Wed Jul 02 03:28pm EDT
This is an "F5" button. No doubt you've become familiar with its applications in the last 27 hours, as you and the rest of the hockey world (at least the ones not currently slamming Molsons in some remote fishing cabin) incessantly refresh this page and (god-willing) this page to find out who is going where and for how much.
The first day and change of free-agency in the NHL was pretty much as overhyped and insane as we expected it to be. You've got people overjoyed that their teams made a move, and other people equally as overjoyed that their team didn't make a move. And then you've got people who are just really pissed off about the money being tossed around.
We've taken what the 30 NHL teams have given us over the last day, leading up to 2 p.m. on Wednesday (through Malkin's signing), and graded their efforts. Enjoy.
Anaheim Ducks: If making sure Corey Perry is part of your team for the next five seasons is all you can accomplish, then you've accomplished enough. But then they signed a 6-foot-3 Gopher. Even better. GRADE: A-
Atlanta Thrashers: As Yahoo!'s own Ross McKeon wrote this morning, the real gut-punch right now for the Thrashers is that players simply don't want to play in Atlanta; that's a painful fact about the future of the franchise. They offered more money for Brian Campbell than Chicago did, and he turned them down. From McKeon: "Waddell has more than $20 million in salary cap space, but again, if he can't lure anyone to a bad team in a non-traditional market, what difference does it make how much money he has to spend?"
The bottom line is that Atlanta's name hadn't appeared once on this page as of 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, and that's a disgrace. This isn't an epic fail because Holik left. But it's still ... GRADE: D-
(Ed. Note, 3:35 p.m. EDT: Look, we're not going to make a habit out of changing these grades. But to be fair to the Thrashers, Sportsnet is reporting they've signed defenseman Ron Hainsey to a $22.5 million, five-year deal. The money is insane, he's not exactly Brian Campbell, but if this is true, let's bump this up to a GRADE: D+)
Boston Bruins: Here's a handy bit of advice for GM Peter Chiarelli: Don't leave reporters on hold for four hours during a conference call and then come back with Michael Ryder instead of Marian Hossa. Because then reporters are going to call Ryder "a former star" in their assessments the next day. Three years for $12 million seems steep, but it's less than what Glen Murray makes and could seem like a bargain if one of the B's centers helps Ryder find his inner sniper. Blake Wheeler was added to the fold, and forward Petteri Nokelainen was re-signed. Hey, look on the bright side: At least they watched a goalie leave, rather than signing another one. GRADE: B-
Buffalo Sabres: Patrick Lalime is a nice backup for $1 million per season over two years. Good in the room, and knows his role. But the Sabres could have done nothing and still would have had the perverse pleasure in knowing that the Sharks gave away Steve Bernier and what became Tyler Ennis in order to rent Brian Campbell. GRADE: B+
Calgary Flames: The Flames traded for Rene Bourque from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for a conditional second-round draft pick. He'll fit in nicely on the left side, and maybe the change in scenery helps his offensive game. They bring back Jim Vandermeer, and they add Curtis Glencross for depth. Obviously, Calgary's biggest moves came well before the free-agent frenzy; their success all depends on what you think of Michael Cammalleri and Alex Tanguay. For yesterday ... GRADE: C+
Carolina Hurricanes: It was time for Erik Cole to go, and snagging Joni Pitkanen is a fairly good return. He's great on the power play, although most of Carolina's special teams scoring comes from the forwards anyway. But if you're like this guy, who writes that "Pitkanen will not score 40 goals in a season, but he'll be able to keep the highly talented forwards in the Southeast Division away from that mark," prepare to be underwhelmed. Pitkanen's "shut down" defense ranges from inconsistent to lazy. Carolina made some other smaller moves, and also signed defenseman Anton Babchuk to a one-year deal worth $1 million; or as this NHL.com blogger calls him, "he of the bitchin' awesome 100 mph slapshot and even cooler name." OK. GRADE: B
Chicago Blackhawks: Obviously, the conversation here begins with that conditional second-round pick for Bourque, which ... wait, Brian Campbell? For eight years and $56.8 million?!
What I like about GM Dale Tallon yesterday was his honesty about the Soupy numbers: "We're starting to make a buzz in this market. When you do that, you overpay -- but we have the resources to do that." Pimp. The Cristobal Huet deal (4 years, $16.875 million) is tainted by the embarrassing duplicity in his negotiations with the Washington Capitals, but he backstopped the Caps to the playoffs last season, and that's really all the 'Hawks care about. GRADE: A
Colorado Avalanche: When the Avalanche war room finally caught its collective breath after the painful laughter that followed Jeff Finger's $14 million deal with the Leafs, I imagine there were some smiles and some frowns. Darcy Tucker for two years at $4.5 million is solid, especially with the interest he was receiving. Taking an $800,000 chance on Andrew Raycroft for a season is the kind of gamble that gets you a Jose Theodore-level career reclamation. But while Kurt Sauer was a spare part defenseman, losing Andrew Brunette might hurt. GRADE: B+
Columbus Blue Jackets: Turning Gilbert Brule into Raffi Torres is like taking a Ferrari with an unfixable engine and trading it for a Hyundai Sonata. The money for Mike Commodore ($18.75 million) is better than the years (five). But Columbus is a better team than it was on June 30. GRADE: B
Dallas Stars: Interesting that the Stars were deep into the Wade Redden hunt before the numbers went nuts-o. But the most noteworthy thing to come out of Dallas yesterday was that Fabian Brunnstrom won't be at development camp. Business certainly picked up on Day 2, as Sean Avery came to Dallas for a four-year deal, thanks to his prior relationship with GM/Ambassador of Fun Brett Hull. With Steve Ott, Avery and Brenden Morrow on the same roster, this could be the most agitating thing to hit Dallas since Mark Cuban. GRADE: C+
Detroit Red Wings: One year for Marian Hossa is pure genius. He wants to win a Cup. So do the Red Wings, but they're not all that keen to commit to the years other teams were offering Hossa. So with their eyes firmly on the prize, they join forces. We won't spend any time sifting through the messages this deal sends Penguins fans. No need to add to the depression.
The Brad Stuart deal (four years, $15 million) was perfect because it allows the Wings to keep a Stanley Cup winning defense intact, and it means the young'ins won't be rushed. Adding Ty Conklin as a backup to Chris Osgood doesn't mean Jimmy Howard still can't win the job in camp; but it does mean the Red Wigs have once again proven that there is nothing the Penguins possess which they cannot take away. GRADE: A
Edmonton Oilers: Like we said -- Kevin Lowe is absolutely killing it this summer. GRADE A-
Florida Panthers: The Panthers signed Cory Stillman to a 3-year deal worth $10.6 million, and he's a solid citizen. But the notion that, as a whole, GM Jacques Martin's performance this summer can be deemed equally "solid" makes us wonder if some Florida writers are getting too much sun. GRADE: B-
Minnesota Wild: Gotta like Marek Zidlicky for Ryan Jones and second-round 2009 entry draft pick. Gotta like Brunette coming in for a three-year deal, even though there are some questions about his feelings about the Wild and Jacques Lemaire. Losing Brian Rolston obviously hurts, but Todd Fedoruk wasn't exactly a huge loss. GRADE: B
Montreal Canadiens: Addition by subtraction in losing Ryder, where the only regret is not having turned him into a draft pick last trade deadline. Mark Streit went from a $600,000 defenseman to a $4 million-plus defenseman, which meant that he went from Montreal to Long Island without a second thought. Re-signing Andrei Kostitsyn to a 3-year deal worth $3.25-million per season was smart for both sides. Still waiting on Sundin ... GRADE: B+
Nashville Predators: The Marek Zidlicky deal had to be done. Other than that, pretty quiet. Can't wait to see which pugilist comes to keep the peace in Nashville. A BGL sighting, perhaps? GRADE: C
New Jersey Devils: That Brian Rolston chose the Devils over the Red Wings and Rangers as a UFA speaks volumes about the gravitas Lou Lamoriello still wields (as well as the fact that ex-Devils can still come home and drink the Kool-Aid again). It was a rather brilliant signing that will help several facets of the team in dire need: Goal-scoring, veteran leadership and power-play help. The Bobby Holik deal is fine for one year, and is a good depth move. Getting Jay Pandolfo back in the fold for three years means the Devils will still have one of the best shutdown lines in hockey. It wasn't all sunshine: Sergei Brylin was a rather beloved player in Jersey, and will be missed. And a four-year deal worth $11.6 million for Bryce Salvador reminds us of those post-lockout Lou moves like Dan McGillis (our fingers just threw up on the keyboard typing that name). GRADE: A-
New York Islanders: Look, both Greg Logan and Chris Botta love defenseman Mark Streit at five years and $20.5 million, and we're not going to argue with two guys that are more than willing to call the Islanders out for a bad deal. So we'll just leave it at that. GRADE: B
New York Rangers: We'd like to turn the mic over to our friend Lyle Richardson for a moment:
"After spending the first three years under a salary cap spending wisely (more or less), Rangers GM Glen Sather has returned to his team's old free-spending ways on aging talent, signing Wade Redden to a six year contract worth $6.5 million per season.
"That's right, Redden, whose last two seasons in Ottawa merely highlighted he was a defenseman in decline, will not only earn the same salary per season as he did under his old contract, he'll keep earning it...for the next...six....years!
"I'm sorry, no offense, Rangers fans, but your front office has taken a collective leave of its senses."
The rest of the day featured the Rangers retaining Michal Rozsival with a four-year deal worth $20 million; re-signing Steve Valiquette and bringing in the rather awesome Patrick Rissmiller, who does interviews on the toilet. GRADE: C-
Ottawa Senators: So the trade is now Joe Corvo and Patrick Eaves for ... a first-round playoff exit? Huh. The Senators signed goalie Alex Auld, who has never played in a Stanley Cup playoff game, to back up Martin Gerber, who can't win a Stanley Cup playoff game. But the day isn't a total loss, as the Senators didn't spend $6.5 million over six years for Wade Redden. GRADE: D+
Philadelphia Flyers: The Flyers signed Ossi Vaananen to a one-year deal worth $1 million, which is hopefully enough to buy a consonant or two. Glen Metropolit is a good little sparkplug player that the Flyers love to have down the lineup. No home runs, but no embarrassments either. GRADE: C+
Phoenix Coyotes: They Coyotes needed some defensive help after the Olli Jokinen deal, and Kurt Sauer will certainly soften the blow. Not bad at four years, $7 million, either. Todd Fedoruk adds some muscle; hell, the Wild used him in front on the power play, too. Best of all, they didn't break the bank for Radim Vrbata, who's either going to be a contract superstar or a solid contributor for Tampa. The Coyotes didn't need to take the risk. GRADE: B-
Pittsburgh Penguins: Knowing where his loyalties are, it was a little depressing reading Puck Daddy's Sean Leahy over on Going Five Hole as he monitored the transaction wire. Getting Pascal Dupuis in for three years was important, and Mark Eaton for two years at $1 million apiece is about right. Eric Godard instead of Georges Laraque? Meh. And seeing another contributor to the Cup run like Adam Hall skate away to Tampa is frustrating but financially shrewd. At least Evgeni Malkin is in for five years. GRADE: B
San Jose Sharks: "Leaning to live in a post-Campbell world" might as well be the team's official slogan for next season. You can't blame the Sharks, and you can't blame a remorseful Campbell. Chicago offered the moon and San Jose was only willing to go to the stratosphere. In a way, this grade should be incomplete because the Sharks are going to have to replace Campbell with a trade. But based on yesterday ... GRADE: F
St. Louis Blues: The Blues matched Vancouver's offer sheet for RFA David Backes before the ink was dry, but it pumped up his salary a bit more than they'd like. UFA center Ryan Johnson signed a two-year, $2.3 million contract with the Canucks, which hurts the St. Louis special teams a bit. But if it's true that he once dated and dumped Erin Andrews, then good riddance to bad judgment. GRADE: B
Tampa Bay Lightning: It's probably not the first time Barry Melrose has been rejected after putting the moves on somebody, but the Bolts couldn't get Brian Rolston to drink the Koules-Aid. Another strange day in TB: Adam Hall is a decent role player, Olaf Kolzig is barely a starting goaltender in the NHL anymore (based on his last season in Washington) and Vrbata could be overpaid after a career year in a walk-season. GRADE: C+
Vancouver Canucks: Inked Darcy Hordichuk to a two-year deal, and he's always good for a few laughs. The Backes offer sheet was a laugher, too, only the Blues didn't find it all that funny. Made more news with the alleged Mats Sundin offer than anything else. GRADE: C
Washington Capitals: Everything we had to say about the Capitals' rollercoaster day can be found here and here. Getting Mike Green done before it was offer sheet time was one of the best moves of the day. Japers has a rather staunch "wait and see" defense of Jose Theodore as Cristobal Huet's replacement; although the "don't give me that 'Quenneville's defensive system' crap in regards to Theo's dramatic statistic turnaround in Colorado is rather amusing; not sure how facing the fifth-fewest number of shots per game proves he wasn't the beneficiary of the system. GRADE: B+