The National Hockey League (NHL) offseason is now well underway with the draft having been completed and teams now able to sign free agents. This year’s free agency period featured a relatively better crop of players than in year’s past, including Johnny Gaudreau, perhaps the biggest name available since John Tavares left Long Island to sign with his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs.
Gaudreau, in a sense, followed the same logic as Tavares. While he didn’t end up signing with the Philadelphia Flyers or New Jersey Devils (he’s from South Jersey), he did move a little closer to home – and left $15 million on the table – to sign with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Obviously, Gaudreau’s seven-year, $68.25 million contract was the largest awarded in free agency. Vincent Trochek, signed by the New York Rangers, was the only other player to get a seven-year deal. Other big signings included Ondrej Palat (Devils), Andrew Copp (NHL Detroit Red Wings), and Jack Campbell (NHL Edmonton Oilers).
Those are all great signings, but what under-the-radar signing is going to be looked back at as a brilliant pickup one year from now?
David Perron – Detroit Red Wings (2 years, $9.5 million)
Steve Yzerman worked magic as general manager of theNHL Tampa Bay Lightning and seems to be doing so again with the Red Wings. He’s a wizard in the NHL Draft, often finding diamonds in the rough (ie. Andrei Vasilevskiy, Nikita Kucherov, and Mortiz Seider) and now seems to be ready to build a more competitive roster in Detroit.
While Copp (five years, $28.1 million) was Detroit’s biggest signing, Yzerman also signed David Perron after he was inexplicably not offered a contract by the St. Louis Blues. Perron, a 34-year-old veteran, brings much needed leadership to Detroit and can still produce.
Perron had 57 points in 67 regular season games last year and was even better in the playoffs with nine goals and four assists for 13 points in 12 games.
Dylan Strome – Washington Capitals (1 year, $3.5 million)
The NHL Washington Capitals signing of Dylan Strome wasn’t so much a shrewd move by the team as it was a terrible asset management decision by the Chicago Blackhawks. Chicago chose not to tender Strome, despite the fact he’s still just 25 years old and had 48 points in 69 games last season.
Strome gives Washington younger and fresh legs to complement aging veterans like Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. He’ll likely play top-six minutes and could easily surpass 50 or even 60 points this season.
Ilya Samsonov – Toronto Maple Leafs (1 year, $1.8 million)
Let’s be clear here, the NHL Toronto Maple Leafs are still likely worse off between the pipes than they were last season. But the signing of Ilya Samsonov at least quelled fans’ concerns after Kyle Dubas acquired Matt Murray from the Ottawa Senators.
Both goaltenders have potential to turn their career around, but could also be terrible. Samsonov, with the right coaching, could become the goalie most analysts thought he would when he was selected 22nd overall by the Capitals in 2015.
Toronto should have no problem scoring goals in 2022-23. Samsonov just needs to play average to earn his contract.