Day one of unrestricted free agency is officially a wrap and while the Blackhawks made moves through trades and signing Ryan Donato, the Blackhawks rivals also made some moves.
While some teams overpaid (and we’ll see this in the Daily tomorrow), this article looks more at each of the division rivals who improved.
Here’s a look at some of the division rivals who made big moves and should other moves be made, this article will be updated as such.
Nashville Snags Big Fish in Ryan O’Reilly
The Predators were busy on Saturday, inking Ryan O’Reilly, and Luke Schenn as new general manager Barry Trotz tries to fortify a lineup that narrowly missed the playoffs. O’Reilly is a playoff dynamo and brings instant leadership and credibility to the Preds. Schenn is a defenseman’s defenseman and will help shore up the blue line. Trotz’s style as a coach was stifling defense and he starts his signings by addressing it.
The Predators also added Gustav Nyquist and Cody Glass, both smart depth players who will fortify the top nine.
Dallas Adds Matt Duchene
Bought out by Nashville and then brought back into the division by Dallas. Duchene had 56 points (22-34) but now joins the Western Conference Final runner up. An under the radar one may be Sam Steel, who quietly had 28 points (10-18) for the Minnesota Wild. He signs a very affordable deal and his speed could be a massive weapon for an up tempo Stars squad.
Colorado Extends Bowen Byram, Signs Jonathan Drouin
The guy Chicago should have taken in the 2019 Draft signed a two-year extension with the Avalanche. Byram is only 22 but is building to be a major piece. Drouin was once upon a time a scoring threat but has run into some issues the past few seasons. If he can score in the double digits, which is possible on a loaded Avalanche team, that would be seen as a coup of a deal.
Coyotes Splurge, Sign Jason Zucker
They may be in a rebuild but the Coyotes snagged a few notable players. They brought Nick Bjugstad and Troy Stecher back into the fold while signing Zucker to a one-year, $5.30M deal. Updated: The Coyotes have added Alexander Kerfoot.
Jets Re-Sign Vlad Namestnikov, Bring Back Laurent Brossoit
The former gets a two-year deal worth $4M while Brossoit, fresh of a Stanley Cup win, gets a year at $1.75M.
Blues, Wild Quieter on Saturday
The Blues and Wild made smaller signings for depth and stayed away from what has been one of the weaker free agent classes in years
Nashville and Arizona. While Dallas added a critical piece in Duchene, it fortifies them more than significantly improves them. The Predators signed some players who could put them over in a bid for the playoffs while the Coyotes invested some cash in Zucker. The Coyotes are oozing with young talent and if some of those players end up in the Desert next year, Zucker could be a critical piece to help them along in the rebuild.
One Last Thought
The Blackhawks have countered with signings of their own and likely will fill the final spots out over the course of the next few days. It’s a different approach for Chicago where they’ll bring Connor Bedard along but hardly be wanting to get too far out of lottery contention. They won’t be the worst team in the league but they’ll certainly improve enough to distance themselves from what was some tough hockey to watch last year.