While the Columbus Blue Jackets were relatively quite on July 1st, their divisional rivals were not.
There are still a few big names on the free agent market, but for the most part, the dust has settled and teams are set. The Columbus Blue Jackets made a few signings on July 1st with one notable name coming to Columbus, Nash.
That of course would be Riley Nash, a 29-year-old two way center, not a 34-year-old scoring winger. Along with Nash the Columbus Blue Jackets signed three AHL defenseman.
But their Metro Division rivals were much more active on the free agent market. Some of their signings, or lack of signings, will make a big impact on the Jackets season in 2018.
The biggest news was a departure of John Tavares from the Metropolitan Division. Tavares chose not to return to the New York Islanders. JT decided to return home to Toronto to play for the Maple Leafs.
The news is obviously a huge hit for the Islanders. Without Tavares, they will be a bottom feeder in not just the division, but the entire league. The Islanders have added Tom Kühnhackl, Valteri Filppula, Leo Komarov, and Thomas Hickey since the news of Tavares leaving. Decent players, although they overpaid for both Filppula and Komarov, that will help the Islanders, but in no way make up for the loss of a generational talent.
The Flyers made the second biggest splash in the free agent market when they signed James Van Riemsdyk to a five year deal worth $7 million a season. The Flyers brought the winger back to Philadelphia after six years in Toronto, including two 30 goal seasons.
The Flyers top two lines now are pretty impressive with names like Van Riemskyk, Voracek, Giroux, Couterier, Patrick and Simmons all having top end talent. The Flyers should have a top flight forward group and decent enough blue line next season. It will all come down to their goaltending as they try to make the playoffs in back-to-back seasons.
The Penguins biggest move in free agency was signing former Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson. Johnson’s departure led to some bitter comments from Coach John Tortorella after Johnson said he was looking forward to going to a team with a “winning culture”.
Both Jack Johnson and Penguins General Manager Jim Rutherford were complexly out of line with their comments and Torts had every right to say what he did. The signing and drama that ensued is just another chapter in the story between the Jackets and the Pens. The two teams meet on November 24th for the first time.
Columbus Blue Jackets
The defending Stanley Cup Champions made most of their free agent noise ahead of July 1st by way of holding on to current players. Although they couldn’t keep their head coach Barry Trotz, the did manage to hold on to the defensive pair of Michael Kempney and John Carlsson. Carlsson signed an eight year, $8 million per year deal.
The Caps also re-signed Devonte Smith Pelley to a one year deal and brought in centerman Nic Dowd. A signing from May to note for the Caps was that of Ilya Samsonov. The Caps signed the top goalie prospect in the world to his entry level deal in early May. Keep an eye out for the Russian netminder.
New York Rangers
The biggest move for the Rangers was resigning one of their trade deadline acquisitions, Vladislav Namestnikov. The 24-year-old winger signed a two year deal worth $4 million a season.
Besides that, and dropping $700,000 on Fredrik Claesson for a year, the Rangers have been quite. They expect most of their roster shake ups to come through their farm system which they have successfully loaded up quite nicely over the last two years.
New Jersey Devils
Did the Devils forget about the free agent window? The squad from Jersey has only made four signings at this point and all are AHLers. The biggest name is NHL drifter Eddie Lack who could become the backup in Jersey if any injuries arise to the goalie corps. Overall though a boring July 1st for Jersey.
The Canes made their noise by way of a huge trade at the NHL Draft. Outside of signing goaltender Petr Mrazk to a one year deal, the Canes didn’t make any splashes. They re-upped some AHL players and that was about it.
While the biggest news out of the free agent frenzy came out of the Metro, half the teams, including the Columbus Blue Jackets, didn’t make any massive moves. But those moves that were made were huge. There still are a few names left on the board that teams can go after, but for the most part, rosters heading into camps are set.