Pucks in Depth: Four of the best NHL free agent signings

Pucks in Depth: Four of the best NHL free agent signings

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signings this offseason.

There are still a handful of useful players available but, for the most part, all the best talent has been scooped up.

With that in mind, let’s look at a few of the best signings made thus far.

I should note that I focused more on value than name-brand, universally loved signings. Everyone knows adding John Tavares to a playoff team for nothing but money is a great thing.

Anthony Duclair – Columbus Blue Jackets – One year, $650K

In terms of bang for your buck, there may not have been a better signing in free agency.

Split between Arizona and Chicago, Duclair quietly had a pretty solid season in 2017-18. He scored 11 times and tallied 23 points in 56 games, which equates to 16 goals and 34 points over the course of an 82-game schedule. Though those numbers don’t pop off the page, that’s middle-6 production.

Duclair’s underlying numbers were also pretty good. At 5v5 his teams controlled 50.51% of the shot attempts and 45.83% of the goals with him on the ice, which is more than they did without him.

By all measurements he’s already a very serviceable player and, at 22, it’s still possible he can take another noticeable step forward.

This is a very rare no-risk, high-reward free agent signing.

Tobias Rieder – Edmonton Oilers – One year, $2 million

I thought Rieder was a good candidate to be overpaid but this was a surprisingly reasonable contract for him.

The 25-year-old winger has averaged ~32 points per 82 games over the last three seasons and has proven he can be a reliable depth scorer.

He’s also an excellent penalty killer. Among five Arizona forwards to log 80+ minutes on the penalty kill last season, Rieder ranked 1st in Corsi Against/60 and Scoring Chances Against/60. In 2016-17, he finished 2nd in Corsi Against/60 and Scoring Chances Against/60. There’s a good track record here.

Rieder has his flaws – he is not exactly a possession driver, for example – but he’s fast, he can kill penalties, and he’ll chip in offensively.

With Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl accounting for $21 million annually, it’s imperative the Oilers find useful depth players on the cheap. They did that with Rieder.

David Perron – St. Louis Blues – Four years, $4 million per

Jonathan Toews. Max Pacioretty. Corey Perry. Jason Zucker. Cam Atkinson. Sean Couturier. T.J. Oshie. Those are some of the many David Perron has outscored over the last two seasons.

Despite tallying 112 points in 155 games (60 per 82) during that time, Perron didn’t exactly break the bank in free agency.

In fact, 142 forwards will carry a cap hit of $4 million or more next season – many of whom aren’t as impactful as Perron.

He wanted to play for a good team, and return to a situation he was comfortable in, and I think he left some money on the table to do it.

As far as free agent contracts go, this is as good as it gets for a team signing a top-6 forward coming off a 65+ point season.

Calvin de Haan – Carolina Hurricanes – Four years, $4.55 million per

On the surface, $4.55 million seems like a lot for a player who has averaged 23 points per 82 games over the last three seasons.

When you dig a little deeper, it’s not hard to see why the Hurricanes were willing to dish out that kind of money.

Among 117 defenders to log at least 3,000 minutes at 5v5 from 2015-18, de Haan ranks 7th with a Relative Expected Goals For% of +5.23.

The Islanders were expected to score 52.81% of the goals with him on the ice as opposed to 47.58% without him.

Goals Above Replacement (GAR) numbers think highly of de Haan, too. Last season he ranked 37th among defenders in GAR/82. In 2016-17 he ranked 35th and he finished 50th the year prior.

That’s not entirely surprising. de Haan is a good skater, he moves the puck effectively, and he’s an excellent shot suppressor. He may not put up many points but he does pretty much everything else well.

He’ll be a nice addition to an already loaded blue line in Carolina.

Written by Todd Cordell (@ToddCordell)