There was a lot of intrigue, lot of confusion, and a lot of heartbreak for the opening of the NHL Free Agent Market. While the determination about who won and who lost will be shown during the season, plenty reserved judgment already....like I'll do right now.
-First off, Darryl Sutter has gone insane, and the picture above may be the telling sign. Maybe he's trying to test the limit of what the Flames ownership will do, but bringing back Olli Jokinen and Alex Tanguay could be the breaking point, especially if they don't contribute. The worst part was the lovefest in the media between Sutter and Jokinen, with Sutter saying he made a mistake by trading away Jokinen and Jokinen saying he didn't want to leave in the first place. The high point for the Flames is that the Heritage Classic is only eight months away.
-While the Senators lost Anton Volchenkov to New Jersey, they did get Sergei Gonchar. While it may be a bit of money for him, the main thing he'll be used for is as a mentor for the young Erik Karlsson; who will be in the more offensive side of things for the Senators in time. While many thing there is really no definitive direction for the Sens defense-- has there ever been, especially since losing Zdeno Chara in favor of Wade Redden....then losing Redden.
-The Penguins dealt with the lose of Gonchar easily, picking up Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek for five years a piece. Both younger options to Gonchar and both that could be able to do what Gonchar did. The problem for the Pens is that they're close to the cap ceiling and still need to get a winger or two. While Bill Guerin could be an option, they'll run into the same issue next season, should Guerin be a one-year gimmick.
-Two Russian that didn't go (as of post time) on the first day was Ilya Kovalchuk and Evgeni Nabokov. Kovalchuk, who many have going to the Kings, said he's going to bide his time and pick what's the best for him; which works for him since he's the top-dog in the FA market this summer. He can afford to do that. On the other hand, Nabokov's options are dwindling, as Dan Ellis went to Tampa, Chris Mason went to Atlanta, and Antero Niittymaki took his old spot in San Jose. I mentioned that I thought Nabokov could be a good fit for Atlanta, but doubtful of that happening. While it seems that Washington could be an option; I hope the Caps won't fall for the ploy they need a goaltender for that much money and that length of time with the guys they have in their system.
-Speaking of the Caps, it's odd they have yet to make a peek in the market. I would have thought they could have gone after a reliable back-up like Alex Auld (Montreal) or Martin Biron (NY Rangers) or even Andrew Raycroft (Dallas), but they haven't done anything like that. Sure, the load could be carried by the likes of Semyon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth, but as a fan-- I would like some kind of sturdy back-up who could play starters minutes if need be. Hopefully, the won't go for the Marty Turco or Nabokov because that'd be discouraging to the young keepers.
Okay, that's just what I have for what jumped out to me. There's plenty more, of course-- but you can get that anywhere. I'm sure once Nabokov or Kovalchuk do something, I'll add more and if the Caps continue to not doing anything-- that'll be talked about in time.