With NBA free agency underway, everyone’s busy following LeBron James’s every move. We're hearing a lot about King James: who he’s meeting with, what he’s wearing, and what he’s eating for lunch.
But another league also kicked off its free agency period: the National Hockey League!
Your favorite hockey team may have gotten a lot better over the past few days. Here’s a recap of some of the biggest moves that have gone down...
Sergei Gonchar signs with Ottawa
After five years in Pittsburgh, Gonch said goodbye to the Steel City and hello to the Sens. He signed a three-year deal worth $16.5 million. The 37-year old blue-liner has one of the best slap shots in the league, and he’ll quarterback the Senators’ power play. He is a proven veteran with a Stanley Cup ring who will get plenty of minutes in the Canadian capital.
Penguins double up on D
Even though they lost Gonchar, the Penguins wasted no time recovering by adding two solid defensemen. First they grabbed Zbynek Michalek from the Phoenix Coyotes for a five-year, $20 million deal. Z is one of the best shot-blockers in the league, and this will be big come playoff time. Pitt also snagged Paul Martin from division-rival New Jersey. Martin also gets a five-year deal, but a bigger check: $25 million. Martin will try to fill the void left by Gonchar’s exit as the puck-moving, offensive-minded defenseman.
Devils counter with two defensemen of their own
Are you sensing a domino effect? After the Penguins signed Martin, New Jersey made a huge splash by landing the biggest free agent defenseman on the market: 28-year-old Anton Volchenkov. They don’t call him the A-Train for nothing: Volchenkov dishes out some of the nastiest hits in the league. He’s also a great penalty-killer and a shot-blocking machine. He’ll be in Devil Red for a while, inked to a six-year, $25.5 million deal. To compliment Volchenkov, the Devs also grabbed stay at home d-man Henrik Tallinder from the Buffalo Sabres. The 31-year old blue-liner played in all 82 games this past season and posted an impressive plus-minus figure of +13. He’s not as physical as the A-Train, but he’s a solid addition.
Versteeg Traded to Toronto
Even though this technically wasn’t a free agent acquisition, it’s definitely worth noting. Last night, the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks dumped more salary by shipping forward Kris Versteeg to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for three minor league prospects. The 24-year-old left wing posted 44 points last season and is a solid two-way player. He’ll see time on the power play and the penalty kill. The Hawks have dealt five players from their Stanley Cup roster, including Dustin Byfuglien, Brent Sopel, and Ben Eager.