This is the busiest time of year for the NHL in terms of signings and making moves. Things that are happening right now in free agency are going to dictate which teams will be on top heading into the 2021-22 season. There are plenty of storylines unfolding right now in the NHL so it is important to pause to highlight and analyze the biggest ones.
Free agency has started out hot with big names making moves. Most notably, Marc-Andre Fleury was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks on July 27. In return, the Vegas Golden Knights received Mikael Hakkarainen, a minor league player. This deal indicates that the Golden Knights were looking to unload some of their salary cap.
Fleury seemed surprised by the trade and released a statement afterwards giving no indication of his future. This led people to question whether he would actually play in net for the Blackhawks. Fleury had made it clear he wasn’t interested in moving his family from Vegas, but after letting the trade sink in he announced he would mind the net for the Blackhawks.
This organization, this city and this fanbase will forever be grateful to Marc-Andre Fleury for the impact he’s made on and off the ice in just four years. We wish Marc-Andre and his family the best in this new chapter of their lives. #VegasBorn 🌸 pic.twitter.com/tiXn3d3wm0
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) July 27, 2021
Another big sign took place about 780 miles east of Fleury’s new home with the New Jersey Devils landing a big deal. Defensemen Dougie Hamilton, the best one available in free agency, put the pen to the paper for a 7-year contract at $9.5 million per season. Hamilton comes from the Carolina hurricanes where in three years he posted 42 points in 55 games last season to come in at fifth out of all NHL defensemen. Hamilton will be a major addition to the Devils blue line.
The Devils also addressed back-up goalie concerns by signing Mackenzie Blackwood on a 2 year deal.
Seattle Kraken build their roster
The Kraken have released their official roster after completing their expansion draft and making a signing in free agency. In the expansion draft the Kraken selected fifteen forwards, twelve defensemen and three goaltenders.
The biggest name on their list is defenseman Mark Giordano, the former captain for the Calgary Flames. The 2019 Norris Trophy winner played for the Flames for 15 seasons and will be a huge leader for the new team. Last season, Giordano scored 9 goals, four of which were on the power play, and had 17 assists.
Another notable pickup for the Kraken was right wing Jordan Eberle from the New York Islanders. Eberle has been in the NHL since 2010 and played seven seasons with the Edmonton Oilers before going to the Islanders. Eberle posted 16 goals last season along with 17 assists.
The Kraken added Brandon Tanev from the Pittsburgh Penguins as well to add another experienced player to their group. Tanev played for the Winnipeg Jets for four seasons before making the move to Pittsburgh, where last season he grabbed seven goals and tacked on nine assists.
The Kraken have three options to choose from when it comes to who will be their first starting goalie. At the moment, they have Joey Daccord, Chris Driedger and Phillipp Grubauer. Grubauer was just picked up in free agency and was signed to a six-year, $34.5 million deal. The former Colorado Avalanche seems to be the logical choice to start in the net with nine seasons of NHL play under his belt.
The money spent on him was a shock to most who expected the big money to go to a forward or defensemen, but the Kraken general manager Ron Francis decided it was important to splurge on an experienced goalie.
It has only just begun
The season is set to start on October 12, leaving plenty of time for more offseason moves and stories to develop. While hockey fans impatiently countdown the days to puck drop, there is sure to be more to come from this offseason, especially with the new franchise of the Kraken settling into their spot as the 32nd NHL team. Although all of the news is exciting, it will be even more rewarding to finally watch how these moves will affect the teams once the season starts.
New jerseys etched with old, recognizable names have created high anticipation for the upcoming 2021-22 season.