NHL free agency opened up with a flurry of moves. Some clubs were active, some conservative. Some players got reasonable – even smart deals – and others gave “silly season” a new name. For a look at which transactions were best and worst, we give a one-line look at each major signing from Day 1:
PIT – Christian Ehrhoff – 1-year, $4 million - The Penguins get their replacement for Matt Niskanen – at a darn good price. Ehrhoff will instantly improve puck possession and may find his power play stride again playing with Sid and Geno.
EDM – Benoit Pouloit – 5-years, $20 million - He used to be a “Moneypuck” player, now he’s just a very strong, playmaking second liner who’s making what he is worth. The Oilers had to overpay to get Pouloit to Edmonton, but he will be of immediate help to their depth.
EDM – Mark Fayne – 4-years, $14 million - The Devils’ top defenseman came at a fair price for the Oilers. As with Pouloit, he fills the major hole of a responsible, possession defenseman who can play in all situations.
OTT – Milan Michalek – 3-years, $12 million - Injured and slowed, yet the Senators keep coming back for more, and at a non-bargain price. Head scratcher.
STL – Paul Stastny – 7-years, $28 million - Second line centers were all over the market, the Blues nabbed one to keep pace with the Ducks and Stars.
NJD – Mike Cammalleri – 5-years, $25 million - So, the Devils’ analytics department must not be up and running yet. This move makes just about zero sense.
MTL – Tom Gilbert – 2-years, $5.6 million - The most under-appreciated, value player just kept being a great value. Gilbert will drive possession, chip in on the power play and be worth way more than he’s paid. Great grab.
FLA – Jussi Jokinen - 4-years, $16 million - From being passed upon by every NHL team in waivers to a $16 million deal. Amazing. Jokinen is versatile and can score. Pittsburgh will miss him.
NYR – Dan Boyle – 2-years, $9 million - Replacing the puck-moving Stralman with an older version who still has enough in the tank to help the Rangers. The right length and money for Boyle.
FLA – Dave Bolland – 5-years, $27.5 - Incredible. Sure, he was once a huge part of a great Blackhawks team, but Bolland is not the lockdown, two-way stud role player he once was. The forward version of the Ed Jovanovski deal. NHL 15 won’t let you trade this one, probably.
VAN – Ryan Miller – 3-years, $18 million - So, are you rebuilding or are you not rebuilding?
DAL – Ales Hemsky – 3-years, $12 million - The perfect spot for Hemsky to step into as a depth builder and high quality role player to fill out a roster that mostly rode Seguin to death last year. A+ move.
WAS – Brooks Orpik – 5-years, $27.5 million - Does Washington still have a compliance buyout? Can they use it on this albatross tomorrow? Worst contract of the day by 25 miles. Looking forward to Ovechkin being blamed for Orpik-related minuses.
BUF – Brian Gionta – 3-years, $12.75 million - Cap floor helper, leader, home town guy. Three years is the perfect length for Gionta to help Buffalo with their rebuild.
WPG – Mathieu Perreault – 3-years, $9 million - You have to wonder if he had played in Chicago if he would be $20 million richer. A great even-strength producer and solid two-way player, Perreault’s deal is one of the best of Day 1.
CGY – Jonas Hiller – 2-years, $9 million - So are you rebuilding or….?
MIN – Thomas Vanek – 3-years, $19.5 million - The bad playoff series cost Vanek, but he is where he wants to be. Now the Wild can benefit from his amazingly consistent even-strength and power play scoring, while their fans bemoan his lack of two way play. The world will spin on…
BUF – Matt Moulson – 5-years, $25 million - A better player than you think, Moulson must believe the Sabres’ mega rebuild will be ending sooner than later.
COL – Jarome Iginla – 3-years, $16 million - Beefing up to win now, but how in the foxtrot can the Avs complain about O’Reilly’s price after handing out this deal?
TB – Anton Stralman – 5-years, $22.5 million - Overpaying? Maybe. But Stralman will be a perfect fit. The Lightning have revamped their defense and are – rightfully – thinking Cup next year.
WAS – Matt Niskanen – 7-years, $40.25 million - Oh my.
CHI – Brad Richards – 1-year, $2 million - For a player who produced last year, this deal is insanely cheap. But will Richards look as aged as he did in this year’s post-season when it comes to crunch time?