NHL Free Agency Update
The NHL free agency season opened with a flourish yesterday with a number of big-name free agents headed to new teams.
The biggest move, and possibly the biggest surprise, on Thursday was the signing of veteran defenseman Sergei Gonchar by the Ottawa Senators. It was believed that Pittsburgh still had a shot at bringing Gonchar back, or even that Washington might scoop him up, but the Senators' name never even came up as a rumor.
The Senators’ power play, which was abysmal last season, should see immediate improvement and the Sens’ Stanley Cup odds should also see a rise. The arrival of free agency also saw the dismantling of the Chicago Blackhawks continue.
The night before the free agents hit the market Chicago shipped Kris Versteeg to Toronto for Viktor Stalberg and a couple of prospects. The following day they then moved Andrew Ladd to Atlanta for a pick and prospect Ivan Vishnevskiy. With Dustin Byfuglien already gone the Hawks will definitely have a different look to them when they defend the Cup next season.
When the free agency flood gates opened on Thursday there was a big run on defensemen. Gonchar was just the first veteran d-man to find a new home, as Philadelphia, New Jersey, Pittsburgh, and Vancouver were all actively seeking and finding blue liners.
The Flyers re-signed Braydon Coburn and snagged Andrej Meszaros via trade from Tampa Bay.
The Devils rebuilt their blue line by signing Anton Volchenkov and Henrik Tallinder. New Jersey needed a new defenseman to replace Paul Martin, who took over Gonchar's spot in Pittsburgh. The Pens also re-loaded with the acquisition of Zbynek Michalek. The Dan Hamhuis saga finally came to an end as he spurned both Philly and Pittsburgh to sign on with Vancouver.
It will be interesting to see what happens to the Cup futures after all of the changes in Chicago and Pittsburgh. Will the oddsmakers sour a bit on the Blackhawks after their huge turnover?
And, will the exodus of Gonchar and his new replacements in Pittsburgh raise or lower the expectations for the Pens? Before all the moves happened the Blackhawks were a +450 Cup favorite, while the Pens were slotted in at +600. Get the most betting options and fastest payouts of any sportsbook. Click here!