There is still a lot of shifting going on in the NBA offseason, but the NHL free agent market also opened up on July 1st. Here is a look at some of the biggest signings, as well as how they will affect the odds in 2015.
Matt Niskanen signs with Washington Capitals for $40.25 million
Niskanen was an influential part of the Pittsburgh Penguins over the last few years, but the Pens didn’t want to match the offer made by fellow Eastern Conference contenders in Washington. As a powerful defender for the Pens, Niskanen had 46 points in his seventh year in the league last season. The Capitals already are known for their offensive firepower with Alexander Ovechkin, so they’ll hope that Niskanen can now come in and help out on the defensive end of things. The Caps are now listed at 55/1 odds to win the Stanley Cup in 2015, after just missing the playoffs this past season.
Tampa Bay Lightning Sign Anton Stralman for $22.5 million
The Lightning have already have had an active offseason and have moved up to 23/1 odds to win the 2015 Stanley Cup. However, their biggest signing may have been of Anton Stralman, formally of the New York Rangers. Along with Stralman, the Lightning also re-signed former Ranger Ryan Callahan, who was influential for the Lightning after they acquired him at the trade deadline this past season. Tampa Bay also made room for Brian Boyle, another former Ranger, as well as Evengi Nabokov. The Lightning finished third in the East last season, but they are shaping up to be a force in the conference this upcoming year. You can check in with sportspicks.com handicappers for insight into the Eastern Conference and the rest of the NHL as soon as the opening puck drops in October.
St. Louis Blues Sign Paul Stastny
The Colorado Avalanche made a surprising surge this past season, much of which was attributed to the efforts of Paul Statsny. At just 28, Stastny scored 60 points in 71 games for the Avs last season. The Blues noticed a substantial drop-off in points production last season, which they’ll hope Stastny can resurrect. The Blues finished third in the West in 2014, but Stastny could be the new leader that this club needs to keep up with the best in the West. The Blues are now at 12/1 odds to win the Stanley Cup next year.
Jarome Iginla Signs With Avalanche
Speaking of the Avalanche, they hope that singing Jarome Iginla will help fill any voids that may have been left by Stastny’s departure. Iginla joins his fourth team in the last two years and is now 36 years old, so it may be a challenge for him to keep up with quicker line mates. However, the Avalanche are hopeful that the former MVP and league-scoring champion still has a bit left in the tank. The Avalanche surprised everyone last year and they’ll hope to avoid going backwards next season. They currently sit at 18/1 odds for the 2015 Stanley Cup.
Minnesota Wild Sign Thomas Vanek To Three-Year $19.5 Million Deal
The team that knocked off the Avalanche last season was the Minnesota Wild. They were then beaten by Chicago, as they couldn’t keep up offensively. They hope that their singing of Thomas Vanek will change that. Vanek has 556 points in 663 career games, including 68 points in 78 games while shifting between three teams (Sabres, Rangers and Canadians) last season. With the addition of Vanek, the Wild are now 15/1 favorites in 2015.
Despite the flurry of signings on the first day of free agency, there are still some key players still available that could do wonders for teams needing to fill certain gaps. Here are some players that could be picked up in the coming days.
Martin Brodeur isn’t ready to call it quits yet, even if the New Jersey Devils aren’t willing to retain the long-time goalie for their franchise. Brodeur likely isn’t a starter anymore, but he can provide key backup help and veteran insight into a team looking to make a push in 2015.
Michael Del Zotto is just 24 years and known for being a speedy defender. The Predators didn’t resign him, so he could add offensive power to a team that needs more help from the blueline.
Mike Ribeiro scored 47 points last season, but the Coyotes decided not to retain him this offseason. Look for teams who need a second or third-line center to take interest in Ribeiro.
Former Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson is still contemplating retirement, but he hasn’t ruled out a return completely. It’s been noted that, if he does return, he wants it to be with the Red Wings. However, other teams that are contenders may be willing to make him an offer for his veteran leadership in exchange for a shot at a Stanley Cup.
Here is an updated look at how the Stanley Cup odds break down in 2015:
8/1: Boston Bruins & Chicago Blackhawks
9/1: Los Angeles Kings
10/1: Anaheim Ducks
12/1: St. Louis Blues & Pittsburgh Penguins
14/1: San Jose Sharks
15/1 Minnesota Wild
18/1: Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers, Montreal Canadians & Colorado Avalanche
23/1: Tampa Bay Lightning
30/1: Philadelphia Flyers
35/1: Dallas Stars & Columbus Blue Jackets
45/1: Toronto Maple Leafs
50/1: Vancouver Canucks
55/1: Ottawa Senators, Phoenix Coyotes, Washington Capitals & Edmonton Oilers
60/1: Winnipeg Jets
65/1: Florida Panthers, New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils & Carolina Hurricanes
85/1: Nashville Predators
100/1: Calgary Flames & Buffalo Sabres