July 1st is a big day for all avid hockey fans, because it marks the beginning of free agency.
This is a very exciting time in the NHL—seeing big names move around is always interesting. This offseason was no exception—many big moves made, and many interesting story lines. This article outlines the top teams that have come out of this frenzy thus far.
*Note: free agency is far from over, so this will be an ever changing list. Updates will come as soon as possible.
The Los Angeles Kings have worked their way onto the list of best moves when they traded for captain Canada. Smyth was traded for Kyle Quincey and Tom Preissing. A smart move as Smyth is a strong forward with a lot of heart. While he may not have had the best season with the Avs, you have to take a step back and look at what he was playing for.
While losing Preissing and Quincey is bad they made up for it by signing Pens defenceman Rob Scuderi. Scuderi is very solid in his own end making very few mistakes.
The Kings are going to work their way into the playoff mix soon enough.
Tampa Bay picked up a couple of good additions, while really not losing anyone.
The biggest move of the day for the Lightning was landing Mattias Ohlund. This is a very solid signing for the Lightning, as Ohlund is one of the steadiest defenceman in the entire league.
He may not have a nose for the net, but he is very capable in his own end.
Tampa also landed free agent defenseman Matt Walker. Once again, they acquire a defenseman that is solid in his own end, but cannot bury the puck.
Finally. the Lightning resigned Lukas Krajicek. It is good that they managed to work out a deal with Krajicek, because he is one of their better offensive defenseman.
The Leafs have made a bit of a splash thus far in the free agent market. No surprises—Burke has added a lot of toughness to the lineup.
The first move by Brian Burke was to acquire Rangers tough guy Colton Orr. This man serves one purpose, and that would be to fight. Orr is a good strong enforcer.
Next on the docket was to trade Blueliner Pavel Kubina to the Atlanta Thrashers in exchange for Garnet Exelby and Colin Stuart.
Exelby again is by no means a point producing defenceman, but he is rugged and adds grit to the back end. Stuart split time between the Thrashers and the Wolves last season, recording 8 points inn 33 appearances with Atlanta.
The biggest move by the Leafs was picking up Mike Komisarek from Montreal. Komisarek is a defensive defenseman and is quite good at what he does. He is a strong checker and solid on the backend.
Good moves by Burke, but the one problem is the lack of offense among any of these players—which is a concern for the Leafs.
Orr, Komisarek, and Exelby combined for 434 penalty minutes last season.
The Rangers may have lost a bit of talent, but they definitely made up in their acquisitions. The Rangers lost Nik Antropov, Fredrik Sjostrom, and Colton Orr. They also traded away forward Scott Gomez.
All of this was nullified by the players picked up on the free agent market.
The loss of tough guy Colton Orr was basically awash, as they picked up Donald Brashear. Antropov can be replaced by Chris Higgins, who came in return for Gomez. While Higgins does not offer the same size, he does offer the same scoring punch.
The biggest and most important deals of the entire day was adding Marian Gaborik from the Wild. Gaborik is one of the most talented players in the league—if he's healthy.
That is the big crapshoot for the Rangers though—Will Gaborik stay healthy? I suppose it is just a waiting game at this point.
A complete and total reinvention of the Habs was Gainey's approach during the offseason, and he has definitely accomplished this.
Gainey picked up Scott Gomez, Brian Gionta, Mike Cammalleri, Jaroslav Spacek, and Hal Gill. The Canadiens lost Higgins and Konisarek in the process.
Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta are former teammates on the New Jersey Devils. They seemed to work well with each other for the Devils, and I think Gainey is banking on this same chemistry for his club.
Mike Cammalleri is a very smart addition to the Montreal Canadiens. Cammalleri played very well for the Flames last season recording over a point a game and scoring nearly 40 goals.
This is something that the Habs desperately need.
On defense Spacek and Hal Gill are safe picks. Spacek is good offensively on the blue line, and Gill is good on the defensive end. Both are solid picks.
The Canadiens still have room to sign more players, and could work their way back into contention.
The Flames really only made one move thus far, but what a move it was.
The Flames traded Jordan Leopold for the negotiating rights of Jay Bouwmeester. This is a very bright move, as Bouwmeester is one of the best all around defenceman in the league—and that was on a below average team.
In signing Bouwmeester, Calgary now has the best back end in the league. Dion Phaneuf, Robyn Regher, Cory Sarich, and now Bouwmeester—that is one solid core.
The best job in the market is by the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Blackhawks picked up the best available free agent in Marian Hossa, who recorded a 40 goal campaign with the Wings last season.
This move definitely offsets the loss of Martin Havlat. The Blackhawks also picked up Detroit forward Tomas Kopecky and Devils forward John Madden—two very solid picks. Madden and Kopecky are solid defensively, and add a little offensive flair.
Their are three words that can describe the Blackhawks next year—and they are Stanley Cup Champs.