The opening day of NHL free ageny has come and gone with a bang. Several big name players landed in new destinations. The Boston Bruins were dealt a blow to their top line as free agent forward Jarome Iginla skipped town to join the Colorado Avalanche.
Rumors link the Bruins to free agent winger Radim Vrbata. Reports indicate the Bruins have shown great interest in the former 33-year-old Coyote. Vrbata perennially checks in at around 20 goals a season. With little money to work with, Boston would be forced to assemble a crafty pitch to reel him in.
While the Bruins where quiet, it was there divisional rivals altering the landscape of their clubs with the hopes of dethroning the defending Atlantic Division champs in 2014-2015.
A team left for dead a year ago, the Sabres, added several pieces Tuesday. They signed a group of five gritty veterans who will surely bring respectability back to Buffalo.
Brian Gionta and Josh Gorges make their way to Buffalo via Montreal. Gionta will assume the captain role, provide unwaivering leadership, toughness and an offensive spark. Gorges is a legitmate top two defender. He’ll be a perfect fit alongside Tyler Myers.
The Florida Panthers, a team built on a wealth of young talent, went out and added six complimentary players who will pay immediate dividends.
They signed a solid scorer in Jussi Jokinen. Dave Bolland, a two-way grinder, will join the team from Toronto. Former Bruins tough-guy Shawn Thornton was also added to the mix. Derek MacKenzie was the final forward welcomed aboard.
Their biggest move of the day was the signing of defensemen Willie Mitchell. Mitchell was in an integral cog along the Kings blue-line during their Stanley Cup run. Goaltender Al Montoya was also brought in to back up Roberto Luongo.
Montreal failed to retain Thomas Vanek. They, like Boston, suffered a critical blow to the lineup. The departures of Gionta and Gorges will also hurt. In an attempt to patch things up, the Canadiens signed defesemen Tom Gilbert and veteran forward Manny Malhotra.
Tampa Bay scooped up the highly sought after Anton Stralman. He’ll strengthen the Bolts defensive corps. They also brought in journeyman goaltender Evgeni Nabokov. Brian Boyle was also signed. He’s one of the better grinders in the league.
The Toronto Maple Leafs, a team that always seems to have something up its sleeve, missed out on a few deals throughout the course of the day. They did add defensive depth in signing Stephane Robidas. Leo Komarov was also brought back.
So as you can see, the Atlantic Division has seen some serious change. The lesser clubs can no longer be written off. Both the black-and-gold and the Habs will surely be challenged when the puck drops on the new year.