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10 July 2007

Free Agency Grades: 10 Days Later

THE TOP OF THE CLASS:

N.Y. Rangers: The Rangers finally get it right. They add two dynamic players to their roster who are a) not over the hill and B) Leaders. Chris Drury and Gomez together could put the Blue Shirts on the verge of being a legitimate threat in the East. Gomez with Jagr could be something special.

Calgary Flames: The team took care of its own in Iginla and Regehr and totally retooled their blueline by adding Sarich and Erikkson at good prices. Darcy Regier and Larry Quinn should take notes on how to treat your leaders. These moves make the Flames legitimate contenders for the Cup.

GOOD:

Philadelphia Flyers: They overpaid in every case, but adding Briere, Hartnall and Timmonen significantly upgrades this team. Paul Holmgren has done a tremendous job in retooling thre Flyers in his short tenure.

Montreal Canadiens: Simply moving out Samsanov and Bonk makes it a great off season. I loved the addition of Smolinski. Probably should have gone the extra mile for Briere.

Washinton Capitals: While none of their moves would be described as earth shattering, they quietly added some significant talent at reasonable prices. Nylander, Kozlov and Poti are nice fits for this young club.

Detroit Red Wings: Getting Brian Rafalski for 6m a year looks like a coup. The simply keep getting the player they target at good prices. He should make a nice impact for them and supplement Nik Lidstrom nicely.

L.A. Kings: Another team that added significant talent at reasonable prices. Adding Handzus was a great move. Preissing, Stuart, and Calder will be solid additions. I look for Calder to really rebound in L.A.

BAD:

Toronto Maple Leafs: The overpaid for Sundin and then they added an aging Jason Blake. The should have saved their money and gone after Gomez, Briere, Drury or Rafalski who would have all helped the Leafs far more. John Ferguson Jr. just keeps digging the holes deeper.

St. Louis Blues: In the process of a nice youth movement the Blues revert to their old tricks and spend big money on Keith Tkachuk and Paul Kariya. Both are dynamic players, but you gotta wonder...why?

Anaheim Ducks: In a boom or bust set of moves the Ducks drastically overpaid for Mathieu Schneider and Todd Bertuzzi. If they work out the Ducks just got scarier. Unfortunately, Bertuzzi is a negative wherever he goes. My bet is both moves backfire on them. I am very surprised they didn't go after Kariya harder.

UGLY:

New Jersey Devils: Losing Rafalski and Gomez hurts badly. Trying to replace Gomez with Dainus Zubrus for 6 years...hurts worse.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Chris Gratton and Michel Oullet in, Cory Sarich and Ruslan Fedotenko out. Yuck! The burden of the big three contracts hurts the Lightning yet again.

New York Islanders: Though I actually like their signings of Guerin and Comnrie the Islanders let Ryan Smyth get away. A team cannot give up as much as they did for Smyth unless the are pushing for the cup or plan to build around that player. Now the Islanders have neither. Garth Snow just compounded his biggest mistake.

DUNCE CAPS:

Buffalo Sabres: This dunce cap isn't for losing Briere and Drury, in the end the decisions not to resign them might have been the right call. It is for how the Sabres did it. Larry Quinn and Darcy Regier just ensured that that the Sabres remain LAST team anyone wants to play for for a long, long time. Classless.

Nashville Predators: Shameless sell off of their top talent is an embarrassment to the National Hockey League. Move 'em to Kansas City already and end the charade.

5 fanatics have replied:

Mike Thompson said...

I agree with you on almost everything you summarized. However, one notable absence in your rundown of good, bad, and ugly FA signings was Colorado. The biggest knock on the Avs last season (other than Jose Threeorfour riding the pine for over $5 million...) was that the team, and the blueline especially, wasn't tough enough or 'gritty' enough to survive the Western Conference and live to tell about it in the playoffs. Therefore, Giguire went out and got a tough, gritty, defense-first blueliner in Scott Hannan. He will immediately step into the top defensive pair in Denver. Next up is Smyth. Honestly, looking across the FA landscape this season, and thinking long-term (ie Joe Sakic mght retire at anytime, or at the latest after the next Olympics), name another free agent that brings the leadership and grit that will likely be a boon for Avs fans for years to come. In the short term, his familiarity with Sakic, and his willingness to pay the price in front of the Western Conference nets he's so familiar with should see career numbers for him next season.

It seems to me that the Avs should have a spot on your Good list, having PERFECTLY filled needs. You can argue that they overpaid for both players, but if all you need is one or two tweaks to get back into the post season (best team to not make the playoffs last year), isn't it better to pay a premium to make sure that happens? I (and most Avs fans) think so.

Anonymous said...

Biased Devils Fan:

I disagree with the consistent characterization of Scott Gomez as a star player. I have for years. Although he is a fine playmaker, he is certainly not going to make your team and the notion that the New Jersey system held him back is pure speculation. What is true is that, like many on the Devils, he plays a particular role, and it's a role Zubrus can fill.

In regards to Rafalski, he's a middling offensive defenseman with very little size. If you watched the Devils playoff exit it became woefully aparent that their defense was not beig enough to win the physical battles against their opponents.

My Devils wishlist this offseason was Comrie, Preising, and Souray. I'll settle for Zubrus and Rachunek. If they manage to take Souray they're arguably better off than they were last season.

JD FLYGUY said...

I tend to agree with the grades as well. Being the Philly rep, I can honestly say they did not deserve to be in the "Top of the Class" section. The biggest overpayment there is definitely Scott Hartnell. Paying someone for potential is always a scary thing and can backfire at any time. I wouldn't be surprised if 3 or 4 years into Harnell's contract that we try to move him (unsuccessfully).
The one rating I tend to disagree with is the rating of the Islanders. Of course the loss of Ryan Smyth sticks out like a really bad sore thumb, but at the same time, the move people are starting to forget is the buying out of Alexi Yashin. Garth Snow really decided to move on with his team (naming Guerin captain, etc) and is trying to find them a new identity. If anything, they might have been able to move up a level in the "Grades" section.

The Ghost said...

Colorado was a notable error. I really like both of their big signings. Hannan will be very valuable for them.

As for Gomez and Rafalski. I think Gomez is in a great situation playing with guys like Straka, Jagr, Shanahan on his wings. He should thrive.

I like Rafalski. i think he will be very effective in Detroits style of play.

As for the Isles, getting rid of Yashin was a big, big plus. I like Comrie there alot. The price they paid for Smyth warrents the extra mile needed to sign him.

Good points all.

The Ghost said...

I like Hartnall alot. Some players thrive in the Philly situation. For lack of a better way to say it I think Hartnall and Philly were made for each other.

I have reservations with Briere's length of contract. I will be interested to see how the Briere - Philly marriage goes long term.

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