Winners and losers of Day 1 of NHL Free Agency
Henrik Lundqvist signed a one-year deal with the Capitals after spending his entire career with the Rangers. (Getty)
Day 1 of the free agency is in the books! That said, depending on who you're cheering on, you woke up this morning either excitedly happy or incredibly crazy.
Still, a lot happened on Friday. And despite the strange timing and technical challenges that these uncertain times bring, the free hand has nonetheless produced its usual certainties, leaving some teams winners and some teams losers.
With that in mind, the Halloween season, let's find out which of yesterday's attendees got cheated and which went home with a treat.
Loser: Vancouver Canucks
Before Andy Reid won a Super Bowl last season, the only mistake that kept him from the size of the coach was his struggle with watch management. This Achilles heel of Reid was so bad that Chiefs fans soon developed a running joke that would make the lovable Walrus unbeatable if the team just hired someone to just stand next to Reid and tell him how much time he had left Game remains.
Jim Benning is of course not an Andy Reid - Andy Reid is actually very good at his job - but the Canucks GM desperately needs its own specialist trainer. Someone hired to show up whenever the free agency starts and lock Benning's phone in the world's toughest safe.
Or at least keep it away from a microphone. Because the Canucks have spent all of the off-season up to that point crying poorly. And you know what? They actually confirmed their words when the doors opened on Friday, refusing to make a qualifying offer to Troy Stecher while both Tyler Toffoli and Jacob Markstrom got the chance to test the market for themselves as well.
This apparently happened due to the lack of leeway for the team. And for the most part, it made sense. The Canucks were already close to the ceiling and lucrative extensions for Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes are due at the end of the season, with both deals having to be squeezed under an expected flat cap.
Then why would Benning eagerly lead those key pieces out the door before turning to give a washed-out Braden Holtby $ 4.3 million for two years?
Can someone who is good at business please answer this? My family is dying.
The Canucks' competition window is now open. As in, right now. Yes, this is a team full of young talent and that's all well and good. But the tight cap calamity that Vancouver has become entangled in - one that is currently being mitigated by the value of the Pettersson and Hughes ELCs due to be phased out - has been speeding up their timeline rapidly.
Benning needs his group to win now. And losing your starting goalkeeper, along with a winger who fits perfectly into your line-up, whose services (among other things) cost a second-round selection in the deepest draft in years, and a young, effective right-back, that doesn't exactly help the case.
Those losses alone would be bad enough. But to let them happen only to sign a heavily declining goalkeeper who is also both worse and older than the one you're running? It's blasphemous.
Winner: Toronto Maple Leafs
It wasn't the sexy Alex Pietrangelo-themed splash some Leafs fans had been hoping for, but Kyle Dubas left the agency's first day after fixing the two biggest mistakes on his roster.
Signing TJ Brodie for $ 5 million a year for four years was, as it should be, the high point of the day. Brodie is a legitimate top four defender, someone who can nibble on the right side for minutes, score a few points in the process and, most importantly, trust in the final minutes to keep a lead.
In all fairness its value is pretty dry. It's the Leafs' other signature that deserves more attention.
Wayne Simmonds for a year at $ 1.5 million is decent business. On the surface, Simmonds looks like a gambler in decline. And it is him, don't get me wrong. The total score of those born in Scarborough has been falling steadily from year to year since 2015/16, finally ending in a 2019-20 campaign with just eight goals and 24 points.
Would you like to know what else Simmonds looked like? That guy.
If you have been too lazy to click this link, Simmonds has played remarkably and profoundly over the past few years. For example, in 2017-18, Simmonds only missed seven games despite playing with a torn pelvis, which then resulted in a pulled groin, followed by a broken ankle, and which was eventually rounded off by a torn ligament in his neat hand.
Add three more years of wear and tear and I'm surprised the guy got out of bed.
Under normal circumstances, the NHL's four-month off-season wouldn't be nearly enough time to rehabilitate yourself from all of this. But as any single commercial will tell you, these are not normal circumstances. Simmonds hasn't played hockey since mid-March, which means the 32-year-old will report to Leafs training camp (whenever it opens) after a nine-month hiatus. That's nine months to heal. nine months to train; Nine months prepare for the rigors of a whole season. It will help.
Plus, it's only $ 1.5 million here. Bargain.
Loser: Tyler Johnson
It's difficult to list someone who emerges from a Stanley Cup and is set to make $ 5 million a year through 2023 as a "loser." But man. Tyler Johnson didn't win on Friday.
Everyone knew Lightning was scouring the market for someone to take Johnson. Johnson himself knew that his days in Tampa were numbered. Several reports suggested that the two sides had actually worked together to find a mutually beneficial solution.
Johnson's full no-move clause made this difficult, of course, but things seemed to be heading for an amicable end.
Then this happened.
I didn't see that coming.
Johnson may not be the gamer he once was, but that doesn't change the fact that he negotiated a full NMC in his contract to specifically prevent the Blitz from sending him out of town without his consent. At least that's what he thought. Because yesterday Julien BriseBois somehow managed to get around that and promote Johnson for all 30 other NHL teams. And to hurt the ego even more, none of those 30 teams saw it worthwhile to list Johnson for free.
Yes, he lost.
Winner: Edmonton Oilers
The Edmonton Oilers closed the book on Friday on a pretty decent deal. It's hard to argue with any of her steps.
By re-signing Tyler Ennis after a year and a million US dollars, not only can Ken Holland keep a devious mid-six winger for a reasonable price, but he can't ignite the draft pick he used to pay to buy Ennis on this year's deadline in flames - as he did days ago with Andreas Athanasiou. Luring Jesse Puljujarvi, the prodigal son, into town with a two-year contract worth $ 1.75 million a year is a win for the organization by and large. Anton Forsberg with a year of $ 700,000 gives the Oilers a usable third goalkeeper who can be called in if necessary.
And then there is the main course. The piece of resistance: Kyle Turris.
Turris bears many similarities to a man like Derick Brassard. Both are centers in their early to mid 30s, whose production was once in the 40-60 point range and whose careers were recently on the brink of oblivion. Looking more or less washed out after switching between three different teams in the 2018-19 season, Brassard signed a bargain one-year deal of $ 1.2 million with the islanders this summer. Brassard is fresh from a trip to the Eastern Conference finals and is considered a successful reclamation project. Except that the supposedly useless Turris scored fewer points than Brassard in four games last season - 31 in 62 competitions compared to 32 in 66.
Even if he doesn't "jump back" and just mimic that exact amount, it's great value to get Turris - who, by the way, is two years younger than Brassard - for $ 1.65 million.
Losers: Senators from Ottawa
What a way to spoil the fun.
After an exciting performance on this week's draft, the Senators were quick to remind fans of the misery they have become all too used to.
The deal with Erik Gudbranson of round five in 2021 - one of the worst analytical defenders in ice hockey - when Ryan Murray (one of the league's top analytical D-men) was transferred to New Jersey hours later for exactly the same price is a case asset management so lazy that it should be punished by law. It happened on Thursday, but I'll count it anyway. It's terrible.
It should be in the medium term to allow well-known superhero Mark Borowiecki to go to Nashville and only sign half of Gudbranson's award for two years. And after that calamity, Matt Murray was to land a four-year deal with an AAV of $ 6.25 million in a market with better goalkeepers at lower prices. This should be the final exam.
Never stop being you, Ottawa. You are such a good TV.
Winner: Henrik Lundqvist
The man is allowed to keep his Manhattan apartment, jump to a division rival, earn $ 5.5 million from his previous employer and $ 1.5 million from his current employer as he spends the twilight year of his career with Alexander Ovechkin & a Trophy Chase Co.
A person shouldn't be allowed to gain so much in life. Leave something for the rest of us, Hank.
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