NHL Free Agency opened up July 1st and the fireworks came early and often. Here is a quick breakdown and recap of some of the day’s biggest deals.
Brian Campbell – Chicago Blackhawks 1 year $2m ($2m Cap Hit)
Heeeee’s baaaaack! Soupy returns to Chicago on a massive hometown discount for the Hawks. Huge pick up to sure up Joel Quenneville’s defensive unit that was pushed to the limit by the St. Louis Blues in Round One last season. Campbell turned down a reported 1 year $5m offer from Florida to come back to Chicago.
James Reimer – Florida Panthers 5 years $17m ($3.4m Cap Hit)
Reimer finished off his season in San Jose last year going 6-2-0 with a 1.62 GAA and .938 save percentage. Big numbers that Florida is hoping he can replicate. Those numbers were well below his career averages, but if James can keep his GAA under 2.5 and hover around 91% this is a steal for the Panthers.
Andrew Ladd – New York Islanders 7 years $38.5m ($5.5m Cap Hit)
The Islanders go big and sign the 30 year old Ladd to a massive 7 year deal. Ladd is a bruising forward that can really do t all. He is most comfortable on the left side but can play just about anywhere. He has been phenomenal on the power play and will add around 20-25 goals to the Isles’ lineup.
Milan Lucic – Edmonton Oilers 7 years $42m ($6m Cap Hit)
Lucic gets a big pay raise after a 20-35-55 season last year in Los Angeles. I’m not a big fan of this deal, the length and money doesn’t seem right, but that can all be ratified if he is paired with McDavid for a full year. Watch Milan’s numbers inflate to possibly 30(!!) goals next season if the pair connect well.
Frans Nielsen – Detroit Red Wings 6 years $31.5m ($5.25m Cap Hit)
I went to the NHL Draft in New Jersey in 2013 and got to listen to Detroit General Manager Ken Holland give a speech. He stressed how he likes to build his teams through the draft and picking up veterans on the FA market and Nielsen is a prime example of what he does best. A bit of a pricey deal, but I think Nielsen is a great fit for the Wings. He was a 20-32-52 guy last season and should be able to put up comparable numbers next year with Dylan Larkin and company.
David Perron – St. Louis Blues 2 years $7m ($3.75m Cap Hit)
Perron heads back to St. Louis for the first time since 2012-13. Perron split the season last year beteen Pittsburgh and Anaheim and put up 36 total points. It is a good deal for St. Louis, low-risk for a top 9 forward.
David Backes – Boston Bruins 5 years $30m ($6m Cap Hit)
Wakey, wakey, Backes to your new, massive contract with the Bruins. Boston with a nice pick-up but at a brutal fucking price. I cannot imagine any teams were offering within $1m per year of what Boston was. Backes, when he isn’t invisible can play, no question about it. But the problem is, he rarely shows up, especially in the playoffs (sans last season).
Loui Eriksson – Vancouver Canucks 6 years $36m ($6m Cap Hit)
After a big year in Boston, 30 year-old Loui Eriksson cashes in with Vancouver. I like this deal for the Canucks, they needed to add some offensive talent and they got Eriksson at a decent price.
Kyle Okposo – Buffalo Sabres 7 years $42m ($6m Cap Hit)
Love this deal for Buffalo. Okposo is in his prime and is an absolute play-maker who should fit in really well with Eichel and Evander Kane. Expect his assist number to inflate to 50+.
Troy Brouwer – Calgary Flames 4 years $18m ($4.5m Cap Hit)
Really great value pick-up here for Calgary. Brouwer is a solid top 6 forward on a team-friendly contract. He adds a physical presence to one of the smaller teams in the league. He was a glue-guy for St. Louis last season and should be a solid counter-balance for Gaudreau and Monahan.
Eric Staal – Minnesota Wild 3 years $10.5m ($3.5m Cap Hit)
The rich get richer, the Central division is going to be an absolute, fucking gauntlet again this season. Staal is a great play-maker and has goal scoring ability when he shows up. Minnesota got him at a good price and he should be able to deliver 40-45 points next season.
Dale Weise – Philadelphia Flyers 4 years $9.4m ($2.35m Cap Hit)
Weise is a great fit for the Flyers playing style. He is gritty, physical and has a nose for the puck (and like Owen Wilson). Not sure his play last season warranted a long-term deal, but Weise is young(ish) and is capable of 20-25 points.
Lee Stempniak – Carolina Hurricanes 2 years $5m ($2.5m Cap Hit)
Big head Stempiak is the steal of the day. He put up a huge season last year and was rewarded with a nice raise by Carolina. Absolutely love this deal for the Canes, he can be trade bait come deadline time as his cap hit is small enough to move to a contender. He can also help propel Carolina into the playoffs if he can replicate his season from last year, which I think he can.
Thomas Vanek – Detroit Red Wings 1 year $2.6m ($2.6m Cap Hit)
Vanek is a really nice deal for Detroit, another low-risk guy that can contribute on essentially any line. Since entering the league, Vanek has put up at least 40 points in every season and don’t expect that to end this year, he will be a 40-45 point scorer and shuffle between the 2nd and 3rd lines this year.
Mikkel Boedker – San Jose Sharks 4 years $16m ($4m Cap Hit)
Good gamble for the Sharks to take here, Boedker is coming off a career high 51 points in a season split between Arizona and Colorado. It will be interesting to see how he performs in his first full season away from Arizona. He is young and on a very team-friendly deal, if it pans out this could be huge for San Jose.