Many fans are wondering why their team didn't give Gagne the same contract LA did? A free agent has to sign a deal for it to happen, and Gagne likely wanted to go to LA - a contender, and a place where he could reunite with former linemate Mike Richards.
Ian White perhaps stands to benefit more on DET than any other free agent with their new team. Right handed shot, logical replacement on the top PP unit. Lidstrom/Datsyuk feeding him passes for 82 games... Could see 12-15 goals and 45-55 points. Analysis to come.
The Jets have signed former Manitoba Moose Rick Rypien. Rypien has gone through some off-ice stuff but appears to have his issues sorted out. Not a great hockey player, but he is a fantastic fighter and will be a good draw with the fans (as if the Jets needed any help attracting fans at this point...)
I don't mind the Connolly deal for TOR. Money is really high, but cap space only matters if you need it. The Leafs have a lot of room and lacked any sort of veteran top six center after Grabovski. The term is a solid one and won't handcuff them at all. Extensive analysis to come tonight.
Interesting signings today: Connolly to TOR, White to DET, Gagne to LAK.
The Rangers have a huge opportunity available on the top line. Who lines up with Richards and Gaborik? Dubinsky? Avery? Stepan? Wolski?
Any major signings/trades that occur today will have analysis posted at 6pm EST or later. I am at work for most of the day and Dobber is on the road.
Goldie Says: Here's my Free Agency Mailbag for the weekend. I was in the chat yesterday, but once it hit about 350 readers, it crashed my laptop. So check out the mailbag and drop your questions for me all Saturday. Big winners were clearly Smith, Theodore and Dekanich. Losers are Vokoun and Boucher. The less I say about Varly, the better.
Late signings, and some that were missed during yesterday's craziness - Sean Bergenheim signs with the Panthers. I'll have to do a full-blown piece on the Panthers (this is Dobber) much like I did with the Flyers a week ago. Just too many changes to do them one at a time. Look for that early in the coming week. Also, Michal Handzus signs with the Sharks, which is exactly the role player that they need. Ryan Potulny signed with the Capitals, a two-way deal this year, but a one-way next year. Unfortunately that is pretty much a Hershey deal. Cody McCormick re-signs with the Sabres. And I've been keeping track of all the UFA's and RFA's (the notable ones) in a nice, neat chart here.
Angus here - July 2nd ramblings up early. About to head out to celebrate the birthday of this fine country. I did a quick breakdown of each team after a busy and interesting day...
The Ducks didn’t do a whole lot. They moved Sutton for Foster, who will likely see spot duty on the bottom pairing and some time on the second PP unit behind Fowler and Visnovsky. Anaheim is top heavy up front and on defense. So much of their playoff potential rests with Jonas Hiller and his health.
The Bruins lost Michael Ryder and likely Tomas Kaberle. They have some prospects on the way, most notably Jordan Caron. They signed Benoit Pouliot from Montreal, continuing to strengthen their Quebecois presence. Pouliot is a major, major project. Could turn into a sound depth scorer but he lacks the consistency required to play at the NHL level.
Ehrhoff signing was the big news before July 1. The Sabres missed the Brad Richards train, but they paid handsomely for Ville Leino - $4.5 million for the next six years. Ugly contract, but the nature of free agency is overpayment. Leino gives Buffalo another second line winger to go along with Boyes, Stafford, Pominville, Ennis, Gerbe, Hecht, Adam, Kassian, and so on. Will be interesting to see how the lineup shakes out.
There are some rumblings that the Sabres may use Leino at center. He was good on the dot in limited situations with Philadelphia. Tim Connolly is gone. Derek Roy is the number one. Ennis moves back and forth.
The Flames took a big run at Richards, offering him close to $7 million over nine years (reportedly, at least). Calgary is an interesting team – several veterans in key positions, not much in the way of young help. They are creeping closer and closer to a major rebuild. The Curtis Glencross extension from a few months ago sure doesn’t look so bad anymore, does it?
No Justin Faulk or Bobby Sanguinetti in Carolina next year, at least with six veterans and Jamie McBain already pencilled in to roster spots. The ‘Canes signed Alexei Ponikarovsky, Jussi Jokinen, Jiri Tlusty, and Brian Boucher to deals. They lost Erik Cole. Carolina is still below the cap floor, but they are getting closer. I think we will see them try to add another top six forward through the trade route this summer.
Chicago added some veterans in Steve Montador, Andrew Brunette, and Sean O’Donnell. Brunette still has some fantasy upside – he is very slow and probably won’t play in the top six all the time at even strength, but there are few players better at protecting the puck behind the net than he is. Could hit 45-55 points with some PP time. Chicago will likely go with Kane/Toews and Sharp/Hossa on the top two lines while rotating in the likes of Brunette, Morin, Frolik, Bickell, and Stalberg.
A late Dan Carcillo signing – makes Chicago/Vancouver games a bit more interesting…
In perhaps the most shocking move of the day, Colorado traded their 1st and potentially their 2nd round pick in 2012 to Washington for Semyon Varlamov. Obviously they felt that Varlamov could be their long term solution between the pipes. Seems like an awfully steep price to pay… especially considering they were second last in the league this year? Jan Hejda is a solid defenseman who doesn’t get a lot of hype. Chuck Kobasew is an injury prone energy winger. Zero fantasy value at all. Puck Daddy doesn’t like the move.
JS Giguere was signed to back up Varlamov – a strong veteran presence. I’m sure Justin Goldman will have some interesting thoughts on Varlamov/Giguere in the coming days…
Overpaid, sure, but James Wisniewski fills a huge hole in Columbus. 50+ points last year and he immediately becomes “the man” on the power play for the Jackets. Look for him to have a strong season, and don’t let his ridiculous salary affect your judgement of him (unless you are in a salary cap league, of course). I am very interested to see who lines up with Carter and Nash. Huselius is the most likely, as he is a great playmaker.
Dallas made a few interesting moves yesterday. Ryder for two years at $3.5 is a solid contract. Gives the secondary centers a winger to play with. Reunited with former linemate Mike Ribeiro, perhaps? Morrow-Ribeiro-Ryder, Eriksson-Benn-Ott. Not a bad top six, at all. Souray is a worthwhile gamble on a one year deal – he will be given a shot on the first PP unit to see if he still has it.
Dallas overpaid for Adam Pardy, who is a borderline 5/6 NHL defenseman. Not a deal that will kill a salary cap at $2 million per season, though. Dallas added some veteran depth as well – Verne Fiddler and Radek Dvorak, two members of the NHL’s all-name team.
Quiet day for the Wings – one year deal for Mike Commodore. The awful contract to Jonathan Ericsson still lingers, though. Detroit doesn’t need to do a whole lot up front, they just need to stay healthier. I’m not sure if the Commodore signing affects Brendan Smith at all – after Kronwall and Lidstrom, there isn’t much on the roster in terms of offensive defensemen.
Added toughness in Sutton, Hordichuk, and Eager. Added a needed veteran presence down the middle with Eric Belanger. Added an awful defenseman in Cam Barker.
Operation: Make it to the Cap Floor was a rousing success in Florida. Huge money and term for Ed Jovanovski, a once speedy and physical defenseman who is now weak and slow. Huge money and term for Tomas Fleischmann and Scottie Upshall. Jose Theodore signed, which may pave the way for Jacob Markstrom to start. Kris Versteeg was acquired from Philadelphia for draft picks. Florida has a ton of second/third line wingers, so it will be interesting to see how their lines shake out. Mike Santorelli still has to be re-signed as well. Somehow the Panthers are STILL under the cap floor, though.
The Kings are very much in the Brad Richards hunt…. Aside from that they have a strong d group, two fantastic goalies, and great forwards. Just one star forward away from being elite.
New coach, no Kobasew, no Barker, no Burns, no Brunette, the Wild are going to be a different team next year. They added a winger for Koivu to play with (Setoguchi). Zidlicky will get the bulk of the PP duties.
Erik Cole fills a need in the top six with size and speed, but at 32 his best days are likely behind him. I could go into depth on essentially every long-term contract signed yesterday about how much of an overpayment it is, but as I said earlier, if you want to sign a UFA you are likely going to have to pay above market value. Montreal doesn’t have a ton of talent wing after Cammalleri, Gionta, and Kostitsyn. Cole is a lock for the top six. Hamrlik is gone to Washington. Emelin and Weber will challenge for top six spots.
Nashville has to wait a week for the RFA situation with Kostitsyn and the others to play out. The Preds lost Marcel Goc to Florida. He was a solid checking forward. They haven’t signed Shea Weber, yet. I could see one of Kevin Klein or Cody Franson being used as trade bait this summer. The Preds will have a busy off-season, I think they need to tinker a bit more. The Joel Ward loss is huge. He was massively overpaid but he scored some big goals for them and was their best defensive forward by far.
Hedberg is back, Andy Greene is back, Parise still isn’t signed. The Devils will struggle if they go into 2011-12 with the same defensive group they ended 2010-11 with. Parise is the top priority at this point. Adam Larsson could probably step in and play right away, but how much offensive pressure do they want to put on the kid? A healthy Matt Taormina will help, as well.
Brad Richards still hasn’t signed (as of Friday evening). Mike Rupp was brought in for some size and toughness on the fourth line. The Rangers have a great mix of young, hard working players, and Richards could put them over the top. Callahan is an RFA and it sounds like he has been cast aside a bit in terms of focus as the team tries to land the big fish. Dubinsky’s name has been mentioned in trade talks (I’ve heard my Canucks contact bring his name up, he was first linked to Vancouver two years ago).
The Islanders didn’t do a whole lot. Marty Reasoner is a solid checking center, but he is hardly a difference maker. Evgeni Nabokov will report to camp, as will Rick DiPietro. The goaltending situation in Long Island is incredibly fascinating. Kirill Kabanov signed an entry-level contract as well. If I was the Islanders I would offer sheet Keith Yandle. What good are another few draft picks at this point? The danger is having the Coyotes get a few top picks back, but Yandle is a gamebreaker and a franchise defenseman.
Alex Auld brought in to back up Anderson. Ottawa will be very young next year, especially on defense – Karlsson, Rundblad, and Cowen are all likely to make the big club.
Flyers had an interesting day, inking Jaromir Jagr to a one-year contract. The team has expressed interest in Brad Richards, but I don’t see how they can work it without moving out some more cash. Versteeg was shipped to Florida, which is great news for Nodl’s fantasy upside – he now slots in on the third line with Schenn and Simmonds (who still needs to be signed). Maxime Talbot was given five years – not sure I like that term for a fourth line center. Lots of potential line combos – I would think Hartnell/Briere and Giroux/JVR will both stick together as duos.
Phoenix signed Mike Smith, who will get a chance to be a legit NHL starting goalie for the second time in his career. The club also inked Raffi Torres and Matt Bradley. They lost Ed Jovanovski (not much of a loss at this point). Expect big, big things from Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Kid is a dynamic talent with the puck. He’s not as physical as Yandle, but may be as talented offensively. Radim Vrbata was brought back at exactly the same money as he was previously making ($3 million). Like Jussi Jokinen, I think he recognized that Phoniex was the best fit for him – he’s dynamite on the power play there.
Like Vancouver, Pittsburgh has invested heavily on goal, defense, and in a few key forwards. After that, they appear to dip into the free agent market to find underappreciated veterans and sign them short term. Steve Sullivan was that guy yesterday. He’s lost a step or three, but still has quick hands. Tyler Kennedy was brought back, likely much to the chagrin of my pal Mike Colligan. Kennedy’s numbers were inflated last season due to an increase in offensive minutes.
Pittsburgh lost Talbot and Rupp in the bottom six. They still boast the best defense in the Eastern Conference.
Sharks lost Ian White, who was more than replaced by Brent Burns. They didn’t do a whole lot up front (yet). Sharks are probably in the market for a winger or two – Gagne, Langenbrunner, Miettinen, that sort of thing.
The Blues brought in Brian Elliott to compete for the backup spot. Matt D’Agostini was re-signed. Nothing else done in St. Louis, yet.
The Lightning were one of three teams to pay a personal visit to Brad Richards. I guess they plan on going with three centers and table scraps on the wing? Seriously, though, Richards would be a huge addition to a team with a few gamebreaking forwards. Ian White would be a great fit for the Lightning, who need to add some mobility on the back end. Garon was signed to back up Dwayne Roloson.
The Leafs lost Tim Brent to Carolina. They didn’t add a defenseman, nor did they need to after the Liles trade. They made an offer to Richards, and need at least two top six forwards to take a step into playoff contention.
Vancouver lost Ehrhoff and Torres. They signed Marco Sturm to a one-year deal, after doing their due diligence on his knee issues. He is insurance in case Raymond is not ready to go. Sturm is not the solution for a top six winger, a hole the Canucks will likely address through trade.
The big news from yesterday – Mike Gillis meeting with Keith Ballard’s agent and promising no deal will be made. Ballard had an awful year but was carving out a nice career in Phoenix and Florida previously. He never got on track in Vancouver after off-season hip surgery. The Canucks have a lot of money invested in him and will give him a shot to find his game once again.
The team is very, very interested in Dubinsky and Ladd. The former will likely be easier to acquire, especially if Richards is signed. The Canucks are unlikely to trade Schneider until the deadline, although the return on Varlamov was awfully nice. New Jersey and Tampa Bay are two teams likely to have interest in Cory after the 2011-12 season.
Sergei Shirokov signed with the KHL. He showed flashes of talent but in the end was too slow and weak to make a significant impact in the AHL/NHL.
It may feature three overpaid players, but a potential Chimera-Laich-Ward checking line could be the best in hockey. Laich is a natural C and wants to play there. Marcus Johansson is the wild card – is he ready to step in full time on the second line (likely with Semin and Brouwer or Knuble)? The Caps brought in Roman Hamrilk on a two-year deal. Hamrlik did a fantastic job bringing Subban along in Montreal – he’s been known to be a great mentor. Will help Carlson and Alzner tremendously.
Jets signed Derek Meech to a two-year contract. Aside from that, they were pretty quiet. A few key RFA’s – Ladd and Bogosian – still need new contracts.