How They Rank

The NHL free-agent signing frenzy has mostly abated. With training camps just around the corner, ERIC DUHATSCHEK of the

Globe & Mail offers his take on who won and who lost in the most interesting player sweepstakes in NHL history. I will show the top 3 from his article, to see the rest, follow this link: GOOD

1. Calgary Flames: Getting Jarome Iginla, their cornerstone player, under contract was a coup for general manager Darryl Sutter, who faced the prospect of losing him to free agency next summer. Sutter’s first two big buys in the free-agent market, Darren McCarty and Tony Amonte, came cheap, minimizing the risk of bringing in a couple of players no longer in their primes. Roman Hamrlik, at $3.5-million (all figures U.S.) a season, was a pricier addition, but he plays more than 25 minutes a game so it should be money well spent. Considering the stubborn streak that runs through every member of the Sutter clan from Viking, Alta., Darryl turned out to be a surprisingly deft deal-maker and will draw on a nice blend of youth and experience in the coming season.

2. Edmonton Oilers: Calgary’s long-time rivals brought in two impact players through the trade market, former most valuable player Chris Pronger and former Selke Trophy winner Michael Peca, both of whom will become strong voices in the Oilers’ dressing room. The Oilers didn’t land a proven scoring centre, and there is some risk to starting the season with the goaltending tandem of Ty Conklin and Jussi Maarkanen, but the team’s tendency to dump established players for up-and-comers in previous years left it with a good base of youngsters it can mould together in the years ahead.

3. Pittsburgh Penguins: It’s better to be lucky than good, and the Penguins were the most fortunate team of the summer when they won the right to select Sidney Crosby in the draft, putting in place a franchise player who may evolve into Mario Lemieux’s heir apparent. Crosby’s presence on the roster enabled the Penguins to attract some important free agents — Sergei Gonchar, Ziggy Palffy and John LeClair — and adding goaltender Jocelyn Thibault from Chicago will permit Marc-AndrĂ© Fleury to continue his development in the minor leagues. In short, Pittsburgh can’t be any worse than it was, but coach Ed Olczyk will need to coax some scoring out of the bottom end of a roster that drops off precipitously once you get past the high-end talent.

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