Oooooh boy, does it feel like Christmas Eve or is it just me? Tomorrow is a big, big day in the NHL and it’s one I look forward to every year. Free Agency.
So far we’ve seen pre-free agency shake ups like Dougie Hamilton and Milan Lucic moving on from the Boston Bruins in some draft pick laden deals. Chicago rocked us all moments ago with their trading of Brandon Saad to Columbus. Kevin Bieksa leaves Vancouver for sunny Anaheim. Rinaldo to Boston for a 3rd round pick?! Maybe we let BostonPucks writer Nick handle that one…
Also, we’ve seen bigger under-performing names enter free agency after their respective buy-outs took place; Alexander Semin (CAR), Stephen Weiss (DET), Brad Boyes (FLA), Mike Richards (LA), Cody Hodgson (BUF), Viktor Stalberg (NSH). They will all be looking to hop on with new clubs at significant pay cuts.
It’s unfortunate from a fans perspective that there isn’t a lot of superstar free agents this year. Mike Green (Washington) is probably the biggest name up for grabs. But I think we will find going forward in future seasons that it will be more common that less and less stars make it to free agency in the salary cap era NHL. Those players are just too important. And we hear the term “core” thrown around so much today describing what championship teams need that when teams identify their core players they are locking them up early and long-term. Only poor cap management (cough, Peter Chiarelli, cough) will force teams who may have identified a core to have to tinker with the engine more than you’d like.
Either way, July 1 in the NHL is one of my favorite days of the season. I’m curious to see which winger the Bruins target and if maybe the 2016 1st round pick they acquired today is involved. Salary cap shifting trades may overshadow the actual free agent signings but it will shake up the league nonetheless. Something else to keep your eye on? Where and will ex-Bruin Phil Kessel get traded? Maybe Pittsburgh, right next to Sid.