While NBA free agency was a couple of weeks ago, NHL free agency also took place on the same day.
The NHL free agency class wasn’t as stacked as the NBA was. The guys who were highlighted at the top were very good. For example, Sergei Bobrovsky now on the Florida Panthers was the best goalie available. The best skater available, Artemi Panarin, was now a New York Rangers winger. Those were just some of the UFAs (Unrestricted Free Agents); but the RFAs (Restricted Free Agents) have some of the top young talent in the NHL today: Zack Werenski (defenseman, Columbus Blue Jackets), Sebastian Aho (center, Carolina Hurricanes), Patrik Laine (winger, Winnipeg Jets), Charlie McAvoy (defenseman, Boston Bruins), Mitch Marner (winger/center, Toronto Maple Leafs) and Brayden Point (center, Tampa Bay Lightning). Since the players I just listed are all RFAs, they have to be signed by their team by December 1, 2019, or else they cannot play for the rest of the 2019/2020 NHL season; they also wouldn’t be eligible to play if they don’t have a contract signed before the season. Let’s say they sign a contract with their respective team during the season, that makes them eligible to play the rest of the season. If I were the General Manager of all of those players’ teams, I wouldn’t want those players leaving my team, not only because of potential, but because of how good they are at the moment. When you look back at free agency so far, and the offseason in general, who are the top three winners and top thee losers of the 2019 NHL offseason? Here’s my take:
1. Florida Panthers – They sustained a great future in goaltending which they needed because of the retirement of one of their greatest goaltenders in their small 25 year history in Roberto Luongo, they needed goaltending and fixed it by getting, Spencer Knight with the 13th overall pick in the draft and Sergei Bobrovsky, and they might have a starter and backup tandem for the next seven or eight years. They also have a great team at the moment so by signing Defenseman Anton Stralman, Forward Noel Acciari, and Forward Brett Connolly to the team they then became a serious cup contender in a meaning of hours.
2. New York Rangers – Having the second overall pick in the 2019 NHL draft and getting Kappo Kakko and Artemi Panarin on an already decent squad makes there offense great, then by getting Jacob Trouba, Defenseman via trade from Winnipeg they now bolstered there defense.
3. New Jersey Devils – The Devils had the #1 overall pick in the draft for the second time in three years, and that meant that they had Jack Hughes, who was put to be the next Patrick Kane, they also resigned Taylor Hall during the season so the Devils, an also signing Wayne Simmonds means that their offense has really gotten better, also on Defense they got Norris Trophy Finalist and Winner in PK Subban via trade from the Nashville Predators, there goaltending also is not the best but they still are a very good team coming out of the offseason.
1. Columbus Blue Jackets – Losing your three best players really hurts your team, and when losing someone as big as Sergei Bobrovsky as your starting goaltender hurts, considering they were a playoff team and now aren’t, but at least they have some young guys still there in there system.
2. Pittsburgh Penguins – So you might be thinking, why did the Penguins do nothing really this offseason? Well, they did some stuff, but some very questionable stuff, trading away one of the greatest sniper in NHL history in my opinion in Phil Kessel and getting a worse player in Alex Galchenyuk, and by overpaying Brandon Tanev who didn’t need to be overpaid.
3. Nashville Predators – The Predators really didn’t do much, but what they did do kind of ruined their morale, by getting two very similar players in Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen and trading away PK Subban, made their team a little bit worse.