As the Buffalo Sabres made several signings when NHL free agency opened on Tuesday, other teams in the Atlantic Division also made some moves to improve their rosters. Things will look a little differently on some of these teams when October rolls around. Here’s a look at what the Buffalo Sabres’ division rivals have done so far in the first day and a half of NHL free agency.
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
The Tampa Bay Lightning have so far brought in two new forwards, including former New York Rangers center Brian Boyle. The 29-year-old had 18 points in 82 regular season games last season with the Rangers and added eight points in 25 playoff games. Boyle had two points in five games of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Los Angeles Kings.
Joining Boyle on the Lightning is his former Rangers teammate defenseman Anton Stralman, who spent the last three seasons with the New York Rangers.
Forward Mike Blunden also joins the Lightning after spending most of last season with the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs. He had 37 points in 68 games with Hamilton and also appeared in seven games with the Montreal Canadiens. The Lightning also signed goaltender Evgeni Nabokov, who spent the last three seasons with the New York Islanders.
Two former Buffalo Sabres are no longer in Montrel, as both Thomas Vanek and Daniel Briere‘s stints with the Habs are finished. Vanek signed with the Minnesota Wild after hitting free agency, and Briere was shipped out to Colorado in exchange for forward PA Parenteau.
MacDonald split last season between the Calgary Flames and the Abbotsford Heat. He had a 2.90 GAA in 11 games with Calgary and a 3.00 GAA in 16 games with the Heat.
Gilbert spent last year with the Florida Panthers. He had three goals and 25 assists in 73 games. Malhotra comes to Montreal after splitting last season between the Carolina Hurricanes and Charlotte Checkers. He had 13 points in 69 games with Carolina and had 17 penalty minutes in eight games with Charlotte.
DETROIT RED WINGS
Perhaps the biggest move by the Senators so far came not through free agency, but rather via trade. The Sens shipped out Jason Spezza to Dallas; in exchange, they got Alex Chiasson, Nick Paul and Alex Guptill.
They also signed forward Carter Camper, who split last season between the Providence Bruins and Springfield Falcons. He had 31 points (8-23) in 41 games with Providence and 20 points (4-16) in 19 regular season games with Springfield. He also had five points (1-4) in five playoff games with the Falcons.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
Several names from last season’s Toronto Maple Leafs roster are gone now; it’ll be quite a different team that faces the Buffalo Sabres next season. Gone are Jay McClement, Nikolai Kulemin, Mason Raymond and Dave Bolland. Former Buffalo Sabres prospects TJ Brennan and Drew MacIntyre have also signed elsewhere.
In addition, Carl Gunnarsson was traded away in exchange for Roman Polak; Jerry D’Amigo, shipped out to Columbus in exchange for Matt Frattin.The Leafs brought back forward Leo Komarov, who spent last season with Moscow Dynamo of the KHL. He had 34 points (12-22) in 52 games. They also signed defenseman Stephane Robidas, who split last year between Dallas and Anaheim. The 37-year-old has experience with four NHL teams, including the Montreal Canadiens, who drafted him in 1995.FLORIDA PANTHERS
The Florida Panthers have made several signings since the opening of NHL free agency on Tuesday. They brought in four forwards and one defenseman — and free agency isn’t even 36 hours underway!
Jokinen joins the Panthers after spending last season with the Penguins. He had 57 points (21-36) in 81 regular season games with Pittsburgh and added 10 points in 13 playoff games in the Steel City. Bolland spent last season with the Toronto Maple Leafs and had 12 points in 23 games.
Thornton joins the Panthers after spending the last seven seasons with the Boston Bruins. The 36-year-old had eight points (5-3) in 64 games last season. MacKenzie, 33, spent the last seven seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets organization. He had 18 points and 47 penalty minutes in 71 regular season games last season and added one goal in six playoff games.
Mitchell, 37, is coming off a Stanley Cup championship with the Los Angeles Kings, where he’d been since 2010. He had 12 points in 76 regular season games and four points in 18 playoff games, winning his second Cup with the Kings in the last few years.
…. and all this in less than 36 hours of free agency! It’s sure to be an interesting offseason, so keep watch to see what else the Buffalo Sabres – and their division foes – do via free agency and trades over the rest of the summer.