Now that we're a full week into free agency, some of the contracts handed out still stagger me.
Still, that's not to say that the signings will not help their new teams, just that I feel GM's were fast and loose with the checkbook.
Here's a team by team look at the East and How I grade their FA work:
Re-signed Johan Hedberg and added Ron Hainsey, after being spurned by Brian Campbell.
The Thrashers did painfully little to improve a non playoff team. Far and away the best move they made was hiring John Anderson as their head coach. I don't think that cuts it.
When your biggest move is vastly overpaying for Michael Ryder, you need to make some smart, smaller moves. Re-signing Mark Stuart is a solid move, but the Bruins are another team that has done very little to improve themselves. Of course, they were better than Atlanta, so they needed less work.
Basically, they traded Brian Campbell for Craig Rivet and a 1st rounder. Not that bad a move. Re-signing Gaustad was a smart move, too. After the adventures with Thibault last year, getting a solid back-up in Lalime was crucial, even if they did overpay for him.
I love the Tim Gleason contract. But I really wonder if Joni Pitkanen is worth Erik Cole and $4mm per season.
I think they failed to get enough for Jokinen, even though I really like Keith Ballard. However, perhaps those "Jokinen as cancer" stories simply became too commonplace to get value for them. Still two years ago, this team was built around Jokinen, Luongo and Bouwmeester, and all it has to show for that is Bryan Allen, Keith Ballard and Nick Boynton. Change this sucker to a F if they lose Bouwmeester for pocket change.
Needed toughness up front-check, Needed an experienced back-up goalie-check. Got good value from their draft picks-check. Montreal is the best team, on paper, in the East. They did little but improve so far this summer.
New Jersey: C
Rolston and Holik will be good additions, and certainly will solidify the forward corps. But two things bug me. 1. Rolston's 4 year deal. That deal is on the Devils' cap for all 4 years. If Rolston gets hit by a bus tomorrow, they still have his cap hit. 2. The Devils' biggest need was defense. They added nobody. Brodeur will get them in the playoffs, but without a good defense, they won't get far.
New York Islanders: D
They did help the PP, but adding Mark Streit makes the team defense worse. Doug Weight is a double edged sword-he showed nothing last year in Anaheim and St Louis, but if he finds rejuvenation, he's a unwieldy cap hit.
New York Rangers: B
The Rangers did some really good things this summer: I love Redden, even if it is too long a contract. Adding Voros somewhat replaces Avery's contributions without the theatrics. Keeping Rozsival and adding Redden and Kalinin enabled them to trade for the enigmatic Nik Zherdev-who did pot 27 goals last year in Columbus. I think the Naslund contract is a loser, but otherwise, the Rangers did pretty solidly.
Did nothing but shed talent, and tread water, Sure they may have cleared some so called bad apples, but they didn't add an established starting goalie, replace Redden, or do anything else. Well, that isn't true, they also lowered the public opinion of Bryan Murray.
The Flyers needed to trade RJ Umberger to create cap room. They did meet their stated goal of having a more mobile blue line, but they didn't add anyone close to being an established top 4 defenseman. I like the guys they did add, but due to cap constraints, Paul Holmgren has a lot riding on unproven players.
They get this grade mainly based on who they locked up, not on who is in or out. Based on that, they get a D-, at best. Hossa, Malone, Laraque, Ruuttu-gone. Fedotenko, Satan and Cooke in...Serious downgrade. However, they keep Malkin, Fleury, Dupuis, Orpik and Eaton, and considering the doom and gloom prognostications, that is a pretty solid job by GM Ray Shero.
Tampa Bay: C-
I don't like the Barry Melrose hire. I don't like the Boyle trade. They made a lot of changes that added good players, but their defense is a big question mark. This team could be a more exciting version of last year's non playoff team.
I could beat the Jeff Finger deal to death-They're using Joel Quenneville, the guy who buried Finger on the depth chart after the Adam Foote trade, to sell the deal to Leafs fans? They lose Sundin, buy out guys like Tucker(and get a six year cap hit) and engage in public pissing contests with guys like Bryan McCabe. Guess it's OK, they still have Jason Blake.
I like what the Caps did-they kept their key guys,even if I feel Green was overpaid. They refused to pay a slightly above average NHL goalie stud money and adequately replaced him for less. And they made a good deal, getting a late first rounder from Philadelphia for a guy that was buried on their bench. Now, if they can avoid rancor with Brooks Laich, they should bump to a B+.