Here’s my take on the NHL free-agent signings which caught my eye on the opening day of free agency.
Detroit Red Wings sign defenseman Mike Green to a three-year contract worth $6 million per season. Prior to this signing, the Wings reportedly sought a top-four defenseman with a right-handed shot via trade. Obviously, a suitable deal couldn’t be found. Green has an injury history and his offensive production has declined in recent years. However, he did reach 45 points this season for the fourth time in his career. Green has also improved his defensive play. While the salary is pricey, the term is a good one, and he will take some of the workload off Niklas Kronwall.
The Edmonton Oilers have signed defenseman Andrej Sekera to a six-year deal worth $5.5 million annually. This deal’s pretty much what I expected Sekera, 29, would receive. Not an unreasonable deal at all. He’s a very good two-way defenseman and should provide a much-needed boost to the Oilers blueline.
San Jose Sharks sign defenseman Paul Martin to a four-year contract worth $4.85 million annually. This deal’s about a year longer than I’d be comfortable with for the 34-year-old Martin, but the salary’s reasonable. He’s taken a slight pay cut from the $5 million annually of his previous deal, but that was to be expected. Martin’s a steady blueline presence whose experience should be invaluable to the Sharks defense.
Chicago Blackhawks have signed recently-acquired center Artem Anisimov to a five-year extension (effective next summer) with an annual cap hit of $4.55 million. It’s obvious Anisimov is no short-term addition for the Blackhawks, who re-sign him a day after he was acquired from Columbus as part of the return in the Brandon Saad deal. It’s a significant raise over his current $3.283 million cap hit, but the Blackhawks see him as a worthwhile long-term addition. While he has an injury history and consistency issues, when healthy the 27-year-old center plays a solid two-way game.
Colorado Avalanche sign Francois Beauchemin to a three-year contract worth $4.5 million per season. Despite his age, the 35-year-old Beauchemin logged big minutes last season with the Ducks. The contract’s about a year longer than I would’ve preferred, and he’s getting over $1 million more per season than he got on his last deal. Still, the Avalanche need a veteran blueliner like Beauchemin to improve their defensive stats. If they can get two good years out of him, it’ll be worth it.
Calgary Flames sign Michael Frolik to a five-year deal worth $4.3 million per season. Frolik, 27, has three 40-plus point seasons on his resume. This is a lucrative deal for him, much better than last season’s one-year, $3.3 million contract. He’ll provide scoring depth at right wing for the Flames. Given their promising young forwards, Frolik could have several more 40-plus point season.
Boston Bruins sign left wing Matt Beleskey to a five year deal worth $3.8 million annual cap hit. While the term is a tad long, the salary isn’t as extravagant as some feared it could be. The danger here with Beleskey is he’ had one good season (22 goals last season), making him either a late-blooming scorer or a one-year wonder. That cap hit will feel onerous if it’s the latter.
Nashville Predators have re-signed center Mike Ribeiro to a two-year, $7 million deal. Despite Ribeiro’s on-going off-ice issues, the Predators obviously felt it wasn’t an impediment toward a new contract. The 35-year-old center enjoyed a bounce-back performance last season with 62 points, enjoying tremendous chemistry with Filip Forsberg and James Neal.
The Minnesota Wild re-sign center Mikael Granlund to a two-year, $6 million contract ($2.8 million in year one, $3.2 million in year two). Not an unrestricted free agent signing, but a worthwhile one by the Wild for young Granlund, who’s coming off an entry-level deal. The Wild actually hoped to sign him to a longer term but the Granlund camp wanted the bridge deal in hopes of cashing in two years from now. Injuries have hampered Granlund in the past two years, but the young playmaking center performs well when healthy, especially in the playoffs.
Detroit Red Wings sign Brad Richards to a one-year, $3 million contract. With playoff bonuses, it could be worth $4 million. Richards isn’t the top-flight center he once was, but the 35-year-old proved last season with the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks he’s still a valuable depth center. It’s an affordable short-term deal and he should be a good fit with the Wings. .
Nashville Predators sign Barret Jackman to a two-year, $4 million deal. The long-time Blues rearguard will provide experienced defensive depth to the Predators defense corps. This should be a worthwhile, short-term addition. It won’t put too much of dent in their cap space.
New Jersey Devils sign defenseman John Moore to a three-year deal worth $1.6 million annual average cap hit. I was surprised the Arizona Coyotes bailed so quickly on the 24-year-old Moore after acquiring him near the trade deadline as part of the Keith Yandle deal with the New York Rangers. Moore is a big blueliner (6’3”) who skates well and has decent overall skills. He should be a solid addition to the Devils defense corps. He’s definitely an affordable one
Toronto Maple Leafs sign P-A Parenteau to a one-year contract worth $1.5 million. Parenteau was bought out by the Canadiens following a disappointing performance. He’s now heading to his third team in as many seasons. He’s tallied 40-plus points three times in his career. Given the Leafs are in the midst of a significant rebuild after trading away Phil Kessel, he’s an affordable addition. It remains to be seen, however, if he can regain his offensive touch.
Nashville Predators sign center Cody Hodgson to a one-year contract worth just over $1 million. Nashville Predators GM David Poile struck paydirt last summer by signing Mike Ribeiro to a one-year, $1.006 million deal. He’s hoping for similar results with the 25-year-old Hodgson, bought out by the Sabres following a disappointing performance last season. As with Ribeiro, this could be Hodgson’s last chance to salvage his NHL career.