5 of the Biggest Free Agent Moves in NHL History

5 of the Biggest Free Agent Moves in NHL History

Marian Hossa
Rob Grabowski- USA Today Sports

With the 2014 NHL free agent frenzy (mostly) behind us and NBA superstar LeBron James keeping the sports world guessing about his (latest) free agency decision, it’s time to look back on NHL free agent signings that changed the game. While many big names have changed teams via the open market before, these marquee players not only cashed in but delivered Stanley Cups to their new squads.

5. Sergei Gonchar Going from Boston to Pittsburgh

Sergei Gonchar
Kevin Hoffman- USA Today Sports

5. Sergei Gonchar Going from Boston to Pittsburgh

Sergei Gonchar
Kevin Hoffman- USA Today Sports

Sidney Crosby had yet to turn 18 and Evgeni Malkin was still plying his trade when Sergei Gonchar joined the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2005 after a longtime stint with the Washington Capitals (and a brief stop over in Boston). Gonchar was an integral part of Pittsburgh’s 2009 Stanley Cup win playing big time minutes in all situations. For what it’s worth, Gonchar has moved on via free agency not once but twice since being a Penguin.

4. Brett Hull Going from St. Louis to Dallas

Brett Hull
Getty Images

4. Brett Hull Going from St. Louis to Dallas

Brett Hull
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“The Golden Brett” had worn out his welcome with Mike Keenan and the Blues when he bolted St. Louis for Big D in 1998. His Texas-sized first season in Dallas ended with Hull and the Stars winning their first Stanley Cup. Hull would later make another memorable free agent move going from Dallas to Detroit and helping the Wings win the 2002 Stanley Cup.

3. Scott Niedermayer Going from New Jersey to Anaheim

Scott Niedermayer
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3. Scott Niedermayer Going from New Jersey to Anaheim

Scott Niedermayer
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Niedermayer’s offensive skills were limited in the Devils’ trap happy system, but that all changed when he bolted Jersey for Orange County in 2005. Teaming up with his brother Rob, Niedermayer would captain the Ducks to the 2007 Stanley Cup, win the Conn Smythe and help create a whole new generation of hockey fans in California along the way.

2. Marian Hossa Going from Detroit to Chicago

Marian Hossa Chicago Blackhawks
Jerry Lai-USA Today Sports

2. Marian Hossa Going from Detroit to Chicago

Marian Hossa Chicago Blackhawks
Jerry Lai-USA Today Sports

The Blackhawks were a young, exciting team that had just been vanquished by Hossa’s then Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Finals when the Slovakian sniper joined the squad in 2009. It turns out Hossa was in so many ways the missing piece to the Blackhawks' 49-year championship drought as the Hawks won the Stanley Cup in his first year in Chicago. Hossa and the Blackhawks also added another Cup for good measure in 2013.

1. Zdeno Chara Going from Ottawa to Boston

Zdeno Chara Boston Bruins
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1. Zdeno Chara Going from Ottawa to Boston

Zdeno Chara Boston Bruins Stanley Cup
Getty Images

No player changed the culture of a team more than Chara did when he left the up-and-coming Senators for the then borderline irrelevant Bruins alongside fellow free agent Marc Savard in 2006. All the 6-foot-9 behemoth has done since joining the Bruins is win a Norris Trophy and lead a transformation that ultimately led to the franchise’s first Stanley Cup in nearly 40 years in 2011.

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