NHL Free Agents: The 9 Best Signings Since the Lockout

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NHL Free Agents: The 9 Best Signings Since the Lockout
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Between the NHL draft and the free agency period that begins a few short days later, the end of June and into the first week of July is one of the most exciting (and stressful) times for hockey fans for all 30 teams.

The reasons for this vary.

If you're a Rangers or Maple Leafs fan, you are probably losing sleep over Brad Richards, and where he'll sign.  On the other side of the coin, Stars fans will look on with a bit of melancholy regardless of who is brought on board.

Or maybe you wake up on July 1st to see that your team has signed Jeff Finger (wait, who?) to a four-year, $3.5 million contract, leaving you to wonder if they allow drinking in the front office.

Needless to say the free agency period can be a make or break time for NHL teams moving forward.  Making a big splash brings headlines for a few days, but after that the reality sets in:  I'm going to have this player on my roster for the next six years...I sure hope it's worth it.

And sometimes it isn't.  Teams are still playing musical contracts with some of the awful numbers that were dealt out in the year or two after the CBA was introduced and GMs apparently didn't read the thing. 

But sometimes things do work out for both player and team, and fans don't throw things at you as you skate off the ice or curse your name on the HFBoards. 

Here are the nine best free agency signings since the lockout concluded.  And no.  Ilya Kovalchuk didn't make the cut.

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