Win­ners and losers

Bat­tle of Al­berta, re­straint among win­ners af­ter first day of free agency

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS - BY STEPHEN WHYNO

Free agency day didn't have the wild money tossed around like usual, and trades over­shad­owed most of the sign­ings. Yet there are still some clear win­ners and losers from July 1.



With the weak­est free-agent pool in re­cent history, NHL gen­eral man­agers kept them­selves from over­pay­ing. No con­tract was longer than six years, An­drej Sek­era's US$33 mil­lion with the Oil­ers was the most money and Mike Green's $6 mil­lion with the Red Wings the high­est cap hit.

The Bat­tle of Al­berta

Ed­mon­ton con­tin­ued its makeover by im­prov­ing the blue line with Sek­era, so the Cal­gary Flames brought back goal­tender Karri Ramo at a rea­son­able $3.8 mil­lion and signed sought-af­ter “util­ity tool” for­ward Michael Fro­lik. The next few sea­sons of this ri­valry should be fun.

Phil Kes­sel

Traded to the Pen­guins, Kes­sel doesn't have to be in the spotlight on a team with Sid­ney Crosby, Ev­geni Malkin and Kris Le­tang. At a cap hit of $6.8 mil­lion, Kes­sel just has to score 30 - or more - goals and go about his busi­ness in Pittsburgh.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Get­ting rid of Kes­sel, even at 27 in the prime of his ca­reer, is a ma­jor step for­ward for the Leafs be­cause it's the start of their real tear­down. Now that Kes­sel is gone, Tyler Bozak and/or Jof­frey Lupul could be next as man­age­ment be­gins to re­build.

Mike Green

Be­ing a third-pair­ing de­fence­man with the Cap­i­tals was the slap in the face and Green said he needed to move on. The only de­fence­man to score 30 goals in a sea­son in the past 10 years will be a top-four pres­ence for the puck-mov­ing Red Wings un­der new coach Jeff Blashill.

LOSERS Van­cou­ver Canucks

Los­ing is a rel­a­tive term in this mar­ket, but the Canucks em­braced the team-in-tran­si­tion la­bel put on by GM Jim Ben­ning. Get­ting Bran­don Prust for Zack Kas­sian and a fifth-rounder is a down­grade, and re­plac­ing Kevin Bieksa with Matt Bartkowski doesn't make them bet­ter.

Ot­tawa Sen­a­tors

Un­able to get a top-six winger, the Sen­a­tors also lost a nice player in Erik Con­dra, who signed a three-year deal with the Light­ning. Eric O'Dell is a nice depth sign­ing, but Con­dra's de­par­ture leaves a hole in Ot­tawa's for­ward ranks.

Win­nipeg Jets

Bring­ing Alexan­der Bur­mistrov back from the KHL on a two-year deal soft­ened the blow of los­ing Michael Fro­lik to the Cal­gary Flames, but that's still a bit of an un­known. Drew Stafford re­turned, which is a plus, but Fro­lik's ab­sence will hurt more than any­one re­al­izes.

Matt Be­leskey

It's hard to say a player who cashed in on a $19-mil­lion freeagent deal is a loser, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing it's a ma­jor raise for the big winger. But Be­leskey got less than most ex­pected, and prob­a­bly could have stayed in Ana­heim at that price on a fiveyear con­tract.

Chicago Black­hawks

Spin­ning blos­som­ing star Bran­don Saad into cen­tre Artem Anisi­mov and prospect Marko Dano was nice, but the cap-strapped Black­hawks will face some grow­ing pains. Anisi­mov re­places Brad Richards, who left for Detroit, and un­re­stricted free agent Johnny Oduya's fu­ture is still un­known.


Phil Kes­sel was traded by the Toronto Maple Leafs to the Pittsburgh Pen­guins on Wed­nes­day.

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