The NHL free-agent market officially opens on Wednesday -- you can catch our simulcast of TSN's "Free Agent Frenzy" coverage beginning at 11 a.m. ET on ESPN+ -- as teams scramble to sign players who can be everything from the last pieces of a championship puzzle to the spackle around the holes in their lineups.
But the free-agent period is so much more than players putting pens to paper. It's about the trades that allow teams to make those signings or to earn salary cap breathing room. It's the unexpected trends that come to define the offseason. And this summer, it's about a superstar center and an expansion team in Seattle throwing the whole process into chaos.
Here is what we're hearing as the start of free agency arrives: