August 15, 2011
Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend's events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.
At this point in the summer, teams are more or less done dealing.
The big spending takes place between July 1 and 15, or maybe the 20th at the latest, as teams are eager to compete with each other to land the big-name free agents who may or may not help their team come that much closer to winning a Stanley Cup. By July 25, to pick a date arbitrarily, there are very few guys left who can help a team in any significant way, and even fewer teams to give them the money commensurate to their skills.
By August 10, the carcasses of just about every type of useful role player you could possibly employ as an NHL general manager — defensive centers, puck-rushing defensemen, backup goalies, etc. — have been picked so clean that guys start heading for the less secure opportunities in the KHL. As a KHL player, you really never know when your salary will be rolled back mid-season and whether your ambulance drivers left during the first intermission, but at least you have a job.
However, there are those steadfast, iron-willed few who stick it out, and their reward is often signing for short money, usually for teams with even shorter chances of legitimately competing in their division, let alone conference or the league at large.
(Coming Up: Vancouver overreacts to Dan Carcillo(notes); Nikolai Khabibulin(notes) reenters society; nobody wants Sergei Gonchar(notes) and Filip Kuba(notes), or Michael Leighton(notes) for that matter; Andrei Kostitsyn(notes) sucks; Zach Parise(notes) and the captaincy; Andrew Ference(notes) over Milan Lucic(notes); Steve Mason's(notes) vote of confidence; Red Wings look to Valtteri Filppula(notes); Davis Payne under pressure; hilarity on the HF Boards; and that Islanders/Penguins bloodlust party.)
At this point in his career, Hannan, at 32 (hardly an old salt whose best days are a ways back in the rearview), was probably hoping for a multi-year deal that would allow him to retire comfortably. And while he's certainly not — and maybe never was — the kind of player who was worth his previous four-year, $18 million deal, he's certainly worth more than a one-year flyer at less than a quarter of his previous annual salary.
Last year around this time, people were talking about the inability of guys like Kyle Wellwood(notes) to get a legitimate NHL deal. But now that we're talking about guys like Hannan, who's far better at what he does than Wellwood could ever hope to be, and it's hard to figure out just what's going on.
Ask any Caps fan about Hannan's usefulness to that team down the stretch last year. He was traded to Washington on Nov. 30, straight-up for Tomas Fleischmann(notes), right before its eight-game losing streak that led Caps fans to ensure that their life insurance policies would cover suicide. But after that, they went 29-11-7, and through it all, Hannan gobbled up time at even strength and on the penalty kill, leading the Caps to a second-in-the-league PK percentage of 85.6 percent.
Put simply, the fact that Hannan got passed over by every team in the league for about a month and a half, while guys like Ed Jovanovski(notes) scored more money and longer terms, is big-name hunting run amok, without regard for sensibility. That he didn't get a call on a one-year contract before Sheldon Souray(notes) is baffling beyond words. Hell, the Caps brought in five-years-older Roman Hamrlik(notes) at 3.5 times the money and twice the years, even if they don't exactly need help filling the goal on the power play.
Look at it this way: for teams like the Caps who score goals by the boatload, doesn't it make more sense to have a guy like Hannan who can prevent goals, rather than someone who helps create them?
But that, one supposes, is the NHL these days. Bring up kids, sign guys with names, pay for offense and offense only. In recent years, how many truly strong stay-at-home defensemen got the kind of fat cash Tomas Kaberle(notes) got this summer? The only one that springs to mind is Anton Volchenkov(notes), who last year signed a six-year, $25.5 million deal. Granted, he was four years younger than Hannan is now, but is that age difference really worth an extra five years and $24.5 million?
Again, this isn't to say Hannan is some sort of elite shutdown guy that slipped through the cracks, but he is the kind of player teams need to win championships. He blocks shots, he kills penalties, he devours minutes, he's — though I am loath to use the term — good in the room.
What We Learned
Buffalo Sabres: The notable casualty of the Sabres reclaiming the Rochester Americans as their AHL franchise? The guy who's been their trainer for the last 26 seasons. Thanks a lot, Pegula.
Calgary Flames: Jarome Iginla(notes) on the Flames' chances going forward: "I believe we can win there, and our owners are committed to winning, and they're near the top of the salary cap year in and year out. We haven't got it right yet, but I believe we will." Oh, Iggy, no.
Carolina Hurricanes: Earlier this summer a bank foreclosed on the 'Canes practice rink in July, but it reopened again this weekend. Unfortunately, plunging property values mean Eric Staal's(notes) cap hit is now underwater.
Chicago Blackhawks: "Boo hoo Dan Carcillo said mean things about the Canucks in an attempt to ingratiate himself to his new hometown fans surely this outrage will not be allowed to stand," writes one Vancouver-based idiot.
Dallas Stars: Can the Stars fill the holes left by Brad Richards(notes) and James Neal(notes) when it comes to the shootout? I'd be more concerned about regulation. (And by the way Richards at 31.4 percent is slightly below league average, so the actual answer to the question is "more or less anyone.")
Minnesota Wild: Single-game tickets to the Wild go on sale August 20, so be sure to act fast. You don't want to miss Thursday, March 29's tilt with the Florida Panthers.
Nashville Predators: Director of player development Martin Gelinas had former Preds first-rounder Austin Watson stay over his house for two weeks this summer and put him through Gary Roberts(notes)/Steven Stamkos-type workouts. So in two years you can count on Watson winning the Rocket Richard.
New Jersey Devils: Zach Parise's decision to only re-sign with the Devils for one year might have cost him the captaincy. I bet he'll settle for the extra several million when he hits the open market next summer.
Ottawa Senators: The Sens reportedly tried to deal both Sergei Gonchar and Filip Kuba at the draft but no one was interested, which is only worth noting because it reminds one that Gonchar is going to pull $5.5 million against the cap both this year and next. Oh jeez.
Philadelphia Flyers: Who's the odd man out for the Flyers' goaltending situation? It's Michael Leighton because he's not very good.
Phoenix Coyotes: As you might imagine, the Coyotes are still a hot button issue in Glendale. But it's important for the county to remember one thing: You can't cut back on funding! YOU WILL REGRET THIS!
St. Louis Blues: How much pressure is Davis Payne under to succeed this season? Probably a lot, but only because his deal is up after this season.
Vancouver Canucks: Tickets to the Canucks-hosted Young Stars Tournament, which features prospects from the Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, San Jose and Winnipeg organizations, go on sale today. Jordan Schroeder's(notes) gonna be there, so why wouldn't you want to go?
Gold Star Award
Minus of the Weekend
The Islanders viewing party for that brawl-filled farce against the Penguins is not at all surprising, and shows why they are and will continue to be the most revolting organization in the league.
Perfect HFBoards trade proposal of the week
User "CousinKevin" has just three posts to his name, but he's makin' 'em count.
Look! Someone's attractive cousin!