Here are some thoughts on the first few days of free agency.
1.Tampa Bay has to be the early Cup favorite for this season. With Headman and Stamkos locked up long term, the sky is the limit for that team. Look for one of Tampa’s goalies to be traded or picked by Las Vegas in the expansion draft next season. The Bolts will have some more cap issues, however they are trying to win it all now. They have come so close within the last two years that General Manager Steve Yzerman is doing everything he can to win it all now while not mortgaging the future.
2. Kudos to Aaron Dell. The talented man of few words signed a two year pact to remain with the Sharks.Dell will have a chance to become the full time backup with the team.He has done nothing but earn everything he has ever gained in pro hockey. He went undrafted and won a CHL championship.Then he played well in Utah in the ECHL. After that he went to and from the AHL and ECHL as needed. Last year he was the full time starter for the San Jose Barracuda. Now Dell, who has done nothing but produce at every level, will have the chance to be the backup and play 15-20 games while Martin Jones plays the balance for the Sharks.
3.The Capitals did well signing Brad Malone. The former UND standout will probably serve as a depth center at Hershey. He has constantly shown his grit and earned everything he has gained. A few years ago he carved out time as a fourth line center in Carolina. Hershey gains an AHL first liner that can generate offense and help younger players like Jakub Vrana progress and develop into their full potential. Do not be surprised to see Malone earning some time on the Capitals’ fourth line throughout the year.
A lot has happened during free agency. We will publish three thoughts every so often as a way of discussing as much of what has happened as possible. We use General Fanager for contract and stats info unless otherwise noted.