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No time for a Stanley Cup hangover as the NHL offseason is already here

The Stanley Cup was still on the ice when Patric Hornqvist offered a sobering thought during the celebration, surrounded by former teammates and other family revelers with cans of beer in hand.

The newly crowned champion Florida Panthers already had work to do as the offseason has already arrived for them and the NHL’s other 31 teams.

The buyout window opens Wednesday, the draft is Friday and Saturday and the start of free agency is Monday, putting a flurry of activity in preparation for 2024-2025 into a tight window.

“It’s crazy,” said Hornqvist, a two-time Cup-winning player who is now in Florida’s front office. “A quick turnaround.”

The season stretching into the summer and the finale between the Panthers and Edmonton Oilers going the distance to Game 7 fueled this quick turnaround.

Less than 12 hours after the Cup was awarded, Colorado re-signed Casey Mittelstadt to a three-year deal and extended Winnipeg defenseman Dylan DeMelo.

Some teams didn’t wait to take care of things. Boston and Ottawa made a major goalie trade that was completed Monday night, sending 2023 Vezina Trophy winner Linus Ullmark to the Senators for Joonas Korpisalo, depth forward Mark Kastelic and a first-round pick.

The Bruins will make that selection Friday at the Sphere in Las Vegas, long after San Jose leads the draft with the projected pick of Macklin Celebrini with the first pick. After the Sharks’ rough year in the NHL cellar, they are eager for the draft, trade and free agent frenzy to get underway.

“It’s a bit of a messy and busy time, but I think everyone has done their homework and people will be prepared,” said general manager Mike Grier. “This is a rewarding week for the franchise and for our scouts, who have put in a lot of work. …It’s an exciting time. We are looking forward to. It’s busy, but in the end it’s a fun time.”

It should be nice for players like 57-goal scorer Sam Reinhart, who also clinched the Cup win, and others like Jake Guentzel and 2023 playoff MVP Jonathan Marchessault, who are about to cash in as free agents . Less so for those on the trade market and potentially on the move, from Anaheim’s Trevor Zegras to Toronto’s Mitch Marner.

There are also teams with more difficult offseason tasks than others. The Oilers, fresh off a finals loss, don’t even have a GM under contract after this week and are in danger of serious roster turnover if a handful of free agents leave.

The New York Rangers could also be active and trying to refocus after being eliminated by the Panthers in the Eastern Conference finals. They have already freed up salary cap space by waiving Barclay Goodrow, who was claimed by San Jose.

The Utah Hockey Club, formerly the Arizona Coyotes and relocated to Salt Lake City, has about $40 million to spend under new owner Ryan Smith and his group, but don’t expect a signing bonanza from GM Bill Armstrong.

“There’s a little bit of a chess game for us where we have to bring in some players, but we’re not going to take all that money and spend money right away and lock ourselves away for the next seven years,” Armstrong said. Tuesday. “We want to be smart with our money.”

The buyout period is one of the first dominoes to fall, opening Wednesday to give teams a chance to shed unwanted contracts. The cap also goes up to $88 million, a bigger jump than expected thanks to revenue exceeding expectations during a momentous season that no one has time to think about anymore because there is so much work to do in a short period of time.

“It’s happening quickly,” Buffalo GM Kevyn Adams said. “You have to be ready.”

AP Hockey Writer John Wawrow contributed.

AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl