NHL Free Agency: Big Winners on Day One

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Updated: July 6, 2013
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Hey, Sens fans, don’t worry…it will be okay!

Now, that we got that out of the way, let’s talk about one of the most important days in hockey since the lockout (shivers) was declared to be over. The first day of free agency was a hectic and emotional day. There were tons of signings, a lot of overspending, and many fans saying: “what the puck are you doing!”

So, now that the smoke cleared, let’s take a look at some of the signings that stood out:

The Toronto Maple Leafs are under new management, but that did not stop the newcomer, Dave Nonis, from making his mark right away. The really good thing here is that he went out and got a good goalie, (or soon to be great goalie), for a very cheap price.

The Los Angeles Kings traded goaltender Jonathan Bernier to the Toronto Maple Leafs for forward Matt Frattin, goaltender Ben Scrivens and a second-round draft selection, the team announced Sunday.

Now, the whole point of this trade is to secure the goaltending situation in Toronto that has been an issue for a very long time. The team also signed the goalie to a reasonable two year deal worth 2.9 million per.

The big news out of Toronto though, that got the Leaf Nation throwing their hands in the air while yelling profanities, was the signing of David Clarkson and Tyler Bozak. Clarkson signed a 7 year 5.2 million per year deal and Bozak signed 5 year 4.2 million per. Now, Toronto fans…walk away from the ledge it will be just fine.

Toronto overpaid for both players, but this was a necessary move. Bozak gets along with Phil Kessel, and sometimes you do not want to break up the romance. Toronto no doubt wants to keep Phil on this team and continue to enjoy the point production that he brings to the table. Now the Clarkson signing may be even tougher to swallow, but in my eyes it is just a knee jerk reaction. You can’t compare player salaries, like people often do, because they get signed at different times in their careers and different markets. Today, well, yesterday Toronto had no choice to pay what the player demanded, as he was a hot commodity. You know why they signed him to this contract? Because the cap will be at 80 million in 2 years, and his 5.2 cap hit will be a non-factor. Remember the monster deal that Mike Richards got? The 5.7 million cap hit at the time when the salary cap was only 56 million? It did not seem so monster last year or the year before that.

So, did Toronto win or lose? I think they absolutely won day one. You got everyone you wanted and more.

 

Now, it was a big deal that the Detroit Red Wings got Daniel Alfredsson, no doubt about that, but while Alfie hugged the news, in my eyes, the more important signing was of Stephen Weiss. This guy just never seems to get the news coverage and props he truly deserves. He has been an exceptionally steady leader on aFlorida Panthers club that just could never find the right fit of players to surround him with. He is very good at the face-off circle and is defensively responsible. He can score goals (four 20 goal seasons) and dish the puck out just as nice. But the reason why this move is so good is because it replaced Valtteri Filppula and beats out the contract he demanded as well. Detroit also got a 30 year old player who is better than Filps and for cheaper in Weiss. Another brilliant patience move by Ken Holland – not over-reaching in last years free-agent market and letting Filppula walk away. Walking away from a player like Filppula is not something most GMs would have the guts to do.

Detroit, even if they let Brunner walk, will be a much better team with Stephen Weiss as he provides a true number two center for Detroit. That depth can be essential to getting back into the playoffs and helping Daniel Alfredsson get his chance at the cup.

By no means do we think this is the end of the free agency story, as there are definitely more developments to come. There are still some players out there to be signed, and deals to be made – so, keep watching and we’ll keep the updates coming.

Thanks for reading – as always feel free to leave comments below and follow me on twitter @LastWordOnNHL. Give the rest of the hockey department a follow while you’re at it – @lastwordBKerr@IswearGaa and @BigMick99, and follow the site @lastwordonsport.

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photo credit: bridgetds via photopin cc

 

 

 

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