Free Agency Frenzy Winners and Losers (Day One)
Day one of the NHL free agency is in the books and big names like Alex Pietrangelo, Mike Hoffman and Taylor Hall are still without a team. Plenty of signings happened on the first day with some big names still homeless with squads looking to make deals and fill up roster spots. Here are my winners and losers from NHL Free Agency Frenzy day one.
St. Louis Blues
The Blues won day one by inking former Boston Bruins dman Torey Krug. And while Pietrangelo will be seeking a new home for the first time in his career, Krug adds stability to their top 4 pairing. While the Blues stepped back knowing the price to bring back their captain would be steep, the Blues took a shot at plan b and got the highly-touted 28 year old.
Krug has been an anchor in Boston’s back end the last few seasons. His offensive skills have been consistent and led the Bruins in scoring at the tailend of last season. Krug isn't afraid to get physical and does put his body on the line blocking shots, and obviously his offensive game is a plus too. But above all, St. Louis adds a good defensive player that is in his prime.
A 7-year deal is what Krug was looking for as he wasn't looking to sign for a short term, and while the Blues season ended prematurely and lost their captain, Krug's signing was a good decision, especially at that price tag.
The Stars needed to do one thing this offseason, re-sign Anton Khudobin, and with a 3-year $10M deal they accomplished that goal. The Russian netminders outstanding play during the Stars cinderella-like run to the finals was enough to convince the Stars that even with Khudobin’s age a question mark, he has the goods to help for the foreseeable future.
This season Khudobin won 16 of his 26 starts, had a GAA of 2.22 (1st) and a stellar save percentage of .930 (3rd). If Bishop goes down again, they can rely on Khudobin to win games. The Stars have a luxury that is hard to find in the NHL, and “Dobby” has become one of the most important players on the Stars roster.
With Markstrom testing the market, the Canucks went out and added a priven vet in Braden Holtby making Thatcher Demko the man in Vancouver. Demko was a brick wall when Markstrom went down with injury last season and that obviously gave Vancouver the confidence to roll with their young netminder. Plus, the Flames paid a hefty price for a goalie who has never even won 30 games in a season.
The Canucks saved cap space and got a guy in Holtby who can absolutely be a serviceable backup, and with Demko being the present and prospect Michael Dipietro being the future, the net has never looked so secure out West.
Day one of free agency didn't see many of the big names swooped, but honestly that's refreshing. Usually NHL free agency gets boring after the first few hours with the big guys already signed, leaving us with the leftovers. Luckily, there is still a bunch to look forward to with names like Hall and Pietrangelo.
So far, there is only one clear loser coming out of day one and that is the Calgary Flames. Yes, goaltender was an area that needed tending to with Talbot leaving for Minnesota, but with Rittich doing a fine job last season, how much of an upgrade will Markstrom be? Especially at his price point. He'll be ninth highest paid goalie in the league, but how will he look in 6 years?
The 30-year old has been average at best, and while he's shown some potential the last few seasons, his stats are not eye popping for the contract the Flames gave out. Calgary had a need and overpaid to fill it.
Free Agency in October
Okay, this is more of a gripe than anything else, especially given the league had no other choice. However, given all that was going on in the sports world (the NBA Finals, MLB Playoffs) it felt almost out of place. Like I said, the NHL doesn't have much choice, but why open up the market when you won't be the biggest headline of the day?
Ah well, I'm just hoping the NHL can get things back on track by July 1 next year, but I'll take this is a early Christmas gift.