CHACHING! A Summary of NHL Free Agency 2011

Free Agency Summary

Okay so technically free agency isn’t over; free agents can be picked up any time but the main rush is over, ice is going into NHL rinks, and most of the big names have been snatched up and the fresh ink on the new contracts is starting to dry.  Some of that ink better be long lasting because there are a few contracts that are slated to last a decade.  Christian Ehrhoff is slated to be a Sabre for the next decade and Brad Richards and Ilya Bryzgalov are signed onto their respective clubs for the next nine.  This summer there wasn’t an overabundance of top grade superstars but teams hope they are better built to compete for the upcoming season.

Below is a look at the longest contracts handed out this past offseason:

                                                            Top Term Contract Signings This Offseason
Player and Team Contract Length & Value
Christian Erhoff Buffalo Sabres 10 Years                               $40 Million
Brad Richards New York Rangers 9 Years                                  $60 Million
Ilya Bryzgalov Philadelphia Flyers 9 Years                                   $51 Million
Ville Leino Buffalo Sabres 6 Years                                  $27 Million
Brooks Laich Washington Capitals 6 Years                                  $27 Million
James Wisniewski Columbus Blue Jackets 6 Years                                   $33 Million




Key Signings 

–          Brad Richards to Rangers for 9 years and 60 million dollars.  Richards was the top gun available at the free agent superstore this year and it showed.  Multiple teams campaigned for his services.  Networks had crews camped out in front of his agents office and crowds gathered there to.  For what reason there were swarms of fans I am still not sure but the point is he was the most sot after commodity and on July 2nd he was scooped up.  The Rangers now hope they have found a perfect complimentary piece for Gaborik and believe that they are contenders.

–          Ilya Bryzgalov didn’t have to worry about not signing in Winnipeg because for now the Coyotes are still in Glendale, but that wasn’t enough to keep him and his rights were dealt to the Flyers before July 1.  On June 23rd he signed long term in Philly and the Flyers hope he will stop the goaltending carousel and help them bring the Cup back to Philadelphia

–          The Buffalo Sabres.  Okay so this isn’t an actual signing but a key part of this off season was the Sabres activity.  For a long time they were an organization that couldn’t or wouldn’t resign star players.  That has changed with new ownership and an open bank account for team management.  Robyn Regher was acquired in a deal with the Calgary Flames.  Ehrhoff signed a decade long 40 million dollar deal.  Leino was brought in to help out on offence and Cody McCormik inked a multiyear deal.

–          James Wisniewski signed a megadeal in Columbus.  6 years worth 33 million dollars and he will be one of the top paid defensemen in the game for the upcoming season at 7 million.  This deal was a surprise and it also may have contributed to the cap inflation effect.  (Doughty, and Schenn still haven’t been resigned.)

–          The Lightning made a five year commitment to their star Stamkos.  (37.5 million over 5 years)

Key Team Activity

Besides the Sabres there were other teams that were very active at the start of July.  The Florida Panthers signed millions in new contracts to get up and over the cap floor.  They believe they now have a chance at ending the NHL’s longest active playoff drought but it will take 82 games to see if that is true or not.  The Calgary Flames entered the off season as one of the bubble teams for the upcoming season.  They were a surprise in the Richards sweepstakes and almost got him.  They didn’t add any big names but resigned Glencross and Tangauy and traded away long time defensive backbone Regher.  On paper they are very similar to last year but they believe that last season’s great finish will carry over and push them back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Oilers added some grit and depth to their young roster and brought captain”Smitty” back via trade with the Kings.  The reborn Jets stayed relativley quiet and still have RFA D-man Bogosian to lock up. The Kings replaced Ryan Smyth with Simon Gagne and in Detriot Ian White will get yet another address.  The hope is he can help fill the void the now retiered Brian Rafalski leaves.

One of the biggest trades was the Dany Heatley trade.  He departs the Shark Tank for the Minnesota Wild and he hopes to regain his 50 goal scoring touch.

From late June to today Hundreds of millions of dollars have beepromised out and decades of term on contracts.  Every Year teams hope that free agency can help fill some of the void for their clubs.  The ultimate judge of that is the 82 game regular season and Stanley Cup playoffs.

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