NHL Betting: The 4 Biggest Winners In Free Agency

There are millions of dollars spent on NHL free agents every July and while there always seems to be bad contracts to pick on there are also some very smart deals that get made and help legitimate Stanley Cup contenders take that next step. That was certainly the case a year ago when the Chicago Blackhawks signed Brad Richards to a one-year deal to plug the hole they had in their lineup for a second-line centre so it should be no surprise the team that landed Richards this season graded favorably on our reviews especially considering he wasn’t the only UFA the Detroit Red Wings managed to sign. Here is a look at the four biggest winners from this year’s free agency period that’ll help their NHL futures.

Washington Capitals

The Capitals decided that they didn’t want to overspend to bring back Joel Ward and Mike Green when they had bigger needs to address and they made the smart decision to let both of them go as unrestricted free agents. Washington used the money they saved by not signing Ward and Green to sign Justin Williams to a two-year, $6.5M deal and then trade for another top-six forward in TJ Oshie from the St. Louis Blues. With their top-six defencemen already locked in the Capitals were smart to sign a pair of offensively-gifted forwards with varying degrees of experience to provide Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom with some additional help up front. Washington has one of the most dangerous offenses in the NHL and they aren’t any worse off without either Ward or Green on their roster.

Detroit Red Wings

The majority of experts predicted that Green would be significantly overpaid as a 29-year-old defenceman with a history of injury issues and now six seasons removed from his best statistical year but the Red Wings managed to land him for $18M over a reasonable three-year term that won’t hurt them down the line. Detroit managed to plug their obvious need for an offensive-minded, puck-moving defenceman and then signed Richards to a reasonable one-year, $3M deal that will help provide some depth and veteran experience for a relatively young team that could be without veteran Pavel Datsyuk for the start of next season. The Red Wings managed to improve their roster without compromising the future in any way and GM Ken Holland deserves credit for getting those two deals done.

Nashville Predators

Predators’ GM David Poile might not get the credit he deserves just yet but he made three important free agent signings that could help Nashville fulfill its potential as a potential Stanley Cup contender this season when he signed Mike Ribeiro, Cody Hodgson and Barret Jackman. Ribeiro had 15 goals and 62 points last season but off-ice issues contributed to the Predators getting a chance to bring him back with a bargain two-year, $7M deal and Poile played a similar strategy signing Hodgson to a one-year, $1M deal that is also low-risk, high-reward. Jackman will fit in nicely as a veteran defenceman that helps provide depth at a much cheaper price than Cody Franson did for Nashville last season and while Poile hasn’t been talked about enough so far for the moves he made there is no doubt the Predators are among the biggest winners from the NHL free agency period.

Columbus Blue Jackets

The biggest move the Blue Jackets made was trading for Brandon Saad but they deserve a ton of credit for locking him up with a six-year deal and then signing Gregory Campbell as a UFA. Columbus has an excellent blend of skill and grit and while Saad fits in as a potential first-line winger next to Ryan Johansen and Nick Foligno it will be just as important to plug in Campbell as a fourth-line checker that thrives on the penalty kill and isn’t afraid to muck it up. The Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets all deserve credit for the moves they made but we like the Blue Jackets for the final spot on this list for locking up both Saad and Campbell to quietly take a step forward as a sleeper pick to make some noise in the Eastern Conference next season.