So usually we go with the “Hot or Not,” but since the Free Agency period started in full force mid-way through this week, we’ll go with a “winners and losers” format this weeks. So who are the winners for this beginning of 2010 NHL Free Agency? Some of them are pretty clear, and some a little not so. Let’s begin with the winners:
1. Pittsburgh Penguins – Ray Shero made some shrewd moves to bolster their defensive corps even taking into consideration the relatively significant loss of Sergei Gonchar, who signed with Ottawa earlier in the day. They made a play for Hamhuis but came up empty there as well (he ended up in Vancouver) but Shero turned around and snapped up Paul Martin (5 years, $25 million) and Zbynek Michalek (5 years, $20 million). It’s an impressive pair of deals, and one that will secure their defense for the next half decade.
2. New Jersey Devils – The Devils lost Paul Martin, and that’s a not insignificant blow, but they’ve added Anton Volchenkov and Henrik Tallinder to solidify the backline. Both players are solid defensive players who will help New Jersey continue their strong play. With the strong shot blocking powers of Volchenkov, Brodeur is probably thanking his lucky stars, and crossing his fingers that they’ll be able to turn up some offense.
3. Derek Boogaard – What else can be said? Dude suckered a team into giving him $6.5 million. I mean, it was Sather that he suckered, which clearly isn’t a real big challenge, but still. Still, it was a good day for the pseudo-pugilist, even if it came at the expense of the entire New York fanbase.
And now on to the more fun part of this list. The Losers.
1. New York Rangers – It wouldn’t be a “losers” list for NHL Free Agency if the New York Rangers weren’t here. Fortunately they managed to make a splash in a big way with their bizarre signing of Derek Boogaard for 4 years and $6.5 million. OK seriously? I get that Sather brought the Oilers to some serious respectability in the 80′s. Is he still living off that fame? Boogaard has played over 150 games in his NHL career and has… 2 goals. Seriously. Freaking Raitis Ivanans, who fights more, skates just as badly, and is generally just as useless has 12 goals! And he signed for about half of what Boogaard got. There are no words.
2. Calgary Flames – There are reclamation projects, and there are retreads. The signing of Jokinen and Tanguay AGAIN to Calgary is the latter. Jokinen was a joke the last time he was in Calgary, and although he is being paid about half what he made last time, it’s still a desperate move from a team that apparently can’t attract serious players to play in the middle of a Canadian hockey wasteland.
3. Marty Turco/Evgeni Nabokov – Poor talented keepers seem to have priced themselves out of the market. With Montreal snapping up Auld (seriously? wtf?), San Jose with Antero Niittymaki, and most of the other keeper-starved teams already seeing the value of goalies plummet, Turco and Nabokov now face the very real possibility that they won’t be in the NHL next fall. It’s a somewhat surprising turn of events, and one that may yet turn around for the downtrodden keepers, but for the time being they are most resoundingly losers.
Tags: Alex Auld Alex Tanguay Antero Niittymaki Anton Volchenkov Calgary Flames Dan Hamhuis Derek Boogaard Evgeni Nabokov Glen Sather Henrik Tallinder Martin Brodeur Marty Turco Montreal Canadians New Jersey Devils New York Rangers NHL Free Agency Olli Jokinen Paul Martin Pittsburg Penguins Raitis Ivanans Ray Shero San Jose Sharks Sergei Gonchar Zbynek Michalek