Free Agency Thoughts

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.

Three Random Thoughts Before Free Agency

With three full days remaining until free agency, here are a few thoughts about some recent moves and the draft. Free agency itself will be an exciting time trying to figure out where star players like Steven Stamkos and Kyle Okposo will sign.

  1. Andrew Shaw should not carry a cap hit higher than Brendan Gallagher. While Shaw plays a great two way game, he does not produce offensively like Gallagher does. Shaw has never broken 40 points in any of his NHL seasons. Gallagher has scored 40 or more points the past three years. Last year, Brendan had 40 points in 53 games played. I understand that Shaw is worth a fair amount of money. He does an excellent job screening goalies,winning puck battles and killing penalties. Gallagher plays tougher minutes not paired with a linemate like Johnathan Toews than Shaw does and is worth more points per game than Shaw is. The Habs have the cap room however, this is a contract that will directly impact their future.How much remains to be seen. If this was a one or two year deal,it would make more sense to me.Six is too many years for Shaw.
  2. Well done Arizona Coyotes.The team was able to sign backup extraordinaire Louis Domingue to a two year pact.For just over one million dollars for two years the Coyotes have a strong goalie that can start for periods of time. Domingue won 15 games last year. Although he did not finish with a winning record (15-18-4), he saved over 91 percent of shots faced and kept the Coyotes in a lot of games they should not have been in at all. Domingue set himself up to be the starter next season if Mike Smith is selected in the Las Vegas Expansion Draft.
  3. My Stamkos prediction? Well, although Detroit traded the contract of Pavel Datsyuk for more cap room, and other teams want to talk to him, Stamkos will end up back with the Lightning. Tampa Bay does not have to offer him as much as the other teams courting him. Florida has no personal income tax. Beyond that, the Lightning are at the beginning of a potential dynasty. This team was two games away from another Stanley Cup in 2015. If the team can find a way to keep Victor Hedman it has the potential to make the Stanley Cup Finals every season over the next four to five years. Is that true of Buffalo? No, that squad is good but not there quite yet. Is that true of Detroit? Maybe, but what happens if Mrazek does not have another stellar year and Zetterberg is injured again? Is that true of Toronto? No, that squad will be at that level if everything goes right in four to five years. The Lighting made it to the Eastern Conference Final without a lot of help from Stamkos. He was injured. This squad has the depth to win now. None of his rumored suitors have what they do.