers gave a back-to-back Stanley Cup champion a contract Tampa Bay never could have afforded.

The moves made Thursday when the NHL’s roster freeze for the Seattle expansion draft lifted were all consequences of the salary cap remaining flat at $81.5 million because of pandemic revenue losses.

The Hurricanes dealt rookie goalie Alex Nedeljkovic to the Red Wings for the No. 94 pick in the draft this weekend and the rights to pending free agent netminder Jonathan Bernier. Detroit signed Nedeljkovic to a $6 million, two-year contract — just under what the 25-year-old might have been awarded in an arbitration hearing.

Nedeljkovic, who had a 2.01 goals-against average and .928 save percentage last season, gives the rebuilding Red Wings the young presence in goal they’ve been looking for. The Hurricanes can turn their attention to re-signing Petr Mrazek or finding help elsewhere.

The Flyers can now go free agent shopping when the market opens next Wednesday after paying the price of 2022 second- and seventh-round picks to dump defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere and his contract with the Coyotes. He counts $4.5 million against the cap for the next two seasons, which doesn’t work for Philadelphia after acquiring top-pairing defender Ryan Ellis from Nashville.

“This was a difficult decision but one we thought was necessary given the reality of the salary cap,” Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said. “Shayne has been a quality player for this organization since the moment he arrived in Philadelphia.”

Gostisbehere, 28, could turn into a useful asset for the Coyotes either at the 2021 or 2022 trade deadline. GM Bill Armstrong said Gostisbehere “will be a solid addition to our blueline this season and will be a key power-play player for us.”

Forward Barclay Goodrow was a key penalty killer and grinder for Tampa Bay, playing a crucial role in winning back-to-back championships. The cap-strapped Lightning last weekend traded his rights to the Rangers, who on Thursday agreed to terms with Goodrow on a $21.6 million, six-year deal.

Among other moves, the Kraken traded forward Tyler Pitlick to Calgary for a 2022 fourth-round pick one day after taking Pitlick from the Coyotes in the expansion draft.

Of course, the cap moves won’t end for a while. Pittsburgh all but gave forward Jared McCann away to Toronto last weekend hoping to shed another contract in the expansion draft, and the Penguins became cap compliant when Seattle also took Brandon Tanev off their hands.

Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno

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