Capped: The Free Agent Winners

by Chris Pudsey on July 7, 2016
  • Capped
  • Capped: The Free Agent Winners

This week's 'Capped' looks at the winners from last week's free agent frenzy. 

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It’s hard to believe that the free agency window has been open for almost a week now. I must say the deals out of the gate were coming fast and furious, and for big hockey fans, that was fun to watch. Some general managers were spending money like a drunken sailor, and the odd one or two showed great restraint early on.

Just like every year, there were some good deals signed and some questionable ones. In this week’s Capped, we are going to take a look at the best ones signed for your fantasy teams in salary cap leagues.

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Brian Campbell – Chicago Blackhawks

New contract:  $1.5-million, one year

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PPP

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82

6

25

31

99

8

26

27

80

At 37 years old, Campbell decided that a chance at winning was worth more than the money he could have got from other teams as a free agent. It’s rumoured the Panthers offered him a contract in the $5-million range to re-sign but Campbell chose to take a serious discount to sign with the Blackhawks. The AAV on his contract is actually $2.25 million ($750,000 coming to him in a games played bonus). Campbell knew he would be getting a reduced role with the Panthers, even though the money was better, once they signed Keith Yandle to a long-term contract. 

Heading back to Chicago, the team that signed him to his last, long-term contract was probably a pretty easy decision for Campbell. His wife is from Chicago, and he still resides there in the off-season. The fact that they are a perennial Stanley Cup threat didn’t hurt either. He did win the Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks back in 2010.

Heading there, he knows he will be a used in secondary role behind Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook but at this stage in his career, he’s going to be fine with that. He’s managed to stay healthy for the past few seasons and has still been able to be a productive player. I think this signing is a win for both sides.

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Teddy Purcell – Los Angeles Kings

New Contract: $1.6-million, one year

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76

14

29

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149

10

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31

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The 30-year-old Purcell is just finishing up a contract that saw him making $4.5-million for the past three seasons.

Coming off a season that saw him score 14 goals and 29 assists in 76 games between the Edmonton Oilers and the Florida Panthers (he was a trade deadline acquisition for the Panthers), the Kings were looking to hopefully replace some of the offense left behind when Milan Lucic bolted for free agency. 

Purcell comes full circle with the Kings. They originally signed him as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Maine back in 2007. Over three seasons, Purcell played a total of 91 games for the Kings. 

Apparently the Kings actually tried acquiring Purcell at the trade deadline last season but it wasn’t meant to be, as the Kings and Oilers couldn’t find the right fit. Los Angeles obviously like Purcell and what he brings. If he can “bring it” on this one-year deal, I can see the Kings trying to lock him down on a bit longer deal after this one expires.

For now, this is a pretty good signing to add some nice secondary scoring for the cap-strapped Kings.

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James Reimer – Florida Panthers

New Contract:  $3.4-million, five years

A few are probably wondering why the Reimer signing shows up as one of the better ones this past week. I mean, after all, the Panthers have one of the leagues premiere goalies in Roberto Luongo, and just last week traded highly regarded prospect Rocco Grimaldi to the Colorado Avalanche for goaltender Reto Berra.

James Reimer had been a very good goalie on a pretty bad team in Toronto for some time now.  Last year with the Leafs, in 32 games, he put up very respectable numbers all things considered.  He went 11-12-7 with a 2.49 GAA and .918 save percentage. After getting traded to San Jose last season, he put up even better numbers. He posted a 6-2 record with a 1.62 GAA and .918 save percentage.

So why did the Panthers sign Reimer, especially for five years? I think there are a couple reasons for this signing. First off, Luongo is 37 years of age and isn’t going to last forever. Signing a quality 1B option gives Luongo a few more nights off to rest. Playing in 62 games last year really wore Luongo down, even if he won’t admit that. The second reason, and this is pure speculation on my part, the Panthers are going to expose Luongo at next year’s expansion draft.  Will the new franchise in Las Vegas take a shot and draft a goalie like Luongo? Who knows, but the Panthers have to look to the future, and if that means losing Luongo and the five more years of his contract at the end of next season, I think they are willing to take that risk. I have a hard time seeing Las Vegas drafting Luongo, but it’s not out of the realm of possibilities. The experienced Luongo could be just what the doctor ordered for a team who’ll be looking for some sort of stability out of the gate.

Either way, Reimer is a solid signing and a smart investment for the Panthers as they continue to trend upward in the standings of the NHL. He should start sharing starts with Luongo as soon as this upcoming season and if Luongo does get snatched up in the expansion draft, Reimer at this price-point is excellent value for a starting goalie on a very good team.

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Mikkel Boedker – San Jose Sharks

New Contract: $4.0-million, four years

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80

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34

51

166

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51

31

If there’s one thing today’s NHL teams are trying to focus on is speed, and Boedker brings oodles of that to San Jose. 

Coming off a year that saw the 26-year-old tie his career high for points with 51, many expected Boedker to sign a much richer free agent contract that what he received. Apparently, he turned down larger money offers from other teams to sign with San Jose. One has to think if Peter DeBoer was a big drawing card for Boedker in his choice to sign with the Sharks. DeBoer was Boedker’s head coach when he was in Jr hockey with the Kitchener Rangers. It’s safe to say DeBoer knows Boedker’s game pretty well.

Boedker will also be surrounded by much better talent than he’s been used to, coming from Arizona and Colorado this past season. After seeing what San Jose just did in the playoffs, Boedker has to like what he sees coming into San Jose. I am not expecting 70-plus points from him or anything, but he should form into a solid 55-60 point guy most seasons.

Boedker will only add to what is already a potent power play, assuming he can find a spot with the big boys. If he does, this signing will be a bargain for the Sharks.

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Thomas Vanek – Detroit Red Wings

New Contract: $2.6-million, one year

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74

18

23

41

146

14

22

18

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After getting bought-out by the Minnesota Wild this off-season, Vanek became an unrestricted free agent and able to sign where he truly wanted to go. 

It’s hard to say how many teams reached out to Vanek’s camp since being bought-out, but I have no doubt there were a few suitors. I won’t lie, I am not the biggest Vanek fan out there, but I do think the 32-year-old may have just picked the right place to land. 

Detroit this off-season was looking for goals, and if there’s one thing Vanek has been able to do most of his career, it is score goals, especially on the power play. This is where Detroit really slipped last year; their power play production. An interesting stat I came across while doing my research for this week’s column; since 2008-09, the top power play goal scorers are Alexander Ovechkin (134), Steven Stamkos (107), Joe Pavelski (81), Thomas Vanek (79) and Patrick Marleau (77).

At this price, it’s definitely a bit of a risk to take, but one that on paper looks like a decent risk to take for the Wings. If Vanek can find his scoring touch again, this could end up being another bargain.

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Thanks for reading.

On a personal note, this will probably be my last regular Capped column for Dobber Hockey. I may be asked to fill in from time to time but my real job is about to draw a lot more of my free time so I felt it was only right I hand this off to someone who has more time to commit to this column. It’s been fun writing the weekly column and has really changed my perspective on dealing with different players in my salary cap leagues. I hope it’s been informative and helpful to you at various times as well.

Thanks again.  Cheers!