For hockey fans, July 1st marks the beginning of one of the most exciting times in the hockey calendar, as hockey fans everywhere will sit in front of the computer and wait for their team along with their rival teams to overpay some of the most overrated players in the game. Year after year we do the same thing even though we already know that the free agents are not going to make a difference. There are the exceptions though, as we saw with Scott Niedermeyer and Anaheim and a few others. Usually the only Free Agents that seem to make a difference are the players that are after the Stanley Cup rather than the “Big Money,” as we saw with numerous players last year, such as Dominik Hasek.
However these rare Free Agent “gems” were buried under the overpaid busts from last season; Ed Jovanaski, Rob Blake, Pavel Kubina, Martin Gerber, Sergei Samsonov, Zdeno Chara, and Marc Savard. These were the big names from last season, but in case you forgot, Boston, Phoenix, Toronto, Montreal and Los Angeles did not make the playoffs and Ottawa was lucky enough to have Ray Emery or else they would have been in the same boat.
Unfortunately this year will be more of the same, only the prices will be even higher, which is evident after seeing the Flyers dish out the big bucks for two players that were not even considered the best on the open market. Surely next years’ list of overpaid busts will include Timmonen, Hartnell, along with Gomez, Bertuzzi, Nagy, Kariya, Guerin, Tkachuk, Souray, Jason Blake, and do I dare say Ryan Smyth. On top of that, the teams determined to spend as much money as they can will likely be on the golf coarse come April….again…same old…same old.
No its not July 1st that counts, its Draft Day as well as good trading. Just look at the teams in this years’ Stanley Cup final. The Ottawa Senators had a top line that featured two players that it has drafted (Alffie, Spezza) and one that they traded for (Heatley). Along with that they had a whole roster full of players that they had developed. Its called chemistry and it can’t be built with Free Agents that are high on themselves. Same goes with Anaheim and players like Getzlaf, McDonald, and Penner that they developed through their own system. Then you throw in the genius mind of Brian Burke and the Chris Pronger trade, along with two Free Agents Scott Niedermeyer and Teemu Selanne. Now I know it looks like I’m contradicting myself here but Teemu has already had a strong chemistry with the team, and S. Niedermeyer is an exception on his own. Looking at last years Free Agent busts, no one even comes close to Scott in terms of skill and experience, except maybe Rob Blake.
Tomorrow night is the all-important draft. To Chicago I say this; You keep that pick and make sure you select Patrick Kane and in a few years time you will be Stanley Cup contenders with Kane and Toews rolling on the top line. If you decide to trade down for a “Big Name” player then be ready to sit out of the playoffs for a few more years….call Phoenix or Philadelphia if you get bored.