The competition to sign premier free agents is exciting headline material in any league.
The mystery of where top-tier athletes will land, how much they will get paid and the impact they will have on any given team is enough to keep the media and fans alike on the edge of their seats.
The NHL's 2011 free agent signings involved few big surprises, but also lacked much of the superstar power that has been on display in past years.
That being said, there were still some very good players on the free agent market who will undoubtedly make a big splash with their new teams. Without further ado, here are eight players who will benefit the most as a result of their offseason moves.
Joel Ward signing in Washington appears to be a great fit for both parties.
The Capitals have earned the unfortunate reputation of being a team that is very good during the regular season but just can't seem to figure out how to win during the playoffs.
Joel Ward has been decent during the regular season in 3 seasons with the Nashville Predators, posting 98 points. In last seasons playoffs, however, Ward was the Predators' hero, with 13 points in 12 games.
Although Ward is 30 years old, the Caps may have found a player ready for his opportunity to improve on his career-high 35 regular season points, which will certainly improve on a talented Washington Team.
Ward will likely end up on the third line, but having a player who can perform in the playoffs and not suddenly disappear (like Semin) is exactly what the Capitals need.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have long been searching for a first-line center to play with sniper Phil Kessel.
Of course the biggest prize on the free agent market was Brad Richards, who Brian Burke obviously failed to sign. Burke did however find a talented center in Connolly, who is more than capable to fill the first line void at center.
With Connolly's signing, the projected first line for the Maple Leafs will include Lupul, Connolly, and of course, Phil Kessel. Although there are better top lines throughout the NHL, there is no doubt that this is a very talented group who will likely feed off of each other's strengths and really be a force this season.
Connolly is two years removed from a 48 assist season, a stat that Phil Kessel should be very excited about as he will likely be receiving the majority of those passes this season.
Look for Tim Connolly and the Leafs' first line to have a strong year.
The Tampa Bay Lightning had a very solid playoff run last season with the help of Simon Gagne, who scored 12 points in 15 games and was a plus-six.
The Los Angeles Kings on the other hand were knocked out in the first round at the hands of the talented San Jose Sharks.
Simon Gagne should be of significant help to a rather inexperienced but very talented Kings team in both the regular season and the playoffs, assuming they make it there.
Gagne has played in 34 playoff games in the past two seasons, including a Stanley Cup Finals appearance with the Flyers.
He will also join his Flyers teammate Mike Richards in L.A., and could potentially play on the same line, which would no doubt be a very dangerous reunion for opposing teams.
There are questions about 39 year-old Jaromir Jagr for a number of reasons.
The first is whether or not he can physically endure an entire NHL season (and beyond) due to his age in a much faster and younger league than it has been in the past. The other is of his attitude, after snubbing the Penguins for the cross-state rival Flyers.
But there are no questions about Jagr's experience, 646 goals and 953 assists in his NHL career, and will be a physical presence on the wing for the Flyers. Jagr's offensive skills are still very sharp, and his presence will instantly improve the Flyers top six forwards and power play.
The Flyers have many young stars on their roster, and a potential top line of van Riemsdyk, Giroux and Jagr could be one of the most dangerous in the East.
Although a somewhat risky signing, Jagr to the Flyers makes a lot of sense.
When Mike Commodore was notified that the Red Wings were interested in signing him, he jumped at the opportunity. And realistically, who wouldn't?
The Red Wings are always one of the best teams in the league, and always have a shot at the Cup. Commodore would have been crazy not to jump on board.
Commodore is a a big, stay-at-home defender who will provide a physical presence likely on the third pairing. He was not signed to score points or quarterback the power play. the Wings knew what they were getting with Commodore, and Commodore knows what is expected of him in Detroit.
Commodore will also play a big role on the Red Wings'penalty kill.
Although on the stat sheet a player like Commodore might go unnoticed, this will be a big year for him. He has spent the past two seasons fighting to stay out of the AHL, and is coming to Detroit looking for a fresh start. He will be playing with a chip on his shoulder.
Commodore will play good hockey for the Detroit Red Wings.
As we mentioned earlier, the Washington Capitals are a team with an enormous amount of talent, but just cant seem to get the job done in the playoffs. Part of that problem was due to a lack of consistency in net, often with inexperienced goaltenders like Varlamov and Neuvirth.
The addition of a veteran goaltender like Tomas Vokoun is a very good move by the Washington Capitals, one that could finally push them to the next level.
There is always risk when signing an older goaltender like Vokoun, who is 35 years of age. But reinforcing the net was an absolutely necessary offseason move for the Caps, and one they won't regret.
With a fresh start on a good team, watch for Vokoun to have a very good season in Washington.
Like the Capitals, the Flyers have spent the last couple seasons with a number of inexperienced and unproven goaltenders between the pipes who undoubtedly hurt them during the playoffs.
Although they were good stories and nice guys, the likes of Boucher, Emery, and Leighton were nowhere close to being the answer in Philadelphia.
The signing of Ilya Bryzgalov looks to be a good deal for both sides. Bryzgalov has 156 regular season wins in the NHL, and has been to the playoffs three times with the Ducks and Coyotes.
The Flyers are looking like a good team again in 2011-2012, and the addition of Bryz won't hurt at all. It's too early to call him the answer in net for the Flyers quite yet, but it could certainly turn out that way.
The New York Rangers have been building a team that should be able to make a long playoff run for a couple of years now, but were always missing a piece or to push them to the next level.
With the addition of Brad Richards, it appears the Rangers are ready to make that next step.
Brad Richards has been putting up big points his entire career, and has been one of the lone bright spots on a Dallas Stars team that hasn't enjoyed much success in a while. The lack of support on the Stars makes Richards' 77 points last season all the more impressive.
With New York, Richards will likely play in between Dubinsky and Gaborik, two very capable wingers who should feed of off Richards talent significantly.
If everything works out the way the way they should in New York, the signing of Brad Richards will be the best move the Rangers have made in a very long time.