Nearly 100 players have moved on the first day of free agency in the NHL, and it has lived up to being called the free agent frenzy. The St. Louis Blues nabbed the most coveted forward in the market, while the Colorado Avalanche brought in some top men.
Avalanche center Paul Stastny reportedly said that he would not take any less than the $6.6 million that was on his expiring contract this year. He also said that he would be willing to give the Avs a hometown discount, so there was hope that he would come back to Colorado for less than he made this year. The St. Louis Blues dashed those hopes by offering Stastny a four-year $28 million contract that the Avs could not justify paying him. Though Stastny returns to his home state, it’s easy to feel cheated, since Stastny has been playing in Colorado (first for the Denver Pioneers) for the past 10 years. With Stastny moving on, the Avs had to do the same.
Jesse Winchester is a right-handed shot and a center who will probably be taking faceoffs on the third or fourth line. Winchester stands at 6’1, and weighs in at 205 pounds, so he will bring toughness to an Avs team that was pushed around too often during the regular season and playoffs. Last season with the Florida Panthers, Winchester played in 52 games and notched 9 goals and 18 points while winning 48.5 percent of the faceoffs he took.
Zach Redmond (6’2, 205 pounds) is another right-handed shooter who has scored 7 points in 18 career defensive contests for the Winnipeg Jets.
Bruno Gervais (6’1, 200 pounds) has ties to Avalanche forward Max Talbot, and will be a depth defenseman who is also a right-handed shot. Gervais didn’t play in the NHL last year, but has 418 games of NHL experience, most recently in 2012-13 when he played in 37 games with the Philadelphia Flyers.
Ben Street, formerly of the Calgary Flames, is a left handed shooter who has played in 19 NHL games and has two points, but no goals on his resume. The 5’11, 185-pound center will be a depth forward on an Avalanche team that is loaded with centers.
The Avs also sent a second-round pick in 2016, and a sixth-round pick in 2017 to the San Jose Sharks for hard-hitting defenseman Brad Stuart. The 6’2, 215-pound Stuart helps shore up one of the worst defensive units in the NHL, and the veteran blue-liner will provide leadership, shot blocking and hitting to a young Avalanche defensive core.
The biggest prize of the day for the Avalanche was right wing Jarome Iginla. The 6’1, 210-pound right handed shot, has played in 1,310 contests and spent last season with the Boston Bruins. Iginla scored 30 goals and 61 points for the Bruins, and though he
is not as fast as many of the players on the Avs, Iginla brings a cannon of a shot and a net-front presence. Iginla is in the twilight of his career and has yet to have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup. By coming to Colorado he’ll be back in the Western Conference where he spent most of his time with the Calgary Flames.
Jesse Winchester (Florida Panthers) Center – 20 goals, 70 points, in 285 games. 31 years old.
Brad Stuart (San Jose Sharks) Defense – 245 assists, 322 points in 985 games. 34 years old.
Jarome Iginla (Boston Bruins) Right wing – 560 goals, 1,167 points in 1,310 games. 37 years old
Bruno Gervais – (Last with Philadelphia Flyers) Defense, 71 assists, 87 points, in 418 games. 29 years old
Zach Redmond (Winnipeg Jets) – Defense, 5 assists, 7 points in 18 games. 26 years old.
Ben Street (Calgary Flames) – Center, 2 assists, 2 points in 19 games. 27 years old
Brad Malone (Carolina Hurricanes) – Center, 4 goals, 9 points in 54 games. 25 years old
Paul Stastny (St. Louis Blues) – Center, 298 assists, 458 points in 538 games. 28 years old
David Van Der Gulik (Los Angeles Kings) – Left wing, 11 assists, 13 points, in 48 games. 31 years old
Matt Hunwick (New York Rangers) – Defense, 16 goals, 67 points in 292 games. 29 years old.
Landeskog – Duchene – O’Reilly
Tanguay – MacKinnon – Iginla
McGinn – Mitchell – Briere
McLeod – Winchester – Talbot
Johnson – Hejda
Barrie – Stuart
Holden – Guenin
What did you think of the moves the Avalanche made? What would your lineups be?