5 Great Value Signings During NHL Free Agency
Many times during free agency, general managers hand out deals they regret later, but there are still some valuable contracts that have the potential to age well.
Most of these contracts were short-term, making it far less likely that teams would look back in dismay at these decisions.
With that, five players signed contracts that stood out as great deals in free agency, which should see the teams that acquired these players reap the benefits.
Ondrej Kase (Hurricanes) – One-year/$1.5 million total
It’s never been a question of whether or not Ondrej Kase was a talented NHL forward, but there have always been concerns surrounding his injury history. Kase signed a one-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs last season and scored 27 points in 50 games. The Carolina Hurricanes lost Vincent Trocheck to free agency but added some scoring punch with Max Pacioretty and Kase. Carolina is a well-structured team, and there’s definite value in this signing, which should see the winger fit in nicely with the club’s top-nine forwards. Health concerns make this a gamble, but if Kase can stay on the ice, this should be an excellent deal for the Hurricanes.
Colin Miller (Stars) – Two-year/$3.4 million total
The numbers haven’t been great for Colin Miller during his most recent tenure with the Buffalo Sabres, but there’s an offensive upside to his game, which the Dallas Stars will need after the departure of John Klingberg. Much like Kase, Miller hasn’t been able to stay healthy over the past three seasons, which has undoubtedly helped derail his on-ice play. Miller can bring offense to a second powerplay unit and be a steady puck-moving defenseman at 5-on-5 while also bringing some physicality to the table. There’s not a lot of risk in this deal, which makes it even more attractive, especially considering the price tag on other defensemen. There’s a high probability that Miller will be more beneficial to the Stars than Erik Gudbranson, and Ben Chiarot will be to their new respective franchises.
David Perron (Red Wings) – Two-year/$9.5 million total
This contract might have the best value. David Perron has been an incredibly useful NHL forward, especially on the powerplay. The Detroit Red Wings were a bottom-third team in the NHL last season on the man-advantage, and Perron should help provide more skill and vision on their top unit. Perron tallied 57 points in 67 games last season, 26 of which came on the powerplay. It’s hard to find offensive players that can make a difference in free agency that you are also not overpaying.
Brett Kulak (Oilers) – Four-year/$11 million total
This signing is the first on the value list that came with some term, but there’s a lot to like about Edmonton keeping Brett Kulak in the fold. Edmonton acquired the defenseman from the Montreal Canadiens at the 2021-22 trade deadline, and Kulak was an impactful part of the team’s surprise run to the Western Conference Finals. At an excellent rate of $2.75 million per season, Kulak can play 20 minutes per night on the backend while being a puck-moving defenseman. What you’re getting out of this player is stability, and that’s hard to find in the free agent market. Despite the term here, it’s difficult to see this contract not working out for both the team and the 28-year-old defenseman.
Colin White (Panthers) – One-year/$1.2 million total
The Ottawa Senators bought out the remainder of Colin White’s contract this offseason, which allowed him to test the open market. White has been a disappointment in the NHL after being a highly touted prospect, but there’s still an upside to his game. It’s hard to find a better landing spot than the Florida Panthers, a team that has rehabbed players’ games. There’s a lot of offensive firepower on this Florida roster, and with Mason Marchment‘s departure to the Dallas Stars, White should get to play with quality players, regardless of whether he lines up as a center or a winger. There’s next to no risk with this one-year contract, but there’s potential for this to be an excellent fit for White and the Panthers.