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2017 NHL Free Agency: Day one notes and analysis 

Day one has free agency has come and gone (for the most part). Some big names still remain on the board, however many have already vanished. Here are some of my notes and analysis from the first wave of the frenzy. 

• Ryan Miller is a solid backup for the Ducks. He brings a true veteran presence behind John Gibson, which is something that had been absent in the past. This is a perfect fit for both player and team. 

• The Coyotes added journeyman defenseman Adam Clendening on a one-year deal. This signing will prove as a low-risk, high-reward scenario. 

• The Coyotes, however, also lost a lot of depth players, including Josh Jooris and Radim Vrbata. Chayka is banking significantly on internal progression up front from the likes of Perlini and Dvorak. 

• The Hurricanes added a nice piece in Justin Williams. The veteran winger formerly played in Carolina and won a Cup with them in ’06. Is his and Scott Darling’s presence enough to boost Carolina back into the playoffs? They certainly look like a solid team right now. 

• The Blackhawks continued their parade of bringing back former players, as they signed Patrick Sharp to a one-year deal. The base salary is $1 million but he can earn bonuses based on a number of factors. If he stays healthy, this will be a great value signing for Bowman. 

• The Blackhawks also added two depth players to round out their bottom six on day one. Lance Bouma and Tommy Wingels both agreed to one-year deals. Neither are flashy players, however both can hold their own offensively and physically. 

• The Stars brought in Martin Hanzal to finish their center core headed into next season. They now have Hanzal, Seguin, Spezza, and Faksa down the middle. It’s definitely one of the best groups in the league. All four players can thrive in all situations. 

• Detroit brought in Trevor Daley on a three-year deal at $3 million per. It is not a backbreaking deal, but Ken Holland needs to commit to a full rebuild. Detroit does not have the assets currently to compete. Moves like this are doing more harm than good. 

• The Panthers, who came into the day with eight forwards signed, added Evgeny Dadonov from Russia and Radim Vrbata from Arizona. Dadonov is the more promising addition, but both players provide a scoring threat regardless. Dadonov was originally drafted by the Panthers in 2007 and played 55 games with them before returning to the KHL. He had 66 points in 53 games there last year. 

• Karl Alzner’s deal with Montreal was surprisingly reasonable money wise. Keeping him under $5 million for five years is very nice. Still, though, I’m surprised he didn’t wind up in Western Canada. I think Calgary getting Hamonic and keeping Stone hurt that. 

• The Predators had an interesting day, inking Scott Hartnell and Nick Bonino. Some had a problem with the money ($4.1 million per) on Bonino’s deal, but the Predators had to make a move. Losing Neal and not pushing for Duchene or Thornton made Bonino a prime target. 

• On a related note, I wonder if Peter Laviolette personally petitioned for the Scott Hartnell acquisition. 

• The Devils got Brian Boyle on a two-year deal. Their center core now looks like Boyle, Zajac, Hischier, and Henrique. That can compete with anyone in the league. Albeit, they are still a few years away from contention due to their wingers and defense.  

• The Rangers fulfilled the prophecy and added Kevin Shattenkirk on a four-year contract late this afternoon. It fills a huge need for them, and as an added bonus he is of the opposite hand of Ryan McDonagh. That would be one heck of a pairing. 

• The Flyers getting Brian Elliott is a perfect stopgap while their prized goalie prospects, specifically Carter Hart, develop in juniors and the AHL. It also seems that Ron Hextall and company do not have any faith in Anthony Stolarz. I wonder if he will get moved at some point this season. 

• The Penguins signed Matt Hunwick to a three-year deal worth over $2 million per season. He is a reliable #6 defenseman, but that contract is ridiculous. Plain and simple, he isn’t worth that kind of money. 

• The Sharks brought back Joe Thornton for one year but Patrick Marleau still remains undecided. I bet that would leave a sour taste in Thornton’s mouth moving forward if Marleau left. 

• The Lightning added Dan Girardi for two years and Chris Kunitz for one year. Girardi has a chance to revitalize his career under Cooper. Kunitz, a four-time champion, can help try to push Tampa Bay over the edge. 

* The Leafs did a good job adding depth in Ron Hainsey and Dominic Moore. The most important outcome was that no spot will be taken away from one of their younger players. 

• The Canucks made a few signings, Sam Gagner, Anders Nilsson, and Michael Del Zotto included, today. Not bad players and they have the chance to be flipped down the road if they perform well enough. 

• The Jets adding Steve Mason is a very nice move. It gives Eric Comrie a chance to develop and Connor Hellebuyck a more subdued role. The Jets also added Kulikov on defense. They aren’t looking to shabby for next season. 

Stay up to date on our twitter for more free agency talk. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

Emergence of New Goalies Limits Veterans’ Options

Every year, new players break through into the NHL from the AHL and minor affiliates from across Europe and North America. Each yeah, there are camp battles, young players and goalies trying to make their mark and solidify themselves either into the record books, or a career of fighting for the spotlight through the minors. This year, there are no shortage of goaltenders doing this, making the older veterans lacking in a job come September.
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First Day of Free Agency: Eastern Conference Grades

Note: these grades are being written as of 3:29 PM EST of July 1st

New York Rangers
Grade: B

The Rangers had a good day by any means. They kept Dominic Moore, signed a Tanner Glass, and brought in Dan Boyle to replace Anton Stralman. They should be right back up there contending next year.

New York Islanders
Grade: D-

After a disappointing last season, the Islanders went out only to spend 1,900,000 in the first day of free agency, signing TJ Brennan and Chad Johnson. They failed to get a big left winger, and Garth Snow failed by any means this far.

Philadelphia Flyers
Grade: F

Handcuffed by high salaries and bonuses, Philadelphia was not able to make any big moves early into free agency. They signed G Rob Zepp, but that was all. Not a very exciting day for Flyers fans.

Pittsburgh Penguins
Grade: B

The Penguins had a pretty good day. Despite losing Jussi Jokinen and Tanner a Glass, they were able to pick up Christian Ehrhoff for a fairly cheap 4m for one year and a backup goalie in Thomas Greiss. They also picked up a cheap 4th liner in Blake Comeau at 700k. Good day for Jim Rutherford.

New Jersey Devils
Grade: B+

The Devils were finally able to add scoring today. Despite losing out on Sekac, they were able to sign Mike Cammalleri for 5 years and GM Lamoriello said he would like to bring in a veteran goalie. Good day for New Jersey.

Boston Bruins
Grade: D

Keeping the team together isn’t bad. The Bruins didn’t sign anyone on the first day, but locked up Nik Svedberg a few days before free agency. I don’t expect the Bruins to be done as they need a winger due to Jarome Iginla’s departure. Prices may drop as well as time goes on.

Toronto Maple Leafs
Grade: B-

They definitely made moves. Letting Bolland go was smart, but the Jerry D’Amigo decision wasn’t the best. They also solidified their defense with Robidas for 3 years despite his leg injuries, but lost TJ Brennan. The Leafs also brought back Leo Komarov from the KHL at a steel 2.95 per for 4 years.

Montreal Canadians
Grade: B

Despite losing captain Brian Gionta and ‘future captain’ Josh Gorges, Montreal didn’t do too shabby on July 1st. They boosted their team yesterday with the Parenteau trade, and brought in Manny Malhotra and Tom Gilbert. The Habs also locked up Mike Weaver for another year. They also won the Jiri Sekac competition, which is very interesting. The Czech brings a new aspect to the team.

Ottawa Senators
Grade: F

Horrid offseason start for Ottawa. No first round pick, now trading their captain Jason Spezza. The Sens acquired Alex Chiasson among other small assets from Dallas for Jason Spezza, and really didn’t get fair value for him. The Sens brought back Milan Michalek for 3 years, and didn’t add anyone new.

Buffalo Sabres
Grade: A+

Amazing day for Tim Murray. He did exactly what he wanted to do and signed role guys for the young and upcoming Sabres. He ditched Kevin Porter & Christian Ehrhoff, but brought in Brian Gionta, Matt Moulson (again), re-signed Cody McCormick, re-signed Marcus Foligno and traded for Josh Gorges. I’d suspect Gorges to be the future captain of Buffalo.

Florida Panthers
Grade: A

Great job by Dale Tallon today. Despite overpaying for Dave Bolland at 5 years at 5.5 million, Tallon also picked up Shawn Thornton, Jussi Jokinen, Derek MacKenize, and Al Montoya. Tallon puts that on top of the drafting of Aaron Ekblad and it’s a very successful offseason for Florida.

Carolina Hurricanes
Grade: C-

They kept the team together. Carolina signed Jiri Tlusty again and also picked up Brad Malone in free agency. The big factor for them next year will be goaltending and if Ward/Khudobin will work well.

Detroit Red Wings
Grade: D

Detroit took a swung and missed in free agency. They went after both Dan Boyle and Matt Niskanen in free agency, both whom denied them. Detroit hasn’t made a trade yet (3:18) but they are aggressively working the phones to get a defenseman which could change their grade. Their only signing thus far is Kevin Porter.

Tampa Bay Lightning
Grade: B+

The Lightning did what they needed to do and picked up a defenseman. They signed Anton Stralman for 5 years at 4 million per. They have Jonathan Drouin coming next year so that will help their offense greatly.

Washington Capitals
Grade: C

Washington had some big acquisitions, although the price wasn’t great. They sighed a good defenseman in Orpik for 5 years at 5.5 per. They also lost Perrault to Winnipeg but re-signed Matt Laata to the team. They also picked up solid backup Justin Peters.

Columbus Blue Jackets
Grade: C

Columbus picked up a strong young player in Jerry D’Amigo from Toronto in a trade but failed to make any more moves. They lost Derek MacKenzie to FLA and Blake Comeau to PIT but the Hartnell trade makes everything okay.

Stay tuned for more news as it roles in during free agency.
-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles