RotoWire Partners

From the Press Box: Free Agency - Part II

Paul Bruno

Paul Bruno

Known in sports media as The Beast and The StatsMan, Paul is a 23-year veteran of the STATS INC reporter network, scoring play by play for the Blue Jays and Maple Leafs. Appears regularly on 120 Sports, providing Fantasy Hockey analysis. President of both the Society for International Hockey Research and Canadian Football Research Society. In 1992, invented in-game statistics that are tracked in the NHL'S Real Time Scoring system. Contributing author of "Toronto Maple Leafs: Diary of a Dynasty, 1957-1967" and "CFL: Celebrating 50 Years of Memories".


FROM THE PRESS BOX

Free Agency produced a lot of player movement. We take a look at a number of the bigger names and highlight what some teams did to improve. We also consider what other clubs still need to do, whether they have cap space or not. In addition, hockey fans will already know that some teams will not spend to the cap maximum, but instead be concerned with their own internal budgets. Bear that in mind when you note the salary cap space remaining for each club (provided for each team below).

2014 Free Agency - Part 2 (15 teams)

NY Rangers - Dan Boyle was a long-time fixture in San Jose and when the Sharks opted not to re-sign him, he became hopeful of one more, big payday in his career. Despite his 38 years of age there were no shortage of suitors for his services. In the end, the Rangers, a definite Cup contender, inked his name to a 2-year/$9M deal. He should form a dynamic power play combination with fellow blueliner Ryan McDonagh. The signings of tough guys Tanner Glass (3 year/$4.5M) and Nick Tarnasky (2 year/$1.15M) are aimed at a clear desire to be a more physical and intimidating club.

Salary Cap space - $13,207,500 for 5 players

Nashville - The injury to Mike Fisher (ruptured Achilles tendon-out four to six months) merely underscored a weakness at center for the Preds. They responded by signing a trio of veteran pivots to one-year deals, aimed at filling that need. Olli Jokinen ($2.5M), Mike Ribeiro ($1.005M) and Derek Roy ($1M) have all been top producers in the past and will engage in a battle for top-six minutes here. Veteran defender Anton Volchenkov (1 year/$1M) bolsters a deep defense, too.

Salary Cap space - $11,887,857 with 23 contracts filled.

New Jersey - After resigning Jaromir Jagr (1 year/$6M) and Marek Zidlicky (1 year/$4M), the Devils went outside their organization to improve the talent level of their club. Mike Cammalleri (5 year/$25M) will immediately become a front-line player for them, while Martin Havlat (1 year/$1.5M) will be asked to provide consistent secondary scoring. Scott Clemmensen (1 year/$600k) has been brought back to back up starter Cory Schneider in goal.

Salary Cap space - $4,876,666 for 2 players

Ottawa - The biggest move of the Senators offseason was the trading of Jason Spezza to Dallas. In that deal, they added talented young forward Alex Chiasson, among other assets. They also resigned Milan Michalek (3 years/$12M) and brought David Legwand (2 years/$6M) via free agency. This is a young roster with a rebuild well underway.

Salary Cap space - $16,341,667 for 1 player

Philadelphia - The Flyers made a big commitment to upgrading their defense when they signed Andrew McDonald to a 6-year, $30M deal, hoping he will fill the gaping hole left by the retirement of Chris Pronger. Kimmo Timonen agreed to come back for one more year ($2M). Ray Emery resigned for 1 year ($1M) as the backup goalie. Zack Stortini (1 year/$575k) hopes to assume the role of resident policeman and could become a fan favorite here.

Salary Cap space - over by $3,061,429, they will seek relief from the remainder of Pronger's deal (three more years with an annual hit of $4.94M) or be forced to shed salary.

Arizona (formerly Phoenix) - The Coyotes went bargain hunting in free agency after signing Joe Vitale (1 year/$3.3M). Devan Dubnyk ($800K) hopes to grab the backup goalie job, while David Moss ($800k) hopes to rediscover his offensive form. Alexandre Bolduc ($600k) is another buy low and hope for a surprise year candidate here.

Salary Cap space - $11,106,389 with 23 signed contracts

Pittsburgh - The Pens traded away James Neal and picked up Patric Hornqvist (2 years left with his annual $4.25M cap hit). They also received the rights to Marcel Goc, who signed a 1-year/$1M with them, as a restricted free agent. They brought in Christian Ehrhoff on a 1 year/$4M. No doubt he hopes to parlay a big year into his next long-term deal after receiving a lucrative buyout from the Sabres earlier this offseason. In light of Marc Andre Fleury's recent struggles, it may be worth noting that Tomas Greiss (1 year/$1M) looks like the new backup goalie for now.

Salary Cap space - $7,330,833 for 5 players

San Jose - The Sharks are apparently starting to dismantle their old guard by not re-signing Dan Boyle. There is plenty of noise about the potential availability of Joe Thornton or Patrick Marleau, too. Meanwhile, they did resign backup goalie Alex Stalock (2 years/$3.2M) and agitator Mike Brown (2 years/$2.4M). They brought in gigantic John Scott (1 year/$750k) for more toughness.

Salary Cap space - $6,145,000 with 23 contracts filled

St. Louis - The Blues committed to Brian Elliott (3 years/$7.5M) as their number one goalie, after dealing Jaroslav Halak earlier this summer, and then watching Ryan Miller leave in free agency. They added even more clout to their offense by signing Paul Stastny (4 years/$28M) and resigning Steve Ott (2 years/$5.2M), who will hold down two of the center positions. Chris Butler (1 year/$650k) looks like a good low budget addition to their deep defense.

Salary Cap space - $2,783,333 with 23 contracts filled

Tampa - The Lightning were one of the busiest teams in free agency as they went big game hunting. First they resigned Ryan Callahan (6 years/$34.8M), hoping that he will be a team leader for many years. Anton Stralman (5 years/$22.5M) comes in to add some offense from the blueline. Brian Boyle (3 years/$6M) hit pay dirt and will be the checking line center here. Brendan Morrow (1 year/$1.55) will be asked to bring his leadership skills and toughness into the offensive mix. Evgeni Nabokov (1 year/$1.55M) looks like a good insurance policy as a veteran backup goalie.

Salary Cap space - 24 contracts signed - $1,877,927 over the cap. The Lightning will have to bury one or two contracts in the minors or make a trade to get back under the cap limit.

Toronto - The Leafs showed unusual restraint (or was it an inability) to spend big bucks. They did bolster their defense with the signing of Stephane Robidas (3 years/$9M) and also brought fan favorite Leo Komorov (4 years/$11.8M) back from the KHL. They also hope that Mike Santorelli (1 year/$1.5M) becomes this season's Mason Raymond (20 goals and 50 points last year on a $1M contract).

Salary Cap space - $11,072,000 for 3 players. The Leafs have 3 restricted free agents (Cody Franson, Jake Gardiner and James Reimer, who will eat up a combined $5-$6M of that space.

Vancouver - Ryan Miller fulfilled his goal of reaching the west coast as a preferred destination (3 years/$18M), but most observers have to be surprised that he wound up with the Canucks. Radim Vrbata (2 years/$10M) was finally rewarded for his consistent scoring in recent years.

Salary Cap space - 24 contracts signed with $1,415,556 available space. They will likely demote one player to the minors in order to comply with roster limits.

Washington - The Caps identified a need to improve the quality of their defense corps and responded by throwing big dollars at Matt Niskanen (7 years/$27.5M) and Brooks Orpik (5 years/$27.5M). I like the Niskanen signing a lot more than the Orpik deal. That one is hard to swallow. The Caps also grabbed backup goalie Justin Peters (two years/$1.9M) to be the experienced backup goalie. After that they went after a number of cheap, but experienced players, all for $550k each, including forwards Tim Kennedy and Kris Newbury.

Salary Cap space - $1,113,205 for 1 player

Winnipeg - The biggest news out of here is the apparent willingness to deal the newsmaker (not all good, apparently) Evander Kane. Aside from that the Jets did seek an offensive boost by signing speedy centerman, Mathieu Perreault (3 years/$9M). They also resigned winger Chris Thorburn (3 year/$3.6M) and defenseman Adam Pardy (1 year/$750k).

Salary Cap space - $13,582,976 for 3 players

You will note that one team has yet to sign any player of note, this offseason.

Boston - The Bruins are in salary cap jail at the moment as they have already gone over the cap limit by $209, 143, despite having only signed 20 players. One of those contracts belongs to Marc Savard (a $4M hit for each of the next three years), but he is on LTIR with post-concussion issues and the B's expect cap relief as a result. That said, Torey Krug and Reilly Smith are RFAs and need to be resigned. It will be worth watching how the Bruins management sorts this cap situation out.