It makes sense that NHL Free Agency started on Canada Day, ya know since it’s essentially Canada’s sport and boy did the day start off with a bang. So let’s go through the more notable moves that happened yesterday.
After what felt like forever, #TavaresWatch finally came to an end and did anyone else find it fitting that John Tavares announced he was taking his talents to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Canada Day? Or was I the only one? Anyway, Tavares decided that he was done waiting for the New York Islanders organization to get their act together and decided to take his talents to his childhood favorite team the Maple Leafs. But the question I have now is will Tavares assume the Captaincy of the Leafs? During the 2017-18 season the honor was Morgan Reilly’s but part of me wonders if the team will let Tavares take the reins.
So while the Leafs landed John Tavares they have lost forward James van Riemsdyk who has signed a deal with the Philadelphia Flyers. Now this is significant because this will be the second time that van Riemsdyk was played for the Flyers. Drafted 2nd overall in 2007 the Flyers, van Riemsdyk was traded to the Maple Leafs in 2012 for Luke Schenn and JvR blossomed during his time in Toronto. JvR also has a no-move clause this time around so he’s planning to make his second time in Philly great.
The Dallas Stars made a surprising move by signing Valeri Nichushkin to a two year contract. Nichushkin has spent the two seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League CSKAMoscow team raking up 51 points ranking second in shots on goal with 116 and third in goals with 16. Nichushkin played 166 games across three seasons with the Stars before he suffered an injury and found his way back to the KHL.
My Chicago Blackhawks made some interesting moves in the opening day signing Goaltender Cam Ward and Forward Chris Kunitz to one-year contracts. Ward makes sense given Corey Crawford’s injury this past season that kept him out pretty much the later half of the season and Kunitz brings with him three Stanley Cups and hopefully his goal scoring to help take the pressure off Patrick Kane and Alex Debrincat to score all the goals.
And finally Pittsburgh’s favorite dad Matt Cullen is coming back for another year after playing for Minnesota following his 2017 Stanley Cup victory with the Penguins. The Penguins also signed Jack Johnson, former Shattuck-St. Mary’s teammate of Captain Sidney Crosby, which had most fans scratching their heads because of Johnson’s lackluster stats last season in Columbus.
There you have the bigger roster moves that happened in the opening day of free agency in the National Hockey League, hopefully you are happy with your team’s moves or understand that we’re a long way from the opening games of the season.