Reading the signs
The news that
Despite their recent run of success on the ice, no team needed to seal this deal more than the Stars. Having divested themselves of their first round picks in 2007 and 2008 through a pair of ill-advised deals that led, in part, to the firing of GM
The late-blooming free agent was hotly pursued by as many as 15 teams, all of whom coveted his blend of size, speed, work ethic and offensive flair that had scouts evoking the names of
Here are five other recent signings you might have missed whose impact could be felt next season.
In the new NHL, nobody can be ruled out simply based on size, but when a guy is just 5-5, he cuts it pretty close.
You have to be a pretty special player even to get a sniff at that height, but Gerbe, a fifth round selection of the Sabres in 2005, looks to be pretty special.
Playing for national champion Boston College, Gerbe led the nation in scoring (35-33-68 in 43 games) and was MVP of the Frozen Four. He's gifted with the puck, but his speed sets him apart from other mighty mites. The Hobey Baker finalist isn't just swift on his feet- -- he has the ability to think the game quickly, to exploit the holes that open for just a moment.
The decision to forego his senior season of college shows commitment both from him and the Sabres, who'll pay Gerbe the rookie max in a three-year deal potentially worth $2.55 million. Buffalo has room up front for someone with his creativity and touch, so while it wouldn't surprise if he started next season in the AHL, he should get a long look at some point in 2008-09.
Experienced Euro goalies have been all the rage the past few years, but will the 24-year-old Niemi develop into the next
Inked to an AHL contract by the Hartford Wolf Pack prior to last season, the 23-year-old free agent outplayed
The Finn earned their faith with a 21-8-3 record, a 2.30 GAA and a .919 save percentage. He's now No. 2 behind
They don't yet have the enviable reputations of their counterparts in New Jersey and Detroit, but the scouting staff in Boston has done an exceptional job clawing value out of mid-round picks. Regan, a little-known high schooler when the Bruins snatched him 277th overall in 2003, has matured into an outstanding prospect after four seasons at the University of New Hampshire.
The Hockey East Player of the Year is now No. 4 on the Bruins' depth chart, but that situation could be fluid. Boston is likely to go into next season with
You think the
It was a stunning offer for a defensively shaky player with just 94 games on his resume, even if he did score 33 points and block 159 shots as a rookie. Gilbert had no leverage, yet now his contract is out there as a comparable for other RFA and UFA defensemen like