Some random and not-so-random thoughts and postulations on the first couple of days of the NHL’s free agent frenzy…
• What does desperation smell like? To Don Waddell, it smells like $22.5 million for Ron Hainsey.
• I respect Marian Hossa more today than I did two days ago. I doubt Penguins fans – or the Players’ Association - are of a like mind.
• My associate Rory Boylen – a smart man, I thought – still contends the Penguins were of sound mind in trading two serviceable players, a promising prospect and a first round pick for a player who suited up for a total of 32 games then bolted for Redder pastures. It’s OK, though; Boylen’s in training to be an NHL GM and is simply subscribing to lunacy over logic.
• As the great Sam Pollock once said, the team that gets the best player wins the trade. A motivated Nikolai Zherdev is better than Fedor Tyutin or Christian Backman. A-plus for Slats.
• Did I mention Ron Hainsey was on put on waivers in 2005? Seriously. $22.5 million. Seriously. I mean, that’s Jeff Finger money!
• I said it last week and it’s worth saying again: The Preds’ David Poile deserves a standing ovation for getting a starting goalie and two top-end defensemen to sign contracts before the madness of July 1 began.
• Scott Howson got the short end of the stick in the Zherdev trade, but he did have the best-bang-for-your-buck signing Wednesday in Kristian Huselius. At an average of less than $5 million per season, the 29-year-old will provide economical scoring depth for a team in dire need of it.
• If Ted Nolan can coach this ragtag bunch of Islanders to within a sniff of a playoff spot it’ll be an injustice if he doesn’t get coach of the year consideration. That said, after causing public ripples with management (again) it wouldn’t shock me to see Nolan get canned if New York falls flat out of the gate.
• Without a word of a lie, when I heard Michael Ryder’s contract, I thought $4 million was for all three years.
• I wonder if Hossa’s agent Ritch Winter has stopped crying yet?
• The Lightning will be the NHL’s most exciting team to watch next season, not only because it has a plethora of offensive weapons, but because it’ll give up at least 40 shots a night. Good luck, Olaf.
Edward Fraser is the editor of thehockeynews.com. His blog normally appears Thursdays.
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.