Editor’s Note: We at LWOS are always looking for new writers to add to the team. Today we introduce Peter Mascia, who you can find on Twitter – @petrosmascia. Peter will be writing about the NHL, CFL and a number of other sports right here at LWOS.
Free Agent Frenzy started a bit later than usual this year thanks to the lockout. It didn’t matter though as there were many signings that shocked many hockey fans alike. Obviously we cannot judge right away which teams were winners and losers because the new season hasn’t started, but we can note the improvements made by the players signed or acquired. We’ll get started with the Canadian teams.
The Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets were relatively quiet on the first day of free agency. Apart from making a trade beforehand, which saw Cory Sarich and Alex Tanguay traded to the Avalanche, GM Jay Feaster did very little as he is committed to rebuilding the Flames through the draft. The Canucks only signed Yannick Weber, and Mike Santorelli for depth purposes on defence and forward, yet saw another role player in Maxim Lapierre, and their trade deadline acquisition Derek Roy leave for St.Louis. Lapierre will be missed since he finds ways to get under the skin of his opponents. The Jets did nothing really but trade a second round pick to the Wild for Devin Setoguchi. He provides scoring touch but the Jets need a little more secondary scoring if they want to make the playoffs in the West. It will be interesting to see how these Western Conference teams will perform next season without making major noise in free agency.
The Canadian teams that made big noise were the Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens and the Edmonton Oilers. Long-time captain Daniel Alfredsson decided to spend presumably his last season in the NHL with the Detroit Red Wings. This decision was based on him believing that the Wings had the best chance of winning the cup (remember Marian Hossa 2008). While GM Bryan Murray was able to sign Clarke MacArthur and acquire Bobby Ryan from the Ducks to replace his skill, it will be presence in the locker room that will be missed.
Ontario’s second team, the Leafs, not only managed to resign Tyler Bozak, but GM Dave Nonis was able to sign one of the prized free agents on the market in David Clarkson to a seven-year contract. He will be huge for Toronto, literally, due to the fact that he is a big guy who can fight and can score timely goals. The only question is will Clarkson be able to handle the pressure that comes with playing in a market like Toronto?
The Habs and the Oilers made acquisitions based on needs. It only took six years but the Canadiens finally signed Daniel Briere for two years and acquired enforcer George Parros from the Panthers. The acquisition of Parros helps because it will take the fighting load off of undersized forward Brandon Prust. Although Briere is undersized, he is clutch especially come playoff time, and always seems to be scoring timely goals. The Canadiens have to hope that Briere and the rest of the team can play to their potential if they have a shot at making the playoffs.
The Oilers signed a much needed defenseman in Andrew Ference. He will be a good fit for the Oilers because they need toughness on the backend as well as much needed leadership. Add Ference and Darnell Nurse from the draft on defense as well as new coach Dallas Eakins to a young core, the Oilers will be a much tougher team next season.
While these acquistions look great on paper, fans from the respective Canadian teams will only find out if these acquisitions pay dividends when the 2013-2014 season begins in October.
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