Recapping a wild weekend of NHL Free Agency
The first weekend of NHL Free Agency has come and gone, but not without a whirlwind of signings league wide.
Thanks to compliance buyouts, there were seemingly more big name free agents in this year’s class than in seasons past. Many of those players found new homes immediately, with others still waiting for a call.
A total of 72 players signed since the market opened at noon on Friday.
Among the biggest winners of the free agency period, to date, are the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers used compliance buyouts on goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov and forward Danny Briere, saving the team more than $12 million in cap room for this season. With that money, they signed Vincent Lecavalier, widely considered the top free agent in the class. Ray Emery signed on to fight for the starting net position with Steve Mason. Philadelphia also locked up star center Claude Giroux with an eight-year extension.
The Detroit Red Wings were also a big winner, signing longtime Ottawa Senator Daniel Alfredsson and former Florida Panther Stephen Weiss, improving an offense that struggled at times last season.
The Boston Bruins lost Nathan Horton (Columbus), Andrew Ference (Edmonton) and Anton Khudobin (Carolina) all to free agency, while Jaromir Jagr still remains unsigned. The Bruins did pick up Jarome Iginla to replace Horton.
Nashville, who has consistently struggled scoring goals, signed four forwards on Friday. The Predators came to terms with Viktor Stalberg and Matt Cullen, who should slide into top-six roles, while adding grit with Eric Nystrom and Matt Hendricks. They also were a big winner at the NHL Draft, as top-rated prospect Seth Jones fell to the team with the No. 4 pick.
The Winnipeg Jets, Washington Capitals and Buffalo Sabres were among the quietest teams over the weekend. Washington was the only one of them to make the playoffs last season but lost second-line center Mike Ribeiro to the Phoenix Coyotes, Hendricks to Nashville, and missed on the likes of Lecavalier and Briere. Winnipeg made three small signings and still has to restructure the contract of top-four defenseman Zach Bogosian. Buffalo didn’t make any signings and also bought-out the contract of forward Nathan Gerbe.