The Chicago Blackhawks kept the revolving door moving on Day 1 of the NHL free agency period. Including Chicago’s signings, 60 deals were struck in roughly eight hours. What is more astonishing is the $394, 875, 000 included in the contracts.
The Blackhawks were able to keep a good amount of the free agents they wanted to re-sign. Michal Rozsival was brought back on a two year deal. The total dollars for the 34-year old were not disclosed. Rozsy seemed rejuvenated in a role where he was asked to be the puck moving defenseman he once was back in Pittsburgh. He fills/completes the third pairing in Chicago.
Michal Handzus was brought back on a one year deal worth a reported $1 million and a no move clause. Handzus enjoyed a return to Chicago, especially with added importance as the second line center. While he will be expected to fill a leadership role, it is not out of the realm of possibility that he takes over the second line role again if youngsters Marcus Kruger and Brandon Pirri cannot fill that role.
Kruger is close to being re-signed, and Pirri is expected to make the jump from AHL Rockford to the big show. He led the AHL in points during the 2012-13 season.
The Blackhawks brought back a familiar face to back up goalie Corey Crawford. Nikolai Khabibulin signed a one year deal with up to $2 million with a games played bonus. The “Bulin Wall” won 90 games over four seasons (2005-09) with Chicago.
A couple of players left Chicago for greener pastures, as well. Goaltender Ray Emery signed a one year, $1.65 million deal with the Philadelphia Flyers. Chicago could have clearly given him that dollar amount, but Emery was looking for, and deserved, a job that he could compete for the starting job. Viktor Stalberg is staying in division with the Nashville Predators. He will make $3 million over the next four seasons. That price tag was too rich for Chicago’s taste. For his ability to skate and sort of score, the money was well spent elsewhere.
Chicago now has $4.145 million left under the salary cap.
The new division Chicago is in saw teams wheel and deal. Nashville, Dallas, Minnesota, St. Louis, and Winnipeg constitute Chicago’s division.
Nashville signed Matt Cullen, Eric Nystrom, Matt Hendricks, and former Blackhawks farmhand goalie Carter Hutton. As @predsblog said:
— Sam Page (@predsblog) July 5, 2013
Dallas traded for former Boston Bruin Tyler Seguin. Seguin played pretty well against Chicago in the Cup finals. The Stars gave up Loui Eriksson, one of their better forwards in the deal. Seguin is younger, but the talent is about even. Signing goaltender Dan Ellis gives Dallas a back up with experience.
Winnipeg was quiet on July 5, but traded for Devon Setoguchi. The former Wild forward is now with his third franchise.
Minnesota and St. Louis did Chicago no favors by signing two of the biggest goons in hockey. Matt Cooke joins the Wild on a three year deal. His value comes in annoying star players, followed by decapitating them. His list of injuries caused is long and sad. Maxim Lapierre leaves Vancouver for St. Louis on a two year contract worth $1.1 million annually. A once touted Montreal prospect, Lapierre has wasted away as an unproductive was of space. Any Hawks player with an injury history (Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp) needs to keep their heads up even more next season.
Around the NHL, other big deals happened throughout the day. Daniel Alfredsson signed a one year deal with the Detroit Red Wings. The 17-year veteran played every game of his career with the Ottawa Senators. “Alfie” sited his age and this being his last chance to win as reasons for the move. Detoilet also signed Stephen Weiss away from hockey purgatory known as the Florida Panthers.
Ottawa kept busy by trading for Anaheim Ducks star Bobby Ryan, giving up young star Jakob Silfverberg, a prospect, and high draft picks. The Sens also signed Clarke MacArthur away from Toronto.
Toronto won the award for biggest flop of free agency by signing forward David Clarkson for seven years and $36.75 million. The term is outrageous, and the money is high for a player who has topped 32 points once in his career. After buying out Mikhail Grabovski for no good reason, the Maple Leafs re-signed center Tyler Bozak for five years. Thumbs up on this deal, as it keeps the Leafs deep at center.
Jarome Iginla, who was originally thought to be traded to the Boston Bruins at the trade deadline before going to Pittsburgh, signed a one year contract with Boston. The deal can be worth $6 million with bonuses.
Pittsburgh continued their spending barrage by bringing back defenseman Rob Scuderi for four years worth $13.5 million. Scuderi relishes the role of defensive defenseman, but the 34-year old will not be useful by year four.
Andrew Ference also got a four year deal, leaving Boston for Edmonton. The slow-as-mud D-man is a good leader. That’s it. Ference will make $3.25 annually.
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