July 1st is an interesting day in the sports world for each year it ushers in Free Agency for both the NBA and the NHL. In 2016, day one of FA for both leagues was wild. For NBA coverage, check out @BWolf_17’s latest, there was a ton. In the spectrum of the NHL, there was also a plethora of high profile moves. Some of the League’s most elite talent moved on to new homes and the balance of power in the NHL could very well shift entering this season. The most high profile of all signings/trades thus far are as follows.
David Backes: St. Louis Blues ⇒ Boston Bruins (5 years/$30 million)
After spending the first 10 seasons of his NHL career with the Blues, American C/RW David Backes is heading to Beantown. After serving as the Blues’ captain for 5 seasons and helping the team transform from cellar dwellers to consistent playoff threats, Backes decided the time was right to move on and said goodbye to Missouri in a well-written, heartfelt message. The Blues can afford to let Backes go as the absence of his contract will free up cap space and will allow stars like Vladimir Tarasenko and Alex Pietrangelo more time to shine. The Bruins sign Backes in attempt to pick of the team’s offense, which struggled heavily at points in 2015-16. Backes alongside Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci will alleviate the weight on the latter two and give the team another viable threat after Loui Eriksson’s departure for Vancouver.
Loui Eriksson: Boston Bruins ⇒ Vancouver Canucks (6 years/$36 million)
Based off his success with fellow Swedes Daniel and Henrik Sedin in international play, the Canucks are hoping that Loui Eriksson can do the same in the NHL, as the trio is now together in Vancouver. Eriksson is coming off a 2015-16 that saw him produce the second highest goal total of his career (30) and 63 points in Boston. Eriksson very well could find himself on either side of Henrik opposite Daniel on the top line. Vancouver’s 2015-16 season was very bad and the team will be looking to rise from the ashes, Eriksson is a good step in that direction. He’s not a super-elite talent, but he certainly can help a team win and Vancouver will need exactly that.
Eric Staal: New York Rangers ⇒ Minnesota Wild (3 years/$10.5 million)
After he waved goodbye to the team that raised him last year in Carolina, Eric Staal is once again on the move and is headed for the Twin Cities. Although 2015-16 was statistically one of the worst years of his career (39 points), there is no reason to believe that the 31-year-old won’t make an impact on the Wild, especially as the team looks to fill the void left by the disappointment of Thomas Vanek (whom they bought out). New Wild Head Coach Bruce Boudreau stated to the StarTribune that the former captain of the Hurricanes could potentially find himself centering Zach Parise, the other winger could be anyone from Mikael Granlund to Jason Pominville. This could lead to an offensive resurgence in Xcel Energy Center.
Milan Lucic: Los Angeles Kings ⇒ Edmonton Oilers (7 years/$42 million)
Okay, as much as I hate Milan Lucic and think that he is the NHL’s most overrated player, this is a good move on the part of Edmonton. The Oilers traded Taylor Hall to New Jersey in exchange for Adam Larsson, a move that makes absolutely no sense and has the NHL scratching its collective head. It makes about as much sense as the trading Michael Jordan for Kwame Brown, why would you do it? Whatever the reason, Edmonton now has a big hole up front, who is going to lead your offense and continue to mentor Connor McDavid, Nail Yakupov? Milan Lucic’s isn’t going to replace Hall’s scoring, but he certainly can put up numbers and will make anyone who tries to rough up McJesus think twice. Don’t get me wrong though, Edmonton still won’t do a thing this season.
Kyle Okposo: New York Islanders ⇒ Buffalo Sabres (7 years/$42 million)
Many a commentator around the NHL called Buffalo the top suitor for Steven Stamkos, who shocked many people and accepted Steve Yzerman’s hometown discount to stay in Tampa. Buffalo was not to be deterred and went out and caught the next biggest fish it could. Adding Kyle Okposo to an offensive core full of talented youngsters makes the team look much better. Okposo has what it takes to be a top line winger alongside Evander Kane and between either Jack Eichel or Ryan O’Reilly . His numbers of his career in Uniondale weren’t elite, but the Islanders were not a good team for a majority of that time. With the nascent Buffalo Sabres, Okposo could do a ton of damage and help the Sabres achieve their goal of returning to prominence much quicker than anticipated.
Did I miss any? Let me know what your top Free Agent signing is.