There are big deals during the Free Agent Frenzy, and then there are the smaller, quieter deals that serve to build up a roster or fill a need.
So while none of these signings were on the Daniel Alfredsson or Nathan Horton level, we might look back at them being some of the smartest of the 2013 Frenzy.
Here are five underrated signings from July 5:
Pierre-Marc Bouchard, New York Islanders
One year and $2 million for instant offense? OK then. There are always going to be health concerns for Bouchard, and his points per game have dropped in each of the last two seasons. But keep in mind his role changed a bit in Minnesota, especially last season. One could easily see him become a P.A. Parenteau type on a line with John Tavares, in which case $2 million will be a steal. Lighthouse Hockey has the fancy stats analysis.
Gordon has been one of the most underrated defensive forwards in the NHL for the last two seasons with the Phoenix Coyotes. He’s aces on faceoffs – 57.3 percent last season. He blocks shots, kills penalties, can take and deliver a hit. He’s never going to win the Selke, because they don’t give it to guys like him, but he’s deserved to be in the conversation the last two seasons. His $9 million over three years is a little high, but it’s Edmonton, so they have to overpay. A great pickup for the Oilers and the kind of foundational grunt teams need to win.
Matt Cullen, Nashville Predators
He’s 36 but doesn’t play like it, using his speed and hustle to be a difference maker at the center spot. He’s also a character guy, hence the reason why the Predators were attracted to him. No, he’s not a No. 1 center and yes, Dirk Hoag’s right that he played above his head a bit last season with the Minnesota Wild. But at 2 years and $7 million, I don’t see the Predators regretting this one.
Teams don’t need to spend over a million on a backup goalie, especially when the starter eats up considerable salary. So good on the Carolina Hurricanes for bringing in Anton Khudobin from the Boston Bruins at one year and just $800,000, which is less than what he made last season. That’s a solid goalie with some untapped potential, taking a pay cut with Carolina. Jim Rutherford, thy pimp hand be strong.
Choke down the bile, Blues fans, and realize that Lapierre is a gritty player with some, uh, unique gifts. When given a role to play, he attacks it with fervor, and the Blues know what they want out of the guy. If there’s a better fit between player and style of play in the Frenzy, we haven’t seen it.
From Lapierre himself: "I'm a guy that likes to win and I wanted to play on a team that fits well with the type of player I am. St. Louis is a team that has good defense and is physical and that's a good fit for me."
For $1.1 million annually for two years, it’s low risk and really, really, really annoying reward. Oh man, the Blackhawks can’t be happy with this …
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