The NHL’s Free Agency period is a time where mistakes happen. Teams get overzealous, hoping that a big catch will turn their team’s fortunes. Over the years, the poster child for bad free agent signings has been the New York Rangers, who have shelled out big-money, long-term deals to players like Scott Gomez, Chris Drury, Wade Redden, and Brad Richards. In the end, Gomez was traded, Drury retired before the contract finished, and the other two were bought out. Continue reading
F: Joel Ward, Troy Brouwer (from Chi), Jeff Halpern
D: Roman Hamrlik
G: Tomas Vokoun
1st and 2nd round picks in 2012 (Colorado)
Out: 2011 1st round pick (to Chicago), Semeon Varlamov (Colorado)
A very good defensive group got even better with the addition of Roman Hamrlik, who many think was Montreal’s best defenceman last year. Up front, Joel Ward provides them exactly what they need – a big, gritty, two-way winger who saves his best for playoffs. Troy Brouwer is a top-6 forward with good size and some grit, while Jeff Halpern is a solid veteran who will make small but important contributions in the bottom-6.
But the crowning jewel for Caps GM George McPhee is the cloak and dagger artistry he displayed with his goaltending. McPhee dealt young Russian netminder Semeon Varlamov to Colorado in exchange for first and second round picks in next year’s draft – the first of which will almost certainly be in the top 15, and even has the potential to be a lottery pick (top-5). Meanwhile, he managed to sign veteran Czech netminder Tomas Vokoun, giving them a bonafide #1 goaltender, and a mentor to young Czech goalie Michal Neuvirth. While a conference rival like Philadelphia blew up their roster to sign Ilya Bryzgalov to a mamoth 9 year, $51M deal, Washington managed to get an equally good goalie on a 1 year, $1.5M deal, and an early first round pick to boot. The man is a magician. His team, elite.
F: Ville Leino, Ales Kotalik, Joel Armia (2011 1st round pick)
D: Robyn Regehr, Christian Ehrhoff Continue reading
***FREE AGENCY KICKS OFF THIS FRIDAY AT 12 PM ET***
UPDATES: Roloson has re-signed with Tampa Bay (1 yr, $3M); Chad Larose re-signed in Carolina (2 years, $1.7M per season)
Ehrhoff’s negotiating rights traded to New York Islanders (doubt they sign him); Wisniewski’s rights traded to Columbus, where he may actually sign
The UFA market is quickly drying up. It’s literally changing by the minute. Joni Pitkanen was just re-signed by Carolina. Other big free agents like Kevin Bieksa, Eric Brewer, Ilya Bryzgalov, and Alex Tanguay have signed in recent days. I’m sure Tampa Bay is trying to retain Roloson and Gagne, Philadelphia – Leino, Boston – Ryder, etc. By the time Friday at noon hits, this already weak crop will be even thinner. That means that trade activity may be a bit heavier, as GM’s will look to tweak their roster in the only other way possible.
But I know what you’re really wondering – who will the Jets target? My money is on the players below:
JETS UFA TARGETS Continue reading
How the injury bug took a bite out of the Canucks Stanley Cup hopes
Anytime a good team loses in the playoffs, they’re hesitant to use the “I” word – injuries. The traditional hockey media has permanently associated the word “injury” with another term – “excuse”. The implication is that even when a team incurs a series of costly injuries, they’re not allowed to “use injuries as an excuse”. And I don’t fully understand why. Firstly, the only reason one would use an ‘excuse’ is when there’s some kind of positive consequence to be derived, i.e “my dog ate my homework” is supposed to keep you out of the detention you could receive for not doing your homework. When a coach, GM, or player admits that their team were suffering through some injuries, it doesn’t make any difference – they’ve already lost, and there isn’t very much to gain from making such a statement.
That’s why in this case I’d prefer to use the term explanation. Is there a good explanation for why the President’s Trophy winning team, who was dominant all season long in the league’s toughest conference, was outscored 21-4 in the last five games of the Stanley Cup Final? Continue reading
(Note: I’ll keep this on a permanent page and will update the list frequently when we get closer to July 1)
Here’s the 2011 UFA crop. It’s extremely weak on forwards, but pretty loaded with defencemen. I’ve included salary expectations, which is a hybrid between how I think the market will view them, and what I personally think their value is. I’ve also included a small list of players who may be facing retirement, as well as those who may be playing overseas next year. Continue reading