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.