Tiger Shark – Lives in solidarity, moves at night, relatively sluggish until stimulated by food, then becomes extremely dangerous.
Edmonton Oilers: Signings
1. Andrew Ference (Boston Bruins)
Contract – 4 years 13 million
2. Boyd Gordon (Phoenix Coyotes)
Contract – 3 years 9 million
Analysis: Craig MacTavish knocked this out of the park. The Oilers aren’t necessarily known for making huge free agent splashes, and these signings appear to fit that billing. They don’t need flash, they needed rolls filled. The tiger shark becomes a threat when it becomes stimulated by food, the Oilers were hungry for a top 4 defenseman, and depth down the middle of the ice. Ference and Gordon provide both at extremely economic prices! They might not be done, but these first two moves are under the radar Tiger Shark moves! Ference instantly makes the entire Edmonton Oiler defense look much more respectable. That’s on paper, when he’s relentlessly wearing out opposing forwards this fall, it will look even better. Boyd Gordon isn’t gracing the front of many posters lining the walls of young NHL hockey fans like Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are. He does contribute tangibly to a bottom 6 group that will need to play much better for Edmonton this year if they are to finally turn their playoff fortunes around.
Bull Shark – Aggressive, aggressive, aggressive! Bull sharks are considered to have the 3rd highest risk for human attack among sharks, only behind the Great White and Tiger shark.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Signings
1. Nathan Horton (Boston Bruins)
Contract – 7 years 37.1 million
Analysis: Wow, to call this aggressive isn’t doing justice to bulls seeing red at the running of the bulls in Spain. This is the kind of financial commitment teams make to star players, faces of their franchise. I do not believe that is what Nathan Horton is, or will be for the Columbus Blue Jackets. I am pleased to see a team that has been basement dwelling in the NHL for virtually all of its existence at least taking a few good hacks at some fast balls, but this is a strike out. An Alex Rodriguez in October strike out. Nathan Horton is now a first line player in the NHL, this contract dictates that he has to be. He is a player who has only played 80% of his teams games over the last 5 years, and isn’t a picture of health right now. He is going under the knife for shoulder surgery and expected out until November or December. Horton has become known as a playoff performer, showing up with his best games that time of year. The only problem is the Blue Jackets will need to find a way to get there before that will become a relevant upside to this major signing.
Whale Shark – Extremely slow, docile creature that spends much of its time near the surface of the water.
Boston Bruins: Signings
1. Jerome Iginla (Pittsburgh Penguins)
Contract 1 year 6 million (1. 8 million base salary, 3.7 million games played bonus/$500,000 goal scoring bonus)
Analysis: The Boston Bruins, whale sharks of the NHL. What can you say? Tim Chiarelli seems to remain cool under pressure while staying one step ahead of avoiding a potential set back. If I told you a week ago that 1 day into free agency the Boston Bruins would be without Nathan Horton, Tyler Seguin, Rich Peverley and Andrew Ference, you would have said they just blew the team up. But slow and steady, the Bruins float near the surface of every available free agent of interest, sometimes losing out ( Daniel Alfredsson and Michael Ryder ), but sometimes not, with the signing of Jerome Iginla, and the trade which brought Loui Eriksson and Joe Morrow to Boston. They just go about their business, doing what they will without apparent care for the frantic chaos around them. Prior to the free agent madness beginning they did what most smart teams do, and retained their most important core players, Patrice Bergeron and goaltender Tuukka Rask were signed to 8 and 7 year contracts respectively. All the while, it appears they don’t miss a single step along the way.
Those were some of the big fish that were plucked from the pond on day 1 of the NHL free agent period, here are some other notable players who will find themselves in unfamiliar colours when puck drops on the 2013/2014 NHL season.
Bobby Ryan – Ottawa Senators
Vincent Lecavalier – Philadelphia Flyers
Daniel Briere – Montreal Canadiens
Jonathan Bernier – Toronto Maple Leafs
Cory Schneider – New Jersey Devils
Tyler Seguin – Dallas Stars
Loui Eriksson – Boston Bruins
Ryan Clowe – New Jersey Devils
Michael Ryder – New Jersey Devils
Mike Ribeiro – Phoenix Coyotes
Valtteri Filppula – Tampa Bay Lightning
Rob Scuderi – Pittsburgh Penguins
Devin Setoguchi – Winnipeg Jets
It is important to note, that while this first day of free agency is billed as a frenzy, and believe me, it was; this doesn’t mean that signings, small and large are finished. As I pointed out at the onset of this column, the way in which teams approach free agency varies greatly. The economic gamesmanship at play here is very real. Asking prices will go down as days go by, and some of the more steadfast general managers will lessen their grips on their wallets. Talent the likes of Derek Roy, Mikhail Grabovski, Dustin Penner, Brendan Morrow, Milan Hejduk and many more still remain available at the right price, and fit. For now, the active GM’s of day 1 finish licking their chops after an active feeding frenzy that saw several teams and players eat very well. I am going to bet that a few of them have room for seconds as well!