Day 1 of free agency – sometimes it’s quiet, sometimes it’s chock full of fireworks. If you were following NHL scribes on Twitter or watching the proceedings on TV, you know what Tuesday turned out to be.
Yes, the money flew, as did the big names attached to them. In time, we’ll find out which deals, be it splashy ones or the subtle variety, worked. But for now, let’s offer a few thoughts and musings on this very busy free-agency opener.
1. Too much money, once again. This has become a common theme during free agency, especially in a year where there wasn’t a ton of choices. Some teams had to spend – yes, had to spend – because of the higher cap floor ($51 million). The spending was ludicrous in a lot of cases but, again, that’s the way of the free-agency world. That doesn’t mean it’s going to lead to success for a lot of the teams who opened those wallets.
[RELATED: Peter Regin stays with Blackhawks]
2. Oh, the Central Division is going to be a dandy. It’s been a damn good division for some time but it has the potential to really be something now. We say potential because, while everything on paper looks good, you still have to see how it plays out on the ice. The St. Louis Blues got Paul Stastny to bolster their scoring, something that should’ve been their focus last trade deadline, not goaltending. The Avalanche got veteran leaders, including Jarome Iginla. The Dallas Stars got Jason Spezza as they continue to rebuild into a playoff contender. The Blackhawks got Brad Richards to help solidify their center spot and make Teuvo Teravainen’s transition to the NHL easier. The Central has provided great hockey/drama/postseason races for a few years; that could continue in 2014-15.
3. With the Richards and Peter Regin signings, the Blackhawks are $2 million over the $69 million cap for this season. So what do the Blackhawks do now? General manager Stan Bowman said, once again, that the Blackhawks have ideas on how to solve it. Once again, he wasn’t divulging those ideas. The Blackhawks have time to figure things out – they don’t have to be down to the hard cap until right before the regular season begins. Still, you have to wonder if something’s done in the next week or so. Now that many unrestricted free agents are signed, to teams come calling about available Blackhawks? Probably, and the Blackhawks may pare off their defense first.
4. For those who wanted something more of a second-line center option than Richards, we point once again to that cap. Yes, we threw big names out as potential candidates before the draft and free agency began but in all cases, the Blackhawks were going to have to shave a lot of salary to take on more. Chances were, it wasn’t going to happen.
5. July 1 passed with two signings not happening, those of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane to their expected extensions. It’s still going to get done. As general manager Stan Bowman said tonight, negotiations are “ongoing and nothing has changed from my original expectation that they’ll both be signed, and we’re looking forward to that.”