Wow, that was an eventful NHL free agency period. We knew the dollars would flow, but we certainly did not expect the term of contracts to be shorter in many cases than in previous years. Let’s dive in and talk 2017 NHL free agency winners and losers.
2017 NHL Free Agency Winners and Losers
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Leafs needed experience on the blue line and they got that in recently crowned champion Ron Hainsey, signing him for a couple of years at a decent amount. The team also surprisingly locked up Patrick Marleau, an aging but still effective goal scorer, for three years. Many are scoffing at the third year of the deal for a 38-year old sniper. But this team needed experience and leadership really, really badly. It was okay to overpay for a clear need.
There’s only one player to report on here and it’s a damn good deal. At 36 years of age, Radim Vrbata scared off many teams, thinking he had nothing left. But this guy racked up 55 points on a bad Coyotes team this past season. At only $2.5 million for one year, this deal is a steal. He will replace Jagr, who the Panthers decided to part with.
New York Rangers
The Rangers got the best D available in Kevin Shattenkirk, taking advantage of the fact that he wanted to play only for his hometown team. At only four years, the term of this deal is excellent for the team. The team also signed underrated D Brendan Smith. With these two pieces, New York’s defense corps is much better.
Not signing either Alexander Radulov or Andrei Markov (at the time of this article going live) is a disaster for a team that is thin on puck-moving defensemen and scoring up front. The Canadiens are bound to take a step backwards this offseason if they cannot make a deal. Sure, they got Karl Alzner in free agency as an upgrade over the departed Alexei Emelin, but they didn’t really do much else.
This team needed to make a move to bring in a quality defenseman or two. With divisional teams like the Flames and Ducks looking great on the blue line, the Oilers are in trouble.
They brought back Patrick Sharp, but the Hawks needed another top 4 D to compete in the loaded Western Conference, after trading away Hjalmarsson to Arizona. Will they take a step back this fall? We’ll find out.
Matthew Ross is a sports commentator and a radio host on TSN 690 Radio in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Follow him @MatthewWords.