Day 1 Off-season Review
Well…………wasn’t that fun? I had such a blast watching all of this. At times I felt disappointed, excited, anxious, curious…. It was definitely an active day, more than I thought it would be. Now that Day 1 is done with, let’s review, shall we?I figure it is better to give my opinions, and yours, by taking some time mulling over what has gone down today. Well, it is 12 hours gone by and I’ve come up with some good opinions. Disagree with me? I’ll be up to the challenge.
Washington re-signs defenceman Mike Green to a four-year deal worth $21 million (average of $5.25 million per season).
Two thumbs up on this one. I was really surprised by Green this past season, especially under Budreau. The guy was as threatning as a top six forward. Imagine that? A defenseman that has such abilities to act as a fourth forward on the offense. Brilliant. There is no doubt that Green will be earn such a stipend in the near future, and possibly could even fetched more in a matter of only three years or so. Sure, it was his rookie year and the sophomore jinx curse can affect anyone, but he has superb skills to continue his career being a scoring threat. I claim this to be a WINNER
New Jersey agrees to terms with defenceman Bryce Salvador to a four-year deal worth $11.6 million (average of $2.9 million per season).
I am puzzled as to how this defenseman nearly doubled his salary from last season. He made $1.5M last season and now makes $3M. I ask, why? He is nothing more than a 3rd pair defenseman. Solid? Absolutely. Risk factor? None. Yet, how much could you pay a 5th…6th d-man $3M to barely reach double digit points and just be responsible in his own area? $2.5M would have been the extreme max for such a defenseman. Still, it’s not such a horrible contract, which the Devils have been known to give out in recent years, but was he THAT important to the Devils? Not like they got better with him in February either. I’ll call this as NEUTRAL. Not a winner, not a loser.
Carolina sign defenceman Anton Babchuk to a one-year deal worth $1 million.
So, after some contract disputes the Hurricanes gave in? Hey, this is actually a great deal for the Hurricanes. Babchuk is a solid defenseman, better fit for the 3rd pair. There’s so little risk in this deal. It’s only one year and it’s only $1M. Right, only….? Hell give me $1M. Anyway, I judge this to be a WINNER.
New Jersey re-signs forwards Jay Pandolfo (3 years, $7.5 million) David Clarkson (2 years, $1.675 million) and Barry Tallackson (undisclosed). Declines option on forward Sergei Brylin.
Many people would call the Pandolfo contract a bad one, but I disagree. Even as a Rangers fan, I know what this guy means to the Devils. He is a New Jersey Devil at heart. Sure, he may not be a producer offensively, but you know what he is other than just being a defensive 4th liner? He is identity. He is part of the definition of Devils hockey. Quickness, smarts, responsible, reliable, hard worker. Sometimes you need to refresh the team and let go of your old ingredients, and this is where Brylin comes in. Just ebcause the option was declined, does not mean the Devils will not re-sign him. Sergei Brylin is also part of the institution of Devils hockey. I can see him stay for a lesser price, and if let go then I can’t blame the Devils either. He is aging and let’s get real, they have fourth line players that are younger and cheaper. Tallackson was worth keeping, even though he doesn’t seem to be much of a fit in the new NHL. Clarkson was a good keep. Overall, I’m calling this Devils segment a WINNER.
Detroit Red Wings and veteran defenseman Brad Stuart have agreed to terms on a 4 year contract that averages 3.75 per year.
Nothing wrong with keeping part of the winning formula. I have never been a fan of Brad Stuart, but at least he finally found his comfort zone in the Motor City. While he may be slightly overpaid, though not by much, the Wings had every right to keep him at such a cost. Congratulations to Brad for reviving his career with a Stanley Cup ring. WINNER
Pittsburgh Penguins sign forward Pascal Dupuis to a three-year deal which will average $1.4-million per season.
Similar to Brad Stuart and the Wings, there is nothing wrong to keep part of the formula. Dupuis gets paid like a 3rd liner that contributes fairly well in all areas of the ice. There’s no question that he just wanted to be part of this team. Both sides win. WINNER
Anaheim re-sign forward Corey Perry to a five-year deal worth $26.625-million which will average $5.325-million a year.
For some reason, I still don’t feel thrilled about this contract. I guess it is a matter of time once he will reach 70-plus points. Obviously it had to be done for the Ducks as keeping your young core is essential. He has great potential and definitely worth investing in it. WINNER
Tampa Bay sign UFA forward Radim Vrbata to a $9-million, three-year contract.
Two thumbs up for this one. Vrbata may be inconsistent, but take into consideration that he played for a team that had little offensive skills. I like his style of game. He is an offensive threat. He is entering the prime years of a forward as well. He will provide a lot of offensive depth that the Bolts lacked on the wings. Stamkos will find himself with a lot of offensive support in the next few years. The contract is rather short and not a burden on the cap. WINNER
Vancouver signs RFA forward Kyle Wellwood to a 1 year deal worth $997,500.
Yes, he may have some personality issues, as I have heard through the Leafs fans grapevine. He still needs to mature and put more effort. Still, if he can stay healthy for 80 games, the guy has the potential to be a 50+ point scorer and at that price, he’s a bargain. Better yet, he is a STEAL. There is no risk here for the Canucks. They have nothing to lose and if it does not work out, putting him on waivers is not a hard task. Low salaried, with lots of potential. Excellent signing. WINNER
Minnesota Wild sign UFA forward Andrew Brunette to 3 year deal worth $7-million.
Back in Minnesota eh Andy? I think the guy definitely wanted to go to Minnesota as this contract is so ridiclously low for the kind of season he’s had. He is 35 (August) years of age, and when turning 38 he may just be a role player contributing little offensively. Still, at $2.3M a season it doesn’t hurt the team. Not one bit. He had 59 points this past season, and only gets $2.3M for it in this upcoming year? Fabulous. WINNER
Pittsburgh Penguins re-sign UFA defenceman Mark Eaton to a 2 year deal worth $4 million
So let me get this straight. Eaton played thirty-some-odd games without scoring a goal. Smart in his own zone as a 3rd pair guy, yet how on earth does he get $2M a season is beyond me. Was there a reason to even sign him today? There couldn’t possibly have been another team trying to “pry” him away from the Penguins. Nothing against Eaton, he’s a pretty good hockey player, but at $2M a season? Horrible. LOSER
Phoenix signs UFA defenceman Kurt Sauer to a 4 year deal worth an average of $1.75-million a year
Hence why I called Pittsburgh’s signing of Eaton as a “loser”. Kurt Sauer is actually a better defenseman than Eaton. This guy is so reliable that you wish every game he stays healthy. That’s the knock on this guy, health issues. Besides that, though, he is such a fluid skater for a guy his size (6’4, 220), not physical but just a smart defenseman. He reminds me of what Jessen Cullimore brings to a team, except Sauer is younger. Good signing for the Coyotes after losing their two top defensemen, although I wouldn’t necessarily call this a good substitute for either Boynton or Ballard. Boynton has that extra physical edge that made him more valuable. Nonetheless, at such a price getting a solid d-man? WINNER
Washington signs UFA goaltender Jose Theodore to a 2 year deal worth $9 million
I’ll call this one right away. NEUTRAL. Obviously, Cristobal Huet did not want to stay in Washington DC, so he moved on. As much as I like Jose’s skills, it seems like that every night he starts you don’t know what’s coming. Whenever I changed to the channel that aired Avs games, my first question was “what kind of Jose will I see tonight?” His salary did not decrease by much either. This guy should not be getting such a high salary for having such an up and down career. There are only two reasons why I did not tag this with “loser”. 1) I like Theodore’s goaltending skills. 2) It’s only a two year deal.
Colorado signs UFA goaltender Andrew Raycroft to a 1 year deal worth $800,000
………………………………… heh……hehe…..heheheh…..hehehehehehehe….hehehehahahah….HAHAHAHA…. HAAAAHHHHHAAAAAAHAHHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!! (to be continued….)
Montreal re-signs RFA forward Andrei Kostitsyn to a 3 year deal worth $3.25-million a season
Ahem…. yes. Okay. Talk about an EXCELLENT financial contract. At just over $3M this guy gives so much, therefore a steal. What prevents me from calling this a “winner”? It’s only three years. Horrible. I was greatly entertained by these two brothers, and that Habs jersey suited them so well. They are perfect Canadiens players, yet this guy is only inked for three years? Too little. LOSER.
Detroit signs UFA goaltender Ty Conklin to a 1 year deal worth $750,000
I can understand why they give a shot at Conklin but is Conklin really that dumb? This is the guy who turned it around for the Penguins. Without him, the Pens would have kept spiraling towards the bottom of the East. I mean, if Andy Raycroft got more than Conklin, then I guess it is true that pigs do in fact fly. Right? It’s a winner for the Wings as their goaltending should be considered questionable despite winning the Cup. Is Jim Howard ready? He looked far from ready this past season. Still, what does this mean for the youngster? Another year in the minors or hopefully being dealt away. So far the Wings blew two solid goaltending prospects. Stefan Liv and Jim Howard. Yet, who really gives a rat’s ass when they won the Cup, right? NEUTRAL
Phoenix signs UFA forward Todd Fedoruk to a 3 year deal worth $3.175 million
I scratched my head with this one. First of all, he is not worth anything close to a million dollars. Second, he is injury prone. Third, as if they didn’t have fighters in theit own system? Fedoruk can be useful on the third line once in a while, but there are PLENTY of 4th line fighters out there that could be had for half of this contract. What a waste of money. LOSER
Toronto signs UFA defenceman Jeff Finger to a 4 year deal worth $3.5-million a season
“Previously on Challenging Mikster… “heh……hehe…..heheheh…..hehehehehehehe….hehehehahahah….HAHAHAHA…. HAAAAHHHHHAAAAAAHAHHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!! [on Avs signing Raycroft (to be continued....)].
…………………..HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Hahahaha…hehehe….oooooooooh man. Too funny. It’s good to have a laugh like that. Seriously, I LAUGHED when I saw this. Laughed so much that I just had to listen to a Toronto radio. I think it was the Fan 590 or MOJO that I was listening to, but it was funny how the hosts of the show were asking themselves “Who is this guy?” Seriously, don’t these people have Center Ice? I know Jeff Finger. And you know what? He is a heck of a hockey player. Good defensively, quick feet to help create an offensive outbreak. But, at $3.5M a season? I don’t know who infected Toronto and Colorado with the retardatus virus. The Avs sign an average goalie in Andy Raycorft. The Leafs sign a 5th…6th d-man of recent success for $3.5M a season and for FOUR YEARS! I mean, if it was two years, well okay…fine. He is a gap filler. But FOUR years? Too funny. And let me tell you Leafs fans that liked the idea of Cliff Fletcher…. the guy is a sleezeball. Yes. You heard me. Cliff Fletcher is a sleezeball who probably needs to be mentally examined. This organization completely humiliated and trashed John Ferguson Jr. Fletcher came in as if he was Superman’s great grandfather and yet so far has arguably screwed up this organization more than JFJ has.
Cliff Fletcher just handed out a financial plan of $14M over the next four seasons to a guy who’d be a 7th d-man on a few teams, and a 6th d-man on many teams. Yet, JFJ was humiliated for the “horrible” contracts he gave out? Jason Blake received a $20M contract for five years. Take away one year now and he has four years left at $15M. That is one million more than Finger. Are you kidding me? Cliff Fletcher, you ought to be ashamed of yourself. You are such a disgrace to this hockey club. You are just an interim GM and acting as if you are the permanent GM. You just handed an attrocious contract to an average hockey player who should be worth no more than $2M a season. This is just wrong…. just so wrong. Leafs fans should be rioting in the streets for this. JFJ may have handed out bad contracts, but they were handed out to players that proved themselves over the years. Fetcher gave one to a player that has played his first full NHL season as a 28-year-old. WHAT-WERE-YOU-THINKING? Do people realize that Cliff Fletcher did not sign Mike Commodore to a contract that is SLIGHTLY more than Jeff Finger? I already think Mike’s contract is bad, so imagine with this one.
Yes, I have seen Jeff Finger for at least 10 to 15 games, especially the playoff games. He is a good hockey player. Leafs fans will like him as a player. But, his contract? I just don’t know what else to say. I guess I am disgusted with the Toronto Maple Leafs. So much for ridiculing a young JFJ. You know what? At least he had class. He had class and decency. Cliff Fletcher, you’re slime. I mean, who the hell wants to sign with a team that tells a player of McCabe’s value to stay home and not even come to training camp? Surely, I think McCabe is being a dork not to waive his no-movement clause. But, don’t trash the guy like this. I mean, this is just horrible. Leafs fans should ask Cliff Fletcher to pay Finger’s contract with his own money. This “interim” guy just left such a bad contract to whoever will be the next permanent GM. JFJ must be chukling right now.
Toronto signs UFA goaltender Curtis Joseph to a 1 year deal worth $700,000
Not so much of an issue with this one as I like Cujo. Thing is, how many teams were lining up to get him? Probably zero. How about giving a youngster a chance? Guess not… Just an untimely signing. There was no reason to sign the guy today.LOSER
Tampa Bay signs UFA forward Adam Hall to a 3 year deal worth $1.8-million
More depth on the wings, and this is a plus for the Bolts. They went from little depth to lots of depth. Adam Hall is a serviceable forward. He has size, he is physical, good forechecker, can net 10 goals. Good contract, no risks in it either. Yet, still so thin on defense Tampa. There’s still lots of time though. WINNER
Pittsburgh signs UFA forward Eric Godard to a 3 year deal $2.25 million
Excellent replacement over Georges Laraque. Godard is cheaper, just as tough and mean. Good get. WINNER
NY Rangers sign UFA forward Aaron Voros (undisclosed)
Yes, because this Rangers team desperately needs fourth line forwards. Right? Waste of money. LOSER
Florida signs UFA forward Cory Stillman to a 3 year deal worth $10.6-million
It raised my eyebrows as Cory Stillman is such a reputable forward. He is aging at 34, but he has such a nice skill set of hands. Very smart. Has experienced, has a winning attitude. Definitely the top six forward that they needed to get. I like this signing. He has done well in the SE Division playing with Tampa and Carolina, winning the Cups, so it seems to fit him. Good addition. WINNER
Chicago signs UFA goaltender Cristobal Huet to a 4-year, $16.875 million.
Excellent signing as the Frenchie fits so well with this kind of team. Surely though, having a total of around $12M on two goalies is a concern, but Khabibulin could soon be dealt as well. Huet is a fine goaltender. Maybe not greatly skilled, but his techniques are so good and they allow him to be such a tough goalie to beat. Chicago is knocking on Stanley’s door with this signing. WINNER
St. Louis matches Vancouver’s offer sheet to RFA forward David Backes at 3 years, $7.5-million.
Well worth it for the Canucks. They need depth. Backes is talented, young, and the salary is not bad at all. I highly recommend that the Blues match this offer. They can’t lose him as he is developping into a fine winger. PENDING
Colorado signs UFA forward Darcy Tucker to a 2 year deal worth $4.5-million
A new scenery will do Tucker so much good and he is also so far away from the pathetic Toronto soap opera show in Cañuckon, featuring Mateo Sundiñez, Briano McCabero, y Cliffe` Fletcheres, and introducing….. Jeffereno Fingeridos. Kidding aside. Tucker will remind some Avs fans of one of my favorite players named Adam Deadmarsh. Not that they both play so similarly, but they have that on ice character that fits well. Don’t expect Tucker to score much anymore, but expect him to be a useful character player that takes away some weight off Laperierre. Good addition for the Avs, and the price is more than fair. I mean, what makes more sense? Keeping Finger at $3.5M p/s or signing Tucker at $2.25 p/s? You know it. WINNER
Tampa Bay signs UFA goaltender Olaf Kolzig to a 1 year deal worth $1.5-million (plus bonuses).
The good news for Olaf is that John Torturella (aka The Goalie Slayer) is no longer there. The good news for Olaf is that Mike Smith is a solid goalie, but doubtfully one that will be a permanent starter. The good news for TB is that Kolzig is great insurance just in case Smith does not pan out as hoped. The contract makes it a no risk factor. Solid contract, but I remain dubious if a Kolzig-Smith tandem will work well enough for playoffs hockey. NEUTRAL
Ottawa signs UFA goaltender Alex Auld to a 2 year deal worth $2-million
I’m really happy for AA. He’s a good person, a solid back-up and just doing an honest work, giving his best. Hopefully the Ottawa media won’t get on him expecting him to be solid every night. He’s not the best goalie out there, but one that you’d like to sign and feel happy with. Still does this adress anything for Ottawa? No. But, I am mainly happy that Alex has a contract for two years. NEUTRAL
Buffalo signs UFA goaltender Patrick Lalime to a 2 year deal worth $2-million
So Jocelyn Thibault goes and Patrick Lalime comes in. What an excellent transition for back-up role, and Lalime is the kind to steal some consecutive starts from Ryan Miller. Hey Ryan, watch out for Lalime because he can make things very competitive for you. For the Sabres, it’s an harmless contract WINNER
Chicago signs UFA defenceman Brian Campbell to an 8 year deal worth $56.8-million
The contract is quite massive. It probably would have killed Wirtz Senior if he were still alive. I’m happy for both sides here. As much as I wanted Campbell in a Rangers sweater, he fits great in a Hawks jersey. Finally, this hockey club is climbing up and gaining the respect it once had. Blackhawk fans will be back and hopefully we will see more of them join us on HTR.com. Campbell is such a skilled defenseman that makes you want him on your team. His offensive skills can make you fall in love with him, and I say that in the outmost un-gay-ly manner, unless you’re a horny puck bunny desperate for gingers. But for real, Campbell is a hell of a d-man at both ends. Yes, occassionally he makes that mistake that makes you cringe, but he then makes that great play that results in a goal, or he makes a great earth shattering open ice hit. The contract is massive, but for the Hawks it is all worth it. WINNER
Columbus signs UFA defenceman Mike Commodore to a 5 year deal worth $18.75-million
I never understood people’s infatuation with Commodore. I like the guy. Colorful personality, solid in his own end, toughness….physicality. All the makings of a solid third pair defenseman. Thing is, he this contract ridiculously overpays for what the guy contributes to. The length is not so bad, considering he can play hockey for some more years, but at nearly $4M a season? Not worth it, at all. Still, in a sense it is worth it for the Blue Jackets after losing Adam Foote, so… I’ll tga it as NEUTRAL.
Philadelphia signs UFA defenceman Ossi Vaananen to a one year deal worth $1-million
I can’t necessarily call this a “winner”, even though I’d like to, because we don’t know how Vaananen will come back. What I do know is that I definitely expected him to be signed last year. He is a good defenseman, very serviceable and at times can show his potential to become a 2nd pair d-man. Yet, he is inconsistent. You don’t hear his name much throughout a game, and that’s good because it means no mistakes. Sometimes you hear his name for making a good play. Unfortunately, you probably may hear his name when he makes mistakes than when making good plays. Nonetheless, he brings solid depth to the Flyers scary blueline. But, it’s hard to make a judgement of this. NEUTRAL
New York Rangers sign UFA forward Patrick Rissmiller to an undisclosed deal
Same as the above comment on Voros. LOSER
New Jersey signs UFA forward Brian Rolston to a four year deal worth $20.25-million
Brian Rolston brings everything that the Devils have lacked the past couple of years. Someone of his caliber is greatly needed. A superb all-round player, a leader, experienced, a winner, competitive…. and he’d be absolutely perfect for Zach Parise. If he scored a bunch under Lemaire’s defense only system, then surely he can do just as good, if not better, in NJ. The Devils lacked depth up front for offense, and they addressed it with the right player. The contract is a bit of a concern since he is 35 and will be 39 when this contract ends, earning $5M. Nonetheless, I think the Devils had a great day and this only made it that much better. WINNER
Philadelphia Flyers sign UFA forward Glen Metropolit to a two-year deal
I don’t see why the Flyers signed him for two years. Pending on his salary, I stay “neutral” on this deal, but leaning on the loser side really. It just seems like a waste of space and money for a team like the Flyers.
New York Rangers re-sign UFA defenceman Michal Rozsival to a four-year deal worth $20 million
At first, I was upset since I did not want Rozsival back, thinking he’d be replaced by either Campbell or Redden. When I saw this news, I went pychotic. Rozsival is inconsistent, and he can drive you mad with his decisions. Yet, it is evident he wanted to stay as a Ranger since there is no doubt he could have signed earlier in the day. The Rangers keep an ingredient that has been part of their post-lockout success. We can’t deny that. On many teams, he is a top four d-man and he finally is on this Rangers squad with the acquisition of Redden. Still, at such a high salary for his services, I remain skeptical. NEUTRAL.
Toronto Maple Leafs sign UFA forward Niklas Hagman to a four-year contract worth $12 million
I like Nik. It was unfortunate to see Mike Keenan trash the guy, as a Panther, and get him traded to Dallas for….what… a 7th rounder was it? Stupid man. Thing is, Hagman is a third liner. Yes, he scored 27 goals and 17 the previous year. Yet, he is third liner and he will not be playing under the Tippet’s system in Toronto, and he will not have the same line-mates either. How about this, I consider it to be Jason Blake Acquisition v2. Still, I would not call this a bad signing since it is three years, since it is a good hockey player, and a good gap filler to have. NEUTRAL
New Jersey Devils sign UFA forward Bobby Holik to a one-year contract worth $2.5 million
Ok, I think the 90’s Devils re-union should have ended with Rolston. I am not sure how Holik will fit on a much different Devils team, which is based on quickness and speed. Holik is only getting older, slower, and definitely not the same player he was. I think this signing goes to show how weak the Devils system is; it lacks depth. Still, at one year, low salary, it’s harmless. It will be interesting to see the Rangers-Devils series once again with Holik back in NJ. I’m still not too fond of this decision though. I think the Devils could have waited or signed a younger player to do the job. NEUTRAL
New York Rangers sign UFA defenceman Wade Redden to a six-year contract worth $39 million
And finally I was silver lining. The Rangers finally found their #1 defenseman in Wade Redden at such a hefty contract. Nevermind the length of the deal, though. The Rangers are definitely planning to compete for the Cup in these next few years. Redden makes Rozsival’s job a lot easier to do. The Rangers desperately needed another defenseman to take up 20 minutes a night to put less weight on not just Rozsival, but on youngins Girardi and Tyutin, and even Marc Staal. So, Redden-Rozsival-Staal-Girardi-Tyutin-Backman, solid group on defense. Young, experienced, skilled…. Rangers desperately needed a player of Redden’s caliber. Some people say he is declining. Since when do 31 year-old defensemen start declining? Redden was so loyal to the Ottawa Senators and yet was mistreated by GM Murray. Redden now has a new scenery, and a new team to halp carry. Redden should feel quite comfortable on the Rangers squad as he joins a solid defensive core, a three-time Vezina finalist, and veteran winners in Gomez and Drury, and possibly more to come. The Rangers addressed a crucial need. They had to do it. WINNER.
New York Islanders sign defenceman Mark Streit to a five-year contract worth $20.5 million
Though very weak defensively, Streit elevates the Islanders a step forward in the right direction. The Isle’s are building a sound defense with the likes of Witt, Sutton, and now Streit. His contract is very fair, definitely market price. I would not expect him to score 60 points as he did in Montreal, but he will definitely make a HUGE difference for the Islanders. I liked this move a lot, it fits them well. WINNER
New York Rangers re-signed goaltender Steve Valiquette (undisclosed)
A no-brainer. He is loved in the locker room. Very close with Lundqvist. Has good back-up abilities. I suspect his contract is under $1M again, which is good. He’s a funny guy and adds character to the team. Still, don’t pencil him in yet as LeNeveu had a strong performance with the Wolfpack and wll challenge for the job.
Boston sign forward Michael Ryder to a 3-year deal worth $12 million
I don’t know how people think the Bruins will, or can, sign Marian Hossa when they just handed such a horrible contract to a guy like Mike Ryder. What has this guy done to earn $4M p/s? Honestly, tell me. A healthy scratch for a number of games. Lacked effort. Horrible when workong on defense. A pathetic 17 goal and 31 point season earned this guy such a contract? Too big of a risk. It’s one of those high risk/high reward situations, but $4M is not even a gamble when spending it on Ryder. It’s insanity. LOSER
So that does it for Day 1 review. There is still more to come. I would like to thank all of you for keeping things in order by not submitting multiple news stories and sticking with the July 1 column. We will do exactly the same tomorrow.
And man, is tomorrow interesting or what? Sundin, Hossa, Jagr, Bertuzzi, Naslund, Demitra, Huselius…. possibly more trades.
I just love this game.
Thank you all for reading as always,