The biggest name Brad Richards, is making his suitors wait until Day 2, so that should stretch everyone's interest until tomorrow, since when he makes his decision, some other dominoes should fall, like Tim Connolly.
As for today, here's some high and lowlights:
Best signing: Maxime Talbot, Flyers (5 years, $9 million). The term is a bit much, but the $1.8-million AAV is a reasonable number and the guy is a very good Eastern Conference player. Considering some of the other head-scratchers the Flyers have pulled off in recent days, this deal was inspired.
Second-best: Michal Handzus, Sharks (2 years, $5 million). I wouldn't have loved this guy on many teams, since he's 34. But he fits into the bottom 6 for an already good San Jose squad, so shrewd move for GM Doug Wilson.
Best trade: The Caps got what could very well be a lottery pick next June for G Semyon Varlamov, who wasn't even in their plans for next season. That counts as a steal, even if Varlamov wins the Vezina for the Avalanche next season (psst -- he won't). The Panthers' one smart move today was only giving up second- and third-rounders for Kris Versteeg, who's a good player.
Worst signing: Ed Jovanovski, Panthers (4 years, $16.5 million). There are a lot of candidates for this little award here, and Panthers GM Dale Tallon had a hand in several of them. But this one, an over-35 deal, takes the cake. Jovanovski is not the player he once was; he's not even the player he was last season.
As of now, the Panthers blue line has these guys under contract: Jovanovski, Brian Campbell, Dmitri Kulikov, Mike Weaver, Keaton Ellerby and Jason Garrison. Yeesh.
Second-worst: Jaromir Jagr, Flyers (1 year, $3.3 million). Oh, Jags. He turned what could have been a nice little homecoming to the NHL -- either back to Pittsburgh or to Detroit, where I think he would have thrived -- into a fiasco, gouging out an extra mil to go be a square peg in a round hole under tough coach Peter Laviolette. The Flyers just rid themselves of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, two widely known free spirits. So what do they do? Turn around and sign the biggest free spirit in the last two decades.
Day 1 winners: The Sabres spent lavishly on solid, unspectacular winger Ville Leino and wisely steered clear of the Brad Richards sweepstakes.
The league-owned Coyotes and GM Don Maloney made a couple shrewd moves, with G Mike Smith (2 years, $4m) and Raffi Torres (2 years, $3.5m) as well as re-upping Radim Vrbata.
The Rangers filled needs with Michael Rupp and Ruslan Fedotenko (combined $2.9-million cap hit for next season) and went into Saturday looking good in the Richards lottery.
The Isles went small too, filling a fourth-line need with Marty Reasoner ant $1.35 million per.
Day 1 losers: People are saying the Panthers could be a real surprise team in the East. I don't see it one bit. Jose Theodore and Scott Clemmensen in goal? That defense? A mixed bag of overpaid guys each with one good season on his resume (Sean Bergenheim, Tomas Fleischmann, Scottie Upshall)? Tallon was like a "Supermarket Sweep" contestant: Race through, grab as much as you can and then stand there and wonder, "I bought this?"
The Avalanche re-made their goaltending with Varlamov and J-S Giguere, and the Jan Hejda signing was good, but that first-rounder? Better make the playoffs now.
The Caps do have that extra first-rounder, but they overspent for Joel Ward ($3m per) and Roman Hamrlik ($3.5m per at age 37) and still have a bunch of un-clutch players.
The Blue Jackets, like the Panthers, are trying to remake it all; the Jeff Carter trade was last week's mistake. This week's was lavishing $33 million on James Wisniewski, who will never be a top-pair defenseman, even if that's what he'll be doing in Columbus.
Day 1 is done. Stay tuned for more mayhem, including Brad Richards' big decision, on Day 2.