Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Free agent frenzy begins

Canada Day marks the opening of NHL free agency. This year the fireworks started early, unlike 2008 when the good folks at TSN were forced to fill airtime until the board started to light up around 6pm ET. Fortunately, there was more to talk about this year and not just where Dany Heatley will be traded to (not Edmonton).

Here are the notables (in order of appearance):
  • Daniel & Henrik Sedin, Canucks, 5 yrs/$30.5M each. OK, they were officially resigned before becoming UFAs at 12pm ET, but I'd otherwise have to lead with Mattias Ohlund. Not very exciting. The twins were looking for matching long term contracts but settled for less to stay in Vancouver.
  • Mattias Ohlund, Lightning, 7 yrs/$25.25M. Steady defenseman will be a mentor to future franchise blueliner Victor Hedman.
  • Marian Hossa, Blackhawks, 12 yrs/$62.8M. Hossa can get 12 years but the much younger Sedins can't? This puts him under contract until age 42. For a winger, that's like Chelios years. But let's be honest, no one expects Hossa to play out his deal. It's front loaded, paying him $59.3M in the first eight years and $3.5M over final four, reducing the cap hit to a manageable $5.23M while still lining Hossa's pockets with gold.
  • Dwayne Roloson, Islanders, 2 yrs/$5M. This is a hedge against Crazy Wang's golden boy, Rick DiPietro, getting injured - or just generally sucking. Roloson, who's know to flop backwards if a crashing forward breathes to heavy, is going to love Brendan Witt knocking guys over in his crease. Do you think he thought about how many times he'll have to face Sean Avery when he signed the contract?
  • Donald Brashear, Rangers, 2 yrs/$2.8M. It sickens me to admit this is an upgrade in the pugilist department for New York. I assume this means Glen Sather doesn't expect to resign Blair Betts.
  • Scott Niedermayer, Ducks, 1 yr/$6M. No real surprise to anyone once Chris Pronger was dealt to the Flyers.
  • Brian Boucher, Flyers, 2 yrs/$1.85M. Boucher's return to Philadelphia isn't really all that noteworthy other than providing a chance to recall one of the sickest saves ever.
  • Nikolai Khabibulin, Oilers, 4 yrs/$15M. Edmonton fans shouldn't be too upset about losing Roloson.
  • Scott Clemmensen, Panthers, 3 yrs/$3.6M. Clemmensen returned to NJ last year with his tail between his legs after bolting to Toronto the season before for a chance to play more games, which never materialized. When Marty Brodeur was lost to injury, his dream came true and, in fact, Clemmensen was the goalie he said he was. He deserves more back up duty than he got behind Brodeur but don't expect a second deal with the devil (no pun intended) should Vokoun go down.
  • Mike Cammalleri, Canadiens, 5 yrs/$30M. Bob Gainey is hoping Cammalleri will have more chemistry with Scott Gomez than Jaromir Jagr did.
  • Mike Komisarek, Maple Leafs, 5 yrs/$22.5M. Brian Burke spent today toughing up his defense, signing Komisarek and trading Pavel Kubina for Garnet Exelby.
  • Marion Gaborik, Rangers, 5 yrs/$37.5M. Sather almost regains his respectability with the Scott Gomez trade and then loses it again 24 hours later. Scotty Hockey puts it well: "The dude is a FabergĂ© egg. Stunningly beautiful and expensive, yet ridiculously fragile." Either this was a knee jerk reaction to Ottawa's choosing Edmonton's offer over New York's for Dany Heatley or Sather decided "he must be mine" after witnessing Gaborik score 5 goals against his club in a single game. Or maybe the masterplan is to flip Gaborik for Vinny Lecavalier? One can only dream.
  • Brian Gionta, Canadiens, 5 yrs/$25M. Together with Gomez (5-11) and Cammalleri (5-9), Gionta (5-7, yeah right) fills out the shortest top line in NHL history.
  • Martin Havlat, Wild, 6 yrs/$30M. Minnesota plugs the hole left by one oft injured winger with another. Havlat stopped counting his pennies just long enough to Twitter his displeasure with the Blackhawks. Gee, I can't imagine why they'd choose Hossa over you?
The fun resumes tomorrow with Montreal's former first line - Alex Kovalev, Saku Koivu and Alex Tanguay - still available.

Find the complete list of free agent signings on



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