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Day 1 Winners and Losers of Free Agency: Predators, Bruins, Blackhawks, Kraken, Oilers

The first day of NHL Free Agency was insane as multiple targets got signed. Here are some of the winners and losers of FA day one.

This year’s free agency started with a bang as multiple stars were taken off the board. The busy teams made big moves and many teams (like Nashville) welcomed elite players into their franchises. Other teams weren’t as busy, with some clubs doing almost nothing.

From players getting basic two-way deals to others spending the rest of their careers with their new team, a few teams took the spotlight in this year’s edition of free agency. Out of the teams who were able to snag a piece or two, here are the heroes and the zeros of day one of the 2024 offseason.

Winner: Nashville Shocked the League and Bought Big

The Nashville Predators took their loss to the Vancouver Canucks in the first round of the playoffs personally. They decided to go out for blood this free agency and pick up three of the top targets in the league. Predators General Manager Barry Trotz wanted to spend money to bolster the team, and he did.

With cap space of over $20 million, Trotz decided that it was the organization’s year to become the league’s biggest threat. He went out and snagged forwards Steven Stamkos and Jonathan Marchessault along with defensemen Brady Skjei and goaltender Scott Wedgewood.

Stamkos and Marchessault bring 80+ goals combined in last season alone to the forward corps. Both players spoke with each other and decided to channel their frustrations — both left their former teams under less-than-ideal circumstances — and bring that fire to Music City. Skjei also provides his team with offense, tallying 47 points in 80 games. Wedgewood finished last season with 16 wins, a 0.899 save percentage, and 2.85 goals-against average in 32 games played with Dallas.

The Predators’ organization has seen its fair share of struggle when it comes to proper offensive skills. The team has seen most of its offense come from Filip Forsberg and Roman Josi. With the addition of these three players, the offensive talent will be more spread out and more consistent.

Winner: Blackhawks Building a Strong Core Around Connor Bedard

After finishing second-last in the league last year, the Chicago Blackhawks look to take another step after acquiring franchise-changing players in the draft. While the rebuild may not be over, the acquisitions of the players on Monday have shown that Chicago wants to be the next powerhouse of the league.

The first move the Blackhawks made was to bring back Teuvo Teravainen on a three-year deal worth $5.4 million per year. The former Carolina Hurricanes’ forward tallied 53 points last season and is looking to make a big impact with the Hawks’ organization.

GM Kyle Davidson then acquired Tyler Bertuzzi for four years at $5.5 million AAV. Bertuzzi put up 43 points in 80 regular-season games and four points in seven playoff games last season with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Along with solid depth pieces and veterans being added such as Pat Maroon, Alec Martinez, and Craig Smith for one year each. The team looks for a strong leadership group to help mentor and grow the very young core the Blackhawks possess.

Loser: Kraken Go All Out; Has Chance to Look Bad in the Future

In their three years of existence in the NHL, the city of Seattle has only seen the postseason once. Led by stars Jared McCann, Matty Beniers, and Vince Dunn, the Kraken could be dangerous in the short term. While this free agency may look good on paper for the Kraken, with the acquisitions of Chandler Stephenson and Brandon Montour, the long-term effects may be deadly for the relatively new franchise.

Chandler Stephenson signs with Seattle Kraken in NHL free agency

Stephenson signed with the team for seven years for an average income of $6.25 million per season. Montour also signed for seven years at just a great amount of $7.14 million per season. Both players are currently in their primes at 30 years old; a factor to look at when it comes to years three and above on their deals.

The Kraken now have little room to play with when it comes to other additions in free agency and this upcoming season. As a result, the roster is basically set in stone and the team will have to run with what they have and hope it is competitive enough for the postseason.

Loser: Bruins Still Looking for a Number One Center and Strong Defense

Since Patrice Bergeron departed from the Boston Bruins a few seasons ago, the team has been desperately trying to find a replacement to make them a competitive team again. When Pavel Zacha proved not to be the answer, GM Don Sweeney looked to this year’s free agency for a gem.

They landed on Elias Lindholm from the Canucks. His performance last season in the postseason may have been a deciding factor in his signing long-term. He tallied 10 points in 13 playoff games with Vancouver and put up 44 points in 75 regular-season games.

Elias Lindholm OT winner Canucks

These stats combined with the two-way skills he brings to the ice resulted in a large contract. Boston decided to take a risk and gave Lindholm approximately $7.5 million per year. Given his age of 29 years old, the seven-year contract would keep him in New England until he is 36. When looking at Lindholm, he is already in his prime. Meaning, that unless he stays consistent with on-ice play, Boston might be holding the contract of a declining forward.

This also goes towards the deal they made with Nikita Zadorov. Zadorov also came from the Canucks and is also the same age as Lindholm. His deal is slightly different, coming in at $5 million AAV for six years. The 6’6” defender will help provide Boston with more grit which has proven to be something that the team needs.

With Linus Ullmark gone between the pipes, the team would need stronger defense to be able to compete and Zadorov fits it perfectly. However, like Lindholm, Zadorov needs to be consistent to make his contract work out in Boston.

Winner: Edmonton Oilers Find Value Deals Everywhere

The Edmonton Oilers didn’t make the same kind of noise in free agency the Nashville Predators did, but they might have been the big winner in free agency after day one. Actin GM Jeff Jackson found discounts everywhere. The team lost Warren Foegele, but picked up Viktor Arvidsson as a replacement. Vincent Desharnais left for Vancouver, but Josh Brown signed in his place with Philip Broberg ready to take the next steps. Sam Carrick left, but Corey Perry, Connor Brown, Adam Henrique, and Mattias Janmark all stayed on team-friendly deals.

The steal of free agency might have been the signing of Jeff Skinner. He inked a one-year deal with Edmonton for $3 million. This is a 30-goal guy who will now play with Leon Draisaitl, finally giving the Oilers the second-line winger the team needed.

Next: Hurricanes Replace Blue Line Losses: Sign Walker, Gostisbehere

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