With the World Cup of Hockey and NHL training camps both set to start next month, teams are actively trying to wrap up the last of their offseason business and finalizing their rosters. This week saw a couple of late unrestricted free agent signings that look to be bargains at first glance and a major trade completed by two of the league’s more analytically inclined organizations. We’ve got that and more in this installment of Week In Review.
Notable UFA Signings
Jiri Hudler (Dallas) – Hudler’s presence on the open market this late into the summer has been a bit of a mystery. He’s averaged at least 0.64 points-per-game in each of his last three seasons; a rate good enough to prorate into a 50-point campaign in a full schedule. With plenty of clubs looking to add scoring depth this summer it is somewhat surprising that it was the league’s most prolific offensive team that added Hudler on a one-year, $2MM deal. If Hudler remains healthy and in the lineup and reaches the 40-point mark, the deal will go down as a steal for Dallas.
Brandon Pirri (New York Rangers) – Pirri, like Hudler, has been a strong offensive player who surprisingly drew little interest this summer. Based on the last three seasons, Pirri places tied for 30th in goals-per-game averaging 0.33. But concerns about his defensive play may have limited his market. Ultimately the Rangers took a calculated risk and signed Pirri to a one-year pact worth $1.1MM.
Jhonas Enroth (Toronto Maple Leafs) – Toronto finalized their one-year agreement with the veteran backstop weeks after it was initially reported to be close. Enroth should provide a reliable backup to the newly-acquired Frederik Andersen at a great rate relative to other quality #2 goalies in the league.
Notable RFA Signings
Cody Ceci (Ottawa) – The Senators finally locked up RFA defenseman Cody Ceci, signing the three-year veteran to a two-year bridge deal with an AAV of $2.8MM. He will earn $2.25MM in 2016-17 and $3.35MM in year two of the agreement. Ceci tallied a career-high 10 goals and 26 points this past season and believes he has more to offer, particularly on the power play.
Notable ELC Signings
Max Jones (Anaheim) – The Ducks agreed to terms with Jones on an ELC that will pay the 24th overall selection in June $925K at the NHL level and $70K while suiting up in the AHL. As noted, the agreement does not contain any performance bonuses; a relative rarity for first-round picks.
The Arizona Coyotes continued to convert available cap space into young talent by agreeing to take on the remaining three years and $16.5MM of Dave Bolland’s contract while also adding Florida’s first-round pick in the 2015 draft, Lawson Crouse, in the transaction. In return, the Panthers acquired a conditional second in 2018 and a 2017 third-round choice.
Bolland is unlikely to suit up for Arizona this year and his injuries could actually spell the end of the road for the veteran forward. Consequently, the Coyotes will inevitably place Bolland on LTIR, subtracting his cap hit from their books. Meanwhile, since the contract is insured, the Coyotes will only have to pay Bolland $1.1MM in actual cash this season.
Opinions are mixed on Crouse’s potential with some thinking he profiles only as a bottom-six player who acquiring is not worth also absorbing Bolland’s deal. Others think he has top-six, power forward potential. Count Coyotes GM John Chayka among the latter as he feels players who share Crouse’s skill set are “rare to find, difficult to obtain.”
Florida, meanwhile, gains salary relief which can be reinvested in the 2016-17 product and two draft picks to help add to the team’s diminishing prospect pool.
Jeff Glass – With Toronto’s expected starter and backup, Frederik Andersen and Jhonas Enroth respectively, participating in the World Cup, Toronto decided to add a body to the training camp roster. Theoretically, Glass could earn a job somewhere in the Maple Leafs organization with a solid training cap performance.