Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Making sense of NHL free agency craziness

By Jeff

The wild ride that was the first few days of NHL free agency has come to a crawl, and what a ride it was.

The moves made by the Pittsburgh Penguins have been talked about all over this blog and I have nothing new to say about it. They have a good team that should compete for a Stanley Cup if they don't suffer major injuries to key players.

But while the Pens were working on keeping their talent in place or bringing back an old face, the rest of the league was going nuts and there were quite a few stars on the move through free agency and big trades.

Free Agent Signings:

  • Daniel Alfredsson leaves Ottawa for Motor City - Is anyone really that surprised Alfredson is leaving the Ottawa Senators after his infamous "Probably not" comment when answering if his team could rally past the Pens in the playoffs? The man wants to win and didn't think it would work in Ottawa. He also gets to join the Swedish National Team Detroit Red Wings. Apparently Afredsson wanted a two-year deal from Ottawa for $6 million and they only wanted to give him 1-year for $4 million, so he left for up to $5.5 million in Detroit. While Sens fans seem betrayed, they should be thankful. That cap space is now being used on Bobby Ryan. A young stud with lots of talent, and not a 40-year-old on the decline. Mike Babcock and Team Sweden will get the most out of Afredsson, but $5.5 million is still a lot for him
  • David Clarkson making big bucks in Toronto - A guy who has only topped 20 goals once in his career gets a seven-year, $36.75 million contract? What? Toronto is just weird. They make a nice deal to get Jonathan Bernier, totally fleeced the Philadelphis Flyers last year in the James van Riemsdyk deal, but then they go and spend almost $10 million in cap space over the next five years on Clarkson and Tyler Bozak. Tyler Bozak! Getting back to Clarkson, he has a comparable cap hit to guys like Bobby Ryan, Phil Kessel, Jeff Carter and David Krejci to name a few. The difference is those guys have either put up big regular season numbers or come up big in the playoffs, or both. Clarkson has had one big season and got paid big time. Good for him, but I think the Leafs and their fans will be regretting it by Year 3.
  • Tyler Bozak again - OK this needed it's own section. Here is a guy who has never scored 20 goals or put up more than 47 points in a season. Yup, that's what I want in my top line center. Especially at $21 million over five years.
  • Boston wins Jarome Iginla sweepstakes - Well, the Boston Bruins got their man in Jarome Iginla. It was a  few months later than they would have preferred, but they got him. I know Iginla looked slow and not good in that Eastern Conference Final, hell he even had the series clinching goal for the Bruins, but this is a good signing. He fits the Bruins more structured system and should be a lock for 20 goals. Pens fans probably just hope he pulls another disappearing act in the playoffs.
  • Mike Ribiero leaves Washington, Ovechkin for Coyotes - The Marek vs. Wyshynski podcast on Puck Daddy made a great point in relation to this signing. Ribiero is a guy who had a lot of success with Alexander Ovechkin and in Adam Oates' system. He wanted to stay in Washington, yet the team let him walk and replaced him with no one. This is a team that does not seem to appeal to free agents. When was the last time a big name free agent signed there? It does not appear to be a place where players want to play, yet here is a successful guy who wants to stay and they don't make it happen. Why not? The answer is they really like golf and advancing past the first or second round of the playoffs would cut into their golf time.
  • Matt Cooke joins Wild, local media pissed - Matt Cooke certainly earned his reputation as a dirty player. But if you've actually watched him play the past few seasons, you'll note that he doesn't rely on that on the edge, sometimes over the edge, game any more. He has become a solid third-line player who is great at killing penalties. I'm thinking Jim Souhan of the Minnesota Star Tribune needs to learn the definition of a hockey goon. When I think of a goon, I don't think of someone with 90 penalty minutes in the past two seasons COMBINED.
  • Lecavalier, Emery join Flyers - Yes, the Flyers needed a goalie and Ray Emery was a great one last year with the Chicago Blackhawks. And yes, the team needed a veteran forward to help mentor Claude Giroux. But the Flyers' biggest need is defense. If Mark Streit is your answer for your defensive struggles, then you're pretty much screwed. Both the Emery and Vincent Lecavalier deals are pretty good value, it's just hard to imagine this team doing much if they have to score four or five goals a game because their top defensemen would probably be bottom six on a lot of teams across the league.
  • Horton sacrifices career for money, signs with Blue Jackets - Nathan Horton is a tough player who I think all 30 teams would like to have. So why did he choose Columbus? I have no idea. Ohio is a terrible place. I expect Horton to get Jeff Carter syndrome after about two months.


  • Sequin, Peverley headed to Dallas for Eriksson - Don't you hate it when a team you strongly dislike, in my case it's the Bruins, make a great trade? Tyler Sequin has a crazy amount of potential, but he is realizing his potential for crazy a lot faster than for hockey. If teammates like Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron can't get the guy in line, I doubt there is a guy in Dallas who can keep Sequin from partying his way to the third line. Meanwhile, the Bruins get a very talented winger in Loui Eriksson who has been flying under the radar in Dallas. He is a smaller, more skilled version of James Neal. The Bruins are going to be tough again next year, if not the favorites to come out of the East. 
  • Bobby Ryan finally gets out of Anaheim, lands in Ottawa - Wait, I thought Bobby Ryan was getting traded to the Flyers? Oh, that was last season. And the season before that. The Sens gave away a lot in this deal. Hockey minds really like Jakob Silferberg and first-round picks are always nice. But in the immediate future, the Sens got a guy who scores lots of goals. Prior to the lockout, Ryan had tallied 30+ in the past three seasons. Yeah, he's good. He fills the void and then some left by Alfredsson and makes the Senators a dangerous team with the likes of Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek and second-year guy Cory Conacher.

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