The so-called free agent frenzy began at noon on July 1 with some minor movement, but the two stars Zach Parise and Ryan Suter had yet to sign to anywhere. Both players took their time in making their decision and both chose to play with the Minnesota Wild over the next 13 years on Wednesday July 4th.
However, prior to their decision most teams around the NHL could not stop their business operations to wait until Wednesday for Parise and Suter to make a decision. There have been significant signings for many NHL teams over the past two days that will affect how franchises will be seen in the future. Let’s take a look at some of the free agent signings so far this year.
New Jersey: As previously reported Martin Brodeur was going to hit the free agent market on July1, but was there any doubt he was going to leave the Devils? No. He signed a two-year $9 million deal to remain with the team where he started his career. Originally, Brodeur was offered a one-year deal by the Devils. But, he was being offered two years by other teams, so the Devils added the second year. He wanted the second year because he did not want to answer any more questions about his retirement this season. Also a second year gives him lockout protection in case there is one. Brodeur has been a staple for the Devils franchise that has won three Stanley Cups, and nobody in the NHL could picture him wearing any other jersey.
Also, the Devils locked up backup goalie Johan Hedberg to a two-year $2.8 million contract. The Devils have re-united the teams goaltending tandem from this past season. Brodeur and Hedberg were the oldest tandem of goalies in the league last year, but fed off each other nicely. The model for teams is to go young, but for the Devils experience between the pipes is a model for success in New Jersey.
The Devils signed their free agent defenseman Bryce Salvador to a three-year $9.5 million contract. Salvador had four goals and 14 points for the Devils in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He played in all 82 regular season games for the Devils after missing the previous year with a concussion. Salvador believes the reason he got a third year from the Devils was because of his playoff performance.
The Devils have re-signed eight of 11 potential unrestricted free agents this off-season.
Montreal: Montreal Canadiens Goaltender Carey Price has signed a six – year contract extension worth $39 million. Montreal General Manager Marc Bergevin announced the signing Monday. Price has tremendous pressure on him as the press and fans in Montreal have dubbed him the next Patrick Roy, Ken Dryden, and Jacques Plante. Price was drafted in the fifth overall in the first round of the 2005 NHL Draft by the Canadiens. He has a career record of 124-104-35 with 16 shutouts with 2.56 goals against average and a .916 save percentage. Just like Brodeur, Price will be wearing a Canadiens sweater for the rest of his career.
Calgary: The Flames, prior to the free agency period opening, acquired from the Capitals defenseman Dennis Wideman. The Flames then signed him to five-year contract with annual cap hit of $5.25 million. Wideman has played in 535 NHL games scoring 67 goals with 184 points. He was a key piece to the Captials defense in their run to the second round of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Flames also announced they had signed Jiri Hudler to a four year $16 million contract. Hudler played all over his career with the Detroit Red Wings where he tallied 87 goals and 214 points. He was one of the best scorers for the Red Wings at even strength. His skills will be on display more in Calgary than they were in Detroit as he had to play behind Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.
Edmonton: While Parise and Suter were the main attractions for this free agency class, the most coveted player was one who never played in the NHL. University of Wisconsin defenseman Justin Schultz, agreed to an entry level deal with Edmonton. Schultz was originally drafted by Anaheim in 2008, but could not come to terms with the Ducks and went to open market. Along with Schultz and their three straight number one draft picks, the Oilers boast one of the youngest teams in the league.
Also, The Oiler resigned Captain Canada Ryan Smyth to a two-year deal with an annual cap hit of $2.25 million. Smyth would have become an unrestricted free agent after finishing a five – year 31.2 million contract with the Colorado Avalanche back in 2007. Smyth was drafted by the Oilers in 1994 and played most of his career for the franchise until his was traded in the 2006-07 season. He then went onto play in Colorado and Los Angeles until being traded back to Edmonton last summer.
Smyth has tallied 806 points 1,151 NHL regular season games. He also has another 59 points in 93 playoff games and guided the Oilers to the 2006 Stanley Cup Final. With the young talent on the team Smyth knows his role as a veteran leader will help this team see progress this season.
Vancouver: Signed defenseman Jason Garrison to a six year $27.6 million contract. He joins the Canucks after playing four season with the Panthers organization, where emerged as a 23 minutes per game defenseman. Garrison scored 16 goals and added 17 assists for 33 points in 77 games with the Panthers. He will bolster an already dangers Vancouver power-play.