|Tremblay works the phones.|
It’s Free Agency day in the NHL! Traditionally, Free Agency Day is the day that the Toronto Maple Leafs try to buy the future, only to see their signings peter out two years later; the day that Glen Sather overpays for the mediocre player available at the position his team most needs; the day that elder statesmen players sign with the Detroit Red Wings to try to win one last Stanley Cup before they retire. I’m blogging with Tremblay, veteran hockey-watcher and Habs fan extraordinaire. So let’s get right down to the details – we might skip minor trades, but we’ll hit the big ones, promise.
Update 3:38 PM AST
Stephen Weiss signs in Motown. (5 years, $24.9m)
Tremblay: “This is a much-needed depth signing for the Red Wings. It comes down to whether or not he can remain healthy. The cash numbers don’t change much from Florida, and it matches his production – but he needs to stay healthy in order to make it a worthwhile deal.”
Me: Detroit gets stronger at centre, giving them the ability to move guys around as they see fit – and the fact that they have a glut of quality centremen is nice insurance if Weiss does go down. This also lets them put Zetterberg and Datsyuk together on a line (with Alfredsson?) and still have a bona-fide #2 centre. The cap hit is very reasonable, and Detroit can afford to pay if he goes to IR.
Update 3:29 PM AST
Poile also signs Matt Cullen. (2 years, $7m)
Tremblay: “Another piece in place that makes Nashville harder to play against. They’ll be back in contention next year in a big way. If both Forsberg and Jones make the team next year it won’t be fair.”
Me: Nashville needed a second-line centre and they’ve addressed that need. He’ll fit with Stalberg and I expect to see them click for good points on both sides. They’re both 40 point guys and should combine to pitch in 15, 20 goals each.
Update 3:19 PM AST
Nashville snags Viktor Stalberg from the cash-strapped Hawks. (4 years, $12m)
Tremblay: “Nashville will be good regardless next year. They’ve made good trades and drafts (traded for Filip Forsberg, drafted Seth Jones). They’re a team of decent players that work hard, and Stalberg fits that mold. It’s not a super-long term and not a high number. I don’t think he’ll be spectacular, but I think he’ll meet the deal.
Me: I think it’s a good signing. You pay $3 million for a 40 point guy. Stalberg is a decent second line guy who can chip in 15 or so goals. It makes the Clarkson deal look even worse, if you ask me.
Update 3:08 PM AST
Dave Nonis resigns Bozak, picks up Clarkson. (Bozak: 5 years, $21m; Clarkson: 7 years, $36.75m)
Tremblay: “I love the Bozak deal. You stick to your guns and get a good deal – $4.2m/year over 5 years. It works for the Leafs and gives Bozak a chance to upgrade in 5 years. Clarkson? Too much. This might be a big mistake by the Leafs. Even at Bozak’s money, it would be too much.”
Me: It’s a clear case of Toronto overpaying for a consensus big name on the market. I think it’s a bullshit deal. He has one 30 goal year and he’s never been more than a half-point a game guy. He won’t score 30 goals again, and he won’t get more than 40, 45 points a year. Unlike Nathan Horton, Clarkson has only 5 playoff goals in 44 games. He’s not a proven playoff guy. This will weigh them down and restrict their cap options going forward. It’s not as bad as Clowe – but it’s the second worst so far. Bozak, by the way? Good deal, and I think he’s in his best possible situation.
Update 3:02 PM AST
Rob Scuderi goes back to Pittsburgh. (4 years, $13.5m)
TSN still hasn’t posted this as an official contract signing, but we know it’s going ahead, so here’s some commentary.
Tremblay: “The dynamic duo of Rob Scuderi and Brook Orpik are back! This is the defensive move that Shero needed to make. If they want Fleury to bounce back or Vokoun to play well they need to have D that plays well and this takes care of that. The price is very good as well.”
Me: Scuderi is a guy that simply wins wherever he goes. He picked up the Kings and was the shutdown guy for them and took a role on as mentor for Drew Doughty. Now he gets to reunite with Orpik and fix the major problem the Penguins had in the off-season: the Bruins beat them up and scored whatsoever goals they wanted to score. Big pickup for the Penguins.
Tremblay: “This is as good as the Ference deal. A good number and a good fit.”
Me: Yeah, this fits pretty good.
Tremblay: “It’s wise use of your money and good negotiating. You want a longer term? You give up a little in yearly money. Shero gets it right.”
Update 2:41 PM AST
Bryan Murray replaces Alfy with…Clarke MacArthur? (2 years, $6.5m)
Tremblay: “I think it’ll be a great fit – the tough, gritty sort of guy that will fit well with a great coach’s system. It’s not a huge investment and even if he flops it’s only 2 years. But I think it helps the team.”
Me: I think he’ll do well playing with Spezza – not Alfy good, but well enough to justify the money they’re spending on him. A smart pickup.
Ryane Clowe signse withe thee Devilse. (5 years, 24.25m)
Tremblay: “Lou Lamorello rolls the dice. It won’t replace Clarkson and it may blow up in Lou’s face. This could be a huge albatross around his neck. $4.85m/year isn’t huge, but it’s more than Clowe could have gotten.”
Me: No dice. What the hell is Lamorello thinking? Clowe isn’t a 60, 65 point guy anymore. He was only that guy once, playing on a loaded Sharks team. His last season was terrible. I don’t think that Clowe recovers and is ever worth the kind of money Lamorello is shelling out. This could be their compliance buyout for the 2014 off-season.
Tremblay: “Could be, but this is a cash-strapped team making a dangerous gamble. It’s the wrong deal. There’s going to be crazy deals today, but this could easily be one of the worst – depending on what happens with Clarkson.”
Me: That depends on whether or not Clarkson lands in Toronto.
Update 2:24 PM AST
Nathan Horton goes to the Blue Jackets with a full-length deal. (7 years, $37.1m)
Tremblay: “I really liked the cap hit – $5.3m. The seven year commitment is a little too long for his injury history. I think he’ll bring a lot of grit and a lot of leadership and experience to the Jackets. Now that they’ve acquired the depth of the New York Rangers I think they’re ready to compete in the playoffs.
Me: I think the way the contract is structured ($30 million during the first 5 years) is designed for Horton’s likelyhood to become injured. It’s basically designed to give him five solid years with a cheap buyout option for the last two years in case he starts to be significantly less productive. My biggest concern for this signing is that Columbus still doesn’t have a centre for Gaborik and Horton. There’s options there through free agency – and with Ryan Johanssen in the system – but they’re still waiting. Same song they played for 10 years of Rick Nash.
Tremblay: “I still think this leaves them better setup for playoff hockey – they have organizational depth now.”
Me: They still need to score enough goals to make the playoffs. Horton is a playoff guy, but his regular seasons can be washes.
Tremblay: “That’s why they resigned Bobrovsky.”
Update 2:14 PM AST
PM Bouchard heads to Long Island for one year. (1 year, $2m)
Tremblay: “Garth Snow has a thing for reclamation projects – Brad Boyes and Matt Moulson come to mind. Bouchard might bounce back and be the guy he was supposed to be, and if not, it’s barely cost the Islanders anything.”
Me: Low-risk pickup for a team that always needs to work to hit the cap floor. Hopefully it works out for Bouchard and for the Isles.
Update 2:10 PM AST
Mike Ribeiro goes to the desert. (4 years, $22m)
Tremblay: “If he can keep his numbers up this could be a pivotal signing for Phoenix. He gets what he wanted in term length and contract, and he goes to a situation where there is now an owner. This could work out.”
Me: Ribeiro has proven that he is a flaky player. I don’t think that Riberio works out in Phoenix – he just doesn’t have the talent there that he is used to playing with in Washington. I think if they obtain him a quality winger then this could be a discount – if they fail to do so, or if Doan continues to age, this is a bust.
Update 2:06 PM AST
Mike Komisarek signs out of buyout in Carolina. (1 year, $700k)
Me: Nobody deserves to be banished to the Marlies. Good luck to him in Carolina, but this might be his last year in the NHL.