The Colorado Avalanche took care of a number of restricted free agents on Wednesday, including defenseman Stefan Elliott, who still has some potential to be a pretty good hockey pool defenseman in the NHL. Elliott didn't feature in the league last year, staying the entire 2014 regular season in the AHL. Most notably, Elliott had 13 points in 39 games for the Avalanche in the 2012 season and with a spot still open on the blueline, there is a shot there for Elliott to take. There will be some stiff competition, however, as Tyson Barrie still remains unsigned and there is also veteran Bruno Gervais and another prospect Duncan Siemens vying for that spot as well.
By virtue of not quite playing enough games between Chicago and Florida last season, forward Brandon Pirri didn't quite get the numbers to be immediately considered a hockey pool-type player, but he has more than enough potential to be realized and will make that jump in 2015. Pirri signed a 2-year deal with the Panthers on Wednesday, each season worth $925,000 against the cap. The 23-year old forward had 13 goals and 25 points in 49 games between the Blackhawks and the Panthers, being dealt at the trade deadline last year. With the youth direction the Panthers are moving in, there could be some real excitement there in 2015.
An interesting signing in St. Louis, as the Blues picked up defenseman Chris Butler from unrestricted free agency on Wednesday, signing him to a 1-year deal, reportedly worth $650,000. Butler played in all 82 games for the Calgary Flames in 2014, scoring 2 goals and 16 points, and he'll challenge for a spot on the blueline, which already features a few of the more prominent players, including three Olympians. If you're looking at depth defenders like Carl Gunnarsson, Jordan Leopold or Ian Cole for some last minute pick-ups in your pool, you may want to adjust your projections with this move.
In Toronto, the Maple Leafs signed a couple of restricted free agents in Peter Holland and Carter Ashton, giving them a 2-year and 1-year deal, respectively. Neither player got a substantial raise in their pay, but they are at least locked in to challenge for a roster spot in the 2015 season. Currently, I have the Leafs with only 10 forwards on their projected roster, but in line to fight for those last three or four spots will be the two that signed here, Leo Komarov, Petri Kontiola, Tyler Biggs and a 4th-liner in Troy Bodie. The Leafs should have been looking for more bluleiners, since Cody Franson and Jake Gardiner are taking their sweet time to re-sign, but what can you do?