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I hate you, Toronto, ON • Canada • 27 Years Old • Male
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With only a slim number of talented free agents remaining, fans can now take a look at their UFA acquisitions and either brag about the additions, or crawl into a dark corner pretending nothing happened. Of course, just because you landed yourself a Wade Redden doesn't mean you should be uncorking the champagne just yet, as the terms of the deal play a big part in determining if it's a bust or not.

I'll start with the best signings of this free agency period:

Marian Hossa at 1yr/7.4mil - Detroit Red Wings: After being crowned the 07-08 champions, the Red Wings assembled the same winning line-up with one major addition, none other than their Stanley Cup Finals opponent, Marian Hossa. Not only is the price extremely fair for a player of his quality (the Oilers offered 9mil per season) but they also didn't have to invest a lot of years into Hossa, hinting they are going for Lord Stanley once again. This may very well be the best signing of all free agency.

Mark Streit at 5yrs/4.1mil cap hit - New York Islanders: After garnering 13 goals and 62 points with the Montreal Canadiens, it appeared Streit would cash in a lot of money seeing how crazy the market was this year. However, the Islanders were able to lock up one of the better PP specialists in the league at a fair 4.1mil cap hit. Even if Streit doesn't produce 60 points again, anywhere within the 45-50 point vicinity would be great numbers for 4.1mil a season.

Andrew Brunette at 3yrs/2.33mil cap hit - Minnesota Wild: While he is not a hot commodity around the NHL, Brunette is a proven 60-pointer at this level. When you take a look at what players of his caliber are earning on the open market (ahem, Micheal Ryder anyone?), this is a steal of a deal.

Brian Campbell at 8yrs/7.14mil cap hit - Chicago Blackhawks: While the price tag is a little high for a player like Campbell, there's no better team that can justify this deal than the Hawks. They place among the best up-and-coming teams in the NHL, and adding an offensive defenseman like Campbell gives them an extra step towards establishing themselves as a legitimate threat. With an 8 year contract, he’ll anchor down a strong and talented blue-line for years to come.

While there was a number of fair signings around the NHL, I believe the four mentioned above rank as the best of the bunch. Now, on to the bad signings:

Jeff Finger at 4yrs/3.5mil cap hit - Toronto Maple Leafs: Who better to start with than Finger? While he's a responsible defenseman in his own zone, he has little upside at 29 years old and has only played a total of 94 games in the NHL. At 3.5mil a season, the Leafs are vastly overpaying for his services. I guess when Cliff Fletcher said "You can’t overpay for quality" at this year’s NHL Entry Draft, he really meant it.

Cristobal Huet at 4yrs/5.625mil cap hit - Chicago Blackhawks: While Huet is a solid goaltender, he's not known to dominate at this level, often having bouts with inconsistency throughout the season. With goaltender Khabibulin already owning a large contract, the Hawks now have over 10mil invested in two goaltenders that will likely split the season.

Wade Redden at 6yrs/6.5mil cap hit - New York Rangers: In Redden, the Rangers have basically payed 6.5mil a season for offensive production and leadership abilities. In the last two seasons, Redden hasn't been able to score over 40 points or 10 goals (granted, he was injured for 18 games in the 06-07 season). While he is a valuable defenseman, his cap hit is a little steep considering he's 31 years old. It would be forgivable if the length of the contract was smaller, but at a six-year deal the Rangers will be regretting this one in a few years time.

Micheal Ryder at 3yrs/4mil cap hit - Boston Bruins: After a season to forget in Montreal, Ryder was offered a 12 million, three-year deal by the Bruins. While there is a possibility he returns to his 30-goal, 60 point form, they payed big considering he was only able to score a measly 14 goals and 31 points last season. Acquiring Ryder at 3mil would have been a more reasonable deal, but if he can return to form this will prove to be a good addition to the Bruins' line-up.

After a wild free agent period this off-season, GM's around the league now have to wait and see if their summer acquisitions will turn out as expected.
Filed Under:   Free Agents   Leafs   Wings   Isles   Wild   Boston   Hawks   NHL  
July 4, 2008 5:26 PM ET | Delete
I don't like the Streit signing at all. The guy isn't a defenseman-he's a winger that plays a PP point. I also like Redden for the Rangers. I think he'll have a big turnaround now that he is out of Ottawa.
July 4, 2008 5:29 PM ET | Delete
good blog...i agree with your selections....brian campbell as a good one was especially right on - a lot of people dont get that, but if any team were to make that move, it's chicago. it makes so much sense for them.
MJL
July 4, 2008 6:16 PM ET | Delete
I totally disagree on Streit and Campbell. Two one dimensional players, one who really isn't evena defensman.
July 4, 2008 6:20 PM ET | Delete
the worst RFA signing.....Randy Jones at 2.75 million, thats laughable and depressing at the same time
July 4, 2008 6:27 PM ET | Delete
Brian Campbell got too much. Streit is overated. Every one knows this in Montreal.... he's not a defenseman, he's a 4th liner and a PP specialist.
July 4, 2008 7:15 PM ET | Delete
I have seen many players leave Montreal and turn their careers around. Streit's primary role is to run the powerplay, but he claims that the Habs never let him get comfortable on the back end. Nolan will take his defense to the next level this year.
MJL
July 4, 2008 8:42 PM ET | Delete
Why is the Randy Jones deal laughable. He had a solid year, put up 30 points and was a plus player. And he stepped up his game in the playoffs. The market is what it is. That's the going rate.
July 4, 2008 9:00 PM ET | Delete
Wade Redden isn't good in his own zone and isn't a top point getter anymore.New York will provide no refuge for Redden. At that price and the pressure he will be under he will crack just like he did in Ottawa.
July 4, 2008 9:13 PM ET | Delete
I'll take Randy Jones at $2.75mm over just about any of the other comparable D-men at their $3.5mm salaries. Jones is as good or better than Finger, Commodore, Streit and Hainsey.
July 4, 2008 10:16 PM ET | Delete
Let's see a Montreal guy that left and dominated elsewhere.....hmmmm. Maybe one of the worse trades in recent history. Recchi from Philly for Desjardins, Gilbert Dionne and a 3rd line guy what was his name again. Oh yeah John LeClair thats it! I think not only did he and Desjardins dominate, but LeClair made Montreal pay dearly over the years for letting him go.
July 4, 2008 10:17 PM ET | Delete
And the Randy Jones signing is a great signing. His price is fair and he is still developing. By the time the playoffs came around, this kid was moved from 3rd pair to 1st and 2nd pair and was a plus player.
July 5, 2008 12:27 AM ET | Delete
to me, it doesn't matter if redden returns to old form or not, the rangers could be in serious trouble in 3 or 4 years if the cap doesn't rise big time. what if staal has a break out year? or cherpanov? or any one of their prospects in the next few years? they could end up losing talent by the boatload.
July 5, 2008 12:28 AM ET | Delete
good blog... you could probably make a seperate category just for Huet called the "catastrophic" signing... wow... I too have to disagree on Streit and Campbell. I'm not saying they're bad players by any means; both very talented guys... but we all saw them in the playoffs, or I should say, we never saw them in the playoffs. Both guys completely disappeared. NYI had to take a chance though, and maybe he develops more, but he's 30 already. And we all know when the going gets tough, Brian Campbell goes MIA. So many guys got paid on what they "could" do for a team... seems to me you should reward guys for what they've done.
July 5, 2008 10:15 AM ET | Delete
As for Streit, if he can get the powerplay going, the Isles might make the playoffs this year. That would be enough to justify his contract to Isles fans! But I still think he has more to offer than just pp specialist...but we will see
July 5, 2008 1:30 PM ET | Delete
Nicely written. I see where everyone is coming from on both ends about Streit. I am a little worried because we said the same thing about Bergeron - that he would only run the PP with limited five on five time. But even that was a disaster. However, Bergeron didn't put up 62 points in a season, and I don't believe anyone can ever be as irresponsible at the blue line or their own end as he was. You could clearly see why the guy never was drafted. Yet when you look at the going rate for offensive dmen in this year's free agency, the Isles lucked out price wise. We did not over pay like the rest of the teams - I at the time would've liked to have gotten Redden but seeing what it cost the Rangers to get him I'm glad we steered in a different direction. Way too much and too long for a guy his age. I know Streit is 30, but that's not too shabby for a guy who put up 60 points. Redden has been on the decline while Streit has continued to improve. Like said, even if he only puts up 45 points or so, we're still paying him the right amount of money. I don't expect Streit to get us into the playoffs but he should definitely help our power play.
July 5, 2008 2:01 PM ET | Delete
I honestly do not think the isles can make the playoffs this year.. and the addition of Streit will not be the add on that gets them there. They are going to have to compete with not only Philly NYR Pitt but also Wash Tampa (who i honestly think will be a pretty damned good squad) Ottawa, MTL, Carolina, and florida as well.. the east may possibly be even closer by the end of the season next year then it was this year. Streit was a over paid (like almost everyone else) Jones signing is a steal compared to finger
July 5, 2008 4:24 PM ET | Delete
the islanders had to do something and getting streit was something that we needed on the backend.. everyone is getting some fat contracts... he will get his chance to play and hopefully he can improve his D play and our powerplay. As far as the rangers, they are in some big trouble, they down graded from Jagr to Nasland and now they sign a declining Redden for 6YEARS. and then the get rid of tyutin? i dont get it... they are locking up a lot of cash for a long time. it started with gomez and drury.. who i like but that type of money for that amount of time is going to kill them... back to the old rangers lol
July 5, 2008 7:43 PM ET | Delete
Well done Ron!
July 5, 2008 9:14 PM ET | Delete
If any team could afford to pay Campbell that much, it's Chicago. They had the lowest amount of cap spending for defensemen last season, at ~$10M.
July 6, 2008 11:31 AM ET | Delete
Great blog RR -- one of your best -- as the number and quality of the comments it has drawn attest. Your are building a nice following.
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