Friday, 3 July 2009

The Shuffle Continues

The free agent signings continue, contract re-negotiations are ongoing, and we even have a trade to talk about today. It's not surprising that the NHL Free Agency season causes some eyebrows to be raised, but I'm not convinced that some teams are making themselves better by jumping into the pool head first. However, I don't run an NHL team, nor am I qualified to, so I just bring you the news on the players who are shuffling off to new locales. After all, if I was running a team, I'd probably just Twitter my activities all day.

As a sidenote, I'm not on Twitter, nor will I be. As far as I'm concerned, it's Facebook-lite, and I never jumped on the Facebook wagon either. My status right now? Sitting in front of my computer, shaking my head over a couple of transactions. And now? Scratching my arm because it's itchy. And now? You get the point. So yeah, um, let's look at those player moves, shall we?

  • The biggest news out of the NHL today was the trade between the Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings. The Avalanche sent winger Ryan Smyth to Los Angeles for defenceman Tom Preissing, defenceman Kyle Quincey, and a fifth-round draft pick in 2010. The Kings get a solid power forward with decent hands and play-making skills. The Avalanche get Quincey, who can move the puck, and a couple of spare parts. Are the Avalanche trying to shed contracts in an effort to sign LaBron James in 2010? Why would they make this deal?
  • In continuing with the trade examination, the Avs get Preissing, who only appeared in 22 games last season, recording three goals and four assists with a -7 rating. Quincey played in 72 games, scoring four goals and picking up 34 assists while posting a -5 rating. Going to Los Angeles, Ryan Smyth played in 77 games, recording 26 goals and 33 assists with a -15 rating. Smyth has a big price tag, but the Kings have a ton of cap space, and gave up almost nothing with the emergence of their young blueliners. I'm still shaking my head over this trade. Colorado trades their leading scorer for a decent young defenceman, a pylon, and a garbage draft pick. They couldn't pry a third-rounder out of Lombardi? Why did they make this trade?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Colorado, solidifying their "rebuild" status by trading Ryan Smyth, have now officially been mathematically-eliminated from the 2010 NHL Playoffs.
  • In sticking with the Kings, they signed defenceman Rob Scuderi to a four-year, $13.6 million contract. Yes, they overpaid, but they are getting a no-nonsense, defensive defenceman who will lead by example. Scuderi's season last year earned him the pay increase, and, if he continues his fine play, will be worth every penny that the Kings spent on him.
  • The Columbus Blue Jackets and Rick Nash have agreed on a new deal that will keep the emerging superstar in Ohio for the foreseeable future. The Jackets and Nash agreed on an eight-year deal worth a reported $62.4 million, resulting in a cap hit of $7.8 million annually. Nash essentially is getting superstar-type money now, so he'll be expected to carry his team to the playoffs again this season. When comparing his play to others making this kind of ridiculous - Crosby, Malkin, Ovechkin, Luongo - it will be interesting to see if he can take his game to a new level. I have all the respect in the world for Nash, but he needs to find that next level of his game for that kind of dough.
  • The Vancouver Canucks dipped into the free agent market and signed former Detroit Red Wing forward Mikael Samuelsson to a three-year, $7.5 million deal. Samuelsson admittedly said that the reason he signed on the Left Coast was the money that Vancouver threw at him. Samuelsson scored 19 goals and 21 assists last season, along with an even plus/minus, and will be counted on for more offence in Vancouver. Like Detroit's love of the Swedes, Vancouver seems to be building a colony of Sweden with the Sedins, Samuelsson, and Edler under contract while still pursuing Mats Sundin.
  • Ruslan Fedotenko is returning to Pittsburgh to defend the Stanley Cup after signing a one-year deal worth $1.8 million. Fedotenko took a pay cut to return to the Penguins for a chance at his third Stanley Cup. Honestly, this is a great signing at a good price tag. No complaints over this deal, especially if Fedotenko can get his season rolling early alongside Malkin.
  • Glen Sather continues his strong push for Mismanagement of the Year. Sather signed perennial underachiever Tyler Arnason to a two-way deal. Arnason, who has disappointed fans in Denver, Chicago and Ottawa, moves to the biggest stage in the hopes that he can discover some sort of offensive ability. Honestly, people complained of Isiah Thomas' time in New York City after his questionable and ridiculous moves while leading the Knicks, yet no one is complaining about Sather vocally. Really, Ranger fans, has it come to this - an acceptance of mediocrity?
  • The Minnesota Wild went out and got a little tougher after signing defenceman Shane Hnidy to a one-year deal. Hnidy won't change the dynamics of the Minnesota offence, but he brings a bit of a mean streak to the Twin Cities, and will certainly head into battle as a willing foot soldier. No complaints about that kind of player.
That's all I have for tonight, but I leave you with this question: if NHL teams are building for now and the future, why are there so many players taking contracts worth more than $7 million per season? That's 1/8th of a team's entire salary cap! Would it not be prudent for GMs to model their salary structure similar to Detroit - give the stars big money over the long-term, and sign the depth guys to lower salaries for shorter terms in order to guarantee success?

Seems almost elementary to me, but maybe it is true that money is more important that loyalty.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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