The NHL free agency period has been open for a little over a week now. A bunch of moves have been made, and some teams have gotten better, while others have gotten worse in the process. Here are three winners and three losers from the first wave of the NHL free agency period.
NHL Free Agency Winners
Carolina’s biggest move of the off-season came when they signed Dmitry Orlov, creating a dominant blue-line pairing with Brent Burns. Orlov’s defensive prowess should help form a duo with the offensive-minded Burns.
The Canes weren’t done yet, though. They also picked up Michael Bunting, Frederick Anderson, and Antti Raanta. Bunting has been one of the more underrated goal-scorers in the league recently, while their two new goaltenders provide depth.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Toronto managed to land Tyler Bertuzzi on a cheap, one year-deal. Bertuzzi was one of the more sought-after free agents, and landing him at just $5.5 million is impressive. The Leafs signed Max Domi for some extra offensive help, and also grabbed John Klingberg on defense.
Despite their stellar signings, it wasn’t all glorious this off-season. Before they made all those signings, Toronto lost Ryan O’Reilly and the aforementioned Bunting. Still, they did a solid job at replacing them.
As I just mentioned, Toronto lost Ryan O’Reilly. The lucky team to sign him was the Nashville Predators. Nashville also picked up Luke Schenn, and Gustav Nyquist. These two have lost some skill as they’ve gotten older, but both are experienced, well-rounded players.
Nashville has been a team on the border of the playoffs in recent years, and have seemed to be stuck in the NHL’s version of no-man’s land. Adding these veterans may be just what they needed to get over the hump.
NHL Free Agency Losers
After a disappointing ending to what was statistically the greatest regular season in NHL history, things haven’t gotten much better for Boston. The Bruins acquired Bertuzzi and Orlov at the deadline last season, but lost both of them to free agency.
Boston still has a bit of depth on the team. However, it hurts to lose those two and not gain anything significant in return. The Bruins will still be in contention next year, but their free agency period has been less than impressive up to now.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay’s dynasty has seemingly come to an end. They have found themselves in a tough salary cap situation over the past few years, and things haven’t gotten much better this year.
This isn’t their fault, but after losing Ross Colton and Alex Killorn, things don’t seem to be trending in the right direction in Florida. Dynasties age, and with everyone wanting a new contract, it can be hard for teams to keep up. That’s the situation Tampa Bay finds themselves in right now.
Kyle Dubas is well into his first off-season in Pittsburgh, and he’s made some bold moves so far. One of the first was signing Tristan Jarry to a five-year deal with an AAV of nearly $6 million. This was a bit of a head scratcher, since Jarry has been less than impressive in the playoffs, as well as the fact that he’s struggled to remain healthy recently.
In all honesty, it hasn’t even been that bad of a free agency period for Pittsburgh. However, they haven’t done much, and that Jarry contract might look ugly in a couple of years. Where the Predators were a bubble team that improved, it seems Pittsburgh is heading in the opposite direction.