By Ryan Brush
Following the completion of a COVID-19-free bubble in both Toronto and Edmonton, respectively, where the Tampa Bay Lighting acquired their second-ever Stanley Cup after defeating the Dallas Stars in 6 games, NHL free agency took place, which had a lot of big names moving around the league. Some of these big names were Taylor Hall, Alex Pietrangelo, and Torey Krug, among others.
Let’s start with Taylor Hall, who was what most thought as the biggest surprise of free agency when he signed with the Buffalo Sabres to play with Jack Eichel, even though other teams offered him more money. This was a surprise to many because he was quoted as saying that he wanted to win a Stanley Cup, and as of now, Buffalo is nowhere near that. However, he only signed a one-year deal, so things could change. The other big offensive name is Tyler Toffoli, who signed with the Montreal Canadiens after being dealt to the Vancouver Canucks last season on a four-year deal.
Then comes a slew of elite defensemen, including Alex Pietrangelo, Torey Krug, and Tyson Barrie. Alex Pietrangelo, previously the captain of the St. Louis Blues, signed a massive seven-year contract with the upwards-trending Vegas Golden Knights for a whopping 61.6 million dollars. This solidifies him as a top five highest-paid defenseman in the league, but at 30 years old, who knows if this deal will be worth it at 37. The same goes for Torey Krug, who also signed a seven-year contract at 45 million dollars in St. Louis to replace Pietrangelo. At 29, will his cap hit of 6.5 million dollars per year be worth it for a 5-foot-9, undersized defenseman at 36? Only time will tell.
Finally, there were a few big names in the netminder world who signed deals; some surprising, some not. To start it off, Jacob Markstrom, previously the starting goaltender for the Vancouver Canucks, signed a six-year, 36 million dollar contract with the Calgary Flames, who were in much need of a goalie. To fill the goalie position on the Canucks, they signed Braden Holtby from the Washington Capitals, who helped them win a Stanley Cup in 2018. He is expected to rotate with 25-year-old netminder Thatcher Demko from Boston College, who went 2-1 with a shutout in the playoffs. Another surprising move to many was Henrik Lundquist signing with the Capitals in a one-year deal to replace the space created by the absence of Holtby. The projected starter will be Ilya Samsonov, so Lundquist will most likely be there for a mentorship role, as well as play some games here and there.
All of these changes are hoped to be seen at the commencement of the 2020-21 NHL season when it is planned to begin on January 1st, 2021. However, as it can be assumed, that date is very fluid and open to change. So, before we can see these new players in their new homes, let’s get through 2020 first.