The big spending has begun as teams continue to overpay players in free agency. Here’s a breakdown of who has signed and the winners and losers.
Martin Biron, Goalie, signs a two-year deal at $875,000/season. He’s a decent backup and is capable or playing 25 games if the Rangers want to rest Henrik Lundqvist. Rating: B-
Sergie Gonchar, D-Man, inked a three year deal at $5.5 million/season in Ottawa. The 36-year-old averaged 0.79 PPG the past ten years. When healthy he is one of the most productive D-men in the league, and he will help Ottawa’s powerplay. The concern is that he has missed 77 games the past two seasons. The final year of this deal could really hurt Bryan Murray. Rating: C
Daniel Paille, LW, stays in Boston for two years at $1.15/season. Depth guy who doesn’t make much of an impact from game-to-game. Rating: C
Alex Tanguay, RW, signs a one-year, $1.7 million deal with the Flames. He had a career-high 81 points with the Flames in 2007, but since then his point totals have been 58, 41 and 37. The Flames have no offence to speak of and are hoping Tanguay will re-discover his scoring.Rating: C. Rarely does a player have the same success the second time around.
Zbynek Michalek, D-Man, gets a five year, $20 million deal with the 2009 Stanley Cup champs, Pittsburgh Penguins. Michalek is an underappreciated defensive defenceman. The 27-year-old will flourish in Pittsburgh. Rating: A-
Alex Auld, Goalie, gets a one-year $1 million dollar deal to back up Carey Price in Montreal. The “suitcase” joins his 8th team since the lockout. He is a serviceable backup, but if Price gets hurt or continues to be inconsistent Auld won’t take the Habs anywhere. Rating: C
Colby Armstong, RW, will get $3million/year for three years in Toronto. He is exactly the type of player that Brian Burke and Ron Wilson like. He’ll play a lot in Toronto and be a fan favourite. Whether we like it or not, even though the Leafs stink, players still want to play there. Rating: A
Antero Niittymaki, Goalie, signs a two-year pact for $2 million/season with the San Jose Sharks. The 30-year-old has played 46+ games three times, and never been a legitimate starter. The Sharks must plan on splitting duties with him and one of their young tenders. Niittymaki was a respectful 21-18-6 with a .909 SV% and 2.87 GAA in Tampa last year, and at $2 million he isn’t overpaid. Doug Wilson is copying what Philly did last year and will try to win with average goaltending and solid forwards and defenders. Rating: B-
Joel Perrault, Centre, signs on for $510,000 for one year in Vancouver. A depth signing. Rating: C
Sean O’Donnell, D-Man, gets a one-year, one million dollar deal from the Flyers. O’Donnell is a solid number six at this point, and Paul Holmgren clearly wants depth on the backend. I think he is a bit over-priced, but he is a veteran and great guy in the room. Rating: C+ (The Flyers also acquired Andrej Meszaros for a 2nd rounder from Tampa and then re-signed Braydon Coburn for two-years at $3.2 million/season. The Flyers are over the cap, and still need to sign Daniel Carcillo. You have to think they will trade Jeff Carter, Simon Gagne or Matt Carle.)
Manny Malhotra, Centre, gets a three year pact at $2.5 million/season. Last year, Mike Gillis had the best UFA signing when he got Samuelsson for $2.5 million/year, and he scored 30 goals. Malhotra is a huge overpayment. He played well in San Jose last year, but he isn’t worth this contract. Rating: D
Derek Morris, D-Man, stays in Phoenix for four years at $2.75 million per. Morris will be 36 when his contract is over and for the first few years this is a good deal. Morris still competes hard, moves the puck well and won’t make too many major gaffes. Rating: B
Jody Shelley, RW, cashed in big with the Rangers at $1.1 million/season for three years. Shelley is a great team guy who understands his role, but there are some questions if he can still take the big punch. The Flyers are team tough so he won’t go it alone, but he’ll have to face Derek Boogaard and Eric Godard six times each. He’ll earn his paycheck. Rating: C
Dan Ellis, Goalie, gets a two-year deal at $1.5 million/season from Steve Yzerman in Tampa. Yzerman has seen him lots the past few years in Nashville. I think Ellis is equal, if not better, than Niittymaki and $500,000 cheaper. He will Mike Smith hard for the starting job and could easily win it. Rating: B+
Derek Boogaard, LW, must have gotten a huge push from Marian Gaborik because he got a whopping $1.65 million/year for four years from the Rangers. Boogaard is a top-two tough guy in the league and Glen Sather felt he should be rewarded for doing the toughest job in the game. Boogaard will be a huge fan favourite in NY, and Torterella will give him a long rope and I bet he plays at least 70 games. It’s a lot of money for a tough guy, but Boogaard will ensure the Rangers don’t get intimidated. Rating: B- (If he got $1.2 it would be a B+ in my mind.)
Paul Martin, D-Man, signs the biggest deal of the day so far at $25 million over five years. He’s never scored more than five goals in a season. His offensive numbers will increase significantly in Pittsburgh, but he has to learn to shot the puck. He’s only had 100+ shots once. I’ve never been blown away by Martin, so I’m a bit perplexed he would get this much money. Rating: C
Toni Lydman, D-Man, signs in Anaheim for $3 million/year for three years. Lydman isn’t flashy, but he is steady and the Ducks were in dire need of a blueliner who could move the puck. A decent signing for the Ducks. Rating: B- Ray Whitney, RW, the former Oiler stick boy got two years at $3 million/season from the Coyotes. The Coyotes surprised everyone last year, and Whitney still has incredible offensive instincts and will help their woeful PP. If he gets 20+ PP points then he is worth the money. Rating: B+
Curtis Sanford, Goalie, stays in Montreal as a depth guy in case Auld or Price falter. Rating: C
Henrik Tallinder, D-man, New Jersey finally gets involved and gives him four years at $3.375 million/season. Tallinder fits into the Devils style; not flashy, but successful. He is a solid shut down defender and is a solid signing. Rating: B+
***Kurtis Foster, D-man, signs a two-year deal at $1.8 million a season with the Oilers. He was on my list of UFAs that the Oilers were looking at and would be a good fit. He bounced back from that horrific broken leg and tallied 42 points in Tampa last year. Foster has a heavy shot, but it is very accurate and he is a solid passer. This is a decent signing for the Oilers and at a good price when you compare what other offensive D-man have signed for. Rating: B***
Anton Volchenkov, D-man, signs a six-year $4.25/million deal with the Devils. The Devils still believe you can win with a defence first mentality, but once again they will be disappointed come April. Volchenkov is a great shot blocker and along with Tallinder they will make life easier for Martin Brodeur. Volchenkov is a good signing, but the Devils need offence and I don’t think this signing makes them closer to winning. Rating: B-
Olli Jokinen, Centre, shockingly signs a two-year, $3million/season deal with the Calgary Flames. A big WTF is Darryl Sutter doing. How does he keep his job. He couldn’t get rid of Jokinen fast enough at the deadline in March and now he bring Jokinen back. Easily the most perplexing signing of the day. I can’t wait for Sutter to tell us how he is so much smarter than everyone else and how this signing makes sense. Rating: D as in Dumb
Dan Hamhuis, D-Man, a very good all-around defenceman. He has been underrated in Nashville for years and is more physical than he looks. The Canucks had too many soft top-four D-men in Edler, Salo and Ehrhoff so Hamhuis will help. You have to think Gillis will move a D-man before training camp for a bottom-six forward and a draft pick. Rating: A-
Saku Koivu, Centre, stays in Anaheim for two more years at $2.5 million/season. Koivu is a true pro and still a decent contributor. I ask you this, would you get more bang for you buck from Koivu at $2.5, or Manny Malhotra at the same price? Solid deal for Anaheim, and re-enforces how bad the Malhotra deal was. Rating: A
Adam Burish, Centre, gets a two-year deal at $1.15 million/season from Dallas. Burish is more known for his comments towards the Human Rake after the Cup final. He is a scrappy player, and should help the 4th line in Dallas. He’ll help the Stars in their youth movement. Rating: B-
Matt Cullen, Centre, gets big money from the Wild at $3.5 million for three years. Cullen has never had 50 points and that is a lot of money for a guy who has never had 50 points. He will get more of an opportunity in Minnesota so he should top the 50 point mark. He is a decent two-way player, and the Wild are starving for some offence. Rating: B-
Andrew Raycroft, Goalie, signs a two-year deal in Dallas. This is his fourth team since the lockout, and he has been averagae everywhere he has played. I’m surprised this guy continues to get recycled. If the Stars got him on a two-way deal then the deal is even better, but I doubt they did. Rating: C-
OILERS SIGN COLIN FRASER. Fraser gets a two-year deal worth $825,000/season. Fraser will be the 4th line centre and this numbers reflect that. He will add much needed grit to that line and this is another solid, but not spectacular signing.
Erik Nystrom, LW, signs a three-year deal worth $1.4 million/season with Minny. Is he better than Curtis Glencross? We will see. Former first rounder has yet to develop into a true checker, and he isn’t a scorer. Wild will play him on 3rd line and he should add some crust to their lineup. Rating: B-
Raitis Ivanans, LW, takes a low offer from the Flames at $600,000/year for two years. Considering what all the other heavyweights signed for this is a great deal for Calgary. Rating: B+
Tim Jackman, RW, hulking winger signs for $550,000/year for two years. Can’t see him and Ivanans dressing together on many nights, but the Flames love to have toughness and size. Cheap signing, but you get what you pay for in Jackman. Rating: C+
John Scott, D-Man, the behemoth defender elected to go to Chicago instead of Edmonton on a one-year deal. Scott is huge, but unlike most of the tough guys he plays defence, and he isn’t the best defender. The Hawks needed some toughness, and I bet he’ll play a few games on the wing as well. The Oilers still want a tough guy and have turned their attention to a former Oiler, Steve MacIntyre. MacIntyre would sign in a heart beat and probably around Ivanans money rather than Shelley-type of money. N/A until we see the term.