NHL free agency officially opened last Friday and, fittingly, on the long holiday weekend, GMs spent like drunken sailors. When the smoke had cleared by the end of business on Sunday, almost all of the best players were off the board with teams left to sift through the Jaromir Jagrs and Ilya Bryzgalovs of the world.
The biggest story has been the immense pay days for some of the better right wings in the NHL. Former Bruin Nathan Horton agreed to a seven-year deal with Columbus for $37.1 million while former Devil David Clarkson signed a similar contract (7 years, $36.75 million) with Toronto. Some of the more interesting moves included center Mike Ribeiro signing a four-year deal with Phoenix (which, surprise, still has a team) and goaltender Ray Emery going from Chicago to Philadelphia on a one-year deal where he could potentially be the starter because who trusts Steve Mason? There was also Daniel Alfredsson going to Detroit and Jarome Iginla choosing Boston this time after he spurned them at the last minute of the NHL trade deadline.
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Smart GMs will realize that the free agents that they sign over the next few weeks could potentially turn out to be important given that they’ll come at a much cheaper price than the headline acquisitions. Center Mikhail Grabovski, who was bought out by the Maple Leafs, is an intriguing talent for an offensive-minded team while right wing Damien Brunner (formerly of the Red Wings) is a solid player also capable of being a top-six forward. Legendary right wing Teemu Selanne recently turned 43 but he can still play. Most feel that if he returns for another season it will be in Anaheim but after Alfredsson’s move and winger Bobby Ryan’s trade to Ottawa, there are a few places Selanne could now land. Veteran defensemen Marek Zidlicky (New Jersey) and Ron Hainsey (Winnipeg) will also have jobs soon enough.
There is a severe lack of quality goaltenders left on the market but Tim Thomas is apparently intent on returning to the NHL after his self-imposed year off last season. The Flyers made perfect sense for him but that move is now highly unlikely.
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter @RichSlate