NHL Free Agency Frenzy: Who Came Out Victorious So Far
As this article is being written, we are three days deep into the NHL free agency period. There were some very good names going to new teams quickly, while some proven veterans have yet to find a new NHL home.
Here is a list of three teams that made a big splash in free agency:
3. Calgary Flames: The Flames, it seemed, had all their ducks in a row early. The Flames needed to shore up their goaltending, so GM Brad Treliving went out and got Mike Smith and Eddie Lack, getting some cap relief on the latter. He traded for Travis Hamonic and, in what could end up being one of the best moves of the free agent process, re-signed defenseman Michael Stone to a three-year deal at $3.5 million a year. Now, remember, these moves were made in preparation for the free agency period. And with these moves being made, the Flames have been relatively quiet thus far.
2. New York Rangers & Kevin Shattenkirk: Shattenkirk adds goal scoring and “big play” ability and mobility to both the offense and defense of the New York Rangers. Shattenkirk will join the likes of Brady Skjei, plus the veterans Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal, Nick Holden and Brendan Smith. While those are big names on their own already, putting Kevin Shattenkirk with them makes them even better. Not only can the big D-man keep the puck away from the opposition with relative ease, he has the scoring touch that can help the Rangers on the power play. A great player, a nice contract.
1. Dallas Stars: As the whole league is probably aware, the Stars were bad. Really bad. The power play was weak, the penalty kill wasn’t much better. The defense, well, it was pretty much nonexistent throughout last season. Let’s not forget the goalies. These poor guys were thrust into so many different situations, they probably had no confidence whatsoever. While it made them look questionable, the blame shouldn’t be put solely on the goalie. There is a good chance coaching was an issue too. But, fear not Stars fans. Ken Hitchcock has returned, and he has brought his familiar system with him. The Stars now have a coaching system to match the way they are built. One thing is clear, nobody can every accuse Stars GM Jim Nill of being gun shy. He responded to what was a terrible season for the Stars by being proactive on the goaltending front by trading for and signing Ben Bishop. He went out and got what the Stars needed most, a defensive defenseman in Marc Methot. And the signing of Martin Hanzal gives the Stars a big, productive body down the middle. Furthermore, the Stars also have Alexandre Radulov, whom they signed just recently. He is expected to play a role in with Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn and even in power play situations.
While the teams listed above can be classified as “big free agency owners”, there are some that have some needs which are not being addressed very well. The Pittsburgh Penguins have lost five players, but on the upside, they have added former Dallas Stars goalie Antti Niemi. It is a wonder why the defending Stanley Cup champions are just standing pat in free agency. Maybe, just maybe they have some young players ready to come up.
Also, there are some other teams that made only a one or two big splashes that make for heightened curiosity. The Toronto Maple Leafs signed Patrick Marleau. This signing automatically brings to mind one question. Will Marleau be on a line with Auston Matthews right out of the gate? That would very much be a wise decision. Marleau’s veteran experience mixed with Matthews’ young talent could mean that the Maple Leafs will be good for the foreseeable future.
One thing to note, there are very good veterans still available. Names like Jaromir Jagr, an NHL legend in his own right, could benefit anyone willing to take the chance. Just because a player is getting up there in age doesn’t mean he can no longer play. Patrick Marleau was just recently signed to a new deal. Jaromir Jagr is not a name to be just left on the sideline. So with that said, there are still some moves to be made and we will see how the NHL free agency period pans out very soon.