Seriously, they’re all nuts


I’ve got my arm out of the sling (the hand’s just bandaged up right now) so typing’s a little easier. I’ve got one thought going through my head during all of this free agent madness:

You’re all nuts. Seriously. What the hell are you thinking?

(You as in NHL GMs, not you the reader)

Ok, I’ll give a pass to LA Kings GM Dean Lombardi for dealing with reasonable amounts of money to second-tier free agents like Ladislav Nagy. And I think the Blackhawks have made some reasonable gambles with Robert Lang at $4 million per season and trading for Sergei Samsanov while a handful of other teams made some reasonable moves too. Pretty much everyone else falls into the bizarro world category.

Let’s start from the top. Chris Drury? Good player, great clutch goal scorer, but never a top-tier offensive threat. Drury’s point totals will never be confused with Joe Thornton or Alex Ovechkin or hell, Ray Whitney. Let me make one point clear: Chris Drury has never scored 70 points in a season. Got that? Repeat it outloud to yourself. Yes, he’s a great playoff performer, but sweet Jebus, so was Alyn McCauley when he was actually healthy and you didn’t see teams dropping loads of cash on him. Drury’s a $5.5 -$6 million player, tops — and that’s not an insult to him at all. (And no, I’m not saying Alyn McCauley’s anywhere near as good as Drury, just making a point about playoff performance).

Scott Gomez? Let’s look at his point totals over the past few seasons: 60, 84 , 70, 55, all without significant time missed due to injury. Does that sound like he should be one of the top-paid players in the game? I’d give him $6 million, tops.

Daniel Briere? Holy long-term contracts, Bettman. There are three guys I’d give 8-year deals to and their names are Crosby, Ovechkin, and Malkin. No one over the age of 25 should ever get a deal that long.

Now I know everyone loves Ryan Smyth and I think he’s a great player too. But let’s remember that Captain Canada has never touched 40 goals, he’s over 30, and he plays a rough-and-tumble style of play. One of my readers pointed out that Smyth’s career will probably follow John LeClair‘s — except LeClair was once the leading goal-scorer in the league. Smyth hasn’t come close to that. I wouldn’t give Smyth anything longer than three years because you just don’t know when his body will give out, despite what his heart wants to do. And considering his point totals, anything over $5.5 – $6 million is too much.

Staying in Colorado, I’ve watched Scott Hannan first hand since his rookie season, so I’m pretty confident when I say that no one should pay him more than $3.5 million per season, and that’s stretching it. Scott’s a great shut-down defenseman, but he’s soft with the puck, prone to bad turnovers, and seems confused by the whole breakout process. Need him to stick on a guy like velcro? No problem. Need him to clear the zone? Um, it might get interesting. Need him to do a tape-to-tape pass? Maybe only in NHL 2K7.

I’m not even going to talk about Cory Sarich‘s contract.

Who else is overpaid? Paul Kariya, Bill Guerin, Mike Comrie. Someone tell me on earth Ruslan Fedotenko — he of one good playoff year — is worth almost $3 million per season?

Now, I do have to say there were some good pickups, and they mostly involved second-tier free agents who came in around market value. Michael Nylander loves to pass and Alex Ovechkin loves to shoot, so that should be a great fit. Maxime Talbot‘s a low risk/high reward signing for Tampa Bay’s depth chart, and Slava Kozlov‘s deal is the right balance of term and price. Hell, even though I hate the guy, Todd Bertuzzi‘s potential is worth the short-term deal Brian Burke signed him to.

Such is the case of the new NHL, where movement becomes more ludicrous and more teams believe in overpaying for the high-priced band-aid fix. Well, someone once thought that Derian Hatcher and Mike Rathje were worth big money long-term contracts too, right?

Look, I understand that there’s a natural inflation to the whole process, and maybe everyone just needs to get used to the sticker shock of the league’s most hyped free agents — even when they’re not the best players in the league. Hats off to Joe Thornton and Jarome Iginla (and from media reports, Sidney Crosby) for letting security and team overcome the possibility of a ridiculous paycheck.


3 Responses to “Seriously, they’re all nuts”

  1. 1 Panger

    I concur. Wild times.

    One thing that I would be curious thoughts on the teams (and their respective moves) that seem to be “those with the best shot” in the West (listed in order of 2006-2007 regular season finish for the playoff teams).

    Detroit: lost some scoring in Lang (and Bertuzzi) and substituted Rafalski for Schneider.

    Anaheim: they won it all so what can you really say they need? Well, to whatever exactly they did have, they’ve now added a pretty good wild card (and thug who will fit in well) in Bertuzzi and either a solid D to make an excellent group of blueliners or a solid D to somewhat replace a great one (depending of course on what Rob’s brother does).

    Vancouver: nothing to speak of.

    Nashville: sinking to obscurity.

    San Jose: lost a solid D in Hannan (and got serieously good stability in the extra years for Thornton).

    Dallas: nothing to speak of.

    Minnesota: eh…

    Calgary: lotta moves. nothing impressive.

    So… the question is where does that leave the West? Oh yeah… I know where… scared of Anaheim. That’s where.

    thoughts? I’d love to say the Sharks can fix what ailed them in the playoffs last year, but… don’t think they’ve fixed it yet.

  2. 2 Mike Chen

    Like you said, it all depends on the more-important Niedermayer brother. I think if he retires, there’s a huge drop off, and they’ll still be good, but not the leader of the pack.

    After all the roster shuffling, I’m not sure who the best team will be. Since a lot of good teams lost some of their best players, the talent pool’s spread out more and everything became a whole lot more even.

  3. 3 Anonymous

    You got your Penguin forwards mixed up their Mike. Michel Ouellet is the slow skating but good power-play finisher that went to Tampa Bay and is a good fit on their second line with Brad Richards. The Penguins re-signed Max Talbot to a two-year deal as a good third or four liner and penalty killer. All the national media really confused them a lot this year so you are not alone.

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