The annual NHL free agent frenzy kicked off on Friday. Though the frenzy was slightly more subdued than some years, there were still a ton of free agent signings over the weekend.
The Hurricanes made a small splash signing former Rangers right wing Jesper Fast. I wrote about the addition HERE.
Today’s Daily Cup of Joe sorts through the numerous signings and makes a fairly short list of deals I would steal with a couple important disclaimers. First, many of the deals identified were cases where players took significant discounts to pick their destination, so these deals would not likely have actually been available to the Hurricanes. Also, my list of steals does not consider the salary cap. The Hurricanes have only a couple million available right now, so many of these deals would require additional financial maneuvering.
Without further ado, the deals I like are:
I am on record as liking the idea of upgrading in net as long as the term and salary are reasonable. At only $1.5 million per year, I would have been willing to place a low risk bet that Lundqvist could have a last second wind energized by a new team and with a better defense in front of him. I was figuring something like $3 million for one year, so $1.5 million is even better. But this is very clearly one of the deals where the player chose his destination, and it was not based on money.
Another of the discounted deals was Patrick Maroon who re-signed with the Lightning for two years at a mere $900,000 per year. He played a significant role in making the Lightning tougher to play against which factored into the Stanley Cup success. Just like with Lundqvist, Maroon would not have been available to the Hurricanes for this price or even more.
Hockey warrior Wayne Simmonds signed a one-year deal for $1.5 million with the Maple Leafs. At 32 years old with a lot of tough miles behind him, Simmonds was overpaid on his $5 million contract last year with the Devils, but at $1.5 million he slots more as a third or even fourth line depth forward. At that price and in that role, I think he could still have value as another player who plays with an edge and nastiness that makes him an unpleasant opponent. And he could still be a net front presence on a second power play unit.
I go back and forth and am at least tempted (not sold) on Holtby and his newest contract for $4.3 million per year for two years. Holtby’s play has declined over the past couple years such that he might just on the downswing for his career. But I have some modest appetite for risk with a potentally higher-end goalie. Two years at $4.3 million is at least close to where I take that risk. My math would have him replacing Reimer who then gets traded, so the salary cap hit this year is less than $1 million more. Assuming Reimer is tradeable which seems likely given his unique contract, I would play the low risk/potentially high reward game for Holtby for one year at $4 million or two years at $3.5 million, so this is close.
There are also a few depth defensemen including Trevor van Riemsdyk whose contracts I like, but the Hurricanes do not have room for another defenseman on a one-way contract.
How short my list is especially if you exclude the deals that would not have been available to the Hurricanes says a lot about the current year’s free agent market and also how much better the Hurricanes existing lineup is compared to years past.
What say you Canes fans?
1) What are your thoughts on the deals that I would steal if given the opportunity?
2) What other players would you add if you could take their contract?