NHL Free Agency Update: Latest Buzz on Rumors and Grading New Signings

Nicholas Goss@@NicholasGoss35Correspondent IJanuary 25, 2013

There has been a lot of activity on the free-agent market during the opening week of the 2013 NHL season.

A lot of teams have been looking for veteran UFAs to add more depth and/or replace injured players, and a few general managers are still trying to work out new contracts with restricted free agents.

Let's look at the latest free agent rumors and grade the signings of free agents who have recently joined new teams.


Rumors and Reports

P.K. Subban, Montreal Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens have been without top defenseman P.K. Subban through the first three games of the season, but according to Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet.ca, talks between the team and Subban's representatives are continuing.

Even without Subban's brilliant offensive talent, the Canadiens are 2-1 and have scored eight goals in the last two games.

The return of veteran defenseman Andrei Markov, who spent most of last season nursing an injury, has given the Montreal blue line a reliable offensive presence with three goals and an assist.

Thus far, Subban seems willing to miss games in order to earn the salary and contract term he thinks he deserves.

He's a very popular player in Montreal, but if these negotiations continue for another week or two, it will be interesting to see how many fans begin to think differently of the 23-year-old defenseman.

Will any team offer-sheet Subban and force the Canadiens to match it or lose their best young player? There are at least four teams that should.


Ryan O'Reilly, Colorado Avalanche

Ryan O'Reilly's absence from the Colorado Avalanche lineup hasn't prevented the team from starting the season well with a 2-1 record. Colorado has averaged three goals scored per game, and the team's offense has been impressive.

Summer signing P.A. Parenteau has started his Avalanche career with two goals and an assist, while young star Matt Duchene leads the team with four points (two goals, two assists).

Here's the latest on O'Reilly's contract situation, according to TSN's Bob McKenzie:

O'Reilly is an important player to the Avalanche, but he's not someone the team needs to win games consistently.

Colorado has enough offensive depth to contend for a playoff spot in the Western Conference, even without the 21-year-old star in the lineup, and should continue to not give into O'Reilly's demands during contract negotiations.


Free-Agent Grades

Wade Redden, St. Louis Blues

The St. Louis Blues signed veteran defenseman Wade Redden last week after he was bought out by the New York Rangers. TSN's Bob McKenzie reported the contract details:

Redden is a good addition to the Blues because of his ability to kill penalties and excel in 5-on-5 situations. He made his debut on Thursday night against the Nashville Predators and got 17:23 of ice time.

Even though he's never won a Stanley Cup, Redden will provide the Blues with some valuable playoff experience. He's also very motivated to perform at a high level after having to play in the AHL over the last two years.

Signing Redden is just one of many good roster moves that St. Louis had made in recent seasons to build a championship-caliber team.

Grade: B+


Scott Gomez, San Jose Sharks

The San Jose Sharks have given Scott Gomez another chance to be a quality NHL player (via Dan Rosen of NHL.com), and you can bet he's very excited for the opportunity.

Signing a veteran center with a lot to prove is almost always a smart decision, and in this case, it was a no-brainer decision for general manager Doug Wilson.

Gomez has not been productive offensively over the last two years with the Montreal Canadiens, but now he doesn't have to deal with the pressure of having to perform at a high level because of a huge contract.

He doesn't have to be a top-six player to make an impact, Gomez just needs to excel in his role for head coach Todd McLellan, and he will be a valuable signing for the Sharks.

Grade: B+


Mike Knuble, Philadelphia Flyers

Even though the Philadelphia Flyers haven't officially announced the signing of veteran winger Mike Knuble, Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer has reported that the 40-year-old will join the team.

Knuble played in 72 games for the Washington Capitals last season and scored 18 points, which was his lowest single-season points total since 2001-02.

He will give the Flyers some more forward depth and lots of playoff experience. With the 30th-ranked offense in the NHL, the Flyers certainly needed to add some more size and skill on the wings, especially after learning that Scott Hartnell is injured and will be out of the lineup for a while.

Knuble won't make a huge impact on the Flyers, but general manager Paul Holmgren had to add some depth with his roster hit hard by injuries.

Grade: B


Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars and star forward Jamie Benn have finally come to terms on a new contract. Benn's agent reported the news via his Twitter account.

TSN's Bob McKenzie reported some more details:

This was a good deal for both sides. Benn got a substantial raise and the Stars didn't have to overpay or commit eight years (the max term allowed under the new CBA) to keep their most talented player.

Benn's new contract is very similar to the contract that Toronto Maple Leafs star Phil Kessel signed before the 2009-10 season, which was a five-year, $27 million deal.

Signing Benn for five years gives the Stars enough time to build a championship-caliber roster, which may convince the star forward to re-sign when his deal expires and not test free agency. The term is also good for Benn because it will only "burn" one year of his UFA eligibility.

It was important that the Stars sign Benn as quickly as possible because this team has a real chance to make the playoffs this season—especially if starting goaltender Kari Lehtonen keeps playing at a high level.

Grade: A



Nicholas Goss is an NHL columnist at Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter.


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