The crazy and wacky world of National Hockey League free agency is officially one week old. So far, we have witnessed nearly 1oo players switch teams, and we have also seen others re-sign with their clubs. Mega deals, moderate ones, as well as smaller contracts have been handed out to free agents since July 1st. The result of which, has seen upwards of $300 million change hands. It's crazy how just a few years ago, the owners were complaining that contracts had been getting out of hand and insisted on implementing stricter cap rules and contract term limits. They've completely contradicted themselves in allowing their GMs to hand out ridiculous contracts that see third liners getting first-liner money and fringe first-liners being paid like All-Stars.
With most teams still looking to fill their needs, as well as their rosters, and with more than three months to go between now and the first puck drop of the regular season, you can be rest-assured that even more money will be handed out. We'll have to wait for these players to take the ice to really judge these moves, but there are some we can determine right away, because we love to speculate. With that in mind, we here at TheSportster give you the Top 8 Best and 8 Worst Signings of NHL Free Agency So Far.
16 Best: Dan Hamhuis - Dallas Stars
The Dallas Stars added Dan Hamhuis via a two-year contract that will pay him $3.75 million annually. The former Vancouver Canuck and member of the 2014 Men's Hockey Gold Medal team at the Sochi Games, is a solid two-way defensemen who can help the Stars replace Alex Goligoski, who the team traded to the Arizona Coyotes just before free agency started. The 33-year-old does come with a bit of an injury concern having missed at least 20 games in two of the last three seasons, but the term and length of his deal make him a bargain.
It was odd that the Canucks hadn't traded Hamhuis back at the deadline and they've now lost him for nothing. It was clear that the Stars needed help on their blue line in the playoffs, as the Blues exposed them in Game 7 of the second round. The Stars still need goaltending, but Hamhuis is an excellent addition to their d-corps.
15 Worst: Matt Martin - Toronto Maple Leafs
The NHL's league leader in hits for the last five seasons, Matt Martin signed a 4-year $10 million deal with the Leafs. Martin who recorded a career high in goals (10), assists (9), and points (19) to go along with 11 fighting majors (2nd in the league) has been part of arguably the best 4th line in hockey the last several seasons with Cal Clutterbuck and Casey Cizikas. Maybe it's me, but isn't $2.5 million a year a little much for a 4th liner? More importantly, without his usually running mates, how effective will he be? Toronto is paying a hefty price to find out.
It seemed as though the Leafs were moving in a new direction, having hired analytics experts to work in their front office, yet they've gone and spent millions on a guy who likely just had the best offensive season he's ever going to have.
14 James Reimer Florida Panthers (Best)
Looking to add some depth in the crease, and an eventual replacement for starting goalie Roberto Luongo, the Florida Panthers added James Reimer who finished the season with the San Jose Sharks, after coming over from the Toronto Maple Leafs at this year's trade deadline. The 28-year-old, who signed with the Panthers for five years at $3.4 million per season, has some big game experience having been the last goaltender to lead the Toronto Maple Leafs to the playoffs.
While Reimer's career record of 91-78 isn't all that impressive, he did play on some really bad Leaf teams. He did go 6-2 in eight games with the Sharks, which suggests he plays better with a better supporting cast, which he will get in Florida. Reimer is coming off the best season of his career, putting up a .918 SV% in 32 games with the Leafs, then .938 in his eight San Jose starts. Reimer is going to be able to take a ton of pressure off Luongo, which should help the Panthers return to the postseason for the second year in a row.
13 Worst: Darren Helm - Detroit Red Wings
Darren Helm's speed, grit, and two-way play are skills that any team could use. The problem is that he is a bottom-6 forward making top-6 money due to the five-year deal he signed with the Detroit Red Wings that will pay him $3.85 million annually. What makes this deal a bad signing, is that Helm who plays center, and has never posted more than 15 goals, or even hit the 40-point mark in a season, is stuck behind future Hall-of Famer Henrik Zetterberg, veteran Brad Richards, and newly signed Frans Nielson at the position. It feels like the Wings who need help on defense, could've used their money more wisely.
The Wings are likely going to be a fringe playoff team once again but are unlikely to make a deep playoff run. Their priority seems to be to keep their postseason streak alive rather than build themselves a Stanley Cup contender.
12 Best: P.A. Parenteau - New York Islanders
After struggling to produce from 2012-2015 with both the Colorado Avalanche and the Montreal Canadiens, Parenteau revitalized his career last year with the Toronto Maple Leafs as he led the club with 19 goals. Despite finding his game, the 33-year-old only signed a one-year deal with the Islanders worth $1.25 million.
The acquisition looks like a steal for the Isles not only because of the money, but also because of the fact that Parenteau had his most success as a member of the team. From 2010-2012, the winger had 38 goals and 120 points for the franchise.
While Parenteau likely won't be on the first line every night, he's inevitably going to play with John Tavares at some point. With Kyle Okposo out of Brooklyn, they'll probably be rotating wingers, so Parenteau will get his chance.
Let's see what he can do as an Islander this time around.
11 Worst: David Perron - St. Louis Blues
After splitting the last four years with the Edmonton Oilers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Anaheim Ducks, David Perron returns to the team where he played his first six NHL seasons with, the St. Louis Blues. Fresh off of signing a two-year contract that will pay him $3.75 million a year, the veteran will be looked to fill the shoes of David Backes, who signed with the Boston Bruins.
The problem with that however, is the fact that unlike the rugged Backes, Perron is very injury prone, as he has only played a full 82 game schedule once in his career, and has missed a total of 75 games over his last five seasons combined. The Blues have built their identity of a team that's going to wear you down, but Perron isn't the kind of player that's going to give teams many troubles. We'll see if Perron can become a 20-goal scorer again with his original team.
10 Best: Jason Chimera - New York Islanders
The year 37-year-old agreed to a two-year deal with the Islanders for $4.5 million. Despite his advanced age, the veteran tied his career high with 20 goals this past season for the Washington Capitals. The beauty of Chimera's game, is that his speed, grit, and soft hands allow him to play anywhere in the lineup.
For a playoff team like the Isles, who finally got past the first round this past spring for the first time in in four years, and 3rd time in the 11 seasons, the addition of the versatile Chimera has a chance to push them even further.
Even though the 37-year-old is approaching the end of his career, the fact that he's coming in on a two-year deal, worth $2.25 million a season makes it very digestible. The Islanders needed to do something after losing Okposo and this was a shred move.
9 Worst: Mikkel Boedker - San Jose Sharks
It feels like we've been waiting forever for the talented winger to have a breakout campaign. Blessed with blazing speed and soft hands, Mikkel Boedker who has been in the league for eight years, and has gotten a lot of power play time with both the Arizona Coyotes, and in half of this past year with the Colorado Avalanche, but has never scored more than 20 goals in a season. He appears to be one of those players who teases you with his skill set, but never puts it all together. The defending Western Conference champs will be paying him $16 million over the next four years to do just that. History isn't on the Sharks' side.
They have a great power play to work with and they'll need some speed, but Boedker's price was a little too much to pay for a team that's already in a very good spot.
8 Best: Al Montoya - Montreal Canadiens
While the trade of P.K. Subban, the face of the franchise is still a hot debate, and will remain one throughout the summer, one move that Habs general manager Marc Bergervin did make that's flying under the radar, is the acquisition of goaltender Al Montoya. The veteran signed a one-year $950,000 deal with the tricolore after going 12-7-3 in 25 games with the Florida Panthers last year.
Montoya's addition could potentially be huge for the club given how the team collapsed without franchise goalie Carey Price, who missed 59 games due to injury, as well as the unspectacular play of his replacement Mike Condon last season. This was an insurance policy for Montreal, who got the worst SV% in their league from their goaltenders following Price's injury.
If Price is healthy, he'll easily start 65 games for the Canadiens, which leaves Montoya in a good spot.
7 Worst: Kyle Okposo - Buffalo Sabres
There is no debating that Kyle Okposo is a legit scoring threat. He ends up on this side of the list is because of the amount of question marks surrounding him, and the team that he signed with. In choosing to leave the New York Islanders, Okposo also left All-Star center John Tavares. In signing with Buffalo he will now have either Jack Eichel, last year's 2nd overall pick, or Ryan O'Reilly feeding him the puck.
Both players are talented but they're not Tavares. The Sabres haven't made the playoffs in six years. Okposo will be making $6 million a year for the next seven seasons. He will be expected to pot in 25-30 goals a year, which will be a lot of pressure now that he's on a big, fat contract. The Sabres have gotten more aggressive in recent offseasons and we'll have to wait and see if their aggressiveness was worth it.
6 Best: Brian Campbell - Chicago Blackhawks
At first glance, signing a 37-year-old defenseman doesn't sound like the greatest idea. Brian Campbell however, is no ordinary 37-year-old. The member of the Hawks' 2010 Stanley Cup championship is still producing at an extremely high level, as he put up 25 assists, and led the Florida Panthers in +/- with a plus-31. More importantly, he played a huge role the last few seasons in the development of stud defenseman Aaron Ekblad.
Campbell still has a lot left in the tank, and the fact that the cash-strapped Hawks got him below market value on a one-year $2.25 million deal, makes him a great signing. It was no secret that the Hawks suffered on the blue line last year after losing Johnny Oduya in free agency last summer. Campbell is familiar with Chicago's way and will play some great hockey for them in the 2016-17 season.
5 Worst: Milan Lucic - Edmonton Oilers
While Milan Lucic's toughness and championship experience are attributes that the Edmonton Oilers need, the $6 million a year price tag for the next seven years doesn't seem like a good idea. While Lucic will provide some protection on the 1st line with franchise center Connor McDavid, his deal is very risky considering he hasn't scored more than 20 goals since the 2013-14 season. More importantly, the physical 28-year-old might have already played his best hockey.
In a matter of days, the Oilers moved on from Taylor Hall, a guy who's capable of producing 80 points a season, to a guy that would be lucky to reach 60. While it will be harder for teams to push the Oilers around, the Oilers didn't necessarily get better this offseason. This looks like a contract they will regret in future years.
4 David Backes Boston Bruins (Best)
The former captain, and heart and soul of the St. Louis Blues, David Backes signed a five-year $30 million deal with the Boston Bruins. The 32-year old was the best center on the free agent market not named Steven Stamkos. While his age might be looked at as a negative, his leadership and physical style of play are exactly what the B's have lacked since they traded away their former heart and soul in gritty forward Milan Lucic last year. Backes also gives the team another option down the middle in the event the club tries to the talented, but trade oft-injured center David Krejci.
The fans in Boston are going to fall in love with Backes, as he has that mean streak the Bruins have always seemed to have. He feels like a perfect fit in Boston. While the price tag was a little steep, Chara's contract will be off the books in a couple of years, which will make this cap hit easier to swallow.
3 Worst: Andrew Ladd - New York Islanders
Andrew Ladd, who turns 31 this December, comes to the Islanders via a seven-year $38.5 million deal. That's a lot of money to be paying somebody who will be 38 when the contract expires. Looking at the bigger picture, the 11-year veteran was brought in to offset the free agent loss of John Tavares' right hand man Kyle Okposo.
Ladd who was dealt by the Winnipeg Jets this past season to the Chicago Blackhawks who were looking to make another run at the Cup, did virtually nothing come playoff time (just like he did with the Jets) and the Hawks were eliminated in the 1st round. The Isles will need Ladd to deliver when it matters most. With only 3 points in his last 11 playoff games, it doesn't look like he will. We'll see if playing alongside the clutch Tavares will rub off on him.
2 Best: Steven Stamkos - Tampa Bay Lightning
Yes, Stamkos re-signed before July 1st, but he directed the market, as multiple teams were lining up just to get a sit down with him and his agent (sorry Leaf fans). The face of the franchise ended up re-upping with Tampa for 8 years at a total of $68 million, which is WELL under what he would've received had he decided to leave. What makes this the best signing, is not only do the Bolts' have their captain and one of the top players in the world under contract for the foreseeable future, but his deal also allows the team to stay competitive, and sign their other core pieces like they did recently with Victor Hedman and Andrei Vasilevskiy.
The Lightning will continue to be a Stanley Cup contender for the foreseeable future and ultimately, it was in the captain's best interest to remain in Tampa. He's sacrificed some money to remain on a contender, which is always commendable.
1 Worst: Alexander Radulov - Montreal Canadiens
Through no fault of his own, Alexander Radulov was already behind the 8-ball, as he was brought in shortly after the team traded superstar and franchise player P.K. Subban to the Nashville Predators. What is Radulov's fault however, is the fact that he hasn't played a full NHL season since the 2007-08 season. Money, immaturity, and wanting to play in his homeland of Russia, were some of the many reasons why the talented winger left to play in the KHL the last eight years.
Now he is back in the NHL after signing a one-year $5.75 million deal with the Habs. While there has been a lot of red flags associated with him throughout the years, the one positive, is that he knows what to do with the puck. In 545 career games split between the KHL and NHL, Radulov has scored 216 goals, and recorded 594 points. If this were just about scoring, his acquisition would be seen as a slam dunk.
After the failure of the Alexander Semin signing last year, Radulov's history, and the city's divided reaction to the Subban trade, this deal has the potential to blow up in the team's face.