NHL Free Agency Recap (10/9)

With the NHL offseason in a topsy-turvy situation, October 9 marked the beginning of NHL Free Agency. In total on Friday, over 50 players either signed extensions or joined new teams for the upcoming 2020-21 season (whenever it’s supposed to start). Let’s take a look at the big (or interesting) deals that happened on Friday.

Anaheim Ducks - Kevin Shattenkirk (D) - 3 years, $11,700,000 ($3.9 million AAV)

  • Last season (Tampa Bay Lightning) - 70 games played, 8/26/34

  • Rating - 7/10

  • Tampa Bay took a risk on the 31-year old Shattenkirk last season after he was bought out by the New York Rangers two years into a four-year deal.. The Ducks are hoping that last season wasn’t a fluke, and he can start a late-career revival.

Arizona Coyotes - Tyler Pitlick (C) - 2 years, $3,500,000 ($1.75 million AAV)

  • Last season (Philadelphia Flyers) - 63 games played, 8/12/20

  • Rating - 6/10

  • Pitlick comes back to the Western Conference after a season with the Flyers, putting up a decent 20 points in the COVID-shortened season. In Arizona, Pitlick brings size and grit to the lineup.

Boston Bruins - Kevan Miller (D) - 1 year, $1,000,000

  • Last season (Boston Bruins) - Did not play (injury)

  • Rating - 6/10

  • Miller hasn’t played a game in the NHL since April 4, 2019, after fracturing his kneecap against the Minnesota Wild. However, when healthy, the 32-year-old Miller provides solid defensive depth for the B’s.

Buffalo Sabres - Tobias Rieder (C) - 1 year, $700,000

  • Last season (Calgary Flames) - 55 games played, 4/6/10

  • Rating - 2/10

  • If Buffalo is hoping to replace the presence of Dominik Kahun (who they didn’t qualify for some idiotic reason), with another German in Rieder, they are barking up the wrong tree. Last season, Rieder struggled on the Flames, and in Buffalo, it likely won’t get any better.

Buffalo Sabres - Matt Irwin (D) - 1 year, $700,000

  • Last season (Nashville Predators/Anaheim Ducks) - 36 games played, 0/3/3,

  • Rating - 2/10

  • Irwin likely won’t see much playing time in the show, likely just a depth signing for the Sabres, but speaking as a Sabres fan, that’s not what will happen, and Irwin will play 25 minutes a night.

Buffalo Sabres - Brandon Davidson (D) - 1 year, $700,000

  • Last season (Stockton Heat (AHL)) - 34 games played, 3/17/20

  • Rating - 2/10

  • See - Matt Irwin

Calgary Flames - Jacob Markström (G) - 6 years, $36,000,000 ($6 million AAV)

  • Last season (Vancouver Canucks) - 43 games played, 2.75 GAA, .918 sv%

  • Rating - 7/10

  • Since arriving full-time in Vancouver in 2015, Markström has stood solid for the Canucks, posting a save percentage over .910 and a goals-against average under 2.80 every season. Markström will become the new starter in Cowtown after the departure of Cam Talbot for Minnesota. The only issue with the deal that I see is that Markström is already 30, so it will be interesting to see how long he stays at his current level.

Chicago Blackhawks - Malcolm Subban (G) - 2 years, $1,700,000 ($850k AAV)

  • Last season (Vegas Golden Knights) - 20 games played, 3.18 GAA, .890 sv%

  • Rating - 6/10

  • After deciding to let long-time netminder Corey Crawford explore options in free agency yesterday, Chicago re-signed Subban, who they acquired from Vegas in the deal that sent Lehner to the Golden Knights. Although Subban’s stats weren’t the greatest last season, he is poised to battle for the starting role in the Windy City with Colin Delia and Kevin Lankinen.

Chicago Blackhawks - Dominik Kubalík (LW) - 2 years, $7,400,000 ($3.7 million AAV)

  • Last season (Chicago Blackhawks) - 68 games played, 30/16/46

  • Rating - 9/10

  • In his rookie season last year, Kubalík put up numbers to impress last season, finishing third in the Calder Trophy voting with 554 points. Only a bridge deal for now, expect Kubalík’s value to skyrocket at the end of this deal.

Dallas Stars - Anton Khudobin (G) - 3 years, $10,000,000 ($3.33 million AAV)

  • Last season (Dallas Stars) - 30 games played, 2.22 GAA, .930 sv%

  • Rating - 5/10

  • While Khudobin carried the Stars on his back to the Stanley Cup Finals (posting a 2.69 GAA and .917 save percentage in 25 games) in place of injured starter Ben Bishop, $10 million over three years is a lot of cap and term to spend on a 34-year-old backup goalie.

Detroit Red Wings - Bobby Ryan (RW) - 1 year, $1,000,000

  • Last season (Ottawa Senators) - 24 games played, 5/3/8

  • Rating - 10/10

  • Hats off to Bobby Ryan first and foremost, after spending three months of the 2019-20 season in rehab for alcohol abuse to come out and continue to play the sport he loves at a high level takes all the courage in the world. In Ryan, Detroit is getting a low-risk, high-reward player who is only a year removed from a 42 point season.

Detroit Red Wings - Jon Merrill (D) - 1 year, $925,000

  • Last season (Vegas Golden Knights) - 49 games played, 2/5/7

  • Rating - 6/10

  • While Tyler Gallo would give this signing a 0/10 because Merrill was horrid on the New Jersey Devils, in Vegas, Merrill turned play around, being a plus player in each of his seasons in the Sin City. In Detroit, Merrill will likely play a mentor role in a young and impressionable defensive system featuring Filip Hronek, Dennis Cholowski, Moritz Seider, Jared McIssac, and Gustav Lindström.

Edmonton Oilers - Kyle Turris (C) - 2 years, $3,300,000 ($1.65 million AAV)

  • Last season (Nashville Predators) - 62 games played, 9/22/31

  • Rating - 7/10

  • Turris fills a role on the Oilers as a bottom-six scoring threat for not much money. After being bought out by the Predators from a six-year, $36-million contract signed in 2017, Turris is set to collect $2-million from the Preds until 2028.

Edmonton Oilers - Tyler Ennis (LW) - 1 year, $1,000,000

  • Last season (Edmonton Oilers/Ottawa Senators) - 70 games played, 16/21/37

  • Rating - 8/10

  • Personally one of my favorite players of all time, Ennis, similar to Turris, provides some bottom-six scoring for the Oilers. Only 5’9”, the now-31 Ennis still has a quick step to him.

Florida Panthers - Alexander Wennberg (C) - 1 year, $2,250,000

  • Last season (Columbus Blue Jackets) - 57 games played, 5/17/22

  • Rating - 7/10

  • Wennberg comes to Florida after having the final three seasons of his 6-year, $29.4-million contract bought out by Columbus. The 26-year-old Swede joins a center core of Aleksander Barkov, Noel Accari, and Carter Verhaeghe.

Florida Panthers - Carter Verhaeghe (C) - 2 years, $2,000,000 ($1 million AAV)

  • Last season (Tampa Bay Lightning) - 57 games played, 9/4/13

  • Rating - 6/10

  • Despite the poor numbers with the Lightning last season, Verhaeghe is two seasons removed from an 82-point season with the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch. Panthers GM Bill Zito is hoping that the talent from the AHL can transfer over to the big leagues.


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