The NHL free agency period has commenced and we are interested in finding out who will be staying put and who will be wearing a different jersey this season. Let’s analyze which teams are on the rise and worthy of our NHL picks for next season.
Pittsburgh Penguins – The Pens made a big splash on the opening day of free agency by signing free agent Phil Kessel to complement Sid the Kid with the Maple Leafs paying fifteen-percent of the tab. The cap hit to the Penguins will be $6.8 million which allows them to move and groove a bit more. The next addition to their already explosive offensive engine is Sergei Plotnikov, 25, who played in Russia’s top league the KHL. Plotnikov is 6’2” and is not only a physical playmaker but also partnered with Evgeni Malkin en route to a silver medal in the world Championships. Betting over the NHL betting odds total in Pittsburgh games could become a money making enterprise in your NHL picks next season.
Boston Bruins – There were plenty of boos and hisses on Causeway Street when rookie GM Don Sweeney dealt away young blueliner Dougie Hamilton to Calgary in return for the Flames’ 15th overall pick in the draft and a pair of their second-rounders. As if that didn’t anger the Bruins’ faithful enough he then shipped veteran tough guy and fan favorite Milan Lucic to the Kings for LA’s 13th overall pick, backup netminder Martin Jones and a prospect. All Sweeney did with the 13th, 14th (B’s first-round pick), and 15th pick was actually draft a trio of youngsters that are not expected to contribute until several years down the road. So much for the immediate future.
Evidently Sweeney heard the cacophony of jeers and decided to strike on opening day when he acquired Matt Beleskey of Anaheim who tallied 22 lamplighters last season and moved Reilly Smith and the financial albatross that is the remainder of the retired Marc Savard’s contract to Florida for Dorchester native and BC alum Jimmy Hayes. Hayes notched 19 goals and 16 helpers last season for the Panthers.
Detroit Red Wings – Detroit got a power blaster on their power play for next season when they signed former Capital Mike Green to a three-year $18 million pact. They then purchased some true-blue championship experience when they signed 35-year-old Brad Richards away from the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks. Richards will provide a wealth of experience for a team that is trending younger.
Edmonton Oilers - Ousted Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli was not on the unemployment line very long when the Edmonton Oilers came calling. Chiarelli did not turn the hockey world on its ear when he signed transition defenseman Andrej Sekera formerly of Los Angeles and Mark Letestu previously of Columbus however Letestu will add depth to their bottom six while they search for further help up front.
Calgary Flames – The Flames were not content to sit by the phone waiting for someone to call after they extracted Dougie Hamilton from Boston. The Flames’ brass added two-way veteran Michael Frolik of the Winnipeg Jets and signed him to a multi-year deal to ply his trade in Calgary.
Nashville Predators – The Preds got a little tougher and deeper on defense when they signed Barret Jackman to a multiyear deal. Jackman was the longest tenured defenseman spending his entire career with St. Louis until Nashville wooed him to the Music City. The Predators also signed a low risk high reward 25-year-old center Cody Hodgson. But perhaps the biggest coup was retaining one of their own in Mike Ribeiro. Ribeiro signed a two-year $7 million dollar deal and is a key to the Nashville offense.