We gave our weekly rumors chat a break this week because there isn't much transaction-wire news to toss at the wall, the Mats Sundin Watch excepted. Consider the dominant headline for most of the day: The Detroit Red Wings signing Valtteri Filppula to a five-year deal worth an average of $3 million per season. It's a fascinating story ... if you're a Red Wings fan or someone hoping these extra funds will finally get ValtteriFilppula.com up and running.
But the news broken this afternoon by Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch is rather interesting: RFA goaltender Pascal Leclaire has signed a three-year contract worth $11.4 million with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
According to the paper, he'll make $3 million this season, $3.6 million in 2009-10 and $4.8 million in 2010-11. Leclaire made $1.4 million last season, when he was an outstanding 24-17-6 with a 2.25 GAA and a .919 save percentage -- good for ninth in the NHL for goalies who played more than 50 games. The fact that Leclaire only played 54 games likely kept him out of the Vezina voting, which was a shame.
A three-year deal is rather perfect here: Long enough to lend a sense of stability, short enough where the Jackets aren't hamstrung with a dud keeper if last season turns out to be an aberration.
But it's clear Columbus is rather high on him; Leclaire was basically a deal-killer last season during the Brad Richards derby, from all accounts. At least they're high enough where they want him to be the starter until, as Light the Lamp speculates, Steve Mason's ready to inherit the gig.
Here's the new goalie trend: Ryan Miller gets $6.25 million a season based on one year as a legit starter, and Leclaire more than doubles his salary having played 54 games in Ken Hitchcock's system. But like RJ Umberger's contract, Columbus structures this deal in a way that will enable them to have more money on hand, if not cap space, to spend on the talent in front of Leclaire for the first two years of the deal. So it's smart.
What about the ripples? You'd expect this contract will have some effect on Josh Harding of the Minnesota Wild, who goes RFA next summer and will make $750,000 this season; will it mean anything to a guy like Mathieu Garon, entering his walk year with the Edmonton Oilers? Especially if he has a breakout year?
Good signing for C-bus. Hopefully the Ohio State fans don't pitch a fit when the local newspaper gives this some well-deserved ink.