NHL free agent signings on first day debated

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It was a busy first day of free agency in the NHL on Friday with players across the League changing teams in a flood of signings.

We asked seven NHL.com writers which move on Day 1 was their favorite. Here are their thoughts:

 

[RELATED: NHL Free Agent Tracker]

 

Anton Khudobin, G, Dallas Stars

Seeing Khudobin get a three-year, $10 million contract (average annual value of $3.33 million) from the Stars after he helped them reach the 2020 Stanley Cup Final, a six-game loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, brought a smile to my face. And that’s before he even started his entertaining interviews. Khudobin showed he could step into a big situation at a critical time, playing in 25 postseason games after No. 1 goalie Ben Bishop wasn’t completely healed from knee surgery in May. Stars general manager Jim Nill wanted to keep his goalies together. The 34-year-old wanted a three-year contract and tested the market before staying with Dallas. It worked out well for both sides. — Tracey Myers, staff writer

 

Henrik Lundqvist, G, Washington Capitals

As strange as it will be to see Lundqvist in a Capitals jersey instead of a New York Rangers jersey, this is a no-brainer, a perfect signing at one year and $1.5 million. He will have a better team in front of him in Washington than he did in New York last season. That will help. The 38-year-old still has game left. He’s not a mentor, he’s a competitor, but that will benefit Ilya Samsonov, the Capitals’ 23-year-old goalie. Samsonov will learn from Lundqvist by being around him and witnessing Lundqvist’s work ethic. If Samsonov pays attention, he’s going to get a front-row seat to what it takes to be a big-time NHL goalie. The Capitals are also getting a motivated Lundqvist, who is burning to win the Stanley Cup for the first time after 15 seasons with the Rangers and knows the Metropolitan Division well.  — Dan Rosen, senior writer

Video: Lundqvist signs 1-year deal with Capitals

 

Jacob Markstrom, G, Calgary Flames

Calgary’s upgrade to its goaltending is an impact move. Who plays the most minutes in any game? The goalie, of course, and a goalie who is just moving into his prime, like Markstrom has shown during the past two seasons (51-39-13, 2.76 GAA, .915 save percentage in 103 games) with the Vancouver Canucks, can alter the balance of power in the Pacific Division. The Flames still have to get their defenseman group straightened out for this season, but signing the 30-year-old to a six-year, $36 million contract (average annual value of $6 million) provides stability at the most important position for the foreseeable future. — Tim Campbell, staff writer

 

Bobby Ryan, F, Detroit Red Wings

The 33-year-old gets a chance to prove to himself on a one-year contract. The Red Wings get a motivated veteran who fills a need up front, can help mentor younger players and can give prospects time to develop. It’s the kind of deal Detroit should do in this environment, and let’s face it, it’s a feel-good story. Ryan took a leave of absence from the Ottawa Senators last season to enter the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program, citing issues with alcohol abuse, and scored a hat trick in his first home game back, a 5-2 win against the Vancouver Canucks on Feb. 27. He won the Masterton Trophy as the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey on Sept. 7 and was bought out by Ottawa on Sept. 26. — Nicholas J. Cotsonika, columnist

I like this move for the Red Wings, a low-risk deal with a player who has overcome a lot in his life and his career. With Ryan on a one-year contract (financial terms were not disclosed), they can use him to bolster their offense — he had four straight 30-goal seasons from 2008-2012 and scored 22 four seasons ago — or flip him at the 2021 NHL Trade Deadline. After scoring eight points (five goals, three assists) in 24 games last season, he can revive his career in a low-pressure situation. — Amalie Benjamin, staff writer

 

Wayne Simmonds, F, Toronto Maple Leafs

When it comes to filling a need, this is a perfect fit for Toronto. General manager Kyle Dubas said his skilled team needed to be tougher to play against, and the hard-nosed forward partially addresses that. It’s not just about fighting; it’s about taking the body on the forecheck, standing in front of the opponent’s net, coming to the aid of a teammate when needed, and winning puck battles in the corners. The Maple Leafs are lacking on each of those fronts. Simmonds is 32 and has dealt with injuries, but at $1.5 million for one year he’s a low-risk addition. Also, he grew up in Toronto and is happy to be coming home. Don’t get me wrong, though: The Maple Leafs need to do much more to be a harder team to play. — Mike Zeisberger, staff writer

 

Kyle Turris, C, Edmonton Oilers

Signing Turris to a two-year contract (financial terms were not disclosed) adds to the Oilers’ depth at center behind Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl and gives the 31-year-old another chance to prove himself. Things didn’t work out for Turris the past two seasons when he scored a combined 54 points (16 goals, 38 assists) with the Nashville Predators, who bought out the final four seasons of his six-year contract Wednesday, but he had four 50-point seasons in a five-season stretch with the Ottawa Senators and the Predators from 2013-18. Being reunited with Dave Tippett, who coached Turris with the Phoenix Coyotes for two seasons (2010-12), should also help bring the best out in him. — Tom Gulitti, staff writer

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