Most sensible free-agent adds for Canadian NHL teams

Yahoo Canada Sports
David Perron would be a great fit for the Calgary Flames. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images)
David Perron would be a great fit for the Calgary Flames. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images)

July 1 means two things in Canada. First, it’s Canada Day: a tribute to the country’s birthday, where citizens wear as much red and white as possible and partake in either a humble celebration or a massive blowout.

And second: NHL free agency.

In between all of the hoopla that arises from Newfoundland to British Columbia on this monumental day, hockey fans also tune in to see if their club was either wise or reckless with their spending money.

It’s a day that truly caters to Canadians.

With the anticipation of the day starting to build, let’s pinpoint a sensible addition for each Canadian team in free agency.

Calgary Flames
Team Need: Right-wing help
Sensible addition: David Perron
Projected cap space according to Cap Friendly: $24,488,290
Players on the roster under contract: 13

Although Perron struggled in the playoffs, the Flames should view that as a positive heading into negotiations. Perron managed to only produce one goal and nine points in Vegas’s Cup run, and his poor performance earned him a healthy scratch tag for Game 4 of the final. But maybe that helps drive his price down to a more affordable area, which could aid the NHL’s fifth lowest-scoring offense. The right winger with the most points on Calgary last season was Mikael Frolik, who finished the year with 10 goals and 25 points. And while the acquisition of Elias Lindholm from the Carolina Hurricanes will help, the team could still use some aid on the right-side. Perron is one of only two pending UFA’s who recorded 60 or more points last season.

Edmonton Oilers
Team Need: Top-four defenseman
Sensible addition: John Moore
Projected cap space according to Cap Friendly: $10,903,834
Players on the roster under contract: 18

This summer’s NHL free agency period brings with it a relatively poor defensive crop, but John Moore could be a good fit in more ways than one for the Oilers. For starters, many in Edmonton continue to rue the poor decision that was trading Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson. And while nothing anybody can do will swing that trade in Edmonton’s favour, bringing in Moore, who has experience playing with Larsson, could help make that transaction look a little better. The 6’2″, 210-pound defenseman plays an underrated defensive style while also being able to skate well with the puck. The seven-year pro is also one of only four pending UFA defensemen that averaged more than 20 minutes of ice time per game last season.

Montreal Canadiens
Team Need: Centre help
Sensible addition: Nobody
Projected cap space according to Cap Friendly: $18,612,025
Players on the roster under contract: 21

With John Tavares not even granting Montreal a seat at the table in his string of meetings, there are literally zero pending UFAs who are able to come in and do what is needed for the Canadiens. This is a team that needs a surefire number one centre, and while players like Paul Stastny and Tyler Bozak are nice complementary pieces, Montreal would be burning cap space on a player who could not provide the services this team is in desperate need of right now. The best route for the Habs would be to save their money and invest it when a player of that caliber does come around via free agency or trade. Though they likely will add some pieces to fill the holes on its roster, Montreal would be foolish to spend large chunks of money on any of the centres available.

Ottawa Senators
Team Need: Veteran defenseman
Sensible addition: Dan Hamhuis
Projected cap space according to Cap Friendly: $19,311,667
Players on the roster under contract: 19

Most would be surprised to see Erik Karlsson come back and play for the Senators in 2018-19, which means Ottawa should be looking to add some defensive help. A veteran defenseman like Hamhuis could be a nice fit given that the Sens’ projected average age on defense without Karlsson would be 25. Nothing ruins defensive prospects quite like overexposing them in situations they have no business being in, and bringing on a veteran like the Stars blueliner could help out with the development of players like Thomas Chabot. Despite the fact that the former Olympic gold medalist’s best days are behind him, Ottawa could certainly use his experience on the back end.

Toronto Maple Leafs
Team Need: Top-four defenceman
Sensible addition: Ian Cole
Projected cap space according to Cap Friendly: $24,679,167
Players on the roster under contract: 18

The Toronto Maple Leafs cannot start the 2018-19 season with the same defensive group as last year. After a demoralizing loss in Game 7 against the Boston Bruins, which highlighted their inability to silence Boston’s top line throughout the series, improvements definitely need to be made for this group. While Cole is not a typical top-line defender, he would emerge as one of the favourites to assume that role in Toronto. The addition of Cole could help take the load off of some players who are playing in situations not properly suited for their current skillset. Cole also fits in really well given the fact that he may come at a relatively inexpensive price for what he can produce. The 29-year old defenseman has flashed the ability to be a solid shutdown blueliner.

Vancouver Canucks
Team Need: Defence
Sensible addition: Greg Pateryn
Projected cap space according to Cap Friendly: $24,113,821
Players on the roster under contract: 19

Sure, the offensive loss of the Sedin twins will be felt on a team that finished sixth-worst in goals for, but defense should be this team’s main priority. With pieces like Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser looking primed to take the next step, Vancouver should start building a strong core on the blue line, and Greg Pateryn would be a nice piece. Pateryn is not by any stretch of the term a pretty player to watch when the puck is on his stick, but he can be a good depth defenseman much like he has been with Dallas. The former Maple Leafs draft pick finished 30th amongst defensemen in the NHL with 148 blocked shots last season and can help inject some grit into Vancouver’s game. Plus, adding the 27-year old puts another solid defender into the lineup which allows the team to ease top-prospect Olli Juolevi into the mix on defense. 

Winnipeg Jets
Team Need: Depth centre
Sensible addition: Tim Schaller
Projected cap space according to Cap Friendly: $24,097,502
Players on the roster under contract: 15

After a great playoff run which saw the Jets make it all the way to the Western Conference Final, the team will look once again to contend but will have to do so while being cost-efficient. With Connor Hellebuyck already due for a renewal, and Blake Wheeler, Kyle Connor, Tyler Myers, and Patrik Laine all on the final year of their current deals, the Jets need to be mindful of where they allocate their money.  With the possibility that the team will lose Paul Stastny to free agency, the club should look at Tim Schaller. Although Schaller played a lot of left-wing, he is listed as a centre and very capable of playing the position. The 27-year-old was a solid role player for the Boston Bruins, who may have received more ice-time had the team not been as deep as they were at forward. Schaller will be way more cost-efficient than centres such as Tyler Bozak and Stastny while offering a chance to post comparable numbers if given the same opportunity. 

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