It is still early in the offseason, but with middle of July closing in, general managers will be preparing to take their holidays. This means it will be a quiet time in the NHL. So here is each Canadian club’s under the radar signing.
Montreal Canadiens: Rafael Harvey-Pinard, two year, $1.1 million AAV
From a throwaway seventh round pick to a top line winger scoring at a 30 goal pace, no Montreal Canadiens prospect has progressed this well in several seasons. With the AHL Laval Rocket, he scored 16 goals and 31 points in 40 games, then was called up to the big club and put up 14 goals in 34 games while playing top six minutes, including time on the power play. It’s unlikely he replicates his 24.1% shooting percentage, or is used in a top six role. His intensity and hockey IQ make him highly versatile, allowing him to play any role. His consistent work ethic and high energy motor can make him useful in an energy role or on the penalty kill. His two year bridge deal offers him the perfect opportunity to carve out his own NHL niche.
Ottawa Senators: Travis Hamonic, two year, $1.1 million AAV
Having a top four of Thomas Chabot, Jake Sanderson, Jakob Chychrun and Artem Zub give the Senators a young and mobile blue line, there is still a significant need to add some experience, and toughness. Resigning Travis Hamonic is exactly what the Sens needed in the stable of defenders. He is as tough as nails and will sacrifice his body to block a shot or step up to defend a teammate, making him useful in a shutdown role and when killing penalties making him far more useful in adding toughness than the Zack MacEwan signing will, as he is likely to be an AHLer.
Toronto Maple Leafs: John Klingberg, one-year, $4.15 million AAV
John Klingberg is not a strong defender, nor is he much of a physical presence despite his size, but his ability to play in transition more than makes up for that. Toronto needed toughness, and addressed that elsewhere. With Klingberg, they add a defenseman whose style of play fits nearly perfectly with the Leafs’ offensive brand. He adds a power play option as well as an ideal fit in transition. This signing may prove to be the best value of all the free agents added this offseason.
Winnipeg Jets Vladislav Namestnikov, two year, $2 million AAV
While the trade of Pierre-Luc Dubois brought in some good young pieces, the re-signing of Vladislav Namestnikov is a bargain considering he brings the positive veteran presence they desperately need. He is also highly versatile, being able to play center or wing. Meaning he can play a mentorship role on a line with Gabe Vilardi.
Calgary Flames: Ben Jones, one-year, $775,000 AAV
Ben Jones spent all of last season with the Flames AHL affiliate, Calgary Wranglers. Jones is a 24 year old, defensively capable center who scored 17 goals and 54 points last season with the Wranglers. With the Flames center depth unknown as they await word on whether Elias Lindholm or Mikeal Backlund will return to Calgary. Jones has shown he can play a two-way game and could provide a reliable bottom six center option in 2023-24.
Edmonton Oilers: Noel Hoefenmayer, one year, $775,000 AAV
Fresh off recording 40 points in 46 ECHL games the year prior, Hoefenmayer, The left-shot defenseman has clearly been progressing as he earned himself a regular role with the Toronto Marlies’ top four all last season. The 24-year-old scored 38 points in 65 AHL games and was an AHL All-Star. Hoefenmayer has a heavy shot and some good vision, allowing him to find passing lanes in all three zones. With Edmonton up against the cap ceiling, adding someone on such an inexpensive contract was a necessity. He can play both sides of the blue line which will be very useful to provide Edmonton some inexpensive depth at the NHL level.
Vancouver Canucks: Teddy Blueger, one year, $1.9 million AAV
The Latvian center has been well travelled in his professional career. He provides the Canucks a short term option for their bottom six center depth, which is a significant need for a team that needs to have a full rebuild but instead is trying to compete for the playoffs. Blueger has speed to burn, provides energy and can play on the penalty kill or in a shutdown role. When placed in the third line center role with the Vegas Golden Knights, he was able to produce offensively and be a key faceoff specialist. His experience as a Stanley Cup champion in 2023 will also be helpful to the younger Canucks on the roster.