Some quick hits from the first two days of free agency:

-The Brad Richards saga is finally over, as he chose to sign with the New York Rangers for 9 years (and $60 million).  According to reports, he turned down more money from other teams (Calgary, Los Angeles and Toronto).  The Rangers have themselves a big money center to play with Marian Gaborik now.  They also added tough guy Mike Rupp from the rival Penguins.

-Speaking of the Maple Leafs, they added Tim Connolly for two years.  Connolly has averaged .83 points per game since the lockout, but has only played in 302 games in that time.  When healthy, he can form a nice duo with Phil Kessel, but how many games he plays is the question.

-Not going to go into much about the Flyers, who were very active on Day 1, as this post sums it up pretty well.

-The Panthers were also very active, adding over $31 million in salary for 2011-12 in the since the draft.  This includes over $21 million to 6 players in free agency the last two days.  They aren’t done yet, as the team is still $1 million under the salary cap floor.

-So far, Columbus has made the biggest defenseman signing (starting with July 1) as they signed James Wisniewski to a 6 year, $33 million deal.  The Blue Jackets needed a stud defenseman, and regardless of what people think about the terms of the deal, the Jackets got their man for fair market value.

Buffalo made two of the biggest signings so far.  Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff was acquired (and signed) to give the Sabres a top pairing defenseman.  They also overpaid for Ville Leino, but it shows that new owner Terry Pegula isn’t messing around.

-Despite finishing first in the Eastern Conference, the Capitals were major players in free agency.  Adding gritty forward Joel Ward (coming off a nice playoff with Nashville), veterans F Jeff Halpern and D Roman Hamrlik as well as goalie Tomas Vokoun (for super cheap) should help shape up the team’s direction.

-The Kings finally get Simon Gagne.  After rumors surfaced that the Flyers might trade Gagne to the Kings last year (before being dealt to the Lightning), the team signed him to a two year deal yesterday.  Gagne’s been hampered by injuries in three of the last four seasons, but has been a big time playoff performer for both the Flyers and Lightning.  He’ll fill a big time need at wing for the Kings.  Gagne said he was convinced by former teammates (and current Kings) Mike Richards and Justin Williams.

-The Avalanche have a new goalie tandem, trading for Semyon Varlamov and signing veteran Jean-Sebastian Giguere.  Colorado gave up a lot to Washington to get Varlamov (1st and 2nd round picks).  Once they acquired Varlamov, they signed the RFA to a 3 year, $8.5 million deal.  They also added defenseman Jan Hejda to solidify their defense.

-Steven Stamkos still remains unsigned.  No offer sheets have been thrown his way, but it seems Tampa has a couple options on the table for the former #1 pick.  If Stamkos doesn’t resign with Tampa soon, it’ll be a big surprise.

The initial rush is over, but the second wave is slowly, but surely coming.  There are still some solid free agents out there, including Tomas Kaberle, John Madden, Antti Miettinen and Ray Emery.

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