NHL Free Agency: 5 Biggest Free Agent Signings

With plenty of big names on the market this season, there were undoubtedly some big signings during this year’s NHL free agency period.

Because of the San Jose Sharks’ lack of cap space, they haven’t made much of a splash during the NHL free agency period. The Sharks were rumored to be in the hunt for a few big fish, one of which was Vincent Lecavalier, but those did not pan out mostly due to a total lack of cap room and with that flexibility.

At any rate, here are the biggest free agent signings so far, in my opinion.  Yes, you may notice a few big names missing, but that is going to happen when I only get five choices.  Here they are, in reverse order.

Nov 21, 2011; Montreal, QC, CAN; Boston Bruins goalies Tim Thomas (30) and Tuuka Rask (40) exit the ice as they won the game against Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Center. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

5. Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins

Earlier today, the Boston Bruins signed arguably their biggest free agent in goaltender Tuukka Rask to the tune of an eight year, $56 million dollar deal.  Yes, you saw that right.

That’s a whopping $7 million a year for a goaltender, something which most teams are very wary of doing ever since the huge mishaps named Roberto Luongo and Rick Dipietro. Yes, this is more of a re-signing, but it had to be put.

Whether this big contract will be a great signing or a bust remains to be seen, but I see it as the latter.  Goaltenders now usually do not last very long when at the top of their game, and even if he does, playing at a level which justifies $7 million per year will still be tough to do, especially over eight years.

4. Mike Smith, Phoenix Coyotes

Many Sharks fans know this name well, and the Coyotes did well to sign him to a six-year deal worth $34 million total.  His cap hit is about $5.7 million a year, which is definitely expensive, but we have seen over the past few years you cannot win a cup without a top-tier goalie, and Mike Smith is definitely that.  Still, his contract is nowhere near the other goaltender on this list, so in that sense he could be considered a bargain.

Also, they Coyotes signed Mike Ribiero to add to a mix of talented youth (Keith Yandle and Oliver Ekman-Larsson) and seasoned veterans (Shane Doan) on a team that could be very dangerous next season.  They also picked up former Shark goaltender Thomas Greiss, who should fill in nicely behind Smith.

Jun 5, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Jarome Iginla (12) keeps the puck away from Boston Bruins left wing Milan Lucic (17) during the first period in game three of the Eastern Conference finals of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

3. Jerome Iginla, Boston Bruins

After being traded at the deadline to the Pittsburgh Penguins, Jerome Iginla now finds himself on the Boston Bruins, the other team who was vying for his services at the deadline. While the Penguins won out in the end with the better deal to the Flames for Iginla, Boston now finally has its man.

His deal, which is just for one year, is worth $1.8 million base salary but includes a ton of incentives, bringing the cap hit to around $6 million dollars, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

While it may be a steep price to pay, he definitely fits into the Bruins style of play.  Also, the Bruins had a hole to fill at right wing since Nathan Horton (who left for the Blue Jackets) and Jaromir Jagr would not be back, so perhaps that was a price they were willing to pay.

2. Daniel Alfredsson, Detroit Red Wings

Well, the Red Wings were quick to say goodbye to Damien Brunner (still currently a free agent) when they started pursuing right winger Daniel Alfresson.

He still racked up 26 points last season on an injury-riddled Ottawa team, and this season, he will get to play with a much higher caliber of linemates in fellow Swede Henrik Zetterburg as well as Pavel Datsyuk.  I would not be surprised to see his numbers jump significantly because of this. Obviously, age is a factor here, but no doubt he will still be highly effective for the Red Wings, especially on a team that is very good at handling aging veterans.

Apr 16, 2013; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Tampa Bay Lightning forward Vincent Lecavalier (4) and Winnipeg Jets forward Olli Jokinen (12) face off during the second period at the MTS Center. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

1. Vincent Lecavalier, Philadelphia Flyers

This signing is probably the biggest of the offseason, partly because he definitely has more left in the tank.  Also, at $4.5 million per year, the Flyers got great value compared to some of the prices offered for the other guys on this list.

The only issue I could see is will he be productive enough for his salary for the entire length of his five-year deal?  Probably not, but more than likely the Flyers are hoping to get three solid years before seeing a significant drop off in production. Only time will tell.

Either way, it is a great signing for them, and him along with the newly re-signed Claude Giroux will make a nice team at least for a couple years. Now if the Flyers could do something about that defense…

Topics: Boston Bruins, Daniel Alfredsson, Detroit Red Wings, Jerome Iginla, Mike Smith, NHL Free Agency, Philadelphia Flyers, Phoenix Coyotes, Tuuka Rask, Vincent Lecavalier

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