NHL Free Agency Period 2015

"Brandon Saad - Chicago Blackhawks" by Lisa Gansky from New York, NY, USA - IMG_7619. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Brandon Saad – Chicago Blackhawks” by Lisa Gansky from New York, NY, USA – IMG_7619. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Each year in the NHL, a player who’s contract is up ends on July 1st. This means that on the same day, many players are looking for new places to play the following season. It is a busy day as NHL General Managers try and convince the best players available to come play for their team, while also trying to figure out if they can afford them. There are three days each year that drastically alter what an NHL roster looks like – Trade Deadline Day, Draft Day, and Free Agency Day. This is the day when GMs look at what is missing on their teams, and try to find free agent players that fit that mold. Some years there are superstars on the market, and there will be many teams competing to try and sign the player. If a GM makes smart moves on Free Agency Day, he can set his team up for success in the future. Failure to sign the players you need however, or signing players that are not a good fit, can lead to failures. This year, there are not as many big names hitting the open market, but that will not stop the GMs from pursuing them. Below is a quick summary of what to expect come Free Agency Day.

– Matt Belesky is considered by many to be the best forward that will be available on July 1st. However, this says more about the Free Agency class than it does about Belesky. While Belesky is a good player, he does not put up the big numbers like other players in the league. But since he is the best option on the market, he can expect a rather large payday. It is almost guaranteed that some General Manager will pay him more than he is worth simply because they are desperate to improve their club.

– There are several players who are restricted free agents this summer, and this may lead to some GMs worrying about offer sheets. With a restricted Free Agent, they can listen to offers from other teams and sign a contract with them, but their original team has the right to either match the offer and keep the player, or receive compensation in the form of draft picks if they choose to let the player go. One big name that could be given an offer sheet is Brandon Saad of the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks are already spending a lot of money on their other players, and as such they do not have a lot of room. Saad is a skilled, young player that most teams in the league would love to have. Knowing Chicago’s salary problems, they may hope to sign him away, or at the very least make it harder for Chicago to other players into the roster.

– Lastly, it will be interesting to see where Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green ends up. At one point Green was one of the most electrifying players on the ice, but his play has dipped over the past few seasons. With Washington unlikely to be able to afford him, some team will most likely pay him a lot of money to sign with them. It remains to be seen however if Green can regain his old form and live up to the contract he is likely going to get.

2015 NHL Draft Summary

"Nicklas Jensen 2011 NHL Draft" by Bri Weldon - 29 Nicklas Jensen Shakes. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Nicklas Jensen 2011 NHL Draft” by Bri Weldon29 Nicklas Jensen Shakes. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

This past weekend the NHL held its annual entry draft. In it, young prospects are selected by the NHL teams, who will retain their rights for the next several years. Each year the teams spend countless man hours scouting out these prospects in order to find out which are the best ones, and who would make the best addition to their team. There are 7 rounds, in which each team is given one pick depending on how high they finished in the standings. However, throughout the course of the year teams can trade these picks for other picks or players. This creates an interesting day as teams are drafting out of position, or trying to move up and down the list in order to get the player that they want before he is gone. The NHL draft is also one of the main days that NHL General Managers make trades with other teams to try and improve their rosters for the upcoming season. Since every GM is in the same room for an entire weekend, it is the perfect time to make deals. This year saw several large deals taking place over the weekend, along with the drafting. Below is a quick recap of some of the highlights.

– As expected, Connor McDavid went first overall to the Edmonton Oilers. McDavid is seen as a once in a lifetime player, and is projected by many to be the next superstar in the league. The Oilers won the draft lottery, which gave them the first pick in the draft, and there was no question who they were going to select. McDavid, combined with several other young players that the Oilers have acquired over the past few years, is going to give that team a very dangerous young core for many years.

– Right by McDavid came Jack Eichel. Every report was that Eichel was the next best player in the draft, and that he would most likely go to the Buffalo Sabres. This turned out to be true, and Buffalo was thrilled to select him. In any other draft Eichel probably would have went first overall, and only dropped a spot this year because of McDavid. He will most likely be on the Sabres roster come training camp, and will help to lead a newly re-vamped Sabres roster that hopes to compete in the wide open Eastern Conference.

– Rounding out the top 5 was Dylan Strome to the Arizona Coyotes, Mitch Marner to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and Noah Hannifan to the Carolina Hurricanes. Arizona selected Strome as they need a big centerman to compete in the Western Conference. Marner is a skilled playmaking right wing, and Toronto couldn’t pass up the chance to grab him. Hannifan was considered the best defenseman in the draft, and Carolina was thrilled to have him drop so far. He should anchor their blue line for many years.

– Moving down further in the draft, the Boston Bruins had 3 straight picks in the first round, an NHL first, after making several trades earlier in the day. After trading away key players, and making some questionable selections with those picks, it has left many fans wondering what the direction of this club is going to be.