Team-by-team review of Day 1 of NHL free agency
Day one of NHL free agency has come and gone, but it has left a considerable mark on the league in the process. Here’s a team by team breakdown of who signed who and what the outlook is for the team and player.
The Anaheim Ducks really didn’t do anything. Actually, they did nothing. Beside lose Jamie McGinn and David Perron, that is. There is still time to turn it around, but it was a rough start for Bob Murray. It’s expected that they at least pick up a goalie — one of Ramo or Enroth.
The Arizona Coyotes had a quiet but successful day, picking up some depth pieces. Jamie McGinn is a nice add. Justin Peters provides goalie insurance if Mike Smith goes down with injury again. And, Ryan White will play bottom six minutes. Nothing spectacular, nothing bad for GM Chayka’s first frenzy day on the job.
The Boston Bruins brought in three free agents, one especially notable in David Backes. The gritty center signed a five year deal in Boston at six million per. That’s the price you’re going to have to pay. I don’t really see the fit though with Krejci and Bergeron in the middle, but I am sure Backes knows what is best. Boston also welcomed back Anton Khudobin as a backup and added Riley Nash down the middle as well.
The Buffalo Sabres didn’t do much, but they hauled in arguably the biggest free agent of the class. Kyle Okposo signed there for 6 million. I was expecting the AAV to be higher, so good on you Tim Murray.
The Calgary Flames added two new players in Troy Brouwer and Chad Johnson. Brouwer will play a top-six role in Calgary and Johnson proved to be a formidable NHL goaltender in Buffalo last season. It was a good day for Brad Treliving. I wouldn’t be surprised if he picks up another forward, either.
The Carolina Hurricanes didn’t add any big names, but they brought in some depth. Lee Stempniak and Viktor Stalberg were both signed to deals. I like both of these for Carolina. Very bang-for-your-buck type players.
Chicago was thwarted by the cap but managed to squeeze Brian Campbell in. He’ll be a valuable addition. Side note: it was reported that he left almost 2.5 million on the table from Florida to join Chicago. Wow.
Colorado had a solid and surprisingly sensible (sorry Avs fans) day. They inked Joe Colborne to a deal, a player I’m surprised the Flames let slip away. They also nabbed reclamation project Patrick Wiercioch for under a million which could turn out to be a steal. Fedor Tyutin, master shot suppressor, was also signed.
Columbus, like Anaheim, really didn’t do much. Seth Jones getting locked up was about as big of an offseason win as you could’ve gotten in Columbus.
Dallas finally got Dan Hamhuis after trying for him at the trade deadline. His 3.25 million cap hit is surprisingly low. This is a great signing for Dallas and Hamhuis alike.
The Detroit Red Wings had a busy day, signing three forwards. They grabbed Frans Nielsen (six years) and Thomas Vanek, Steve Ott (one year). Nielsen was the best center on the market and helps fill the Datsyuk void. Vanek can be a good signing if he turns it around. If not, you let him go next year. No biggie.
Edmonton got their guy in Milan Lucic, thankfully because if they lost Taylor Hall AND didn’t sign Lucic, hell would’ve broken loose. The AAV is high, but you have to do what you have to do. They also got backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson.
Florida made one big acquisition with James Reimer. With Berra being just traded for, you have to wonder about Lu’s future. Rumors of health issues have been going around. We’ll see.
Los Angeles was one of the more active teams, signing five players, albeit none of high salary. They signed Teddy Purcell, Zach Trotman, Michael Latta, Tom Gilbert, and Jeff Zatkoff. All very affordable and solid options spread across all three bases. Solid day for Dean Lombardi.
Minnesota was also very active, signing Eric Staal, Alex Stalock, Victor Bartley, and Chris Stewart. Both Stewart and Staal present a bit of a risk but have the possibility to pay high dividends. Minnesota needs to get over the second round hump soon.
Montreal made a few waves today, mainly by signing Alex Radulov. They also signed depth players with defenseman Zach Redmond and goalie Al Montoya. Radulov will be a fun storyline to watch this year. Hopefully for Montreal, it will work out better than Semin did.
Nashville made a few defensive depth signings but nothing major. Matt Irwin and Yannick Weber will be joining the team. Maybe Weber will take #6?
The Devils didn’t have an overly active day, but got Ben Lovejoy and Vern Fiddler. Lovejoy knows Shero from his Pittsburgh days. I think we’ll see one more move up front from New Jersey.
The Islanders lost Nielsen, Okposo, and Martin but added Andrew Ladd and Jason Chimera. Overall a successful day for them. They probably need another forward, if not Mat Barzal will have to step in, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Time will tell.
The Rangers made some depth signings with Gerbe, Grabner, Paliotta, and Clendening. The two forwards will provide as bottom-six help, whereas Clendening will likely slot in as a seventh defenseman. Nothing major in the Big Apple yet.
Ottawa, like Anaheim and Columbus, didn’t do much today. They made a few minor-league signings but not anything noteworthy. New GM Pierre Dorion feels Mike Blunden can step up into a bottom-six role next season.
Philadelphia added two bottom-six players in Dale Weise and Boyd Gordon. The Weise deal is for four years and will either look really good or really average after this year. Luckily for Philadelphia, if things go bad, Weise has an easily moveable cap hit.
Pittsburgh, due to cap, didn’t add anything outside of two depth defensemen. They got Stuart Percy, ex-Toronto Marlie. I guess that makes up for losing Scott Harrington in the Kessel trade?
San Jose added David Schlemko and Mikkel Boedker in an attempt to push them to the next step, which is winning the Stanley Cup. Many people were surprised by Schlemko getting four years, but the AAV is low and he is a very underrated defenseman.
The St. Louis Blues brought back David Perron on a two-year deal. He is a solid replacement for Troy Brouwer. They also got Carter Hutton to backup Jake Allen, the recipient of a new four year deal.
The Tampa Bay Lightning signed two depth forwards, Michael Bournival and Jeremy Morin. Not much to write about here.
Toronto only made one move, signing Matt Martin to a four year deal. The AAV was surprisingly low at only 2.5 per. He’ll provide energy for the Leafs as well as protection for the young kids. Personally, I think it’s a good signing. Others think the opposite. To each his own.
The Canucks signed Loui Eriksson to a six year deal and he is expected to slot in beside the Sedin twins. I think it’s a good fit for the team, but I’m surprised Eriksson isn’t in a “win now” mode.
Washington signed Brett Connolly to a cheap deal. He has the skill to really make this a great signing for Washington. The former first round pick hasn’t been able to find his knack in Boston or Tampa Bay.
Lastly, the Winnipeg Jets made a trio of moves grabbing Shawn Matthias, Quinton Howden, and Brian Strait. Matthias is a good depth option, Howden is a youngster who never got a chance in Florida, and Strait is a 7/8 defenseman. Not spectacular, but not a bad day.
Plenty of free agents are left. We’ll see what day two has in store.