Source: Charles Eckert
NHL free agency has seen a flurry of activities thus and not only have we seen player signings, but also big trades have been made and even an offer sheet has been laid out. With that said here are the biggest winners and loser so far.
The Panthers have done free agency right. They signed all-star and Vezina winning goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to a massive 7-year, 70 million dollar contract. Bobrovsky is a big reason why the Jackets had some success this season and won the franchise's first playoff series. He won two Vezina's in Columbus and has won 115 games the last three seasons, Florida needed a big upgrade in net and they did just that. James Reimer didn't pan out in Florida and Roberto Luongo was injury prone and past his prime.
The Panthers also picked up defenceman Anton Stralman for three years at around 16 million. Stralman didn't have to move far being with Tampa Bay the last seven seasons, and while he won't dazzle you, he's a sold defenceman. He brings depth and experience to this Panthers team, and if he can stay healthy he can still be a top 4 defenceman. Also, we can’t forget the addition of Brett Connolly. The 27-year old posted his best season to date with the Caps last year and should provide a little extra fire power up front.
Dallas didn't wasn't any time either hitting the market signing former San Jose Shark Joel Pavelski and also signed former Hart trophy winner Corey Perry. The Stars added a lot of extra scoring power to their team. Pavelski will turn 35 this month but has shown consistency throughout his career. He put up 64 points in 75 games last season, and was a massive part of the franchises success. As for Corey Perry her obviously isn’t the player he once was, but for 1.5 million for 1 year it’s worth taking a chance.
Andrej Sekera also signed the exact same contact as Perry did. Sekera has struggled getting his game back though, he's only played 60 games the last two seasons due to injuries, but when he’s on the ice he logs some good minutes and does have some speed. In his last full season Sekera piled up 35 points. It's not a big risk in signing Sekera and Perry, both players are not expected to put up the points they once did but any contribution will be a plus for the Stars. Pavelski will add to that deadly Stars lineup, who overall, got better.
His last few seasons in Colorado didn’t help Duchene growth, but the move to Ottawa (and then Columbus) sure did. This past season he almost averaged a point a game and was the best player for Columbus in the playoffs, scoring some big goals for the Jackets in the playoffs after getting trading in late February. Signing a 7-year 56 million dollar contract with Smashville, Duchene will help the Predators offence immensely. Last season the Preds were 19th in goals and averaged less than 3 goals a game, and they ranked 30th in powerplay goals. Needless to say the addition of offence was a must. Duchene is also a good faceoff man. He's won 53 percent of his faceoffs in his career and when needing a crucial faceoff win, Duchene can help relieve the pressure.Nashville got a big need and Duchene seemed to be back to the high level he can play. That will greatly benefited the Predators and their pursue of the Stanley Cup.
New York Rangers
New York might of overpaid for Artemi Panarin but it’s for a good reason. The Rangers got somebody that bolsters their horrid offence and has shown continuous improvement each season he’s been in the league. The Rangers team only scored 221 team goals and only had three 20 goal scorers, not one Rangers player last season averaged a point a game like Panarin. Whether it's 5 on 5 or the man advantage, Panarin is lethal and will produce in those areas. You also have to keep in mind they drafted one of the best players in this year's draft in Kaapo Kakko, and traded for Jacob Trouba last week. It will take no time for the Rangers to be good again. Panarin will put up all star numbers and razzle dazzle the New York crowd.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Sergei Bobrovsky, Matt Duchene and Artemi Panarin are all gone and those are holes that just can’t be filled, no matter how many Gustav Nyquist’ you get. The Jackets do you have some good young talent but at this moment they're not a playoff team. If they’re relying on Nyquist to have another good season like he did last year they will be in trouble. Obviously their goaltending has taken a hit as well. Elvis Merzlikins is expected to be the replacement for Sergie Bobrovsky and has a lot of praise outside the NHL for his goaltending. We’re going to have to wait if he can fill Bob's shoes.
New York Islanders
The Islanders are merely in this conversation for not re-signing Robin Lehner. Lehner went to Chicago with a year deal for 5 million. Listen 5 million is a lot, but for one year I don't understand why the Islanders didn't re-sign the Vezina nominee. Instead the Islanders got Seymon Varlarmov. This a drop down in the Islanders goaltending department. Varlarmov is as inconsistent as it gets. He has only won 44 games the last two season and in recent seasons he's had G.A.A's of 2.87, 2.68 and 3.38. Lehner had more wins this season than Varlamov's last two. He won the Jennings trophy and the Bill Masteron trophy too. Lehner did so much for the Islanders this season and had a great year overall. They replaced a Vezina contender for a goalie on his last leg. yikes.
Connor McDavid once again watches his front office fail him. Edmonton has a new coach and a new GM, but they continue their feeble ways. What did they do? Mike Smith. Maybe 5-6 years ago this would be a big signing but not now, not in 2019. They did to re-sign Alex Chiasson who exceeded expectations last season, so props for that but Ken Holland is going to have to work his magic in order to bring some depth up front for this disappointing team. With so many needs, the Oilers have to fill them with players that can help them go back to the playoffs, and they only have so much space within limits of the cap to do that. Needless to say the Oilers have a lot of work to be done.