Free Agent Frenzy was alive and well this year with some big contracts and big shake ups. Some teams got leaps and bounds better (shoutout to my NJ Devils) while some left fans questioning their teams future (yes, I’m talking to you Columbus Blue Jackets fans). Let’s break down some of my favorite moves from July and why the Metro Division just became much more deadly.
My clear winner in the Atlantic Division is the Florida Panthers. On July 1st the Panthers signed Sergei Bobrovsky, a two time Vezina Trophy winning goaltender to a 7-year deal. General Manager Dale Tallon also added forwards Noel Acciari and Brett Connolly along with defenseman Anton Stralman. Let’s not forget that on April 8th they signed my beloved Coach Quenneville as head coach. Things are looking bright in the sunshine state next season, better get those shades ready.
The Metropolitan Division is now fierce. Like a Beyoncé music video fierce. Which teams made the biggest splash you ask? That would be the New Jersey Devils (whoop whoop) and their Hudson River rival New York Rangers. I think it’s almost silly to say which team will be better… just because you add key pieces doesn’t mean the chemistry is there.
Devils added first overall pick Jack Hughes, Norris Trophy Winner PK Subban and forwards Wayne Simmonds and Nikita Gusev. Those are pretty big pieces and the Devils didn’t really spend any money to get them. On paper the Devils look good, really good. We (as if I had anything to do with the Devils) should be playoff bound in April of 2020. My only fear is the Devils turning into the Edmonton Oilers of the Eastern Conference. I’m hoping that’s just in my head but ya never know.
Now lets talk about those NY Rangers. The Devils might have won Draft weekend but the Rangers won free agent frenzy by signing left-winger Artemi Panarin to a long expensive deal. They also added defenseman Jacob Trouba and 2nd overall pick Kaapo Kakko. I’m not sure if the Rangers still consider themselves in “rebuild mode” but I think they are still missing some depth players to make a real impact next season.
On to the Central Division. Nashville, Minnesota, Dallas, Colorado and the Blackhawks added some new members and in some cases reunited with old ones on July 1st. I’m not sure if the Dallas Stars are now a “cup contender” but they definitely became more fun to watch. I do have a Corey Perry prediction that Dallas fans might not like… I don’t think he will work out. I think his health issues will continue to be a problem. I do love the Pavelski signing and think they will be a better team come October than they were in April. I also predict Ben Bishop, the Dallas Stars goaltender, will win the Vezina Trophy.. but more on that at another time.
Let’s hear a howl for the Arizona Coyotes shall we. This Pacific Division didn’t make too big of a splash, in my opinion. The biggest acquisition to the pacific is Phil Kessel. The Arizona Coyotes are a team that consistently fly under the radar and even if Kessel doesn’t “pan out” he already added a much needed frenzy around the organization. Another acquisition was trading for Colorado Avalanche forward, Carl Soderberg. I’m not saying the Arizona Coyotes are going to be playoff bound next season but I like the acquisitions that they made so far.
Which team impressed you the most so far this summer? Leave your thoughts and comments below ღ