Thursday, 1 July 2010

Canada/Free Agent Day

I spent Canada Day helping a friend move. It started off looking like it might be a rather grim day as the rain was falling this morning, but the clouds broke up and the sun came out for the afternoon. This resulted in me hanging out poolside for the majority of the afternoon as I looked to cool off in the midday heat. What I discovered, as I checked my phone, is that the heat was just getting turned up in the free agent market as teams began their buying frenzy for the 2010-11 NHL season. With all the movement today, let's rip through the activity team-by-team as we always do on July 1 here at HBIC.

Re-signed centerman Saku Koivu. Signed defenceman Toni Lydman.
Teebz: The re-signing of Koivu gives the Ducks a legitimate second-line centerman, and Lydman should improve the defensive play in the Ducks' zone.

Signed goaltender Chris Mason.
Teebz: Perhaps the Thrashers will finally have a legitimate number-one goalie for the next two years. Mason was solid in St. Louis last season, and Atlanta can use that dependability.

Re-signed forward Daniel Paille.
Teebz: Paille was a serviceable third-liner last season, and he brings speed and scoring to a checking role.

Signed defenceman Jordan Leopold.
Teebz: I really don't like this move by GM Darcy Regier. I realize that losing Tallinder is a big loss, but Leopold will not fill his skates. Not even close.

Signed forwards Olli Jokinen and Alex Tanguay.
Teebz: Is this 2009? Apparently, the Flames decided to bring back two players who they parted with in the past, but bring them back at more cap-friendly numbers.

No movement.
Teebz: With the loss of Brind'Amour down the middle, I expected the Hurricanes to possibly bring back Matt Cullen. No dice, however, and they see another veteran with a major role leave.

Signed forward John Scott.
Teebz: With a team stuck against the salary cap, there was little the Blackhawks could do during Free Agency Day.

No movement.
Teebz: Colorado has a ton of cap room, but has already removed themselves from the Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes. Maybe they are looking at Alexander Frolov? Either way, there's a lot of money burning a hole in GM Greg Sherman's pocket.

No movement.
Teebz: GM Scott Howson said that the Jackets would not make a major splash in the free agent market, and he held to his word.

Signed goaltender Andrew Raycroft, and forwards Adam Burish.
Teebz: Raycroft will play behind Kari Lehtonen, but it will be interesting to see how Raycroft looks behind Dallas' defencemen as opposed to Vancouver's defenders. Burish adds some nice depth, and can score.

No movement.
Teebz: Detroit, like the Blackhawks, are tight against the salary cap ceiling. As a result, they made no moves on July 1 for the second straight year.

Signed defenceman Kurtis Foster.
Teebz: If Sheldon Souray is indeed on his way out of the City of Champions, I'd happily take the less expensive Foster on my blueline. Foster led Tampa Bay in scoring from the blueline last season, and it a great locker room guy. Great signing by GM Tambellini.

No movement.
Teebz: I was surprised that GM Dale Tallon wasn't more active, especially with Adam Burish on the market. Tallon has stated that his rebuild of the Panthers will take time, and that means only getting a major free agent that will put the Panthers over the top.

No movement.
Teebz: For the second year in a row, GM Dean Lombardi is quiet. It is expected that Los Angeles will be the new home of Ilya Kovalchuk, but no deal has been reached at this time.

Signed forwards Eric Nystrom and Matt Cullen.
Teebz: Nystrom is a big kid who will throw the body, and I know Wild fans will appreciate that. Matt Cullen is a great signing. He hustles, he scores, and he'll leave everything on the ice. He'll be the new Wes Walz for the Wild.

Re-signed forward Dustin Boyd and goaltender Curtis Sanford. Signed goaltender Alex Auld.
Teebz: Boyd will be a welcomed addition to the Montreal line-up with his hustle and scoring as a checking forward. Sanford and Auld provide excellent back-up options to Carey Price, but I was hoping they would have gone after Martin Biron to help mentor the young Price in his development.

No movement.
Teebz: With a little cap space, I thought that Nashville would plug a few holes with some solid talent, but they were quiet today. Could something bigger be brewing in Music City?

Signed defencemen Henrik Tallinder, Anton Volchenkov, and goaltender Johan Hedberg.
Teebz: GM Lou Lamoriello addressed the biggest hole on the team as seen in last year's playoffs. The Devils get better defensively, and will block a ton of shots by adding these two talented defencemen. Hedberg is a very good goalie who can reduce Brodeur's workload if necessary. A very good day in New Jersey if you're a Devils fan.

No movement.
Teebz: The rebuild on the island apparently has slowed down, or GM Garth Snow has decided to let the kids play. For a team with space, I would have hoped they could grab a couple of good checking players, but the Islanders were quiet.

Re-signed Vinny Prospal and Erik Christensen. Signed forward Derek Boogaard and goaltender Martin Biron.
Teebz: GM Glen Sather might be coming to his senses. He re-signs two players who actually performed pretty well in New York last season. He finds Biron, who is willing to play the back-up role to Lundqvist. Biron can handle 20 games per season easily, so this was a good signing to give the biggest star on Broadway some much-needed rest. After jettisoning Voros and Brashear to the waiver wire, Sather goes out and splurges on Boogaard. I like this signing from an entertainment point-of-view, but $1.5 million per season for 20 fights? Really?

Signed Sergei Gonchar.
Teebz: Congratulations, Ottawa. You get an aging Gonchar at $5.5 million per season with a no-movement clause! Gonchar's defensive play last season should have warranted a reduction in his salary, but Ottawa needed some firepower from their blueline. I'm convinced that this move might either be the worst of this free agent period, or one of the best depending on how Gonchar performs.

Re-signed defenceman Braydon Coburn. Traded for defenceman Andrei Meszaros. Signed forward Jody Shelley and defenceman Sean O'Donnell.
Teebz: With Michael Leighton already signed, the Flyers looked at getting bigger and tougher. Coburn and Meszaros provide both of those traits on the blueline. O'Donnell is a strange signing outside of his leadership. Shelley should provide a lot of sparring bouts with Boogaard in New York.

Re-signed defenceman Derek Morris. Signed forward Ray Whitney.
Teebz: Morris will provide some added offence in a bigger role for the Coyotes this season after Michalek left via free agency. I really like the Ray Whitney signing as Whitney can score, provide leadership to a younger team, and is a great team guy. Whitney's deal might be the best signing of today's action.

Signed defencemen Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek.
Teebz: GM Ray Shero said that he would use his cap room to rebuild his solid blueline. While he didn't get Gonchar or Hamhuis signed, he got two excellent replacements in Martin and Michalek. Both players are young, fast, and can score. Top marks for Shero for doing exactly what he said he was going to do.

Signed goaltender Antero Niittymaki.
Teebz: Niittymaki moves to the left coast as San Jose finds their replacement for Evgeni Nabokov. While Niittymaki has shown flashes of brilliance during his career, San Jose fans might find themselves a little disappointed if Niittymaki plays as well as he did in Tampa Bay.

Re-signed Alex Steen.
Teebz: Again, a team with a lot of cap space does little on the opening day of free agency. St. Louis has their starter in Jaroslav Halak and re-signed Alex Steen, but I expected more from a young team that needs another playoff run. Reportedly, this is the city that Edmonton's Sheldon Souray could suit up for next season.

Signed goaltender Dan Ellis.
Teebz: Ellis showed a lot of great moments in Nashville, and should make for a good tandem with Mike Smith. Tampa Bay needs reliable goaltending as it was one of their weaker areas last year in my opinion.

Signed forward Colby Armstrong.
Teebz: While I like Armstrong, his inconsistent scoring should have steered GM Brian Burke away from $3 million per year. It seems like Burke overspent when he didn't have to. And he could have used that money on a player who scores more often like Ray Whitney.

Signed forwards Joel Perreault, Manny Malhotra, Jeff Tambellini, and defenceman Dan Hamhuis.
Teebz: Perreault will most likely play in Manitoba, but will be called on regularly when injuries happen in Vancouver. Malhotra is a decent checking centerman, but won't set the world on fire. Tambellini will have a shot to start in Vancouver, but may find himself in Manitoba if he can't crack the Canucks' lineup. However, the addition of Hamhuis gives the Canucks arguably the most talented defensive group west of Chicago.

No movement.
Teebz: GM George McPhee stated that he wasn't going to make any big moves today, and he followed that statement with no moves. There is a pile of talent in Washington, and he needs to find a way to make it all work. I am surprised, however, that Quintin Laing and Alexandre Giroux were not re-signed today.

There are still a ton of big names out there, and I'm sure that deals are being pitched to players like Teemu Selanne, Ilya Kovalchuk, Jose Theodore, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Bill Guerin, and Evgeni Nabokov. However, unlike in previous years, no team has really overspent in bringing any player in.

Teams with cap space have been relatively thrifty in their spending, and it appears that all of the big-name stars will sit until they see the biggest name - Ilya Kovalchuk - sign his contract in terms of basing their dollar amount off what he gets.

It will be interesting to see what happens over the next couple of days.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

1 comment:

JeffB said...

I love the thought of the Wild having another Wes Walz. The world needs more Walz.