The 2020 NHL free agent frenzy will go down as one of the most unconventional and frugal spending sprees since 2005 when the NHL went through a year-long lockout. Nonetheless there are still winners and losers in this year’s free agent extravaganza.
2020 NHL Free Agent Frenzy Loser #1: Vancouver Canucks
Signing Holtby for 2 years at $4.3 million AAV is good but they lost a better goaltender in Jacob Markstrom. Holtby is definitely a better bargain than his predecessor but has only been average since his Stanley Cup victory in 2018. Losing Toffoli, Tanev and Stecher is also a kick in the side as those players all made notable contributions during their brief playoff run this past season. Jim Benning made a nice addition in Nate Schmidt to replace Tanev. Schmidt definitely has more upside than Tanev but its a shame that Loui Eriksson, Antoine Roussel and Jay Beagle have a combined cap hit of $12 million or else all their pending free agents would of been resigned.
2020 NHL Free Agent Frenzy Loser #2: New York Rangers
Currently with $14 million in cap space, the Rangers are poised to be better with the emergence of Lafreniere and Kakko. This team is ready to make the next step and easily could of someone like nabbed Taylor Hall short term who could mentor the young forwards. Erik Gustafsson or Chris Tanev would of been good fits short term as well before they have to sign Lafreniere with a monster contract in 3 years. This is a missed opportunity for the Rangers to get the assets they need to go for a deep playoff run. This is a team that is more ahead of their rebuild than what people think.
2020 NHL Free Agent Frenzy Loser #3: Nashville Predators
The Preds are a competitive team that didn’t have a great season. They have nearly $14 million in cap space and need more offence. Free agents are not expensive this off-season due to the pandemic and easily could of fit a top 6 forward like Tyler Toffoli, Mike Hoffman or Taylor Hall on the team without nearing the salary cap. Offence will be a struggle for the Preds next season.
2020 NHL Free Agent Frenzy Winner #1: Calgary Flames
The Flames are still in a great position with $5 million in cap space after signing Jacob Markstrom and Chris Tanev. They are now at a great advantage in the Pacific division because the Sharks, Oilers, Kings and Canucks don’t have the goaltending to match with theirs now. The Ducks and Coyotes have great goaltending but lack offence whereas Calgary does not. Look for the Flames to compete with the Canucks and Golden Knights for the division this coming up season.
2020 NHL Free Agent Frenzy Winner #2: Buffalo Sabres
How a team like the Sabres landed a big fish like Taylor Hall is beyond my comprehension but here we are. Convincing anybody to sign with Buffalo is a victory but getting Hall is as lucky as you get. It doesn’t mean they’re going to break their 9 year playoff drought but there is hope.
2020 NHL Free Agent Frenzy Winner #3: Montreal Canadiens
The Canadiens certainly lacked offence last season but hopefully the signing of Tyler Toffoli will help a bit. The Canadiens didn’t lose anybody substantial so they had everything to gain with the Toffoli signing. He won’t solve the Habs offensive woes alone but if Kotkaniemi and Poehling catch fire, Toffoli would be a great shotgun option for them on the wing.