July 1: Winners and Losers At the Start of NHL Free Agency

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Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

With over 100 signings and $600 million spent, the first day of NHL Free Agency provided hockey fans with plenty of excitement.  A majority of the clubs around the NHL made some moves, with the hopes of improving their teams.

So who were the big winners and losers of Day 1 with the NHL Free Agency frenzy?  What teams improved?  Which teams made some questionable moves?

Let’s dive right in to the extravaganza:

WINNERS

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING

While they did not make a huge splash in free agency, they re-signed some cornerstone pieces that were already in place.  Defenseman Victor Hedman signed an 8-year extension worth $63 million to remain in Tampa, and  goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy signed a 3-year extension worth $10.5 million to remain with the Bolts.  These extensions come a couple of days after the Lightning re-signed Steven Stamkos to an 8-year extension worth $68 million.  Lightning GM Steve Yzerman has been very patient with his players, and he has done a phenomenal job locking up his core pieces long term.

BUFFALO SABRES

Their major move of the afternoon was signing Kyle Okposo to a 7-year, $42 million deal.  Okposo had 22 goals and 64 points with the NY Islanders last season.  He will probably play next to Jack Eichel, and he should provide the Sabres with a much needed scoring punch.

FLORIDA PANTHERS

The Panthers made the Aaron Ekblad 8-year, $60 million extension official today.  In addition to re-signing Ekblad, they added some insurance in net as they signed former Sharks goaltender James Reimer to a 5-year deal worth $17 million.  The Panthers also added some forward depth, as they added Colton Sceviour and Jonathan Marchessault to 2-year deals.  The Panthers are spending a lot of money, and they have already locked up several of their core players.  This club should stay competitive for a little while.

LOSERS

NEW YORK ISLANDERS

The Islanders lost 2 quality forwards with Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen.  Okposo signed a 7-year deal with the Buffalo Sabres, while Nielsen signed a 6-year deal with the Detroit Red Wings.  As replacements, the Islanders signed former Blackhawk winger Andrew Ladd to a 7-year deal, and also brought in former Capitals veteran Jason Chimera.

MONTREAL CANADIENS

Alexander Radulov is back in the NHL, as he signed a 1-year, $5.75 million deal with the Canadiens.  It has been a memorable week in Montreal, as they traded away their outgoing, joyful All-Star defenseman P.K. Subban to Nashville.  There has been plenty of speculation around Montreal as to why Subban was traded.  GM Marc Bergevin may have not liked Subban’s character and outgoing personality.  Radulov has not played in the NHL since the 2011-12 season and has played in Russia ever since.  Radulov had noted character issues when he played in Nashville.

BOSTON BRUINS

The Bruins entered free agency with a major need on the blueline.  Instead, GM Don Sweeney signed rugged former Blues forward David Backes to a questionable 5-year deal worth $30 million.  Backes, 32, plays a physical style of hockey, so his longevity is something that is a concern.  The Bruins will still need to find a top-4 defenseman in a sparse marketplace.

By: George Foussekis

About George Foussekis

I am a sports fanatic. I love hockey and football, and I enjoy writing about my two favorite sports. I am a proud Old Dominion University alum.
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