Sunday, 1 July 2007

Canada/UFA Day

Besides Trade Deadline Day, July 1 might be the busiest day at TSN. They had more staff on the air today covering hockey than I have ever seen in any summer. James Duthie, Pierre Maguire, Gord Miller, Bob McKenzie, Keith Jones, Doug MacLean, and Darren Dreger all got airtime in the TSN studio. That's seven sports personalities talking about potential free agent moves. I believe that half of TSN's staff work for their hockey coverage team. Seriously.

In any case, here's a quick rundown of signings, re-signings, and all other player movement.

The Pittsburgh Penguins re-signed defenseman Ryan Whitney to a six-year, $24 million contract.
Teebz: This is a good signing. Whitney played well for the youthful Penguins last season, and the 25 year-old will only get better as he gets older.

The St. Louis Blues re-signed defenseman Barret Jackman to a one-year, $2.2 million contract.
Teebz: I'm not sure why the Blues didn't push for a longer contract. Jackman has shown brilliance over the last couple of years, and the 2002-03 Rookie of the Year should be a long-term investment. No matter, though, as the Blues re-signed a big piece of their defensive unit.

The San Jose Sharks re-signed centreman Joe Thornton to three-year, $21.6 million contract extension.
Teebz: This is a no-brainer. The Sharks need Thornton, and Thornton has been everything and more for the Sharks. Signing the extension now only gives the Sharks and Thornton a better chance to win a Stanley Cup before he retires or leaves. The hit against the salary cap isn't that bad either compared to what Thornton could fetch on the open market.

The Atlanta Thrashers signed centreman Todd White to a four-year, $9.5 million contract.
Teebz: Todd White is a good playmaking centreman. He can play both the powerplay and on the penalty kill. He appears to be the replacement for Steve Rucchin and/or Slava Kozlov. His contract won't hurt the Thrashers in terms of salary cap either.

The Washington Capitals signed defenseman Tom Poti to a four-year, $14 million contract.
Teebz: Tom Poti could be the offensive defenseman that Washington has been missing since the departure of Sergei Gonchar. Poti has to be more responsible in his own zone, but this signing could go a long way in making the Capitals' transition game much better.

The Florida Panthers signed winger Richard Zednik and winger Brett McLean. Zednik signed for two years at $3.25 million. McLean signed for three years at $5.1 million.
Teebz: How is it that Richard Zednik keeps fleecing teams out of that kind of money? He hasn't been anything close to what he was when he played for the Canadiens a few years ago. Unless he rediscovers the fundamentals of hockey, this seems a little high for a guy who will be invisible for the majority of the time. And does McLean have Scott Boras as his agent? $5.1 million for a role player? Is this the new NHL with the salary cap, or have the Panthers reverted back to pre-1995? The Panthers are going to miss the playoffs again.

The Anaheim Ducks signed defenseman Mathieu Schneider to a two-year, $11.25 million contract.
Teebz: If this is the case, Anaheim will either have the best puck-moving defensive corps ever or Scott Niedermayer has indicated to Brian Burke that he is indeed retiring. My guess is the latter, but weirder things have happened. Especially in the NHL. In any case, Schneider is a good replacement for Niedermayer if the latter is the case.

The Edmonton Oilers signed defensemen Dick Tarnstrom and Denis Grebeshkov to one-year contracts.
Teebz: Grebeshkov will be a project as he has very little NHL experience. Throwing him into the fire on the team with the worst goals-against won't help his development. The signing of Tarnstrom gives the Oilers a decent puck-moving defenseman, but they could have had him playing last season instead of letting him play in Europe for HC Lugano of the Swiss Nationalliga. These two signings won't promote additional signings of big-name free agents, but they certainly will help the Oilers.

The Philadelphia Flyers signed centreman Daniel Briere to an eight-year, $52 million contract. The contract includes a no movement clause.
Teebz: This front-loaded deal is all about the "now" in Philadelphia. By front-loading the contract, the Flyers make it easier on themselves to buy out the contract later if they so desire. While Daniel Briere is not your typical Flyers centreman, he will fit in well with Simon Gagne and Scott Hartnell. I like this deal, but it remains to be seen if the new players the Flyers brought in are enough to get them back to a playoff spot in the ultra-competitive Eastern Conference.

The Calgary Flames signed defenseman Cory Sarich to a five-year, $18 million contract.
Teebz: I'm a little confused here. Are the Flames trying to get the most immobile defence in the NHL? Is it a competition between them and the Flyers? If it is, the Flames are winning hands-down right now. Why not re-sign Roman Hamrlik for less money? Phaneuf had a great season beside him, and Calgary chooses to replace him with Sarich? I can't understand these decisions.

The Detroit Red Wings signed defenseman Brian Rafalski to a five-year, $30 million contract.
Teebz: Losing Schneider was bad for the Red Wings, so they decided to fill the hole with Michigan-born Brian Rafalski. Rafalski is an excellent offensive defenseman, and he doesn't shy away from the play in his own end. This might be the best signing of the day so far. Kudos to Ken Holland. The Red Wings will be a Stanley Cup favorite in the Western Conference for the next few years with this signing.

The Chicago Blackhawks signed centreman Yanic Perreault to a one-year, $1.5 million contract.
Teebz: Why? Why Perreault and not Handzus? What is Dale Tallon thinking? With this signing, the Blackhawks have missed the 2007-08 playoffs. In fact, they're already mathematically-eliminated at this point in the summer. 'Nuff said.

The Boston Bruins signed winger Shawn Thornton to a multi-yuear deal. Terms were not disclosed.
Teebz: Don't the Bruins have enough role players as it is? I guess scoring in Boston will have to come exclusively from Phil Kessel and Glen Murray.

The Florida Panthers signed winger Radek Dvorak to a two-year contract. Terms were not disclosed.
Teebz: Jacques Martin signed Richard Zednik, and then he signs Radek Dvorak? I feel sorry for Olli Jokinen. In fact, if I were Jokinen, I'd holdout. No, not for a better contract. I'd holdout for a better team. Nathan Horton and Jay Bouwmeester must be shaking their heads right now as well. Someone grab the chequebook out of Martin's hands and punch him in the head.

The Carolina Hurricanes signed forward Jeff Hamilton to a two-year, $800,000 contract.
Teebz: Enjoy Lowell, Massachusetts, Mr. Hamilton.

The Tampa Bay Lightning signed winger Michel Ouellet to a two-year, $2.5 million contract.
Teebz: He scored 19 goals with Pittsburgh last year. He goes to a one-line team in Tampa Bay. Do you think he's worth the money? My guess is that he's a third-line winger with ten goals. Over both seasons.

The Atlanta Thrashers signed forward Eric Perrin to a two-year, $1.5 million contract.
Teebz: Enjoy time with the Chicago Wolves, Mr. Perrin.

The Toronto Maple Leafs signed winger Jason Blake to a five-year, $20 million contract.
Teebz: This is the deal that Garth Snow couldn't get done? This signing provides a solid, speedy winger to play alongside Mats Sundin. Toronto gets better, and doesn't break the bank to do so.

The New York Rangers signed Scott Gomez to a seven-year, $51.5 million contract.
Teebz: This signing is similar to the Daniel Briere deal in Philly. Honestly, this gives New York a great playmaking centreman to play alongside Jagr and Shanahan. Despite the $7-million-plus-per-year cost for Gomez, it essentially makes the Rangers a force in the Eastern Conference for the foreseeable future.

The New York Rangers signed Chris Drury to a five-year, $35.25 million contract.
Teebz: Wow. I thought Drury would be on the west coast for sure. Sather has definitely made the biggest splash today. My only concern is the salary cap. Half of the this season's $50.3 million maximum cap value has been spent on Jagr, Gomez, and Drury. Can the Rangers fill 19 other roster spots for $25 million while keeping everyone happy?

The Washington Capitals signed centreman Viktor Kozlov to a two-year, $5 million contract.
Teebz: I find Viktor Kozlov to be an enigma. He can be really good for stretches, and then disappear off the face of the Earth for long stretches as well. Is he the centreman that Washington needs for increased production out of Alexander Ovechkin? Not in my opinion. He will be a good faceoff guy, though. That's a start.

THe Pittsburgh Penguins signed goaltender Dany Sabourin to a two-year, $1.025 million contract.
Teebz: Why? The Penguins already have six goalies who are 28 years-old or younger. Why sign Sabourin? Promote the kids! Get Nolan Schaefer up with the big club! You traded a seventh-round pick to get him at the Trade Deadline last season. Why are you signing another unproven goaltender?

The Colorado Avalanche signed defenseman Scott Hannan to a four-year, $18 million contract.
Teebz: Colorado just got a lot grittier and a lot more defensive. I like this signing as it gives Colorado that guy they can rely on in any situation. For $4.5 million per season, he'll eat up minutes and be defensively-responsible. Good signing in Denver.

The New York Islanders signed winger Jon Sim to a three-year contract. Terms were not disclosed.
Teebz: I guess Sim is supposed to replace Blake? He's a role player - a third-line winger at best. Garth Snow is losing his lustre fast on UFA Day.

The Colorado Avalanche signed winger Ryan Smyth to a five-year, $31.25 million contract.
Teebz: Wow. Colorado might be repositioning themselves for a run at the Cup. Ryan Smyth is an excellent signing for this franchise, and will be relied on heavily for scoring and leadership. My only concern is the length of the contract as Smyth is already starting to slow down. In any case, another solid signing by the Avalanche.

The St. Louis Blues signed winger Paul Kariya to a three-year contract. Terms were not disclosed.
Teebz: Did anyone see this coming? It was thought Kariya wanted to go to a place where he could win - Pittsburgh, Vancouver, or Anaheim was what was heard by me. Out of nowhere, the Blues snag him. Good signing for the Blues as their franchise starts to take shape. It's too bad that Kariya won't see the playoffs for at least another year.

And there was a trade made today as well. The Edmonton Oilers traded defenseman Jason Smith and forward Joffrey Lupul to the Philadelphia Flyers for defenseman Joni Pitkanen, forward Geoff Sanderson, and a third-round pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.

In acquiring Pitkanen and Sanderson, the Oilers get an excellent offensive defenseman in Pitkanen and some speed and scoring in Sanderson. Sanderson will be given every opportunity to produce in Lupul's spot. Pitkanen is an excellent powerplay quarterback, and that should help the fourth-worst powerplay in the NHL.
Teebz: Is it just me, or is Kevin stockpiling defenseman like they're going out of style? Pitkanen is an excellent acquisition. Sanderson should help. He can't be much worse than Lupul was last season. Edmonton is starting to look better, but there are still big holes in their lineup.

The Flyers acquire the steady and reliable Jason Smith as well as scoring winger Joffrey Lupul. Lupul has a chance to get his career back on track after a forgettable season in Edmonton, and being potentially-paired with playmaking Daniel Briere could do wonders for him. Smith, the captain of the Oilers, will bring grit, shot-blocking, and leadership to a team that is building on youth.
Teebz: Smith doesn't have the best wheels, and that could be a problem since the Flyers already are saddled with Darian Hatcher. I honestly don't like this trade for the Flyers. Granted, they do have Timonen, but they are slowing down again on thei back end. Lupul better break out of his funk, or he'll never hear the end of it in Philly. If he thought Edmonton was bad, he hasn't seen anything yet.

So there you have it. I think that Detroit and Colorado have come out on top today. Signing Rafalski is an astute hockey move, and Ken Holland will be in the Hockey Hall of Fame one day as a builder for his work. The signings of Hannan and Smyth will do wonders for an Avalanche team that looked lost on some nights.

I'm sure there will be more signings in the next couple of days. I'll be there to talk about them as well. Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

1 comment:

Jon in SLC said...

What the hell are the Devils doing? Losing Rafalski and Gomez in one day? What is Lou Lamoriello thinking? UGH!!!