The strangest period of the National Hockey League free agency in recent years has finally come to a close this past week, with many players uprooting their careers to play for new teams. Some NHL franchises were able to secure top-tier talent for their depth charts, whereas others watched star players say their goodbyes.
One of the biggest moves of this offseason was defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, the former St. Louis Blues captain, taking his talents to the desert where he will play for the Vegas Golden Knights. According to the NHL’s official website, Pietrangelo put up 52 points in the short 70-game season, making him one of the most sought-after free agents on the market. Pietrangelo was coming off of a relatively hot streak of playoff success, leading his Blues to the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals and bringing it home.
His contract with the Knights comes at a high price of $61.6 million over seven years, which amounts to about $8.8 million per season for the Knights’ front office. Pietrangelo will most likely play on their first defensive pairing, making this a worthy acquisition.
Another large move from the past week of free agency was former Boston Bruins defenseman, Torey Krug, moving to St. Louis. The Blues management team likely offered Krug, who is one of the most lucrative free agent defensemen in the league, a large deal so that they could fill the gap of Alex Pietrangelo.
After leaving the Bruins, Krug was looking for a large contract to cement his position as a solid top four defensemen. He did just this, getting scooped up by St. Louis for seven years at $45.5 million, according to an article from Sporting News. His value is unmatched in this free agency period, making him one of the most valuable acquisitions of any team. This is especially exciting for the Blues, in lieu of the Alex Pietrangelo loss.
Taylor Hall, another free agent with high value, decided to cut his stint with the Arizona Coyotes short so that he could play up north with the Buffalo Sabres. The Buffalo Sabres have been rebuilding and restructuring their team for a very long time, and this may be the final piece of the puzzle that they need in order to make a large splash in the Atlantic Division.
The 28-year-old winger has made his way around the league in recent years, starting his career in Edmonton with the Oilers. In 2016, he decided to play with the New Jersey Devils, and this year he was sent to the Arizona Coyotes. As per the NHL’s website, with the New Jersey Devils in 2018, Hall received the Hart Trophy for being the most valuable player in the league, one of the highest achievements a player can receive.
In the 2019-2020 season, Hall obtained 52 points total, 27 coming from the Coyotes and 25 being produced for the Devils. It is extremely clear that Hall will become the backbone of the Buffalo offense in no time.
During the free agency period, there were many goalies who have thrown their names into the ring. As reported by spotrac, the major movements of goaltenders in the NHL include Jacob Markstrom to the Calgary Flames, Braden Holtby to the Vancouver Canucks, Henrik Lundqvist to the Capitals and Cam Talbot to the Minnesota Wild.
If you notice, goaltenders in free agency merely get moved around through a certain group of teams; when Talbot left the Flames, Markstrom filled in; when Markstrom left the Canucks, Holtby filled in; when Holtby left the Capitals, Lundqvist filled in. This is no surprise, as every team is looking for a new starting goalie or a solid backup netminder.
This year’s NHL free agency period has been a rather normal one, although instead of it taking place during the summer after the Stanley Cup Finals, it has proceeded in the fall after this year’s unusually abbreviated playoffs. This year’s free agency frenzy is sure to pay off for the teams that scored big in picking up Pietrangelo, Krug and Hall, and in the next few seasons, we will be able to see if these acquisitions pay off in game outcomes.
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