Notable NHL Free Agent Signings – July 2, 2014

Check out today’s collection of notable free agent signings. This will be updated throughout the day as signings occur. 

Olli Jokinen signs with the Nashville Predators.

Olli Jokinen signs with the Nashville Predators.

The Vancouver Canucks sign Radim Vrbata to a two-year, $10 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canucks GM Jim Benning addresses his club’s need for a scoring forward. The 33-year-old tallied 51 points last season with the Coyotes. $5 million per is a big much for him, but it’s only a two-year term.  Looking forward to reading the reaction of some Vancouver pundits over this, as for the most part they’ve been very critical of Benning’s moves.

The New York Islanders have signed Mikhail Grabovski to a four-year, $20 million contract and Nikolai Kulemin to a four-year, $16.75 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I like the addition of Grabovski, providing more depth at center for the Islanders. Kulemin gives them a skilled checking-line right wing, though it’s possible the Isles could try playing the pair on the same line. Yes, the Isles have overpaid, but they’re only four-year deals, plus it helps them get to the cap floor. At the very least, these moves provides some veteran depth to the Islanders young roster.

The Nashville Predators have signed Olli Jokinen to a one-year, $2.5 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An affordable pickup for the Predators, though at this stage in his career he’s best-suited as a third-line center. He won’t address their need for a scoring center. 

The Dallas Stars have signed Vernon Fiddler to a two-year contract worth $2.5 million.

The Carolina Hurricanes have signed center Jay McClement to a one-year, $1 million deal.

The Philadelphia Flyers have signed defenseman Nick Schultz to a one-year. $1.25 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A good depth addition to the Flyers defense, though this move means they’ll have to shed some salary to make room for his contract. 

The Pittsburgh Penguins have signed Steve Downie to a one-year, $1 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Downie can stay healthy and play a more disciplined game this could be a good addition to the Penguins checking lines. 

The Chicago Blackhawks signed defenseman Kyle Cumiskey to a one-year, two-way contract worth $600K at the NHL level.

The San Jose Sharks signed enforcer John Scott to a one-year, $700K contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best reaction to that signing came from @suicidepass: “if there’s one thing that’s been holding back the Sharks in the high-octane, run-and-gun Western Conference, it’s a lack of fistpower.”  Second best, from “Puck Daddy” Greg Wyshynski: ” John Scott signs with the San Jose Sharks, presumably to punch the other 17 skaters in the face if they blow another 3-0 lead.”

12 Comments

  1. Kulemin is a big, physical puck possession winger who just scored 30 goals 3 years ago. Put him on a line with Tavares and Okposo and it may not be overpayment at all.

  2. I like the term and money for Jokinen. He can be a great veteran presence with a young team, and provide size in the middle (necessary for a team in the West these days). His point totals are comparable to the departed Hornqvist, hopefully that evens itself out.

    I’m curious if Poile has his top 6, or will still pursue one in the trade market/free agency (I think the former is more likely, but that’s just a gut feeling). I’d love to see the Preds get one ore big name, I just don’t see it in the cards. Also, i wonder how Spezza turning down a trade to Nashville effected other players views of going to play for that organization.

    • I think he is still looking at Lecavalier.

  3. Garth Snow is doing what he can to improve this team. Gabrovski & Kulemin can really help this team, a goaltending duo of Halak & Johnson is much better than previous seasons, and Brennan could become a solid puck moving force on the back end. I am not sure if the Islanders are trying to look at Reinhart, Pokka, and Pulock and see if one is ready to step up to fill out their defense. They might look at Chicago or Boston who are rumored to be looking to shed a D-man.

    I think the Islanders are going to be a better team then most will give them credit for next season.

    • I think they are a play off team, love these additions its no longer a 1 line team, with Halak Taveres healthy…just need 1 D man and could very well be a home ice type playoff team in the east first round.

      • With how inconsistent Halak is I wouldn’t put that playoff status on them just yet.

        They have absolutely zero defense. One defenseman won’t change much. With teams like Montreal, Boston,Toronto, Columbus, Detroit, Rangers, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay and Washington looking better then them I highly doubt they will be a playoff team let alone a home ice advantage playoff team. That’s more of a dream scenario then anything else.

        Grabovski will be a 50-55 point guy for the Isles. Kulemin honestly is nobody. Doesn’t really make them better. He honestly has had just one good season.

        • Halak may have some inconsistencies but over the past 5 years he’s averaged a .916 SV% and 2.25 GAA with 5 SO. This past season his numbers (.921/2.25) were better than Lundqvist, Lehtonen, and Crawford and ranked him as 9th overall against goalies playing at least 40 games and 7th vs. goalies playing at least 50 games. Even with his inconsistencies, it’s still a very good upgrade to Nabokov’s .905/2.74.

          While I don’t know if they jump up the rankings high enough to grab home ice in at least the first round, their moves this off season do give them better talent and depth compared to last year giving them as good a shot as any in the east outside of the top teams to grab a bottom four playoff spot.

          • With out picking up a d man right now I see them and the rangers and Jackets about equal in the Metro, if they get some help somehow on D andmanage to jell as a team I like them better, and the Pens win the metro. They are deffinately better on paper than the Leafs Sabres Sens Panthers and Redwings Canes Caps Devils Flyers. they are strong down the middle good but young on D and I think Halak is one of the most under rated/appreciated goalies in the league when you look at his career numbers. Brennan was a nice pick up as well.

  4. i really like the moves that bennign has done. I like the assets and prospects we got from the kesler deal, considering we had only one team to deal with considering the hawks lacked cap space anyways. Wasnt too sure about the garrison deal, figured we could have got more, but grabbing vey for that 2nd rd pick was a pretty good deal. The only problem is id rather have a full on rebuild instead of half ass, especially with mcdavid draft next year. The moves we made gives us a chance at the playoffs, but lets not kid ourselves, canucks are nowhere near contending, especially with all the powerhouse teams in the west.Since its like that we might as well tank while we can and speedup the rebuild by a cpl years than hang on and be a fringe playoff team for the next 5 years. All that depressing talk out of the way, the prospects and drafting has been a huge improvement over gillis, and am very happy with the picks and prospects we got since then.

    • Looks like the plan is to let the young draftees play in the AHL for 2 or 3 years then start bringing them in rather than rush them to fill holes. Like the way the Miller and Vrbata signings were for serious money but short term.

  5. Vrbata will be awesome with Canucks ! He has done a great job in PHX playing with decent players , if they play him with the Sedins he will do great

  6. Isles are getting better. They needed Grabo and Kulemin to get them over the cap floor as they were already at 21 roster players. Grabo and Kulemin on the second line is where they belong. They will put up numbers. They have upgraded in net and going forward just need to keep improving their defence.

    Vrbata was a great pick up for Canucks. I thought he would have looked good with Kadri and Lupul, but the Leafs obviously though hisdollars were too much.