As you know, July 1 this year was much more understated for us than it has been in previous years. We had socially distant Canada Day celebrations with no Free Agent Frenzy broadcasts on TSN, Sportsnet, or the NHL Network. So maybe this is a good time to take a trip down memory lane and revisit the biggest signings of July 1 last year and how they've worked out for the various teams thus far. Teams are usually spending out of control that day, and the majority of signings don't provide great value. Yet some signings can work out for teams, no matter what the price.
Rather than focus on the dollar amount of the deal, I'll look at whether the player's fantasy value has increased or decreased with the move.
Artemi Panarin (Cap Hit: $11,642,857) – Increased
Fantasy Take – Panarin Signing
Panarin was the big fish on July 1, and he did not disappoint. In just 69 games, he racked up 95 points, which was good for fourth in league scoring. That would have put him on pace for 113 points over a full 82-game season. Only Connor McDavid has a higher cap hit at the moment, so there wasn't a whole lot of room for error for Panarin here. Still, 2019-20 turned out to his best season, and his point totals have only improved from Chicago to Columbus to New York.
Panarin will have a tough act to follow, given the kind of season that he had. Keep in mind that his 12.2 5-on-5 SH% and 1054 PDO are slightly higher than normal, so a bit of regression should be expected here. Yet on an up-and-coming Rangers squad, he is primed to do more damage. Could a big-ticket free agent actually be worth the money? So far, he's been a major hit on Broadway.
Sergei Bobrovsky (Cap Hit: $10,000,000) – Decreased
Fantasy Take – Bobrovsky Signing
Dobber left the less-than-ideal July 1 signings for me to take care