2014 Free Agent Winners, Part One

The Florida Panthers and New Jersey Devils face off on October 11 in Florida. Photo Credit: http://l3.yimg.com/bt/api/res/1.2/Avi8NlujocM4zuOgeZbY4Q--/YXBwaWQ9eW5ld3M7Zmk9ZmlsbDtoPTQyMTtweG9mZj01MDtweW9mZj0wO3E9NzU7dz03NDk-/http://media.zenfs.com/en_ca/News/Capress/NJRS103-111_2014_190952_high.jpg

This week we welcome in our first contributing writer to KVHockey, Tyler Hartmann. We are proud to have him as a part of the blog, and he will bring us through his winners of the 2014 Free Agent Market so far.

"I am going to go through some teams and analyze their offseason moves and share my thoughts. I am going to start with my home teams, the New Jersey Devils and the Florida Panthers.

New Jersey Devils

Mike Cammalleri LW, Age 32

One of the best signings of the offseason for the Devils is Mike Cammalleri. He is a quick and small forward who knows how to put the puck in the net. The Devils shootout game is not their best, and Cammalleri will be a great asset to the team for this. Mike has put up 80 or more points twice in his career. Unfortunately, Mike had a bit of a struggle in his time at Calgary with his health, but hopefully he is able to recover quickly this year and make a comeback with the Devils. I hope he is able to put up 60+ points this upcoming year.

Martin Havlat RW, Age 33

After being bought out of his 6 year/$30 million contract, Martin Havlat signed a significantly smaller deal with the New Jersey Devils for 1 year at $1.5 million. For a player of this caliber in the NHL, the Devils got a steal. Although many may not agree because of his 3-year slump with the San Jose Sharks, he was always a 50+ point player. Havlat has it all: a killer shot, he can pass and is able to play the offensive zone, and is great at getting back to play defense. He is also a hard skater and Devils will benefit with him on shootouts as well. He also has history with Patrik Elias, so that will result in great teamwork on the ice. In my opinion, the Devils will finally have two great lines.

Being raised a Devils fan, I will try no to be so biased, but I want to touch on Martin Brodeur. I've been hearing that Brodeur is unhappy with his amount of playing time, which is absurd. He played 39 games last season, posting a 19-14 record and a 2.51 GAA. That's almost half the season! Brodeur isn't getting any younger, and he's just not the same goalie he used to be. Cory Schneider, on the other hand, went 16-15 in 46 games posting a 1.97 GAA. This shows that Schneider is considerably a better goalie with the GAA he posted. He will wind up being the new Brodeur for the Devils (he might need a tennis rackets to help out on shootouts, but we'll need to have faith in him). Now that he has a new extension in his contract of 7 years/$42 million, the New Jersey Devils have placed their faith in a younger, faster, and hopefully better goalie. The Devils will definitely have a better chance with Cory in goal than they would with Marty this year. Even having Keith Kinkaid, who had a 2.72 GAA in the AHL with Albany last year, will greatly benefit the team. Overall, I think the Devils did a great job this offseason and will have a solid team in the upcoming year.

My Projected Lineup

Mike Cammalleri  Travis Zajac  Jaromir Jagr 
 Michael Ryder Patrik Elias  Martin Havlat 
 Ryane Clowe Adam Henrique  Tuomo Ruutu 
 Dainius Zubrus Stephen Gionta  Damien Brunner 
Bryce Salvador Andy Greene
Marek Zidlicky Jon Merrill
Adam Larsson Eric Gelinas
Cory Schneider
Keith Kinkaid

Florida Panthers

Dave Bolland C, Age 28

Dave Bolland, in my opinion, has been the worst signing for the Florida Panthers this offseason. The only thing he's bringing to the table is veteran leadership, and it's coming at a hefty price. The Panthers signed Bolland for 5 years at $27.5 million, and that's way more than he's worth. Scoring 130 points for the London Knights in the OHL, he's scored no more than 50 in a single season at the NHL level. Overall, I think the Panthers went way over budget for leadership and cup experience, which they may not even get a chance to benefit from anyway.

Jussi Jokinen LW, Age 31

Jussi Jokinen is my favorite signing this offseason for a few reasons. I love that he is from Finland, which will result in great chemistry with him and Florida's 2013 second overall pick, Aleksander Barkov. He is also known as a goal scorer who has put up over 50 points a season in his career. Jokinen will be great on a line with Barkov and Sean Bergenheim, and will help the Panthers tremendously. In my opinion, this is the best signing the Panthers made all season.

Derek MacKenzie C, Age 33 and Shawn Thornton RW/LW, Age 37

Derek MacKenzie and Shawn Thornton are both going to be playing on the 4th line this season and will do great together. They both bring a lot to the table individually, and I think once they are placed together it will make a difference. MacKenzie is a great 4th line center who does great at penalty shots/shootouts and is a gritty player. Thornton is going to be a fan favorite very quickly. He is not only a great enforcer who can skate, but he has the ability to defend his teammates. He ahs proven to have these skills time and time again. The Panthers are in desperate need of these characteristics, and will find them in both MacKenzie and Thornton.

Willie Mitchell D, Age 37

Willie Mitchell already has two cups under his belt and that will help him bring leadership to this young defense. With Ed Jovanovski being cut from the team, I believe that Mitchell will step right in and become a leader immediately. He will work with the Panthers young defensemen and help them become better. He might not be able to rack up points, but he will be there to block a shot. He's shown he is a great defenseman, and I think this was a great move by the Panthers.

Al Montoya G, Age 29

After watching Dan Ellis play last season, I think signing Al Montoya as a backup goalie to Luongo was a great decision. He is extremely capable as a backup, and can play 30 games if needed. Watching him last season, he has proven that he can be a starter in case of injury to the Number One.

The Panthers have made a lot of good moves with their signings this offseason. For example, re-signing RFAs Erik Gudbrandson and Dmitry Kulikov solidifies their defense. Also, getting back "the one who got away" in goalie Roberto Luongo makes them stronger at the back end. It seems to me that the Panthers are trying their best to make the best moves they can in order to turn things around for the team and get some wins this year. They are definitely moving in the right direction. It may not happen overnight, but the Panthers might need to be taken more seriously over the next 3-5 years."

My Projected Lineup

Sean Bergenheim Aleksander Barkov Jussi Jokinen
Jonathan Huberdeau Nick Bjugstad Brad Boyes
Tomas Fleischmann Dave Bolland Brandon Pirri
Shawn Thornton Derek MacKenzie Scottie Upshall
Brian Campbell Dmitry Kulikov
Erik Gudbrandson Aaron Ekblad
Willie Mitchell Dylan Olsen
Roberto Luongo

Al Montoya