During free agency it is known that teams will overpay for talent. It’s why the players love it and why general managers and owners place such a high priority on the draft. The fact that fans now have such sophisticated tools to follow their teams like capgeek.com adds a whole new level of excitement and intrigue to what was once thought of as the “ugly” side of sports, the business side. There were five deals that stood out from the rest. Not for any reason other than their sheer pricetag. But just because teams put out a lot of money doesn’t mean they got a fair return on it.
1. Matt Niskanen D 7 years $40.25 million Washington Capitals
The Barry Trotz era has truly started in Washington. This signifies a huge difference from a team that relied so heavily on the power play last year that they would have been better off diving for embellishment penalties in order to get 10 power plays a game. Niskanen is a solid defender who gives the Capitals a strong scoring threat from the point. Granted he isn’t playing with Crosby anymore but Ovechkin is a great consolation prize. Signed for seven years he may be able to help the Caps get over the hump if they make the playoffs. Considering the cap hit for Nikita Nikitin is only one million less a year this is a….
Verdict: Great Signing
2. Paul Stastny C 4 years $28 million St. Louis Blues
What do you do when you finish second in your division and lose a hard fought playoff series against your chief rival over six games. You sign away a borderline first line center who notched sixty points last year from the top team in the division. The best part of this deal for St. Louis in my eyes is that they took Stastny from the Avalanche. I have concerns over how Stastny is going to do on a team where he is more of the focus and has a little less talent around him. For seven million a year he is a good deal if his production stays solid but we need to see how he plays when teams are putting their first and second line guys on him all the time. I feel about this signing like I do about seafood at a buffet…..
Verdict: Could be good, or I could spend three hours in the bathroom regretting it
3. Brooks Orpik D 5 years $27.5 million Washington Capitals
Well Niskanen won’t feel lonely. The Washington Capitals seem to be employing if you can’t beat them, sign them away mentality. I don’t like this signing as much as the Niskanen one. Orpik is declining in health and comparative skill and makes up for it with a lot of strong (and self-destructive) hitting. The Capitals are trying to spend their way out of years of poor depth drafting to try and save the window they have with Ovechkin on the team. This one strikes me like eating at a Cheesecake Factory.
Verdict: (Waitress of said Cheesecake Factory hands me the bill) “I paid this much….for that?”
4. Dave Bolland C 5 years $27.5 million Florida Panthers
Consistency has been a problem for Bolland. But that doesn’t matter to Vinny Viola. It seems that the mandate to spend to the cap is being followed with this signing. The real question is “Who is the real Dave Bolland?” Is it the player struggling to make double digit points over the last two years or the one who put up 19 goals and 28 assists in his best season with the Blackhawks. Normally I follow the rule of once a player reaches his peak years he doesn’t get better as he gets older. But Bolland is only 28 and spent last year on a Maple Leafs team where he wasn’t the only player struggling to score goals.
Verdict: Looks like I bellied up to the bar for a second helping of that sweet buffett shellfish.
5. Matt Moulson LW 5 years $25 million Buffalo Sabres
Moulson will step in and be on the top line for Buffalo. He would probably be a top six player for most teams in the league. For a team that
has been having an apparent fire sale that started on trade deadline day and has run through the off season this is an interesting signing. Don’t tell anyone but I think there may be deal for him to pretend to be hurt til next season so he can play on a line with Connor McDavid. This along with acquiring Gionta and it you can start to see the framework for what Tim Murray is trying to do in Buffalo. Moulson seems like a pillar of what is surely a “five-year plan” to change the fortunes the Sabres.
Verdict: Moulson….for $5 million a year against the cap….great signing