Who? What? Where? Why? From Day One of NHL Free Agency
July 1 is slowly drawing to an end and while most Canadians are celebrating Canada, some others are more interested in what is going on with the NHL Free Agents.
This year’s free agency period has some big names out there. The likes of Ilya Kovalchuk, Evgeni Nabokov, Sergei Gonchar, etc. were all on the market.
Some found new homes, others are still negotiating their future. We got some answers, but there are still many questions to be ask and answered.
So let’s use the simple, who, what, where, and why system to come up with four good questions regarding the signings made today.
Who Were The Big Winners and Losers of July 1?
I think the losers of today were the San Jose Sharks. They lost a No. 1 goalie in Evgeni Nabokov and brought in Antero Nittymaki who has little to no experience as a starting goaltender. He will be given the nod in San Jose which I think will eventually prove to be a big bust.
I for one expected San Jose to pursue Evgeni Nabokov. Nabokov remains a free agent after today, but I don’t think this will last. The Sharks let go of one of the goaltending elite in this league. Sure, he’s not a top five goalie (Brodeur, Miller, Luongo, Kiprusoff, and Lundqvist are top five in my mind, no particular order) in the NHL, but he’s definitely in the top 10. He’s a proven starter and has been with the San Jose franchise for quite some time.
I’m curious as to both, who jumps on the available Nabokov and gets themselves a big time goalie between the pipes and how Nittymaki will do next season (even though as previously mentioned, I believe he will be a bust).
I think the big winners of today would be the Pittsburgh Penguins. After losing Sergei Gonchar, the Penguins were quick to rebound on the defensive end. They brought in two good defenders in Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek who will both be good assets to the organization.
They have a good defensive core with a few key contributors and a good, young developing defenseman in Kris Letang that should turn into a top defenseman in the NHL at some point.
This team is without a doubt still a contender next season and what they did today only made them stronger.
What Big Void Wasn’t Filled Today?
The Toronto Maple Leafs offensive void was one that was not filled today. The Leafs are looking to fix their big void on offense, but so far have not.
Today the Leafs signed Colby Armstrong to a contract with Toronto and although Armstrong is a decent offensive contributor, this is NOT the kind of player the Leafs need.
The addition of Kris Versteeg was a good one in my mind for the Leafs, but signing Armstrong does not help them one bit. Armstrong is described as being a Burke-type player. I am so sick of hearing that. I do not care if Burke is into him or not, if he’s got talent and is available then go for it.
Matthew Lombardi was and still is available for purchase for the Maple Leafs. Lombardi is a speedy centerman that seems like he would be a great fit for the Maple Leafs lineup. If he is not signed I will be pretty fed up with Burke and this Burke-type player thing. It’s really sickening for a Leafs fan.
I love what Burke has done with the team in terms of defense and goaltending, but when it comes to offense he’s got plenty of work ahead of him.
Where is Ilya Kovalchuk Heading?
With day one done, Ilya Kovalchuk has yet to find a new home. The New Jersey Devils are no longer looking like an option for Kovalchuk after today so there are two more markets I can think of.
I think Kovalchuk will either find a new home in Los Angeles or the KHL. The Kings have expressed their desire to have Kovalchuk when they tried to get the rights to Kovalchuk from the New Jersey Devils. The Devils denied it as they were interested in re-signing Kovalchuk. That does not look like an option anymore.
If Kovalchuk has a desire to stay in the National Hockey League, then I think he’s definitely heading to Los Angeles. However, if he does not receive a suitable offer from the LA Kings, expect him to go overseas and start a new life in the KHL.
Even if he heads to Russia and the KHL, I do not think it will be a long term thing. When some good cap space clears up for any franchise, especially one in desperate need of offense, look for them to try and get Kovalchuk back in North America and the NHL.
Why Did The Calgary Flames Take Old Over New?
Today the Calgary Flames made two big acquisitions on the offensive end when they signed two former Flames in Olli Jokinen and Alex Tanguay. This is something likely to stir up some talk in the Sea of Red. Let me start it off.
I think Sutter made the wrong move here in going with something old rather than going for someone new. Sutter decided to re-sign Jokinen who was not able to amount to much in his time with the Flames. He and Iginla did not have the chemistry Sutter was looking for, and now he’s back? What gives?
Alex Tanguay is far past his prime. Tanguay’s best days were with the Flames where he posted some impressive numbers. But now? The same can’t be said. Tanguay is posting decent numbers, but not the kind you’d be looking to improve your offense with.
There was some speculation that the Flames and Bruins were talking about a trade that would send Marc Savard to Calgary. That is something more like it, something new. Marc Savard is a proven offensive weapon and would be an interesting fit into the Flames first line with Jarome Iginla. Savard has been rumored to be on the market as Boston does not have needs for him anymore.
Savard seems like he’s in the prime of his career and would likely be a good mix with Iginla. Savard is a fast player which would likely result in some good contribution on the first line.
Of course, rumors are sometimes just that. I do hope this one is legit and Savard does come to Calgary because I’m telling you this straight up Flames fans: Tanguay and Jokinen will be a bust.
Day 1 is done, and there are still many questions to be answered. Some big name guys like Kovalchuk, Nabokov, and Turco remain on the free agent market, looking for a home. Things are just getting interesting NHL fans, so don’t think things are done just yet, as there’s still a heck of a lot to go.
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