Early NHL Free Agency Recap and Analysis

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Early NHL Free Agency Recap and Analysis

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Early NHL Free Agency Recap and Analysis

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Teams Who Did Well

Tampa Bay Lightning – The Bolts lost key players in Ondrej Palat and Jan Rutta. Tampa Bay signed both Ian Cole and Vladislav Namestnikov to one-year contracts. The Lightning also locked up four players to long-term contracts. Nick Paul (7 years/$22.05 mil), Mikhail Sergachev (8 years/$68 mil), Anthony Cerelli (8 years/$58 mil) and Erik Cernak (8 years/$41.6 mil) all signed extensions. This may sound all good and well, but I honestly have no idea how the Lightning are going to stay under the salary cap when these deals take effect in two seasons. 

Columbus Blue Jackets – Yes, the Jackets won by signing Johnny Gaudreau, but the Erik Gudbranson contract is just awful. Four years at $16 million is not only too long of a deal, but it’s also an overpay. The Jackets still have lots of work to do in surrounding its new star player. The returns of Jack Roslovic (2 years/$8 mil) and Adam Boqvist (3 years/$7.8) is already a step in the right direction. 

Washington Capitals – The Caps addressed its most-glaring need: goaltending. Washington signed Stanley Cup champion goalie Darcey Kuemper to a five-year, $26.25 million contract. The Capitals also added a variety of role players to its roster as the aging side looks to make one last stab at winning a Cup. Those new additions include Charlie Lindgren, Erik Gustafsson, Connor Brown, Marcus Johansson and Dylan Strome.

Edmonton Oilers – The Oilers, like Washington, addressed the goaltending position. Jack Campbell signed a five-year, $25 million contract giving Edmonton the number one goaltender it so desperately needs. Evander Kane re-signed with the Oilers (4 years/$20.5) which only made sense as Kane found a resurgence in his career with Edmonton last season. The Oilers slew of moves ended with Brett Kulak’s four-year, $11 million contract. 

Team Who Did “Meh”

New York Rangers – The Rangers went out and signed Vincent Trocheck, but that was New York’s only major move. Multiple key players like Andrew Copp and Ryan Strome departed in free agency leaving the Rangers with more holes than it began with. I believe the Rangers got worse over the last 48 hours.

Nashville Predators – The Preds got the most important job it had done. That was signing Filip Forsberg to an eight-year, $68 million deal. Nashville also signed Jeremy Lauzon to a four-year, $8 million contract. I fully expect Nashville to go after at least one more high-end forward during the free agency window.

Free Agency Losers 

New York Islanders – The Islanders have not made a single move since Wednesday. While New York was reportedly in on Gaudreau it was unable to seal the deal. For a team that failed to make the postseason in 2022, it needs to make a few improvements or risk missing playoff hockey once again.

Montreal Canadiens – The Canadiens are in the same boat as the Islanders. Montreal has not made a roster move since the last week’s NHL Draft. While the Canadiens did have the first overall selection and could be starting a rebuild, signing one or two free agents would not have hurt anything.

Vegas Golden Knights – Vegas got fleeced. That is the only way to put it. The Knights traded away a top-six forward in Max Pacioretty and Dylan Coghlan for future considerations. While this was obviously a move to dump salary, it still does not bode well for Vegas. The only silver lining for Vegas is that it was able to extend Reilly Smith on a three-year, $15 million deal.

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