While free agency didn't kick off until July 1, there were still a handful of critical signings that happened before the window opened. Avoiding the loss of key pieces will keep a number of teams in contention heading into the 2019-20 campaign. These were the high profile deals that started this year's free agency.
Erik Karlsson (SJS) - $92 million, eight years ($11.5 AAV) – By signing this contract, Karlsson became the highest paid defenseman in the league, and now trails only Auston Matthews, Artemi Panarin (more on that later) and Connor McDavid in terms of his cap hit. By locking them both down long term, San Jose will get to trot out one of the best defensive duos in the league in Karlsson and Brent Burns for the foreseeable future. A groin injury limited the 29-year-old Swede to 53 games in 2018-19, but he still managed to put up 45 points over that span. If he can stay healthy, Karlsson should be in contention for the Norris Trophy once again this season.
William Karlsson (VGK) - $47.2 million, eight years ($5.9 AAV) - This cap hit is likely more in line with Karlsson's 2018-19 production (24 goals, 32 assists in 82 games), but would represent an absolute steal if he were to rediscover the offensive touch that saw him rack up 78 points in the Golden Knights' inaugural season. As long as he can continue to threaten the 60-point mark for the duration of his new deal, locking