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The NHL’s free agent market opened up at noon on Friday, leading to a wild flurry of moves that put plenty of old faces in new places. Much of the top talent put pen to paper early in the afternoon, but big moves continued to be made throughout the day.
Long-time Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson got things going when he inked a deal with the Detroit Red Wings. Though he seemed likely to re-sign in Ottawa, Alfredsson had received tons of interest from the Wings and the Boston Bruins. Despite the Senators wealth of young talent including 2012 Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson, the 40-year-old Swedish winger chose to join countryman Henrik Zetterberg in hockey town to chase the elusive Stanley Cup. The Red Wings also added former-Panthers center Stephen Weiss to replace outgoing top-six pivot man Valtteri Filppula who agreed to terms with Tampa Bay.
The Senators waisted little time replacing their departing star. They pulled the trigger on a blockbuster trade to acquire Bobby Ryan from the Anaheim Ducks. The four-time 30 goal scorer didn’t come cheap, costing the Sens Jakob Silfverberg, highly touted prospect Stefan Noesen and a first round pick, but the mouthwatering prospect of pairing the 26-year-old Ryan with Jason Spezza seems to be well worth the risk.
It proved to be a great day for power forwards looking for new teams. Former-Bruin Nathan Horton inked a seven-year $37.1 million deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets, and he wasn’t the only one to enjoy a big pay day. David Clarkson cashed in on a career year with the Devils to sign a seven year $36.75 million deal with Toronto. The Devils then brought in Ryane Clowe to fill Clarkson’s former role.
The Boston Bruins entered the day expected to make a major splash after opening up cap space by trading Tyler Seguin to Dallas on Thursday, but as right wingers flew off the store shelves, the Bruins racked up a list of missed opportunities. The Bruins finished second in the Alfredsson sweepstakes early in the day, and a few hours later they were runners-up in the race for Michael Ryder‘s signature. When Ryder decided to follow Ryane Clowe to New Jersey, Bruins fans started to sweat.
Boston GM Peter Chiarelli took his time, but he eventually got the job done. With the hours ticking away, Chiarelli shocked the hockey world with the signing of Jarome Iginla, who notably nixed a trade to Boston in April. It appears that the trade deadline wounds have healed, with Iginla signing a team friendly one year deal. After a strong stint with the Penguins, that ended unceremoniously with a Bruins sweep in the Eastern Conference Finals, the 36-year-old could form a deadly trio with David Krejci and Milan Lucic in Boston.
The Philadelphia Flyers and Phoenix Coyotes joined the Red Wings, Senators and Bruins as winners on Friday with some big moves of their own. The Flyers have endured a ton of criticism over their financially questionable transactions of late, but GM Paul Holmgren made a very clever and cost effective to bring Ray Emery back to town. Emery went 17-1 as the Blackhawks backup and he deserves a shot to start. Set to make just $1.65 million from the one year deal, Emery could be a bargain, especially in comparison to bought-out bad investment Ilya Bryzgalov.
Phoenix added Mike Ribeiro to upgrade their top six, bringing the point-per-game center to the desert for the next four years. Ribeiro was the most productive member of the free agent class in 2013 with 49 points, and the former-Capital seemingly merited more attention on the open market. Set to make just over $5 million dollars a year, Ribeiro should be a big help for the Coyotes.
Though the frenzy has calmed down for the moment, plenty of talent remains available. Damien Brunner, Derek Roy and Mikhail Grabovski are all capable of helping a team contend, and big names like Jaromir Jagr and Tim Thomas are sure to generate headlines when they find new homes.
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