NHL free agency: Edmonton Oilers sign forward Zach Hyman, extend Tyson Barrie

The Edmonton Oilers signed Maple Leafs forward Zach Hyman to a seven-year contract worth $38.5 million on Day 1 of free agency Wednesday.

Hyman, 29, often played left wing on a line with star players Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner during his time with Toronto.

With the Oilers, it’s hoped he can add more scoring punch to complement Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

In the 2021 campaign, Hyman had 15 goals and 33 points in 43 games. He missed time with a knee injury late in the season before returning for the playoffs.

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Hyman, who hails from Toronto, has spent his entire career with the Leafs, posting 185 points in 345 games. He was drafted by Florida 123rd overall in 2010. After playing at the University of Michigan, he was traded to the Maple Leafs in 2015.

(Click here for a list of moves made by the Oilers on Day 1 of free agency)

Hyman traveled to Edmonton, at his own expense, with his wife last week to get a look at the city.

“Edmonton, for me, was a place where I wanted to play. I thought it was important that we go out there and see the city. My wife’s never been to Edmonton,” Hyman explained.

“We saw all the neighbourhoods that we could potentially live in. We have a seven-month-old son named Theo. That was important for us to see where he could potentially grow up. It really checked all the boxes.”

The Oilers also re-signed Tyson Barrie who quarterbacked their NHL-best power play last season while also leading all defenceman in the league in points scored in the regular season.

The Oilers announced the deal on Wednesday, the same day the 30-year-old Victoria, B.C., native was set to become an unrestricted free agent.

The smooth-skating defenceman and the Oilers agreed to a three-year deal worth $13.5 million.

“We took a while with Edmonton. We were kind of unsure where it was going to go,” Barrie said. “They were looking into a couple of different directions, too. UFA, (unrestricted free agent) it’s an interesting time.

“It’s a gamble for sure. You don’t know what’s going to be out there out on the market. I think it was a bit of a no brainer to come back to a place where I had success.”

NHL profile photo on Edmonton Oilers player Tyson Barrie at a game against the Calgary Flames in Calgary, Alta. on Feb. 6, 2021.

NHL profile photo on Edmonton Oilers player Tyson Barrie at a game against the Calgary Flames in Calgary, Alta. on Feb. 6, 2021.

THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Larry MacDougal

Barrie accumulated 48 points in 56 games with the Oilers last season. He signed a one-year deal with the club last summer after a disappointing season with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Barrie spent the previous eight seasons with the Colorado Avalanche. Over the course of his NHL career, he has collected 394 points in 610 games.

Immediately following the Oilers’ exit from the 2021 playoffs, some NHL insiders suggested his stint with Edmonton may be short-lived as highly-touted youngster Evan Bouchard, another offensively-minded defenceman in the Oilers’ organization, is expected to be given a chance to earn a full-time role with the team next season.

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Even with Barrie returning, the Oilers’ defence will look rather different this year. The team lost Adam Larsson to the Seattle Kraken at the expansion draft earlier this month and trade Caleb Jones and a draft pick to Chicago for longtime Blackhawk Duncan Keith.

The Oilers signed forward Zach Hyman to a seven-year contract worth $38.5 million on Day 1 of free agency Wednesday. Hyman, 29, often played left wing on a line with star players Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner during his time with Toronto. With the Oilers, it’s hoped he can add more scoring punch to complement Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

The Oilers also re-signed Tyson Barrie who quarterbacked their NHL-best power play last season while also leading all defenceman in the league in points scored in the regular season. The defenceman and the Oilers agreed to a three-year deal worth $13.5 million.

Also on Wednesday, the Oilers bought out the remaining two years on James Neal’s contract. Neal, 33, spent the last two seasons with the Oilers. He had five goals and 10 points in 29 games last season. The buyout will open up $3.8 million in cap space for the Oilers this year and next. However, the buyout will leave the Oilers with $1.9 million in dead cap space in 2023/24 and 2024/25.

The Oilers inked right-shot defenceman Cody Ceci to a four-year deal worth $3.25 million per season. Ceci, 27, spent last season with the Pittsburgh Penguins and had 17 points in 53 games. He’s also played for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators over the course of his 549 game career. Ceci was drafted 15th overall by Ottawa in 2012. He’s primarily a defensive defenceman and will be asked to fill the void left by Adam Larsson’s departure to Seattle.

“It’s another great fan base,” Ceci said. “They can be tough at times, but it’s something you have to block out. I think I’ve gotten a little better at it the last few years, just blocking stuff out and focusing on hockey. They do have a very passionate fan base, and I’m excited to play for them.”

Wednesday afternoon, the Oilers signed centre Derek Ryan to a two-year contract worth $1.25-million per season.

Ryan, 34, spent the last three years with the Calgary Flames. He had 13 points in 43 games last season while winning 52 per cent of his face-offs. Ryan played in Edmonton from 2007 to 2011 as a member of the Alberta Golden Bears.

– With files from Phil Heidenreich, Global News

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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