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5 Biggest Winners in NHL Free Agency So Far

NHL Free Agency: 5 Biggest Winners So Far

NHL Free Agency Winners
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The first few days of the NHL free agency period have been fairly typical, rife with overpayments and ill-advised contracts handed out to middling players. Sift through the trash, however, and you can find quite a few teams that came out on top despite all the bad deals handed out across the league. Here are the 5 biggest winners of NHL free agency thus far.

5. Chicago Blackhawks

Chicago Blackhawks Brad Richards
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5. Chicago Blackhawks

Chicago Blackhawks Brad Richards
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The Chicago Blackhawks entered free agency over the salary cap and with a gaping hole at the second-line center position. The team somehow managed to fill that hole with a player who put up 20 goals and 50 points on a mediocre offensive team last season (Brad Richards) and only need to trade away Michal Rozsival or Kris Versteeg to get back under the cap. Richards' one-year, $ 2 million deal is one of the best of the offseason.

4. Pittsburgh Penguins

Pittsburgh Penguins Christian Ehrhoff
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4. Pittsburgh Penguins

Pittsburgh Penguins Christian Ehrhoff
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The Pittsburgh Penguins picked up Christian Ehrhoff at a great price, signing him for just $ 4 million on the same day that the vastly inferior Clayton Stoner received $ 3.25M. Pittsburgh still has plenty of work to do on its forward depth, but signing one of the best free agent defensemen for a steal of a price on a day dominated by overpayment is enough to get them on this list.

3. Minnesota Wild

Minnesota Wild Thomas Vanek
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3. Minnesota Wild

Minnesota Wild Thomas Vanek
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Thomas Vanek joining the Minnesota Wild has been a rumor for several years now, and it finally came to fruition on Tuesday. Minnesota got an elite goal scoring winger — one of its most obvious needs — for a very fair price at $ 6.5M per year and has a glut of cheap young talent to supplement him.

2. St. Louis Blues

St. Louis Blues Paul Stastny
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2. St. Louis Blues

St. Louis Blues Paul Stastny
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Much like the Blackhawks, the St. Louis Blues have been searching for a top-six center for quite a while. They finally got their man in Paul Stastny, who inked a four-year, $ 28M deal with the them on Tuesday. It's about $ 1.5 million more than Stastny's true value, but St. Louis isn't a premier free agent destination and the Blues did what they had to in order to stay competitive in the stacked Western Conference.

1. Dallas Stars

Dallas Stars Jason Spezza
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1. Dallas Stars

Dallas Stars Jason Spezza
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The Dallas Stars are the biggest winners of NHL free agency by a mile, acquiring Jason Spezza from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for spare parts and signing supremely skilled (albeit injury-prone) winger Ales Hemsky to an affordable three-year contract. Dallas' offense looks dominant on paper and should help to make up for some of the Stars' deficiencies at the other end of the ice.

Sean Sarcu is a Chicago Blackhawks writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter or add him to your network on Google.