[Updated Fri 11:40.04.07; Happy Ind. Day to all the American readers... Even though we CDN's party harder on weeknights.]
San Jose Sharks sign UFA defenceman Rob Blake to a one-year, $5 million contract.
-- Had to replace Campbell with another anchor on the back-end. Someone should have told Wilson not to replace him with an actual bruce. Tough to hate on Rob Blake, but he's no longer the spry whippersnapper of days past.
New York Rangers sign UFA forward Markus Naslund to a two-year, $8 million contract and UFA defenceman Dmitri Kalinin to a one-year contract.
-- Kalinin is a respectable D (which the Rangers needed after trading away too solid blue-liners yesterday). As for Markus Naslund, it's clear the Rangers want to win now. I imagine he had a host of offers in the 3.5 range before New York opened its wallat and once again overpaid for 20ish goals.
Montreal Canadiens sign UFA forward Georges Laraque to a three-year, $4.5 million contract.
-- interesting more so is dilemma of his former team: who is going to fight to protect Sid and Malkin next year?
Pittsburgh Penguins sign UFA forward Miroslav Satan (1-year, $3.5 million), & UFA forward Ruslan Fedotenko (1-year, $2.5 million).
-- to me this smacks of an attempt to fill a few gaps left by the departure of Colby Armstrong, Ruutu and Malone up front. An attempt, much to Pens fans consternation, that has fallen notably short.
Detroit Red Wings sign Marion Hossa to a one-year deal worth $7.4 million
-- Steal. This is how you play the game:
1. Get bad teams with cap space to bid up your price on the first day (July 1)
2. Pool these offers and present them to the best teams in the league with the notion that you'd be willing to play for their winning squad at a discount
3. Sign with the best team willing to play ball and fill your fingers with rings.
Pittsburgh Penguins have extended the contract of Evgeni Malkin (five-years, averaging $8.7million)
-- I love the fact he's on board at the same price as Sid the Kid (we all know dick swinging is greatly influenced by who's got the cake, and winning clubs need leadership). With their battle raging onward for the next 5 years, Pens fans better stop and thank the hockey gods for providing two phenoms for the same team. (Cough.. ur bullshit....)
Columbus Blue Jackets sign UFA winger Kristian Huselius (4-year, $4.75 million per year)
-- So, they overpay for Commodore (see below) and now throw a grossly oversized chunk at Huselius? Kristian can score, but doesn't like to defend, or play physical, or so much as offer the illusion that he is working hard in his own end, but once again the demand for goals drives up percieved value. He'll average 50-55pts over the next 2 seasons and then get traded because the coach hates the way he plays. Muh.
Dallas Stars sign UFA Forward Sean Avery to a four-year, $15.5 million contract.
-- I have been open with my support for Sean Avery. I don't care if he slept with your grandmother, (if hes not breaking the law) its what he does on the ice that counts. He is a renaissance player cut from the same cloth as Esa Tikkanen and Claude Lemieux -- guys whose teammates readily offer high praise for their ability to fight, agitate, score and win.
Boston Bruins sign forward Michael Ryder to a 3-year deal worth $12 million
-- this is the new CBA taking effect where one good year gets you paid. There is such a lust for a player with goal-scoring potential that GM's reluctantly risk big dollars for flash-in-the-pan's. This deal will disappoint as Ryder will become a cog in the defensive-minded Bruins wheel. Over/Under Goals for the 3 year term: 50. I'm under.
Ottawa Senators sign UFA Forward Jarkko Ruutu to a three-year, $3.9 million contract.
-- Check out the Senators finally getting some toughness and grit (notably, on the cheap)! Too bad about the Nobel Prize-worthy cancer present in their room has left them destined for nothing but grim death.
New York Islanders sign defenceman Mark Streit to a five-year contract worth $20.5 million
-- Islanders get a steal. Streit will suffer a drop in points on the Isle (his Habs scored the most goals in the league last season), but is a solid offensive defender. Three cheers for Garth Snow.
Pittsburgh Penguins sign UFA defenceman Brooks Orpik to a six-year, $22.5 million contract.
-- finally a GM gets a defender to sign a reasonable contract. Rumors had Orpik in the 4year-20mil range, which would indicate that he took a hometown discount to play with Crosby, and the soon-to-be-signed-to-$10mil/year Malkin. Good on Brooks whose career decisions reflect his character: sound and steady.
New York Rangers sign UFA defenceman Wade Redden to a six-year contract worth $39 million
-- Wow. Smart people make decisions based on value. Glen Sather apparently doesn't give a shit what other people do and just ridiculously over-paid for a slightly above average defender. This deal was the worst of the day.
New Jersey Devils sign UFA forward Bobby Holik to a one-year contract worth $2.5 million
-- Back to the old stomping ground to finish off his once promising, but ultimately disappointing career.
Toronto Maple Leafs sign UFA forward Niklas Hagman to a four-year contract worth $12 million
-- A respectable price for a decent player. Unfortunately, the Leafs are repeating many of their past mistakes by looking to compete too soon. Cliff Fletcher has fallen into the trap all men with an ego must avoid: instead of mandating an in-the-shitter-type season to ensure a franchise draft pick, he has convinced himself that he can build a contender. This season will prove he's wrong and Burke will be left holding weak contracts instead of the rights to a potential superstar.
New York Rangers re-sign UFA defenceman Michael Rozsival to a four-year deal worth $20 million
-- good re-sign for the Rangers. Rozi has turned up his game over the past few seasons and looks like s strong defender with top 2 potential.
New Jersey signs UFA forward Brian Rolston to a four year deal worth $20.25-million
-- Here's an odd one. Rolston was desperate to leave Jacques Lemaire 's eye-stabingly boring system in Minnesota and he signs with Lou Lamarello and the Devils... The price and the term are very Lou L. -- he held his ground and got market value for a fairly talented player.
Columbus signs UFA defenceman Mike Commodore to a 5 year deal worth $18.75-million
-- Breaking: the pool of free-agent defenders was NOT very deep this year. Nearly all the defensive free agents got over-paid and Commodore is no exception. Heres hoping his work ethic leads to some more offensive production (because I know it won't help his decision making).
Chicago signs UFA defenceman Brian Campbell to an 8 year deal worth $56.8-million
-- Another example of a demand-inflated contract, but with much greater returns. Chicago clearly decided on contending this year and thus will be counting on Campbell immensely. Keep in mind his disappearing act in the playoffs and relatively brief track record – he's not a lock for All-Star appearances as the dough would indicate.
Tampa Bay signs UFA goaltender Olaf Kolzig to a 1 year deal worth $1.5-million (plus bonuses).
-- A bit of a slap in the face to Mike Smith (who was one of the big pieces in return for Brad Richards). Taken together it looks like a tandem approach in Tampa until someone grabs the bull and goes off – a scenario Olly was reluctant to embrace when Huet rolled into Washington.
Colorado signs UFA forward Darcy Tucker to a 2 year deal worth $4.5-million
-- Fair market value for an aging (and sure to disappoint) 3rd liner. With the $6mil in his jeans from the Toronto buy-out, I'm sure he didn't mind taking the haircut.
Chicago signs UFA goaltender Cristobal Huet (undisclosed)
-- Why is he leaving a good thing in Washington? I could speculate on that all day, but I really like this play in Chicago's favor. Huet showed that he can play this year in the playoffs, and I wouldn't doubt his ability to be a solid anchor for the Hawks in the post-Khabibulin era.
Florida signs UFA forward Cory Stillman to a 3 year deal worth $10.6-million
-- I hate the idea of giving old guys money, and this suites the mantra. He'll under-perform and retire with the rest of the snowbirds on the beach in FLA.
Toronto signs UFA defenceman Jeff Finger to a 4 year deal worth $3.5-million a season
-- Bad, bad, bad. I have no idea what the Leafs thought they were paying for here, but I can promise you this is the best day of Jeff Fingers life. The costly buy-out process the Leafs have undergone recently mustn't have taught them enough about bad contracts...
Washington signs UFA goaltender Jose Theodore to a 2 year deal (undisclosed)
-- Clearly Huet priced himself out of Washington because most scouts/GM's would take Cristobal over Jose any day. Theodore is like violent diarrhea – unpredictable and streaky.
Anaheim re-sign forward Corey Perry to a five-year deal worth $26.625-million which will average $5.325-million a year.
-- Life-long winner and a future 40+ goal scorer. I like the deal on all fronts and anticipate Perry and Getzlaf to have another solid year in Anaheim.
Detroit Red Wings and veteran defenseman Brad Stuart have agreed to terms on a 4 year contract that averages 3.75 per year.
-- A nice chunk of change for a solid piece of the pie. Stuart seems to have found a suitable niche in Detroit where the lofty expectations are removed, and his forwards provide endless defensive support.
Washington re-signs defenceman Mike Green to a four-year deal worth $21 million (average of $5.25 million per season).
-- Much like the Perry deal this one was a no-brainer. Green is one of the most talented young defenders in the game and Washington did well to get his signature at an otherwise fair price.