The first big free agent re-signing with his own team is just the beginning of what’s to come around the NHL.

Defenseman John Carlson signed a $64 million, eight-year deal with the Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals. His agent and the representatives for other pending unrestricted free agents were able to start talking to any interested teams Sunday at the beginning of the negotiating window that precedes the opening of the market July 1.

Serious talks between New York Islanders center John Tavares and five suitors began Monday in what should be the next step in shaking out signings and trades.

“There’s going to be a lot happening,” Chicago Blackhawks General Manager Stan Bowman said.

“Things have sort of been at a standstill around the league, but I think with the free-agent market being opened up to be able to have discussions with the agents, that will help as well. Once you talk, you have an idea that you’re going to be able to get a free agent or if you won’t, then it might sort of move some teams to start looking at potential trades.”

Only a handful of current NHL players were traded over the weekend at the draft: four in a swap between Carolina and Calgary, and Washington sending two to Colorado to clear salary-cap space to re-sign Carlson. Montreal could still try to trade Max Pacioretty this week, and Hurricanes GM Don Waddell wants to make a move for a goaltender, and said there’s a lot of interest in winger Jeff Skinner.

“We have a lot of other possibilities, pieces to move around,” Waddell said.

Tavares headlines this free-agent class and his decision – reportedly among the Sharks, Maple Leafs, Stars, Bruins, Lightning, incumbent Islanders and perhaps a few others – could set up the rest of the market.

Paul Stastny is the next-best free-agent center available followed by the likes of Tyler Bozak, Derek Ryan and Tomas Plekanec. Teams that don’t land one of them could turn to Ryan O’Reilly of Buffalo, who may be a better candidate to be traded July 2 after the Sabres pay him a $7.5 million bonus.

At $8 million a year, Carlson ties Brent Burns for the second-highest cap hit in the league among defensemen behind only P.K. Subban’s $9 million with Nashville. Agent Rick Curran fielded calls from other teams Sunday before the deal got done with the Capitals.

“Whatever your intentions are, you still have to do your due diligence because there’s more to it for me than that,” Carlson said. “I was hoping we could get something done and it worked itself out.”

The Sharks are worth watching after shedding Mikkel Boedker’s $4 million salary to clear cap space and watched as Ilya Kovalchuk signed with Los Angeles on a three-year, $18.75 million deal. After saying San Jose will spend much of its space to re-sign players, GM Doug Wilson acknowledged there will still be room to make a deal.

By July 1? Wilson smirked and said: “The fifth is my birthday. Ask me then.”

James van Riemsdyk of Toronto, James Neal and David Perron of Vegas, Rick Nash of Boston, Thomas Vanek of Columbus and Patrick Maroon of New Jersey are among the wingers who are potentially available. Carlson staying with Washington leaves Mike Green of Detroit, Dan Hamhuis of Dallas and Ian Cole of Columbus at the top of the list of defensemen.

“There are some free agents out there that we like,” said Rangers GM Jeff Gorton, whose team shifted toward a rebuild this past season. “We’re in a pretty good spot to talk to as many free agents that we can that we like and we’ll go forward that way.”

Unlike New York, which had been in a win-now mode for a while, the expansion Golden Knights were supposed to be building slowly toward becoming a perennial playoff contender. After reaching the Cup final in the first season, Vegas GM George McPhee doesn’t want to overpromise and under-deliver.

“You just never know with these things and whether we’ll do anything at all or do something,” McPhee said. “You’re sort of venturing into an area where there’s all kinds of things going on and you don’t know how it’s going to go. There’s no urgency for us to do anything. We like the team we have, we like the model we have. If we can make it better by doing something that makes sense, then we’ll do it.”

The Capitals didn’t tender a qualifying offer to playoff star Devante Smith-Pelly, who will now become an attractive option to other teams as an unrestricted free agent. Washington said it’s still negotiating with Smith-Pelly, who scored seven goals in the postseason and would have had arbitration rights.

NOTES

SHARKS: San Jose declined to issue a qualifying offer to defenseman Dylan DeMelo, making him an unrestricted free agent.

The team gave qualifying offers to forwards Tomas Hertl and Chris Tierney. Those two will become restricted free agents in July, giving San Jose the option to match any offer from another team or get draft pick compensation.

RED WINGS: Detroit agreed to terms with forwards Tyler Bertuzzi and Martin Frk.

SABRES: Victor Antipin won’t be back after General Manager Jason Botterill said the team won’t issue the Russian-born defenseman a qualifying offer.

Antipin will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.