Scott Cullen breaks down all free agent deals and notable trades for the 2014 NHL Offseason. Here is a look at all the moves through the first week of NHL Free Agency.
The most significant deals will get the full Numbers Game column treatment, like these:
New homes for Purcell and Gagner.
Canucks send Kesler to Ducks.
Neal traded to Nashville.
Garrison goes to Tampa Bay.
Oilers get deal done for Nikitin.
Umberger and Hartnell swapped.
Spezza, Hemsky head to Dallas.
Penguins add Ehrhoff.
Oilers land Pouliot, Fayne.
Blues bring in Stastny.
Devils add firepower with Cammalleri.
Panthers spend big money.
D. Boyle joins Rangers.
Miller Time in Vancouver.
Capitals spend big for defensive upgrades.
Grabovski, Kulemin re-united with Islanders.
Flames get Hiller.
As expected, Wild sign Vanek.
Sabres bring back Moulson.
International Men of Mystery.
Avalanche add Iginla.
Canucks get Vrbata.
Blackhawks bring in Richards.
MALHOTRA to CANADIENS
A 34-year-old centre whose career looked to be done in 2013, after suffering a serious eye injury, Manny Malhotra worked his way back, handling a fourth-line centre role with the Hurricanes. He gets destroyed in possession terms, but is also consistently put in an impossible position, where he starts a greater percentage of his shifts in the defensive zone than any other forward. Since 2010-2011, Malhotra has won 60.2% of his faceoffs, so he fits a role with the Canadiens, an opening that was effectively created when the Canadiens didn't tender a contract offer to Ryan White.
JOHNSON to ISLANDERS
Chad Johnson, 28, finally secured full-time NHL employment for the first time last season and had a terrific year in Boston, posting a 2.10 goals against average and .925 save percentage in 27 games. His 5-on-5 save percentage of .934 ranked seventh among goaltenders to play at least 1000 5-on-5 minutes. That's a small sample size and Johnson's .909 save percentage in 170 career AHL games does suggest he's not likely to keep stopping puck at that rate, but he could be a serviceable backup, which would be a clear upgrade for an Islanders team that has playoff expectations going into next season.
Signed for two years and $2.6-million, Johnson will have opportunity to prove that he's a legitimate NHL goaltender as Jaroslav Halak's backup with the Islanders.
GILBERT to CANADIENS
Tom Gilbert, 31, saw his value diminished last summer when he was bought out by the Minnesota Wild, but then he signed a one-year, $900,000 deal with Florida and rehabbed his image with a strong season. Gilbert finished with 28 points (23 at even-strength), his most since 2009-2010, and had strong possession stats while playing alongside Brian Campbell.
The question raised by that is how much Campbell was responsible for Gilbert's success and there was a decided lean in Campbell's direction in the with-or-without-you-stats. Over time, Gilbert has typically been the better puck possession defender among his other partners (Ladislav Smid, Theo Peckham, Clayton Stoner), so it's reasonable to think that his puck-moving ability will help the Canadiens' top four.
Gilbert has played more than 20 minutes per game in six of his seven NHL seasons, so he handling that top-four role is standard fare and is quite reasonably-priced in the role, signing for two years and $5.6-million. While Gilbert can be a shot blocker - he was with Edmonton -- he offers a different game than the departed Josh Gorges, with better puck skills and not as much physicality.
STONER to DUCKS
Clayton Stoner, 29, is a big defenceman with limited puck skills who has consistently been on the wrong end of the possession game. Signing him for four years and $13-million is quite a reward for a defenceman that played 13:20 per game for Minnesota last season. He did fight a career-high eight times last season, but there's no way that it's justifiable to pay that kind of money simply for a fighter.
Furthermore, giving Stoner such a significant contract pretty much requires that he have a spot in the Ducks' lineup and it starts to get crowded there in a hurry. Cam Fowler, Francois Beauchemin, Hampus Lindholm, Ben Lovejoy, Bryan Allen and Sami Vatanen were the top six returnees on that blueline for average time on ice last season, with Mark Fistric and Sheldon Souray under contract as well. Add Stoner to the mix and it looks like 1) someone is getting moved 2) it's going to be harder for Vatanen, a restricted free agent, to earn regular playing time. Yes, this guy, can't get regular playing time because he's small.
MALONE to HURRICANES
Brad Malone is a 25-year-old fringe NHLer who has nine points in 54 career games. He's struggled in possession terms, depite playing extremely sheltered minutes in Colorado last season, facing fourth lines and starting predominantly in the offensive zone.
He can play wing or centre, but wherever it is, Malone is a fourth-liner if not an extra body or AHLer, signed for the modest price of $1.3-million over the next two seasons.
RAYMOND to FLAMES
Left to sign a one-year, $1-million contract with the Maple Leafs last year, after not attracting interest as a free agent, 28-year-old Mason Raymond responded with a productive campaign, his 19 goals and 45 points ranking as the second-best totals of his career.
A burner, who can create scoring chances with his speed, Raymond scored 32 points at even-strength, tying Nazem Kadri and Joffrey Lupul. Raymond's possession numbers were better than average on the Maple Leafs, which isn't saying much, but he's typically had pretty solid possession stats, so it would be easy to see him fitting in a top nine role with the Flames. He's not likely to make up for all the offence lost when Mike Cammalleri signed with New Jersey, but Raymond has a chance to provide reasonable value on a three-year, $9.5-million contract.
PETERS to CAPITALS
Justin Peters, 27, took advantage of the opportunity presented by injuries to Cam Ward and Anton Khudobin to record a .919 save percentage in 21 games for the Hurricanes last season. That's well above his .904 career mark in 68 games (and .909 save percentage in 213 career AHL games), but it got Peters a two-year, $1.9-million deal with the Capitals.
Peters will back up Braden Holtby, though if Holtby's game really goes south or he gets hurt long-term, Philipp Grubauer could overtake Peters for playing time. Nonetheless, the Capitals saved some money on goaltending, which they turned around and spent on the blueline, apparently.
WINCHESTER to AVALANCHE
After spending the 2012-2013 season in Finland, Jesse Winchester returned to the NHL and put together a solid season for the Panthers, scoring a career-high nine goals and 18 points (which ties a career-high), despite missing 28 games due to a variety of injuries and a suspension. Winchester played a career-high 12:44 per game, and had positive possession numbers while starting more of his shifts in the defensive zone.
This doesn't mean that Winchester is a big difference-maker but, signed for $1.8-million over the next two seasons, he's likely to provide more reliable minutes on the Avalanche fourth line than what they were getting last season. Winchester spent most of his time on the wing last season, but was primarily a centre (and above average in the face-off circle) when he played for Ottawa, so that would likely be his best fit with Colorado.
KOSTKA to RANGERS
A late bloomer, Mike Kostka didn't make it as an NHL regular until he was 27-years-old, then was a part-time player for Chicago and Tampa Bay last season. As a result, he's played 63 career games, scoring 19 points, with decent possession stats. He can handle the puck and has more skill than many extra defencemen.
VITALE to COYOTES
A sturdy fourth-line forward who has been getting hammered in possession terms over the past couple seasons, Joe Vitale is a 28-year-old who has 35 points in 163 career games. He's a faceoff ace, winning 58.4% of his faceoffs in his career, but that alone doesn't really warrant significant financial commitment.
The Coyotes gave Vitale a three-year deal, for $3.3-million, which is probably more than is required for a fourth-liner with little upside. In the Coyotes' case, though, it's not as if the salary cap presents a concern.
LINDBACK to STARS
26-year-old Anders Lindback got off to a good start to his NHL career with Nashville, before he got an opportunity to start in Tampa Bay and fell flat, posting an .897 save percentage in 47 games over the past two seasons. If he can't play any better than that with a fresh start in Dallas, then Lindback will be a bust and the Stars will have to find another answer.
However, he's a 6-foot-6 goaltender with a .904 career save percentage and signed for $925,000, a contract that is conveniently at the threshold for being buried in the AHL.
GORGES to SABRES
Josh Gorges, 29, was suddenly put on the trade block by the Montreal Canadiens over the weekend and, after some negotiation to find an acceptable destination, he ended up going to Buffalo in exchange for a second-round pick in 2016.
Gorges is a shot-blocking defenceman (543 blocks in 196 games over the past three seasons) who has played more than 20 minutes per game for each of the past six seasons but, for the most part, struggles when it comes to puck possession, and was particularly overwhelmed in that respect last season.
While Gorges doesn't drive play at even-strength, he's a fantastic penalty killer, limiting shots like few other defencemen. Furthermore, Gorges is widely praised for being a committed team guy. If he continues to play that way, and there's little reason to suspect he wouldn't, then Gorges should be a good example for all the young defencemen in the Sabres' system as they grow into full-time NHL roles.
Gorges is under contract for four more seasons, at a cap hit of $3.9-million per season. The Canadiens, who effectively replaced Gorges by signing Tom Gilbert, get a second-round pick in 2016 in return for Gorges. Second-round picks bring slightly better than a one-in-three chance of yielding an NHL player.
GREISS to PENGUINS
Thomas Greiss, 28, has been patiently putting in time as a backup, and has a .915 save percentage in 69 career NHL games, including a .920 save percentage in a career-high 25 games for the Coyotes last season.
Going to Pittsburgh is an interesting spot for Greiss, as the Penguins already have Jeff Zatkoff signed for the next two years, at $600,000 per. Greiss would figure to have the inside track to take the No. 2 job behind Marc-Andre Fleury. Presuming that Fleury isn't getting jettisoned, that would leave Zatkoff as either trade bait or as an expensive minor-leaguer.
Arizona signed Devan Dubnyk to fill their backup goaltending job after Greiss moved on.
COMEAU to PENGUINS
Blake Comeau is a 28-year-old winger who has fallen off offensively since scoring a career-high 46 points in 2010-2011, when he played a career-high 18:41 per game for the New York Islanders. While Comeau doesn't score much -- 16 points in 61 games last season -- he's generally put up solid relative possession stats, especially so last season in Columbus.
That's why it was a little surprising that Comeau signed so early for so little. A one-year deal, for $700,000, is a total bargain for the reliability that Comeau provides and ought to really improve the third or fourth line for the Penguins, areas that were significant problems last season.
GIONTA to SABRES
35-year-old Brian Gionta wasn't drawing much interest from the Montreal Canadiens, the team for which he had been captain, so the Rochester, New York native took a three-year, $12.75-million deal to join the Buffalo Sabres. The Sabres are lacking established pros throughout the lineup, so Gionta provides an air of legitimacy. He has 485 points in 776 career games, along with 68 points in 112 playoff games, so Gionta has credentials that warrant respect from the younger Sabres forwards.
As he has approached his mid-thirties, Gionta's production has started to decline, and he has 81 points in 160 games over the past three seasons; solid secondary production, but Gionta also deserves some credit for the workload that he's handled. In the past three years, he's gone from starting most of his shifts in the offensive zone, to starting more in the defensive zone (including 38.3% offensive zone starts last season), while facing a higher-calibre of competition. In fact, last season Gionta faced the highest relative quality of competition since these metrics started being tracked in 2007-2008.
In Buffalo, Gionta likely still needs to handle a two-way role, as Drew Stafford and Chris Stewart -- the others in competition for ice time at right wing -- haven't shown that they would be able to handle that. While paying for intangibles is not the sharpest of team-building strategies, given the Sabres' particular situation, Gionta should be a good fit -- a leader, a pro and a guy who, while undersized, can still play effectively.
PERREAULT to JETS
26-year-old Mathieu Perreault was coming off a career-high 18 goals and 43 points in 69 games for the Anaheim Ducks last season, but wasn't given a qualifying offer as a restricted free agent, so suddenly he was free to test the open market. It's not an unreasonable position for the Ducks to take, as they added Ryan Kesler and have lots of young forwards on the way, including Rickard Rakell, who may take Perreault's minutes, but even if the decision was reasonable for the Ducks, it presented a nice opportunity for the Jets.
Perreault is small, and has typically been sheltered in his usage, both with Washington and Anaheim, but he puts up numbers, solid possession stats and per-minute scoring stats like a first-liner.
In Winnipeg, Perreault effectively replaces Olli Jokinen as the third centre, behind Bryan Little and Mark Scheifele, and while there may be some second-unit power play time available, Perreault did most of his damage at even-strength last season, scoring 34 points at evens (tying Nicklas Backstrom and Mikko Koivu among others).
Signed for three years and $9-million, Perreault is a reasonably-priced source of secondary offence.
ROBIDAS to MAPLE LEAFS
Robidas is 37-years-old and coming off a season in which he broke his leg twice, playing just 38 games during the regular season. Prior to last season, however, Robidas had been quite durable, missing 18 games total in the previous six seasons. If last season's injuries are a sign that Robidas is breaking down after playing nearly 900 NHL games, then this could be a tough stretch to end his career. If it was a case of bad luck, then he could still be a useful contributor to the Leafs' blueline.
Last season was the seventh straight season in which Robidas played at least 20 minutes per game, and while he's never been a puck possession ace, he's not bad in that respect either and has typically managed to tread water while facing tough assignments.
In Toronto, Robidas brings a needed veteran presence and he can be a defensive conscience for one of Toronto's young, puck-rushing defencemen, Jake Gardiner or Morgan Rielly. Signed for $9-million over the next three seasons, Robidas is a fine investment if his body isn't breaking down. He's played hard minutes and will be 40-years-old by the time this contract is done, but if he's a rare type that can handle 20 minutes a night in his late thirties, then Robidas will improve a Leafs defence that desperately needed improvement.
GLASS to RANGERS
Tanner Glass, 30, inexplicably received a three-year, $4.35-million deal from the reigning Eastern Conference Champions. Glass is a fourth-liner who has scrapped 45 times over the past five seasons, but he has 54 points in 377 career games and is among the absolute worst puck possession players in the game.
With the Rangers dealing Derek Dorsett to Vancouver, presumably Glass gives them some of that edge they want on the fourth line, but a multi-year contract for a player who is stuck in his own end constantly? A major, and unnecessary, reach.
HAVLAT to DEVILS
33-year-old Martin Havlat has faded fast over the past three seasons in San Jose. He scored 62 points in 2010-2011 with the Minnesota Wild and mustered 67 points in 127 games over three seasons with the Sharks. Havlat's 14:43 average time on ice per game last season was his lowest since 2000-2001 when he was a rookie in Ottawa and his 1.50 shots on goal per game were a career-low.
Even as his year was winding down with the Sharks, Havlat was productive down the stretch, scoring eight goals and 12 points in his last 17 regular-season games, but he was dressed for only one game in the Sharks' first-round playoff loss, so it came as no surprise that San Jose would buy Havlat out of the last year on his contract.
Looking for a fresh start, Havlat lands with the Devils, a team chock-full of Czech talent, including Patrik Elias, Jaromir Jagr and Marek Zidlicky, so that ought to provide some measure of familiarity.
Adding Havlat and Mike Cammalleri to their group gives the Devils lots of depth up front, and it's going to take time to figure out who fits where, but if Havlat squeezes into a top-six role, he's skilled enough that he could be an offensive contributor. Tough to predict 20 goals for him, but Havlat has hit that level six times in his career and, even in a down year last year, his 12 goals in 48 games was on that pace.
STREET to AVALANCHE
Ben Street, 27, has contributed a couple of points in 19 games with the Flames over the past couple seasons, but ripped up the AHL, scoring 60 points in 58 games last season, so he's a viable candidate for a call-up once injuries hit the Colorado forward group. He's signed to a two-year deal that pays him $650,000 in the NHL and $250,000 in the AHL.
STRALMAN to LIGHTNING
Over the past two seasons, there are 52 defencemen that have played at least 2000 minutes at 5-on-5. Two of them, Drew Doughty and Marc-Edouard Vlasic, were on the ice for a greater percentage of shot attempts than Anton Stralman.
This is admittedly a step forward from earlier in his career, but 27-year-old Stralman acknowledges that his game has matured, so these results may be for real. He's on the small side, not physical and doesn't block a lot of shots, yet he's very effective.
Coming to Tampa Bay, shortly after the Lightning acquired Jason Garrison, puts Stralman in a much-improved top four for Tampa Bay. Stralman could easily slide in beside fellow Swede Victor Hedman, as Hedman's most common partner, Sami Salo, is a free agent in his own right.
There may be some questions about whether Stralman's play the past couple seasons is legit, but if he can handle top-pair minutes, the five-year, $22.5-million contract that he signed will be well worth it.
FEDUN to SHARKS
26-year-old Taylor Fedun played the first four NHL games of his career last season, scoring twice. Since finishing his college career at Princeton, Fedun has 65 points in 135 AHL games.
He's a bit of an offensive defenceman who may never quite make it as an NHL regular but, given the Sharks' current blueline situation, there's a reasonable opportunity for Fedun to see some NHL action. He's signed for one year at $600,000.
MUELLER to RANGERS
A 28-year-old forward who has been on the fringe of an NHL roster for the past four seasons with Dallas and, before that, Nashville, Chris Mueller has eight points in 46 career games, but has been effective in the AHL, scoring 203 points in 255 games over the past four seasons. Odds are that he's still a fringe player who will get occasional NHL games when injuries hit, but Mueller may have a chance to earn a depth role with the Rangers.
Signed for one year, at $600,000, Mueller is an inexpensive option to make the Rangers as a 12th or 13th forward.
REDMOND to AVALANCHE
Zach Redmond, 28, is a puck-moving defenceman who has seven points, and strong possession stats, in 18 career NHL games.
He's recovered from a huge laceration in his leg, and has 43 points in 78 AHL games over the past two seasons.
Signed to a two-year, $1.5-million, contract, Redmond is an inexpensive depth defenceman who may have a chance to earn regular playing time with the Avalanche.
ENGELLAND to FLAMES
32-year-old Deryk Engelland is a tough customer, who has fought 33 times in the past four seasons, but is nothing more than a marginal player who has been a sixth or seventh defenceman for most of his time with Pittsburgh, but also spent some time as a fourth-line winger.
None of those credentials suggests a multi-year contract for a 32-year-old is a good idea, let alone one that pays real money, yet Engelland signed for three years and $8.75-million; great for him, but that contract effectively means Engelland has to play and there's a good chance that there will be regret tied to this investment by the Flames.
MCCORMICK to SABRES
A 31-year-old who has 61 points and 510 penalty minutes in 372 NHL games, Cody McCormick is a fourth liner who was obliterated in the possession game last season, both in Buffalo and Minnesota.
Returning to Buffalo, he's a fourth-line banger who has fought 34 times in the past four seasons, but that doesn't justify the three-year, $4.5-million contract he received. It's the kind of contract that can be given out by a team far from the salary cap, but it still ties up a roster spot in a player, in his thirties, who is eminently replaceable.
BRENNAN to ISLANDERS
Brennan, 25, was the AHL Defenceman of the Year last season, scoring 72 points in 76 games for the Toronto Marlies. He's put up 11 points, with solid relative possession stats in 40 career NHL games and going to the Islanders ought to give him a decent opportunity to earn a regular NHL job.
A one-year, $600,000 contract is an inexpensive deal, but the one-way deal ought to give him a legit chance to stick as an NHLer next season.
LABRIE to BLACKHAWKS
27-year-old Pierre-Cedric Labrie has five points and 65 penalty minutes in 46 career NHL games. He's a tough guy who has put up poor possession numbers, so he's much more likely to spend his time in the AHL. If the Blackhawks need a tough guy from time to time, he'll be available but, even at the most optimistic, he doesn't have much of a role with Chicago.
PORTER to RED WINGS
Kevin Porter, 28, has been a fringe NHLer, playing 206 career games, but has played more than 40 games in a season only once.
Porter will be a strong presence in the AHL, where he has 80 points in 98 games over the past couple seasons, but he's only likely to get time in Detroit if injuries become a problem.
BLUNDEN to LIGHTNING
27-year-old Mike Blunden is a 6-foot-4 winger who has eight points and 105 penalty minutes in 102 career games. He's been overwhelmed in puck possession terms while playing with Montreal the past three seasons.
He'll be hard-pressed to get playing time in Tampa Bay, but does offer organizational depth, with a deal that pays $600,000 in the NHL.
CLEMMENSEN to DEVILS
36-year-old Scott Clemmensen has some history with the New Jersey Devils organization, playing 65 games for them, including a career-high 40 games in 2008-2009. He's had some seasons in which he's been a very capable backup in the NHL, but has struggled in the past couple of seasons. Among the 58 goaltenders to play at least 30 games over the past two years, Clemmensen ranks worst of the bunch with an .886 save percentage.
The benefit to having Clemmensen on board is that he poses no threat to Cory Schneider for playing time as the starter, so that's a step in the right direction, but the Devils had better hope Clemmensen can give them a passable performance in the 20 or so games that he is required to play. On a one-year, $600,000 deal, Clemmensen at least comes cheaply for the role.
MESZAROS to SABRES
Andrej Meszaros is only 28-years-old, but seems older because he appears to be breaking down, with a bad run of injuries in recent seasons. Early in his career, Meszaros was very durable, but he's missed 87 games over the past three years, with shoulder and back injuries causing him the most trouble.
His play has suffered as a result, with declining possession stats, but it's been overshadowed somewhat be decent point totals, including 22 points in 52 games last season.
Nevertheless, Meszaros is an excellent addition for the Sabres because his one-year, $4.125-million deal is for one season, thereby limiting any risk. If he proves that he can still play, Meszaros will have a chance to cash in next summer. If playing for the Sabres shows that his recent decline is for real, then he will be well-compensated for that one year.
HUNWICK to RANGERS
Matt Hunwick, 29, played only one game for Colorado last season, but has played 292 career games and had 31 points in 52 AHL games last season. Hunwick is undersized and that can pose matchup problems, but as the game places more emphasis on mobility, he's worth a look in an extra-defenceman role.
Signed for $600,000, Hunwick is an extra body on the blueline for the Rangers and maybe he's too far down the depth chart to matter, but an injury or two could get him some time on the third pair.
DUBNYK to COYOTES
28-year-old Devan Dubnyk was an above-average goaltender for three seasons before collapsing last year, posting an .891 save percentage in 34 games with Edmonton and Nashville.
In a buy-low move, the Coyotes are taking an inexpensive (one year, $800,000) risk that Dubnyk can regain his form. If he drops another .891 save percentage, that would be a problem, but Dubnyk has a .909 career save percentage and something like that would be good enough.
CRACKNELL to KINGS
Adam Cracknell, 28, is a good-sized winger who has 16 points in 65 career games, but has provided solid organization depth for St. Louis. Signed to a one-year, $600,000 deal, Cracknell will now offer that depth to the Los Angeles Kings.
He's signed for one year and $600,000 making him an inexpensive option as a 13th or 14th forward.
VAN DER GULIK to KINGS
David Van Der Gulik is a 31-year-old who has skated in 48 career NHL games, scoring 13 points. While he's barely been more than a fringe NHLer and that figures to be his role going forward, Van Der Gulik has put up great possession stats in his limited NHL action.
Like Cracknell, though, Van Der Gulik is useful organization depth, signed for $550,000.
EAVES to STARS
A 30-year-old winger who has scored a dozen or more goals four times in his career, Patrick Eaves had been relegated to a role as a spare part in Detroit before he was traded to Nashville at the deadline.
He has put up decent possession stats in a sheltered role, which makes him a decent bet as a fourth-line or extra forward and his one-year, $650,000 contract is reasonable cost.
MACDONALD to CANADIENS
34-year-old Joey MacDonald has often been a number three goaltender seeing pretty regular action as a backup over the past few seasons, playing more than 10 games in each of the past four seasons. His .902 career save percentage kind of fits for a number three and that's where he fits with Montreal, on a one-year deal for $600,000 in the NHL and $300,000 in the AHL.
BOYLE to LIGHTNING
Brian Boyle, 29, has been a quality checking forward for the New York Rangers, playing more than 15 minutes per game in a couple of seasons, taking on a heavy dose of defensive zone starts.
He's a good faceoff guy and, with a 6-foot-7 frame, can play a physical game. His role had declined somewhat, to 12:46 time on ice per game last season after three years over 14 minutes. Given the centre depth in Tampa Bay, it's going to be hard to imagine Boyle getting a big role with the Lightning, but he provides legitimate depth, able to play fourth line or move up to the third line, if necessary.
Signed for three years and $6-million, Boyle should be a solid veteran addition to a Lightning team that expects to contend for top spot in the Eastern conference.
NABOKOV to LIGHTNING
38-year-old Evgeni Nabokov is past his prime, but not so much so that he couldn't be a valuable backup option for the Lightning. Last season's .905 save percentage was his lowest since 2005-2006 and his 40 games played was his fewest in an NHL season since 11 games as a rookie in 1999-2000.
While some teams commit their backup goaltending spots to minor leaguers, the Lightning have chosen a career starter who, theoretically, should be more than capable of handling an extended workload if any trouble should befall starter Ben Bishop.
Signed for one year, at $1.55-million, Nabokov also allows the Lightning to patient with their goaltending prospects, giving them at least another year of development.
LABARBERA to DUCKS
Jason LaBarbera is a 34-year-old goaltender that had been pretty effective in the role until he posted an .870 save percentage in seven games for Edmonton last year.
The Ducks have two young goaltenders, Frederik Anderson and John Gibson, that should have the NHL jobs locked up, but LaBarbera -- signed for one year, $750,000 -- is a decent number three to have in the organization.
MacINTYRE to HURRICANES
31-year-old Drew MacIntyre got to make his first NHL start late last season for Toronto and has appeared in six career NHL games. He's been good in the AHL for the Toronto Marlies the past two years, posting a .920 save percentage, so that makes him a solid AHL veteran for Charlotte.
MacInytre is signed to a one-year deal that pays him $600,000 in the NHL and $250,000 in the AHL.
SKILLE to ISLANDERS
27-year-old Jack Skille will never live up to his draft slot (seventh overall in 2005), but he's been a capable NHLer at times through 192 career games. Joining an Islanders team that has an excess of NHL forwards doesn't present a great opportunity for Skille to see NHL duty.
That likely makes Skille a valuable AHLer, but he gets $750,000 in the NHL on a one-year deal.
CONNER to CAPITALS
Chris Conner, 30, has been teetering on the edge of an NHL roster for much of his career, playing 178 games over eight seasons, scoring 50 points. He had five points, with terrible possession numbers, in 19 games for the Penguins in 2013-2014.
Conner is on a one-year contract that pays him $550,000 in the NHL, and he's likely to see some playing time in Washington, but he's played more than 20 NHL games once in the past five seasons and isn't likely to do so in 2014-2015.
JONES to FLYERS
A checking center with good size, 27-year-old Blair Jones has 17 points in 128 career games, and has played more than 40 NHL games once in eight seasons. He's managed some serviceable relative possession stats, enough that he could handle filling in on the fourth line, if need be.
Signed to a one-year deal that pays $600,000 in the NHL, Jones is likely to spend some time in the AHL, where he had some scoring success last season, scoring a point per game in 38 games with Abbotsford.
DESJARDINS to RANGERS
28-year-old Cedrick Desjardins has appeared in six NHL games over the course of his career, posting a .919 save percentage and he's been an above average AHL goaltender, with a .914 save percentage in 219 career games.
Desjardins fits as the AHL starter for the Rangers in Hartford, and will be well-paid in that role, but he has a two-year deal for $1.2-million in the NHL, should anything happen to Henrik Lundqvist or Cam Talbot.
McKENNA to COYOTES
A 31-year-old who has appeared in 21 NHL games, Mike McKenna has been a good AHL goaltender, with a .918 save percentage over the past three seasons, and falls behind Mike Smith and Devan Dubnyk on the Coyotes' depth chart.
He'll make $550,000 at the NHL level on a one-year deal, but if McKenna plays much in the NHL, something will have gone wrong for Arizona.
DOWNIE to PENGUINS
A 27-year-old winger who will be joining his fifth team (or fourth if you count Philadelphia twice), Steve Downie has some skill, but that is sometimes overshadowed by his penchant to wreak havoc. Even as his role has decreased in recent seasons, Downie is one of four players to have at least 100 points and 500 penalty minutes in the past five years.
He's generally put up positive possession numbers and Downie has some versatility. He's skilled enough to complement scoring forwards, but can wreak havoc like a fourth-liner.
In Pittsburgh, there could be an opportunity for Downie to land a spot in the top six, but he could also fit alongside Brandon Sutter and Nick Spaling on an upgraded third line. Signed to a one-year, $1-million deal, it's a great opportunity for Downie to prove he can produce to earn a bigger contract next summer.
CAMPBELL to COYOTES
Andrew Campbell is a 26-year-old defenceman who got into the first three games of his NHL career last season with the Los Angeles Kings. A 6-foot-4 defensive defenceman, Campbell is a depth option for Arizona. He signed a one-year contract that will pay him $550,000 in the NHL.
JOKINEN to PREDATORS
Olli Jokinen, 35, has been a productive player throughout a career that has spanned nearly 1200 NHL games, and he bounced from a brutal 2012-2013 season to contribute 43 points in 82 games for Winnipeg. Jokinen has been a very durable erformer, missing a total of 19 games since 1999-2000.
In Nashville, Jokinen will be asked to provide offence, but expectations should be modest. Last season's bounceback effort still resulted in just 0.52 points per game, his lowest rate since 2001-2002. Even if Jokinen is put into a more offensive role in Nashville, he's not likely to play so many more minutes and, in his mid-thirties, continued decline is more likely than a bigger bounce back in his production.
The good news for the Predators is that they committed just one year, at $2.5-million, to Jokinen. If Nashville is in contention, they can keep him but, if not, he might be flippable before next season's trade deadline..
SCOTT to SHARKS
There aren't many fighters more fearsome than 31-year-old John Scott, the 6-foot-8 enforcer, but even the previously unbeatable Scott (Voted 19-0 by hockeyfights.com users in 19 fights from 2009-2010 through 2012-2013) has been rendered mortal in recent years, compiling a 7-4-1 record in a dozen scraps over the past two seasons. If Scott isn't an unbeatable physical menace, then he's of little value with six points in 236 career games.
To be fair to Scott, before joining a Buffalo team that was dominated from pillar to post, Scott was deployed successfully in previous stops (with the Rangers, Blackhawks and Wild) that allowed him to post adequate possession stats. He was sheltered against fourth-line opposition and with more offensive zone starts, but that's usage that can happen in San Jose.
It's hard to imagine that Scott is a viable candidate to play on a team that was a legitimate Stanley Cup contender last season, but the Sharks are doing some odd things this offseason and some of that includes muscling up, by re-signing Mike Brown and signing John Scott to a one-year, $750,000 deal.
SCHULTZ to FLYERS
Nick Schultz, 31, has played lots of hard minutes in a defensive role, and all those blocked shots seem to have taken a toll on him as he's struggled in possession terms even as his workload has gotten easier. His 16:19 average time on ice last season was his lowest since his rookie year in 2001-2002.
Signed to a one-year, $1.25-million deal with the Flyers, Schultz appears to be seventh on the Philadelphia defence depth chart, but it's an opportunity to prove that he can still be a viable NHLer. The way the trend has been going lately, that's in serious doubt.
MCCLEMENT to HURRICANES
31-year-old Jay McClement has been an honest and durable checking forward, missing a total of seven games over the past eight seasons, and he played nearly 15 minutes per game in the past two seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs. McClement gets crushed in possession terms, though that comes with the qualifier that he starts a disproportionate percentage of his shifts in the defensive zone.
McClement, who had been a very efficient penalty killer in previous seasons, lost some of that effectiveness last year. A fresh start in Carolina may help get McClement back to being an effective fourth-liner and penalty-killer, but it's likley for the best if he's not used as much as he was in Toronto.
Signed to a one-year, $1-million deal, McClement is an inexpensive veteran addition for a Hurricanes team that needs some stability on the lower portion of their forward depth chart.
GLEASON to HURRICANES
Tim Gleason, 31, is in a familiar career stage for a veteran, stay-at-home defenceman (see Schultz above). Gleason's possession numbers have been falling and, even managed to get worse after he arrived in Toronto last season. To the Maple Leafs' credit, they bought Gleason out of the final year of a contract that would have paid him $4-million for next season.
That brought Carolina back into the picture. Gleason played for the Hurricanes from 2006-2007 until last season, so they know what they're getting, but they should also know that there have been clear signs of decline in Gleason's game. In any case, signed for one year, at $1.2-million, Gleason should be the seventh defenceman in Carolina, but he could sneak into the third pairing if prospect Ryan Murphy isn't given that opportunity.
SANTORELLI to MAPLE LEAFS
28-year-old Mike Santorelli was having a nice season for the Vancouver Cancucks, scoring 28 points in 49 games, playing a career-high 18:34 per game, when he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. He's bounced around, from Nashville to Florida to Winnipeg to Vancouver, but Santorelli is a good face-off guy with enough skill to play with other skilled players, though he doesn't always get that opportunity.
Toronto does provide an interesting opportunity for Santorelli, who should surely be able to find a spot in the bottom six, whether at centre or right wing, but he could conceivably win the second-line right spot, alongside Joffrey Lupul and Nazem Kadri. That may be a lofty expectation for a player with 87 points in 257 career games, but Santorelli has scored 20 goals in a season in this league (2010-2011 with Florida) and has tended to be around a break-even possession player so he could be a relatively inexpensive pickup, with some upside.
Signed for one year, and $1.5-million, Santorelli could have a chance to this year's version of Mason Raymond, potentially earning a bigger long-term deal with a productive season.
STRACHAN to SABRES
A 29-year-old physical defenceman, Tyson Strachan has 15 points and 155 penalty minutes in 138 career NHL games, playing a career-high 38 with Florida in 2012-2013 following the lockout. He was even modestly effective that season, playing 18:58 per game, but was obliterated when he played for the Capitals last season.
Strachan has logged 276 career games in the AHL, twice as many as in the NHL, since wrapping up his collegiate career at Ohio State, so he's more likely to play in Rochester but, given the state of the Sabres, it will come as no surprise if Strachan sees some NHL action again next year. He's on a one-year deal that pays $650,000 when he's in the NHL ($250,000 in the AHL).
KENNEDY to CAPITALS
Tim Kennedy, 28, had a nice rookie year in 2009-2010, scorign 26 points in 78 games for the Buffalo Sabres, but the Sabres didn't agree with his arbitration award and bought him out of his contract, sending Kennedy bouncing around the hockey world, playing for three franchises (Florida, San Jose, Phoenix) in four seasons since.
Last season, Kennedy played 37 games for the Coyotes, his most in a year since 2009-2010, chipping in eight points, but his relative possession stats fit with a fringe NHLer and that's where he'll fit with Washington, probably spending more time in the AHL. He's on a one-year deal that pays league-minimum $550,000 when he's in the NHL.
NEWBURY to CAPITALS
A feisty veteran pro, who has 10 points and 139 penalty minutes in 76 career NHL games, 32-year-old Kris Newbury is an effective minor league forward who can score and scrap at that level, but is no more than organizational depth for the NHL club. He has played at least one NHL game in eight straight seasons, so there's a chance that will continue with the Capitals, but Newbury is going to spend most of the year in the AHL.
GIBBONS to BLUE JACKETS
Brian Gibbons is a 26-year-old undersized forward who hadn't done much through his first two AHL seasons, then broke out last season, scoring 30 points in 28 games to earn promotion to Pittsburgh, where he contributed 17 points (5 G, 12 A) in 41 games, adding three points in eight playoff games. He also had good possession numbers, so it's not a surprise that some teams were interested in his services.
There is some competition for forward spots in Columbus, so Gibbons will likely battle with newly-acquired Jerry D'Amigo, Corey Tropp and enforcer Jared Boll for playing time. He's signed to a two-way deal, paying $750,000 in the NHL, so Gibbons isn't assured of a spot with the Blue Jackets, but the opportunity is there for him.
MCCARTHY to BLUES
John McCarthy, 27, has been a spare part winger for the Sharks, recording six points in 87 career games. He's a depth forward who would seem to have little chance to make a team as deep and talented as the Blues, but he'll be around if a body is needed to fill in during the season.
To his credit, McCarthy averaged a career-high 11:03 per game in the 36 games that he played for the Sharks last season (while on a one-way contract), but he's fared poorly in relative possession terms. He's set to make $600,000 on the NHL portion of his one-year, two-way deal with St. Louis.
LEGWAND to SENATORS
David Legwand is a 33-year-old centre who has been unfairly maligned for his draft position, as he didn't score a lot for the second overall pick in the 1998 Draft, but he's closing in on 1000 NHL games and has accumulated 577 points as a strong two-way player.
Legwand has played hard minutes in Nashville (not so much with Detroit late last year), starting more shifts in the defensive zone and often facing quality opposition, so he can play either a second or third-line for Ottawa, but that may depend on the development of Mika Zibanejad. If the Senators are ready to give Zibanejad a bigger role, and they probably should be, then Legwand can be good insurance down the middle as the number three pivot. At the same time, Legwand played 16:59 per game last season, the first time since 2005-2006 that he averaged less than 17 minutes of ice time per game, so he can handle a significant role if need be.
Of course, Legwand is an economically-wise signing for the Senators. Signed for two years and $6-million, it's hard to imagine that there aren't other teams, with better opportunities to win, that could have used Legwand's skills, but however the decision was arrived at, it is in Ottawa's favour.
Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.