Free agent winners, losers and head-scratchers...so far
As silly season settled into a nice, lazy Day 2 stupor, here's a look at the deals so far that have made sense...or made one suspect that the GM in question had been nipping at the cleaning products.
Admit it. Your first reaction was that someone was pulling your leg, right? Unless, of course, you're a Flames fan. In that case, you had to wonder whether GM
You'll probably hear a number of opinions, including this one: At $3 million per, Jokinen is not being paid like a first line center anymore. And he shouldn't be judged by those standards. Playing softer minutes on the second line, he might actually earn that paycheck if he can put up something north of 20 goals and 50 points.
But honestly, there's a reason why the Flames were so desperate to get rid of Jokinen just a few months ago that they took on the brutal contracts of
So, what's changed? The coach is the same. The system is the same. Is there any logical reason to suggest the results will be better?
This feels more like Sutter trying to vindicate his decision to acquire Jokinen from the Coyotes two years ago than a clear-headed effort to improve the Flames. There's no other rational way to look at this.
No surprise that the offensively-gifted Gonchar was the first big fish to be reeled in. What was a bit of a shock was whose bait he took.
The Sens had a puck-moving defender at the top of their wish list, and they paid handsomely to land the best in show. Gonchar has netted at least 50 points in nine of his last 10 seasons (injuries broke the streak in 2003-04) and, after scoring more than half of his 684 career points with the extra man, it doesn't take a highly paid analyst to tell you that he'll bolster an Ottawa power play that ranked just 21st last season.
But where Gonchar could really earn his cash is with his ability to motivate the frustratingly gifted
But there's still an element of risk to the deal. It'll be
Still,you have to love GM
There were at least half a dozen teams pursuing the 25-year-old winger, whose abrasive style is an undeniably ideal fit for GM
I'd argue that there were better, more affordable options on the market (see Pittsburgh's haul below), but give GM
The trick might be in managing expectations. Hamhuis is being paid like a first-unit defender, and that may well be his role with the Canucks. But he was a second unit guy in Nashville, where
His presence, or more to the point, his salary, also creates a need for a trade, maybe two, to clear the logjam of contracts on the blueline. How Gillis manages those assets should be almost as vital to how this deal is ultimately viewed as Hamhuis' play on the ice. For now, though, chalk this up as a win for the Canucks.
Did any GM do more to improve his club on Day 1 than
If you listen to the Moneyball-type stat geeks, Martin ranked as one of the best defenders not just on the market, but in the game. He's a player whose tools contributed to more shots-for and fewer shots-against the Devils when he was on the ice in 2008-09, his last full season. Hard to argue with that metric. He'll eat big minutes, and while he's no Gonchar, he'll move the puck effectively and chip in on both special teams.
Michalek is more defensive-minded and is ideally used in a shutdown role, but with his puck skills, he probably has more to offer offensively than he showed in Phoenix, especially when given a chance to play with talent like he'll suit up with in Pittsburgh. Both men are character players who will bring something positive to the Pens' room.
Unless someone signs
The NHL has always been a copycat league. If something works for one team -- say, the neutral zone trap -- you can bet the wannabes will crowd the proven path the following season.
No shock then that the playoff success of "no-name" goalies like
But is Niittymaki the answer? Despite some international success (he was the MVP of the 2006 Olympics), he's never really grabbed a starting job and made it his own. So what makes Wilson think that'll change once Niittymaki is in teal? The GM likes the way Niittymaki takes care of the bottom of the net. Plus, he'll be surrounded by better talent than he's ever enjoyed outside of his role with Team Finland.
That said, he's done nothing in the NHL playoffs (he has just 72 minutes of postseason experience). That didn't stop Niemi from winning the Cup, but it'll be an issue that is sure to dog the Sharks, a team that, like Niittymaki, has a lot to prove.
The Coyotes took a big hit when Michalek bolted for the Pens, but forward depth had to be a bigger concern for a team that passed on center
While it'll be hard for some to get past that number, Maloney is right. At that price, "Whitney is an excellent value." He does his best work on the power play, an area that befuddled Phoenix all season, and his presence will allow
The honeymoon between fans (and the media) and new GM
Ellis is a fair goalie coming in at a reasonable price, but is he really a significant upgrade over Niittymaki? After putting together a decent season in 2007-08, and stealing the starting job in Nashville from
It's no longer even worth asking how Rangers GM