They call it Free Agent Frenzy for a reason. With so many moving parts and over $400 million worth of contracts signed it’s a fun day on the hockey calendar when there isn’t much else to talk about.
Free Agency is special because teams have a chance to completely change their organization or to quietly add a few missing pieces without giving up any other assets. This is special because whenever a team makes a trade for a specific player they have to give up something in return. For this reason, let’s talk about some winners and losers from day 1 of Free Agency.
Winner: Vegas Golden Knights. It wasn’t long ago that the Jets were rumoured to make a splash in free agency by re-signing Paul Stastny. One week ago things were looking bright as Stastny was rumoured to be staying in Winnipeg and the only problem was finding the money. The Jets did everything in their power to clear space as they sent Mason and Armia away as a pure salary dump. All other signs were pointing towards Stastny re-signing and then…
VGK the frontrunner to land Paul Stastny.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) July 1, 2018
The frustrating aspect of this is not the money or the term (although the Jets would be extremely hard-pressed to find $6.5 million extra, especially next year) but that this isn’t the first time Vegas has meddled in the Jets affairs. Remember back to the trade deadline, shortly before Stastny was even on the radar, when the Jets were trying to trade for Brassard. That deal entirely fell through almost exclusively due to the Golden Knights. Vegas deserves to be labelled a winner if only because they continue to plague the Jets by making frustrating deals and limiting their options.
Am told that western team was Winnipeg https://t.co/RasFxxzDZJ
— John Shannon (@JSportsnet) February 24, 2018
Loser: Kevin Cheveldayoff. As mentioned above, the Jets were unable to sign Stastny which was the big splash the organization was trying to achieve. To make matters even worse, they cleared the cap space in the hopes of re-signing him. While cap space is always a good thing to have, the end result was getting rid of Armia so Mason would come off the books. In hindsight, with Mason only signed for one more season, they could have kept both around instead of losing an asset to get rid of a bad contract.
Winner: Nic Petan & Marko Dano. While the Armia deal might be bad asset management, the Jets now have two empty spots in their lineup. One option might be to fill that void from free agency, but there are two capable forwards that have been biding their time with the organization. There have been extensive articles about Petan and his misuse, but both him and Dano could use a fresh start and some confidence next season. With two roster spots now available on the Jets, these two will most likely be the biggest benefactors.
Loser: Eric Comrie. If Petan and Dano are winners of free agency, Eric Comrie is the loser. When the Jets traded Mason the backup role immediately came available. Most people pointed to Michael Hutchinson but he decided to sign with the Florida Panthers which left Eric Comrie as the logical choice going forward. However, the Jets decided to sign Laurent Brossoit of the Oilers to battle with Comrie for the backup position. Brossoit has struggled at times at the NHL level and it leaves a battle for the backup position when training camp begins in September. This isn’t to say that Comrie will not be the backup next season, it just means he will have to earn it instead of moving right into the role.
If I was the Jets, I can't say that I would be comfortable with Brossoit as a number-two.
— PATRICK WILLIAMS (@pwilliamsNHL) July 1, 2018
Winner: The City of Angels. The Kings made headlines a few days ago by re-signing Drew Doughty to a massive 8 year extension worth $11 million per season. While this was great for the organization, the city made an ever bigger deal on Free Agency from a different league when Lebron James chose to sign with the Lakers. While the Doughty news is great, Lebron’s impact on a city and team is immeasurable. Now is a great time to be a Los Angeles sports fan as both the Lakers and Kings try to get back on track and keep winning more championships.
Loser: Every Canadian not from Ontario. Obviously the big news of the day was Tavares signing with the league’s most media-saturated team, the Toronto Maple Leafs. While this is a huge win for the Leafs organization, the media attention will be even more overwhelming than it usually is. Don’t count on the Jets getting any more attention going forward. It took a deep playoff run for the Jets to be noticed at all, now they will fade to the background as everyone salivates over Tavares and Matthews playing together.
i could be mistaken, but the problem with Tavares signing in Toronto is that i fear the Leafs will now get a disproportionate amount of attention from the national media.
— randy turner (@randyturner15) July 1, 2018
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