Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Free Agent Frenzy

It is a gorgeous day in my neighbourhood, and July 1st means one thing in Canada: NHL Free Agency opens! Ok, I kid. It's actually Canada Day, and I'm preparing for a night of fireworks as I join the family around the bonfire for some marshmallows. Canada turns 142 years-old today, the Canadian Football League opens its season, and there are more dollars and cents being tossed around the NHL than the stock market. There have been some absolutely insane deals, and some very good ones. Surprisingly, there were a lot of dollars dumped at the doorsteps of players by the Montreal Canadiens, the New York Rangers, and the Chicago Blackhawks. But I'll run through each teams' acquisitions individually, and post my thoughts below.

Re-signed defenceman Scott Niedermayer.
Teebz: They need Niedermayer after trading away Pronger, and got confirmation of his return at the draft. They really need to go out and re-sign Beauchemin, but nothing on that front yet.

Traded for defenceman Pavel Kubina (TOR) and forward Tim Stapleton (TOR).
Teebz: For a team that is struggling to put fans in the seats, you'd think they would have gone out and tried to improve their team with the signing of a major star, right? Wrong. Kubina is now a Thrasher, and he's not going to put people in the seats. Or pucks in the net.

Re-signed forward Byron Bitz, and signed forward Steve Begin (DAL).
Teebz: Boston adds some more grit up front, signing a couple of guys who have never shied away from hard work.

Signed defenceman Steve Montador (BOS).
Teebz: This move is simply a depth move. After losing Jaroslav Spacek through free agency, Montador will be expected to absorb some of his ice-time.

Re-signed defenceman Adam Pardy, signed forward Fredrik Sjostrom (PHO).
Teebz: After signing Jay Bouwmeester earlier this week, there wasn't a lot of cash to throw around in Cow-town. Pardy was re-signed as a gritty, physical defenceman. Sjostrom is a strange signing considering the Flames' forward lines.

Re-signed forward Erik Cole.
Teebz: Cole took the offer that Carolina gave him mainly because he seems unable to score goals anywhere but in North Carolina. Why ruin a career by moving? Ignore his time in Edmonton. That was an aberration.

Signed forward Marian Hossa (DET), signed forward Tomas Kopecky (DET), signed forward John Madden (NJD).
Teebz: I find it impossible to believe that Chicago was willing to give Marian Hossa a 12-year deal. The price tag of $5.23 million per season isn't bad, but 12 years? Really? Kopecky is a good depth player, and Madden is someone who can step into Sami Pahlsson's shoes after Pahlsson left for greener pastures. Chicago's penalty kill should be better next year with Kopecky and Madden.

Signed goaltender Craig Anderson (FLA), signed forward David Koci (TBL).
Teebz: Is Colorado looking for another top-five draft pick next season? Anderson is decent, but he is not going to turn this team around. Koci was signed to bring an element of toughness after Ian Laperriere left for more greenbacks elsewhere.

Signed forward Samuel Pahlsson (CHI), signed goaltender Mathieu Garon (PIT).
Teebz: Nothing major here, but adding a good leader and a couple of Stanley Cup Champions will help the dressing room in Columbus. Pahlsson should improve the Blue Jackets' penalty kill.

No moves on July 1.
Teebz: The Stars re-signed Jere Lehtinen before July 1, but there was a real opportunity for them to get some younger talent in their organization today. However, they stood still, and added no one.

No moves on July 1.
Teebz: Detroit already said that they wouldn't be doing a lot of work come July 1, and GM Ken Holland held true to his word. Losing Hossa is a lot of goals gone, but Detroit is deep in talent, so I'm sure Holland will come up with something.

Re-signed defenceman Jason Strudwick, signed goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin (CHI).
Teebz: Major upgrade in goal for the Oilers if Khabibulin can stay healthy. Strudwick is a physical defenceman who signed for cheap, so there's no complaints there.

Re-signed forward David Booth, re-signed forward Radek Dvorak, signed goaltender Scott Clemmensen (NJD).
Teebz: I like the re-signing of Booth, and adding Clemmensen gives Florida another capable backup behind Tomas Vokoun. I would suspect that Clemmensen will get more starts in Florida than he would behind Martin Brodeur, so this is a good move for Clemmensen as well.

No moves on July 1.
Teebz: This is surprising. GM Dean Lombardi has a ton of cap space to use, and he's made no moves yet. With the major stars disappearing, the lack of activity from Lombardi is shocking.

Signed defenceman Greg Zanon (NAS), signed forward Martin Havlat (CHI).
Teebz: Zanon is a quality defenceman. He's steady, but won't do much for the offensive side of the coin in Minnesota. Havlat, on the other hand, is a perfect replacement for Marian Gaborik, and tends to be a little more durable as well. He should be able to help the offence produce more than 0.6 goals per game. I kid, Wild fans. I kid.

Signed defenceman Jaroslav Spacek (BUF), signed defenceman Hal Gill (PIT), signed forward Mike Cammalleri (CAL), signed forward Brian Gionta (NJD).
Teebz: Montreal opened up the vault and starting dumping money all over the place. They shored up their blueline by adding Spacek and Gill after losing Komisarek, and they added some goal-scoring with Cammalleri and Gionta. Montreal didn't take a giant step forward, but it's progress.

Re-signed forward Joel Ward, re-signed forward Steve Sullivan.
Teebz: Nashville really didn't move from where they were before July 1. Re-signing Sullivan is an excellent move as Sullivan is a fan favourite and a decent scoring threat.

Re-signed defenceman Andy Greene.
Teebz: Viewing the losses of Gionta, Madden, and Clemmensen, the Devils' talent level plummets. Greene is a capable defenceman, but the Devils already struggle to score goals. Lou Lamoriello has a lot of work to do.

Signed goaltender Dwayne Roloson (EDM).
Teebz: With the signing of Roloson, it appears that Rick DiPietro is either still hurt or is willing to share the goaltending duties. I'm going with my instincts here and saying that DiPietro is still seriously hurt. Thankfully, he has that 15-year contract. He might play in Year 12 at this rate.

Signed forward Donald Brashear (WAS), signed forward Marian Gaborik (MIN).
Teebz: After trading away the albatross contract of Scott Gomez, Glen Sather goes right back out and drops $7.5 million per season for five years on the oft-injured Marian Gaborik. And he laughed when Nik Antropov asked for $5 million per season. Is it just me or is Glen Sather needing a padded cell and a straight-jacket?

Re-signed forward Chris Neil.
Teebz: This deal finally got done. Bryan Murray would likely have been working the phones overtime with Edmonton on the apparent Dany Heatley trade, but nothing else has come out of the Ottawa camp. Which is surprising since this team was so bad defensively last season.

Signed goaltender Brian Boucher (SJS), signed forward Ian Laperriere (COL).
Teebz: Laperriere makes Philly tougher up front, and gives them an agitator to help play against Ovechkin and Crosby or Malkin. Boucher will provide some stable backup goaltending for Ray Emery with his second stop in Philly.

Signed forward Vernon Fiddler (NAS), signed goaltender Jason LaBarbera (VAN).
Teebz: With no apparent owner and no budget set, the Coyotes are more or less in a holding pattern. Fiddler is a decent forward who will most likely play second- or third-line, but he's not going to propel the Coyotes into the playoffs alone. LaBarbera will serve as a capable backup goalie behind Ilya Bryzgalov.

Signed forward Michael Rupp (NJD).
Teebz: Pittsburgh did some solid signing before July 1 in re-signing Bill Guerin and Craig Adams - two guys who were key in their Stanley Cup win this season. Adding Rupp makes them a little bigger and a little tougher, something every team can use.

Re-signed defenceman Kent Huskins.
Teebz: Rob Blake was signed before July 1, but re-signing Huskins gives them a physical defenceman on their blueline again. Huskins won't give you many points, but he is a willing foot soldier in battle.

Signed goaltender Ty Conklin (DET).
Teebz: With Mason platooned in St. Louis as the starter, St. Louis needed a proven journeyman to sit the bench. Ty Conklin has done that the last two seasons for the Stanley Cup runner-ups, and he'll do it again in St. Louis this season.

Re-signed defenceman Lukas Krajicek, signed defenceman Mattias Ohlund (VAN), signed defenceman Matt Walker (CHI).
Teebz: How many defencemen are under contract with the Lightning now? A dozen? 15? 20? We know they were terrible defensively last season, but signing two more defencemen won't help. Ohlund, I assume, was signed to play defence and mentor Victor Hedman through his first few years.

Signed defenceman Mike Komisarek (MTL), signed forward Colton Orr (NYR), traded for defenceman Garnet Exelby (ATL), traded for forward Colin Stuart (ATL).
Teebz: Toronto gets tougher and meaner, something that Brian Burke has to like. While I'm not sold on these moves helping Toronto's anemic offence, they should help the defensive zone coverage. And Toronto can use that help desperately.

Re-signed forward Henrik Sedin, re-signed forward Daniel Sedin, signed defenceman Aaron Rome (CBJ).
Teebz: I am relieved that both the Sedins and Canucks avoided the 12-year scenario for a five-year deal. That seems reasonable, especially when there's no guarantee on production. Rome is a serviceable defenceman, but he'll most likely end up in Manitoba to start the season.

Signed forward Mike Knuble (PHI).
Teebz: Washington desperately needed a quality power forward in their series against Pittsburgh, and they went out and got one in Knuble. Knuble scores goals consistently, and this should open some ice for Ovechkin, Semin, and Backstrom with Knuble heading to the net.

I'm not saying who is a winner on July 1 yet as there is still time for things to play out. However, I'm baffled by the Blackhawks, Canadiens, and Rangers. In particular, the Marian Gaborik deal is one of complete idiocy.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!


JTH said...

Happy Canada Day to you. I hope you enjoy the final half hour of it.

12 years? Really? I get that Marty Havlat is injury-prone, but is Hossa really that much of an upgrade?

And I'm guessing you know this already, but it appears that Havlat has made a verbal commitment to sign with the Wild.

By the way, the real reason I'm posting this is to let you know that I received the parcel yesterday. And if I may say so, your penmanship is outstanding.

JeffB said...

Havlat is MORE durable than anyone? Scary for a guy who averages 55.5 games for his previous seven seasons prior to last year. And here I thought "havlat" was Czech for "fragile" all this time...

Teebz said...

@Jeff - more durable than Gaborik. :o)

@JTH - I take pride in my penmanship, so thank you for noticing my somewhat-legible printing. LOL

Is everything of appropriate sizing?

JTH said...

Yeah, everything's good. And after I wash it, that Sabres shirt should fit perfectly.

And I wore the "keep it 6" shirt out on Thursday night. I was a bit disappointed that nobody asked me what the hell it meant.

By the way, you added that bit about Havlat signing with the Wild after I posted that comment, right? I swear it wasn't in there when I wrote that. The bit about Zanon was there, but not the Havlat stuff.

Teebz said...

@JTH - I did add the Havlat stuff afterwards. I was watching the CFL games, and they would go to the newsroom during commercials. And that news came out during the Cal-Mtl game.