Friday, July 3, 2009

NHL Free Agency

Someone might want to tell NHL GMs that the economy is in the toilet right now because they are spending money like they are printing it. Yesterday over $360 million in contracts were handed out in less than 12 hours. Teams seem to be in competition with one another over who could spend the most money and the Montreal Canadiens won by a long shot.

Teams also seem to think that players get better as they approach their forties as guys like Mattias Ohlund and Nikolai Khabibulin were given contracts that will have them making millions when they are in their forties.

Of all the teams that made moves the Canadian teams were the most active, minus Ottawa who were unable to unload Dany Heatly. Here are my thoughts on what transpired over the past 48 hours in the NHL Free Agency Frenzy.

Goals Win Games

Brian Burke seems to have forgotten that in order to win hockey games you need to put the puck in the net. Yes he did resign Mikhail Grabovski but other than that he brought in a bunch of bruiser defensemen. Mike Komisarek was brought in from Montreal and Pavel Kubina was shipped off to Atlanta for Garnet Exelby. I almost forgot to mention that former NY Rangers tough guy Colton Orr was signed as well.

This means that the Leafs will be a tough team to play against all season and will punish opponents but shouldn't win too many games. Added to this problem is that Kubina is gone and Tomas Kaberle is rumored to be on the move as well meaning the Leafs will have no one to quarterback their power play.

People on TSN and the blogospehere seem to love what Burke did on day 1 but to me it left much to be desired. He better have some more moves planned because you aren't going to win many games with the team he has assembled now.

No Real Winners

Now while every hockey site has their winners and losers of day 1 I am finding it hard to find any team that only added and didn't lose anything.

For example many people are calling the Flames winners because they signed Jay Bouwmeester. I agree this is a great signing as Bouwmeester is a gem but they also lost Mike Cammalleri who led their team in goals last year to the Montreal Canadiens. Is a team really a winner if they lose their top scorer?

People called the Canucks winners because they were able to retain the Sedin twins. This to me is a huge miscall as the team basically stayed the same and really only lost Ohlund meaning the team is down a top D man. The Canucks got worse as they didn't add anybody to the team. Not to diminish the signing of the Sedins but the team could have done better.

Chicago is another team that is being declared a winner because they signed Marian Hossa. What people are forgetting, or choosing to ignore, is that Chicago has a tonne of players who are going to be UFAs next year and now have 0 cap room. Blackhawk fans need to choose right now who they like more Toews or Kane because come next season one will be staying and one will be leaving.

Habs Break the Bank

Yesterday the Habs spent more money than any other team as they gave out big money to a number of players.

Scott Gomez - $51.5 million
Mike Cammelleri - $30 million
Hal Gill - $4.5 million
Brian Gionta - $25 million
Jaroslav Spacek - $11.5 million

Gomez came over as part of a trade but his contract is still on the books so he counts. If you add up all these contracts it equals $122.5 million. The Habs are showing their fans that they are serious about winning and are willing to spend big money to make that happen.

Super Ugly

On July 1st many people expected Dany Heatly to be moved. A few weeks ago he asked to be traded and so the Senators actively began shopping him around the league. Many people were hesitant to buy however as Heatly was owed a $4 million bonus on July 1st and teams wanted to wait until the Senators paid that before they made the deal.

The Senators would have none of this and so they settled on a deadline. Lucky for them the Edmonton Oilers expressed strong interest and a trade was agreed to in principle between the two teams. Everything looked to be good to go until Heatly intervened. He used his no trade clause to veto the trade as he didn't feel like Edmonton was a contender and he wants to play for a contender.

So the trade didn't get done and now Heatly has to play for Ottawa this season. He has to go back and play with his teammates and try to preform. This will be difficult as everyone will know he doesn't want to be there and will be made exponentially harder by the fact Heatly claimed he wanted to be traded because he doesn't like head coach Cory Clouston.

Now Heatly could still come back and approve the trade with Edmonton but that seems unlikely. Ottawa GM Brian Murray said that no other "serious" offers were out there for Heatly so it doesn't seem like there is another destination for him.

Both sides can look forward to a long summer and a long year if this doesn't get settled soon. All the while Heatly can expect to be boo'd by the fans and treated poorly by the media should his performance suffer in any way.

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