It ain’t over yet, but after Steven Stamkos re-signed in Tampa Bay, NHL GM’s went on a shopping binge on July 1, throwing cash around like sailors on shore leave in Hawaii.
In one hour on Canada Day, the collective minds occupying general manager seats spent a whopping $335 million on UFAs and over half a billion dollars by the time the clock struck midnight.
Steve Yzerman took his finger out of the dyke ahead of the opening bids, signing Stamkos to an eight-year, $68 million deal. That was in tandem with a pair of crazy trades, Subban-for-Weber and Hall-for-Larsson.
After the flurry of contract signings, there are still a few high profile names left to be considered, including Dallas’ Kris Russell, Anaheim’s Brandon Pirri, Vancouver’s Radim Vrbata and Pittsburgh’s Justin Schultz.
We think the tide has ebbed as NHL executives exhale and ponder their next moves.
When it was all said and done this weekend, there were 10 “winners.” Championships aren’t won in July, and only time will tell if those moves were prescient or just foolhardy.
Here they are, in no particular order.
After missing out on the Stamkos Sweepstakes, the Sabres did the next best thing and signed power forward Kyle Okposo to a seven-year, $42 million pact on Friday. At 28, there is still plenty left in the right winger’s tank and he’ll look plenty good skating with one of either Jack Eichel or Ryan O’Reilly. He is the right-handed big body the Sabres have lacked in recent years and with a 64-point campaign in 2015-16 he may be trending upward. Buffalo also made three minor signings to shore up their minor league position, with an eye to accounting for injuries. Journeyman Justin Falk of the Columbus Blue Jackets (24 games, 4 assists, +2), was signed to a one-year deal. They also inked Vancouver farmhand Taylor Fedun (D) and Calgary’s Derek Grant (C) to one-year, two-way deals.