Free Agent Frenzy Lives Up To Hype

Over $400 million in salaries and signing bonuses have been doled out in the first week of BEARD Hockey free agency - and there's much more to come.



88 players have found new homes so far during the first week of unrestricted free agency in BEARD Hockey. Some of the signings have caused some head spinning among fan bases, while other signings have been applauded as much needed or at least fiscally responsible.


So just who has splashed the most? That would easily be the Tampa Bay Lightning, who have committed over $42 million in salaries and $11 million in signing bonuses to 20 free agents (wow!). The Washington Capitals have spent $28 million on six players, while the Florida Panthers have neared $20 million in salary commitments to three players.


There is still more action to come in the ensuing days. J.T. Miller, Evander Kane, and surprisingly sought-after Connor Brown are all expected to cash in soon as teams continue to bid big bucks for their services. However, there is expected to be some calm coming as soon as next week once these three are off the market.


Let's take a quick look at some of the good, the bad, and the downright ugly from the past week in UFA signings.


The Good: David Perron, John Klingberg, Patric Hornqvist


Perron's 4-year, $18 million deal (and $3.5 million in signing bonus) signed with the Capitals on Monday started looking like outright theft by Friday. The 33-year old showed no signs of slowing last season with a 64-point campaign in 83 games with four different teams.


Klingberg's 4-year, $24.5 million contract ($6.125 in signing bonus) penned by the Chicago Blackhawks also began to look beyond reasonable in the face of some of the other bidding wars for comparable defensemen. The 29-year old rearguard had 11 goals and 32 points last year in 80 games with three teams, as well as four points in 12 postseason games with Calgary.


Hornqvist, the steady and ever-present winger, signed with Philadelphia on Monday for what many considered a sweetheart deal: 2 years, $2.8 million with $700,000 in signing bonus. At just $1.4 million per year through 2022-23, the Flyers might lay claim to the steal of the offseason. Hornqvist netted 21 goals and 39 points with two clubs last season, and chipped in a goal over five playoff games with Detroit.


The Bad: Reilly Smith, Brandon Saad, Joel Edmundson


While Smith is a healthy contributor on both ends of the ice, the Sabres backed up the Brinks truck to sign him - to the tune of 4 years, $35 million, and a $5 million signing bonus. Smith had 25 goals and 68 points and was +4 on a bad Lightning team last year, so one expects those numbers could potentially increase on a contending team. Buffalo is banking on Smith providing Dylan Larkin a steady partner - and for a long, long while at that.


Saad made out like a bandit after an 18-goal campaign. Boston signed him to a 3-year, $23.4 million contract with $5.85 million in signing bonus. With free agency still in swing, the Bruins will be leaning on Saad to be one of the main drivers of their offense. Saad usually needs solid complimentary players to be at his best - this deal has boom or bust written all over it.


Edmundson, always an unsung piece of any club's backend, somehow parlayed a solid and steady 19-point season into a 4-year, $27 million deal ($6.75 million in signing bonus) with Calgary. The Flames were desperate for defense and had cap space to burn, and there's little doubt Edmundson will continue to be reliable, if not spectacular, for the next four years.


The Ugly: Brady Skjei, Mikhail Grigorenko, Devon Toews


Brady Skjei was one of the best, if not the best, defensemen on the market this offseason. Without a doubt, the 27-year old has plenty of great seasons ahead. But Minnesota spending $18.8 million over two seasons (including $4.7 million in signing bonus) to bring him in at this stage of their construction seems...interesting. If the Wild can't keep Skjei in tow beyond the 2022-23 season, they'll almost surely need to retain some of that salary to move him if the club doesn't get where it wants to in the time allotted.


Do better than a point a game on the farm and you too could earn a $18 million contract! That's what Grigorenko did, turning a solid farm season into three years of serious bank via the Seattle Kraken. While the Kraken seem to be planning on being cap floor dwellers for the foreseeable future and this does keep them above it fairly easily, it's all gravy for Grigorenko, who can just about retire in three years having made more money than he probably would have in more than double the time.


The Wild again dipped into the overpayment pool by signing Toews to a 4-year, $19 million deal. Currently he sits comfortably in Minnesota's top four on the defensive depth chart. There's likely more to come on that front, but unless Toews improves drastically from his underwhelming 12-point, -4 campaign last season, this contract could look quite unappealing in short order.

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