There are two sides to every story and the NHL free agency period is no exception. There were winners, but plenty of losers too. There wasn’t a ton of money thrown around on July 1st – at least not as much as we’re accustomed to – but there were still plenty of bad decisions that we saw. Here are the teams that made regrettable moves.
Losing Nick Bonino and Chris Kunitz doesn’t mean much in the way of numbers, but the Penguins are also losing a wealth of experience that helped them to their third Stanley Cup in the Sidney Crosby era. The Penguins also let Marc-Andre Fleury go in the expansion draft and signed Antii Niemi, who had a 3.30 GAA and a .892 save percentage last season. The Penguins need to hope that Matt Murray can stay healthy because if not, it won’t look good between the pipes.
The Canadiens definitely made a good move to lock up Carey Price in goal for eight years and $84 million; he is the best goalie in the NHL and could be for the next five years, at least. They also brought back Alex Galchenyuk for three years and $14.7 million. However, Alexander Radulov is gone to Dallas, and $23 million over five years seems like a lot for Karl Alzner, and they still haven’t re-signed Andrei Markov. Markov is still a fine defenseman at 38 years old, which is probably why Montreal is stalling, but they’d better move a little quicker.
The Canucks are confusing. They should be tanking for the lottery and letting Ryan Miller go to Anaheim was a good move in that direction. But then they sign Sam Gagner to three years and $9.45 million, and Michael Del Zotto to two years and $6 million, not to mention Anders Nilsson to two years and $5 million. None of these players are All-Stars, but they’re likely going to make the Canucks a little better and that’s probably not the route in which they should be going right now.
Shane Doan, the last player left from when this team moved from Winnipeg, is gone. The Coyotes still don’t have a coach. Radim Vrbata is gone to Florida, as is Chad Johnson to Buffalo. The biggest signing that Arizona has made was Andrew Campbell for two years and $1.3 million. Oh yeah, the Coyotes still don’t have a coach, did you know that? It’s hard to sign anyone when incoming players don’t know who the coach is. Arizona has some decent young pieces, but overall, they’re a mess.
The Avalanche signed Jonathan Bernier for a year at $2.75 million, and he isn’t very good anymore. Nikita Zadarov is a restricted free agent that hasn’t been signed yet and possibly the worst move of all, the Avalanche still haven’t traded Matt Duchene, who can be an unrestricted free agent next year. That means the Avalanche can lose him for nothing, and that would be the worst move of this year’s free-agency period and next year’s as well. Putting Colorado here might be a preemptive move if they don’t bring down the asking price.
You know you’re in trouble when you’re shopping for a goaltender off the Philadelphia Flyers roster. The Flyers haven’t had a good goaltender in at least a decade and if you’re trying to “address” you’re own goaltending woes by “stealing” theirs, you’re in trouble. That’s what the Jets did by signing Steve Mason. This is a goaltender who has never proven himself to be a quality No. 1 goaltender and he’s coming off a season in which he lost more games (29) than won (28). He had a lousy .908 save percentage along with a below-average 2.66 GAA. This basically seals the Jets fate for next season in terms of them not being a playoff team.
Their other move was to ink defenseman Dmitry Kulikov, who told a reporter in February that he feels like an old man. Kulikov is 26 years old, by the way. He had just five points and a minus-26 rating in 47 games last year. He’s been a top-four defenseman in the past but the Jets are taking a gamble here.
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