Aug 282008
 

A month ago both sides seem to be optimistic about a new deal. Now that training camp is fast approaching and Joe Sakic has re-signed (rejoice, hockey fans), Andrej Meszaros and the Sens seem to be drifting further and further apart. Despite claims from both sides in earlier months that a contract extension was near, it seems as though that may be quite contrary to the truth. The young rearguard, who is coming off a rather disappointing sophomore campaign after a marvelous rookie one, is asking for around $4.5m/year, while the Sens remain adamant that $3.5m/year is a much fairer number.

Should the Sens give in to Meszaros’ asking price, it would make him the Sens’ highest paid defenseman – fellow teammates Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov are playing for at least half their open market value. The length of the deal is apparently not a concern to Meszaros, but money is. Bryan Murray claims that he has offered the Meszaros camp contract offers ranging from one to five years, but has not heard much feedback, possibly because Meszaros is refusing to take into consideration any offer that isn’t near his asking price.

Meszaros is still currently a RFA and subject to offer sheets. While Murray won’t pony up $4.5m/year, you can bet that there are teams out there that will pay up for the former WHL standout, and force Murray’s hand. Should Murray lose Meszaros, he has stated that he will not be replacing him via trade of free agency, but will instead promote from within, which is great news for Lawrence Nycholat, Matt Kinch, and Matt Carkner, all three coming off good seasons with Binghamton, Ottawa’s AHL affiliate.

Either way, expect a flurry of moves after Mats Sundin makes his decision and Mathieu Schneider (which Murray claims he has little interest in) is moved.

EDIT: THN reports that a rival team has made an offer sheet to Meszaros for $5m/year, but Murray has denied any knowledge of such a thing and the Ottawa Sun claims that two league sources have denied it as well. The rumoured offer sheet was apparently made by Tampa, but that’s impossible. If the Lightning did make the offer sheet, they’d be subject to be give up their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd round picks. Under the CBA, all picks must be the team’s original picks – meaning that Tampa cannot substitute any of those picks with picks they’ve acquired from other teams. The Lightning’s original 3rd round pick is owned by Pittsburgh, who acquired it in the Ryan Malone and Gary Roberts trade.

Aug 272008
 

More on Mats Sundin. The endless carousel goes ’round and ’round, with still no end in sight.

“This is the song that never ends,
As it goes on and on my friends.
Some people started singing it, not knowing what it was,
And they’ll continue singing it forever just because…”

While Sundin sits on his sofa and mulls over his options, teams are getting anxious, reports Bruce Garrioch. Sundin is going to be the first domino to fall – once he decides what to do, there will be a flurry of moves as teams move to their Plan Bs. Others are waiting to see where he signs, because some players on the block, like Mathieu Schneider, are of interest to team(s) who are in the Sundin sweepstakes as well. I think that team’s the Habs, and here’s why.

The Rangers sit only $2m below the cap ceiling, and wth Sundin they’ll have to clear at least $7-8m (assuming that Sundin signs for $7m/year) to accomodate him. Only 3 Rangers are making more than $7m, and two of them are, you guessed it, Chris Drury and Scott Gomez, the Rangers’ big spendings last summer. Getting Sundin will give them arguably the strongest group down the middle (perhaps Dallas can challenge), but to accomodate Sundin one of them has to go. It seems a little strange that Glen Sather would deal away a younger player on a long-term contract for a short-term, one-year fix like Sundin – but then again, it is Sather, and he’s known for bold moves. Once Sundin retires, the Rangers will once again have money to play with, and once again in search of another scoring centre. Gomez can be moved to the wing since Drury is better at face-offs, but in actuality it was Drury who spent more time on the wing last year than Gomez. Not including this year, Gomez has 4 years remaining on his contract while Drury has 3. Gomez’s cap hit is slightly higher than Drury’s, but he is 3 years younger. I don’t think either player will be too pleased with the Rangers if they get traded, but they will give the “it’s part of the business” speech regardless, even though both sides had publicly stated that they’re committed long-term and the contract was signed in good will.

If the Rangers are ready to go to such drastic lengths to accomodate Sundin, then I would think that they’d be ready to accomodate Schneider as well. Schneider’s $5.625m cap hit is smaller, but the Rangers will still have to clear some $6m of cap space, and that’s harder than accommodating Sundin. Even with a package of Paul Mara and Petr Prucha that’s not enough. I’m not too sure who would be sent away should Schneider end up a blueshirt, but I would think that both Gomez and Drury would stay. I would rule Wade Redden, Dmitri Kalinin, and Michal Rozsival out of the question, considering they’ve just signed this summer. It does not speak well of the Rangers organization if they do trade either of them, after all, they’ve finally clawed their way back to respectability with “proper” team building. Paul Mara would be an interesting option, but with his $1.95m salary he’d have to be packaged with someone else. Added to that speculation is the fact that Schneider is a native of New York City.

The Habs have $6m in cap space. Without moving anyone, they can accomodate Schneider, but for the sake of having emergency cap space, they’d only have to deal away one player, and considering that their player salary structure isn’t as extreme as the Rangers, they have a lot of mid-salary players they can part with, including Francois Bouillon and Mathieu Dandenault, who are going to be UFAs next summer. Simply put, I think the Habs will have a much easier time accomodating Schneider’s salary than the Rangers, and they do have plenty of youngsters to offer Anaheim. Tack on the fact that Bob Gainey has made it known that he’s less than optimistic about Sundin going to Montreal, he may have had enough of the waiting game and elected to bolster his blueline instead.

Toronto and Vancouer are long-shots to land Schneider, and I would think that Vancouver has little to zero interest in the veteran blueliner considering their current defensive corps. Toronto could make a pitch to replace the soon-to-be-Panther Bryan McCabe, but I don’t think adding more salary, especially with a 39-year old, is in the team’s best interests going forward.

While the Habs and Rangers are fine without either Sundin or Schneider, there’s no doubt that the addition of either would help, it just all depends on who’s going out the door.

Aug 262008
 

says, Joe Sakic, who will be holding a press conference before his annual charity golf tournament on Thursday. While it’s not unusual for such a high-profile athlete to have a press conference/media junket for a charity golf tournament, you can bet that questions will be asked about Sakic’s decision on whether to return or not (my bet is he will).

Colorado’s success this year will very much depend on Sakic’s decision. While Paul Stastny is a good (he will be great some day), he is no Sakic, and no one on the team is good enough or ready to take over his mantle. Adam Foote may be the one to take over the locker room (I bet he’s captain if Sakic retires), but Sakic’s offense cannot be replaced. His mere presence on the ice means that the defense will clog up the shooting lanes and get guys like Milan Hejduk or Ryan Smyth good looks. Without Sakic they’re that much weaker and easier to play against.

Aug 242008
 

Rather slow news day, but a couple quick rumours:

Andrej Meszaros has yet to sign, and could still be given an offer sheet. Meszaros reportedly has a standing offer from the KHL for $4m/year, but is still willing to negotiate with the Sens, in the hopes of reaching an agreement before camp. It’s a little odd that he hasn’t signed already, considering how “close” both sides said they were. I’m not expecting to see Meszaros in anything but a Sens uniform, however.

Vitaly Vishnevksi has been placed on waivers by the Devils to clear some cap room. The Devils have only roughly $1m in cap space and will need at least triple that for emergency purposes to open the season. However, it remains to be seen is Vishnevski, who has two years remaining (including this year), will be bought out, or simply demoted.

Josef Boumedienne makes his return to the NHL as a Leaf on a two-way contract. He is signed purely for depth purposes, and is not necessarily a sign that Bryan McCabe is moving for sure.

Aug 202008
 

The NHL and KHL are in a war and marking clear their territories. Bill Daly, the NHL’s second-in-command, recently commented that the NHL is not interested in compensation from the KHL for signing players under NHL contracts, referring to Nashville’s Alexander Radulov, who recently signed a lucrative deal with Ufa in the KHL even though he had one year remaining on his NHL contract.

Daly maintains that contractual obligations must be respected, and that Radulov should not be allowed to suit up for Ufa (the Preds have been wise enough to defer the responsibilities to the league). Alexander Medvedev, the KHL’s commissioner, argues that Radulov’s signing (July 5) came days before the KHL-NHL agreement (July 10), and because the agreement was not retroactive, it doesn’t apply to Radulov. Medvedev also argues that Nikita Filatov, Viktor Tikhonov, Jason Krog, Tomas Mojzis, and Fedor Fedorov should not be playing in the NHL because of their existing contractual obligations to their respective KHL teams.

However, there seems to be a hole in Medvedev’s argument. Asides from Krog (11th) and Filatov (10th), the other three players signed before the date of the agreement: Fedorov (4th), Tikhonov (1st), and Mojzis (June 28th). Krog has maintained that he was not under contract with any KHL team despite previous reports that he had signed with a Russian team because he had an out clause that gave him until September 1 to find a NHL contract. And for Filatov, depending on what time zone you were in, he could’ve signed the contract before or after the deadline, although that would spark another endless debate between the two leagues.

The KHL, established after the end of the RSL’s playoffs, became a true legitimate threat to the NHL after they managed to lure away Jaromir Jagr. They had attempted to lure Evgeni Malkin back to Russia, but when that failed, most people breathed a sigh of relief, believing that perhaps the threats the KHL proposed should be taken with a grain of salt. Now that there is almost a bidding war on players, both leagues have decided to mark their territories by coming to this agreement, although it has come to be scrutinzed as fast as it was signed.

There is no governing body for both the NHL and KHL. The IIHF has no power over the two leagues, and as such cannot hand out punishments to players in either league. The six players are currently under investigation by the IIHF, and have been suspended indefinitely from international play, but I’m sure that doesn’t really bother Krog (Canadian), Fedorov (Russian), or Mojzis (Czech), considering they have zero to minimal chances of making their respective national squads. The IIHF lacks teeth, and as such I don’t expect their decisions to really hold any weight in the NHL or KHL, and as such, a complete waste of time. Whatever may be the case, the KHL and NHL will have a healthy rivalry for the foreseeable future.

Aug 202008
 

Losing Pavol Demitra and Brian Rolston hurt. Doug Risebrough was obviously disappointed that both chose to leave for greener pastures, after being optimistic that Rolston, or possibly both, would be back in Minnesota next year. While Demitra’s in Vancouver wondering when Mats Sundin will be his linemate and Rolston’s in Jersey wondering if he could potentially lead the team in goals (Zach Parise was the only player to top 30), Risebrough wasted no time in making sure that he wouldn’t be letting Marian Gaborik go without a fight. The oft-injured Gaborik had a career season last year, posting 42 goals and 83 points. The year before saw Gaborik post amazing point-per-game numbers, including 30 goals in 48 games, but only to be sidelined for nearly half the season. When healthy, Gaborik is as dangerous as any forward in the league with game-breaking scoring ability. The slick-skating Slovak forward will be an UFA next summer and is currently contemplating testing the free agent market.

Since the departure of his best friend Demitra, there has been numerous reports about Gaborik’s supposed disappointment in that he doesn’t play on a more offensive-minded team. Being Minnesota’s most valuable and talented player, some were suggesting that Risebrough offer the winger the max compensation of roughly $11m/year, but Risebrough has denied any intention of giving Gaborik the league maximum. However, Risebrough has expressed a strong desire to retain the forward, flying to Trencin to gauge Gaborik’s interest in staying with the Wild. Both sides have reportedly started off on a good note, and Risebrough is ready to make a long-term offer, anywhere from 4-7 years, with as much as $8.5m/year, making him one of the most highest paid forwards in the league.

I think Demitra and Rolston’s departure sparked Risebrough into early negotiations with Gaborik. He knows that he cannot lose the key piece to his offense, and he’s willing to break the bank to do so. At this point both sides are just touching bases, and despite Demitra’s departure and Gaborik’s lack of enthusiasm of the Wild’s system, I would be shocked if Gaborik doesn’t stay in Minnesota for a long time. Of course, other than the dollar numbers, I’m sure Gaborik would also be pushing for Risebrough to get some extra offensive help.

Jul 032008
 

Here are some of my thoughts on the free agent signings so far.

1. I want to give the finger tor all those who are outraged at the Jeff Finger signing and who have seen him play fewer than two games. Yes, that is pretty much everyone. As a Leaf fan I am a little skeptical of the Finger signing but I am going to reserve judgment until at least December when we will have seen him in action for a couple months and that is what all you Leaf fans should do. It astonishes me how many people will call it a bad signing without even knowing a thing about the player being signed.

2. Wade Redden for 6 years at $6.5 million has to be one of the worst signings of this off season. Redden has some skill but he has been pretty weak the past season or two and while a change of scenery might help him, I am almost certain he won’t come close to living up to that contract.

3. The best signing so far has been Brian Rolston by the New Jersey Devils. Not only will Rolston add some much needed offense to the Devil’s lineup, having played with the Devils previously and the Wild the past several seasons he will fit in perfectly to the Devils defensive system. Now if the Devils could just improve their defense crew they will be back to a Stanley Cup contending team.

4. Whatever happens with the Finger signing, I think Leaf fans will be pleased with the Hagman signing. He’ll add some much needed speed and defensive ability to the Leafs lineup. Just don’t expect 25 goals from him, but 15-20 is certainly possible. The Leafs won’t be as bad as everyone thinks/assumes.

5. The most active teams this off season have been Tampa, Edmonton and Columbus though I am not sure any of them are significantly better, particularly if Tampa goes and trades Dan Boyle. Columbus signing of Mike Commodore for 5 years at $3.75 million is a contender for worst signing this off season. It would not surprise me if all three missed the playoffs again.

6. Detroit is scary good, but you already knew that didn’t you.

7. Can everyone please stop asking “why did we have the lockout when we are seeing these crazy high salaries once again”. Whoever says that should immediate walk the stupidity plank because they don’t have a clue. First, the salary cap rising to $56.7 million only did so because the revenues are there. That is called linkage which the owners demanded and got. Second, pre-lockout players were getting up to $10-12 million contracts and second tier players like Bill Guerin and Bobby Holik were getting $9 million per season. The high end salaries now have not caught up to pre-lockout levels.

8. It might take another season but the Phoenix Coyotes are assembling a very good team with a mixture of size and skill.

Free Agent Wingers

 Free Agents  Comments Off
Jun 182008
 
06-07 06-07 06-07 07-08 07-08 07-08 Average
Name Age Team Off. Def. Overall Off. Def. Overall Overall
Teemu Selanne 37 ANA 1.46 1.13 1.32 1.17 1.49 1.31 1.32
Kristian Huselius 28 CGY 1.30 1.25 1.28 1.27 1.06 1.18 1.23
Jaromir Jagr 35 NYR 1.40 1.20 1.31 1.12 1.11 1.12 1.22
Martin Gelinas 37 NAS 1.21 1.10 1.16 0.99 1.31 1.16 1.16
Brian Rolston 34 MIN 1.04 1.41 1.21 1.02 1.20 1.11 1.16
Pavol Demitra 32 MIN 1.20 0.96 1.09 1.40 0.99 1.20 1.15
Andrew Brunette 33 COL 1.41 0.77 1.14 1.36 0.88 1.15 1.15
Marian Hossa 28 PIT 1.40 1.00 1.22 1.15 0.92 1.04 1.13
Niklas Hagman 27 DAL 1.04 1.17 1.11 1.12 1.11 1.12 1.12
Ryan Malone 27 PIT 1.00 1.08 1.04 1.45 0.91 1.18 1.11
Markus Naslund 33 VAN 1.08 1.19 1.13 1.15 0.93 1.05 1.09
Brendan Shanahan 38 NYR 1.23 0.98 1.11 1.15 0.98 1.06 1.09
Georges Laraque 30 PIT 1.11 1.21 1.16 0.81 1.20 1.00 1.08
Radim Vrbata 26 PHX 1.01 0.96 0.98 1.25 1.08 1.17 1.08
Antti Miettinen 26 DAL 0.90 1.17 1.02 1.12 1.12 1.12 1.07
Ladislav Nagy 28 LAK 1.14 1.00 1.08 1.21 0.87 1.06 1.07
Mark Recchi 39 ATL 1.26 1.06 1.17 1.04 0.84 0.95 1.06
Jay Pandolfo 32 NJD 0.68 1.20 0.96 0.97 1.31 1.15 1.06
Owen Nolan 35 CGY 1.13 1.03 1.08 0.96 1.11 1.03 1.06
David Vyborny 32 CLB 1.20 1.16 1.18 0.79 1.08 0.93 1.06
Jarkko Ruutu 31 PIT 0.71 1.34 1.04 0.78 1.32 1.06 1.05
Jason Chimera 28 CLB 1.12 1.05 1.08 0.86 1.13 0.99 1.04
Ruslan Fedotenko 28 NYI 0.92 1.16 1.03 0.97 1.07 1.02 1.03
Miroslav Satan 32 NYI 1.10 0.94 1.03 0.98 1.08 1.02 1.03
Matt Cooke 28 WAS 1.10 1.00 1.05 0.82 1.13 0.99 1.02
Martin Rucinsky 36 STL 1.09 0.99 1.04 0.92 1.06 0.99 1.02
Michael Ryder 27 MTL 1.18 0.82 1.02 1.05 0.93 0.99 1.01
Arron Asham 29 NJD 0.96 1.19 1.08 0.52 1.37 0.93 1.01
Gary Roberts 41 PIT 1.21 0.83 1.05 0.78 1.12 0.94 1.00
Todd Fedoruk 28 MIN 0.99 0.80 0.89 1.07 1.04 1.05 0.97
Cory Stillman 33 OTT 0.91 0.92 0.92 1.07 0.97 1.02 0.97
Donald Brashear 35 WAS 1.03 1.10 1.06 0.61 1.11 0.86 0.96
Shean Donovan 32 OTT 0.86 1.03 0.95 0.79 1.10 0.95 0.95
Scott Thornton 36 LAK 0.76 0.83 0.80 1.04 1.11 1.08 0.94
Martin Lapointe 33 OTT 0.79 0.99 0.89 0.71 1.19 0.95 0.92
Pascal Dupuis 28 PIT 0.59 0.97 0.80 0.93 1.03 0.98 0.89
Brian Willsie 29 LAK 0.86 0.82 0.84 0.90 0.80 0.85 0.85
Trevor Letowski 30 CAR 0.84 0.88 0.86 0.75 0.87 0.82 0.84
Jan Hlavac 30 NAS 0.00 0.00 0.98 1.01 0.99 0.00
Petr Cajanek 31 STL 1.28 0.99 1.14 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00

The guy everyone is talking about is Marian Hossa. He is definitley a top tier player who had a bit of an off year this past season but picked it up in the playoffs and that will serve him well this off season. Rumour is Pittsburgh is interested in signing him for 7 years, $49 million. He quite likely will get more on the open market (Montreal, NY Rangers, Chicago, Vancouver, and several others would be interested) but that might be a mistake longer term.

Three interesting players are Selanne, Jagr and Naslund. These three are past star players on the downside of their careers, though still productive. One wonders what kind of contract these guys will command.

Rolston is probably the best two way player on the list but might not command quite as much money as the others on the list. Because of this he may in fact be the best ‘value’ available, particularly for a team with plenty of offense already (he’d be perfect for the Senators though might still be too pricey for them).

Don’t over evaluate Ryan Malone, who when not playing with elite level players like Crosby or Malkin is probably only a 20 goal, 45 point guy. He is good but not worth the $5 million he might get on the open market.

If you are looking for defensive role players take a look at Jay Pandolfo, Jarkko Ruutu, and Mat Cooke. Also, Martin Gelinas is older but can still contribute defensively and as a team leader as well.

Free Agent Centers

 Free Agents  Comments Off
Jun 172008
 

Similar to yesterdays free agent defensemen list, here are this summers top free agent centers.

06-07 06-07 06-07 07-08 07-08 07-08 Average
Name Age Team Off. Def. Overall Off. Def. Overall Overall
Daymond Langkow 30 CGY 1.45 1.04 1.27 1.30 1.07 1.20 1.24
Doug Weight 36 ANA 1.29 1.11 1.21 0.92 1.66 1.24 1.23
Martin Straka 34 NYR 1.22 1.32 1.26 1.15 1.01 1.08 1.17
Curtis Brown 31 SJS 0.84 1.04 0.95 1.28 1.36 1.33 1.14
Joe Sakic 37 COL 1.44 0.92 1.21 1.27 0.77 1.06 1.14
Chris Kelly 26 OTT 1.27 1.17 1.21 1.01 1.09 1.05 1.13
Mats Sundin 36 TOR 1.23 0.86 1.06 1.44 0.90 1.19 1.13
Sean Avery 27 NYR 1.13 1.07 1.10 1.21 0.97 1.09 1.10
Craig Conroy 35 CGY 1.05 1.04 1.05 1.17 1.09 1.13 1.09
Glen Metropolit 33 BOS 1.16 1.23 1.20 0.96 0.99 0.97 1.09
Brendan Morrison 31 VAN 1.09 0.94 1.02 1.08 1.15 1.11 1.07
Trevor Linden 37 VAN 0.97 1.12 1.05 0.80 1.33 1.08 1.07
Jason Williams 26 CHI 0.95 1.04 0.99 1.32 0.89 1.13 1.06
Randy Robitaille 31 OTT 1.13 0.94 1.04 1.14 1.01 1.08 1.06
Mike Peca 33 CLB 1.15 0.93 1.02 1.11 1.07 1.09 1.06
Dominic Moore 26 TOR 0.91 1.23 1.08 0.83 1.14 0.99 1.04
Vaclav Prospal 32 PHI 1.11 0.73 0.94 1.32 0.90 1.13 1.04
Patrick Rissmiller 28 SJS 0.98 1.14 1.07 0.73 1.14 0.95 1.01
Josef Vasicek 26 NYI 1.08 0.82 0.95 0.90 1.23 1.06 1.01
Bryan Smolinski 35 MTL 1.10 1.02 1.06 0.98 0.89 0.94 1.00
Stephane Yelle 33 CGY 1.12 0.99 1.05 0.56 1.27 0.95 1.00
Sergei Fedorov 37 WAS 1.05 0.94 1.00 0.92 1.07 0.99 1.00
Niko Kapanen 29 PHX 0.84 0.86 0.85 0.91 1.41 1.14 1.00
Jim Dowd 38 PHI 0.55 1.27 0.95 0.65 1.33 1.03 0.99
Yanic Perreault 36 CHI 1.10 0.94 1.03 0.98 0.90 0.94 0.99
Chris Gratton 31 TBL 1.09 0.93 1.01 1.03 0.81 0.93 0.97
Stu Barnes 36 DAL 0.96 1.07 1.02 0.75 1.04 0.91 0.97
Bobby Holik 36 ATL 1.02 0.93 0.97 1.00 0.89 0.95 0.96
Ryan Johnson 31 STL 0.80 0.88 0.84 0.75 1.22 1.02 0.93
Byron Ritchie 30 VAN 0.89 1.13 1.02 0.53 0.99 0.77 0.90
Marty Reasoner 30 EDM 0.79 0.94 0.87 0.96 0.87 0.91 0.89
Mike York 29 PHX 0.95 0.72 0.84 0.72 1.13 0.91 0.88
Jaroslav Hlinka 30 COL 0.00 0.00 0.00 1.18 1.11 1.14 0.00
Michael Ryan 27 BUF 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.79 1.14 0.97 0.00
Andreas Karlsson 31 TBL 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.69 1.22 0.98 0.00
Peter Forsberg 33 COL 1.27 1.18 1.23 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00

I think we can expect Daymond Langkow to re-sign in Calgary (apparently he has a verbal agreement which won’t be signed until the final salary cap figure gets announced) and Joe Sakic to re-sign in Colorado. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Forsberg stay in Colorado as well. The next best and most talked about center is Mats Sundin. Sundin keeps a pretty tight lip and no one really knows what he will do but it seems he wants to stay in Toronto or close to Toronto. Toronto, Detroit, Ottawa, and Montreal are the most likely destinations for Sundin but I wouldn’t count out Vancouver or a few other teams. My bet is he stays in Toronto if the Leafs can make a few quality changes in the roster. Otherwise he goes to Detroit.

Those of us in Ottawa believe Chris Kelly had an off year, but even though it wasn’t as good as 2006-07 it was still pretty good. Any team looking for a versatile two-way forward who can kill penalties with the best of them will do well picking up Kelly. Craig Conroy is another Kelly like player but might cost more. Mike Peca fits into this group as well.

Everyones favourite, or lease favourite pest, depending on your perspective, is Sean Avery and clearly his antics produce results on the ice. The questions with him are two fold: 1) How many teams will put up with his antics and possibly dressing room disruptions and 2) if he cuts back on some of his antics will he be the same productive player. Only time will tell.

There are a few other interesting players like Martin Straka, Brendan Morrison, Vaclav Prospal and Jason Williams but after that there is a lot of mediocrity.

Jun 162008
 

In preparation for the off season, over the next few days I am going to be posting lists of most of the NHL unrestricted free agents that played fairly reguler roles in the NHL last season. In my lists I am including the player offense, defense and overall ratings that can be found at stats.hockeyanalysis.com for 2006-07 and 2007-08 plus each players two year average overall rating.

It should be noted that these ratings do not take into account ice time, just how they performed in the ice time they got. Clearly some of these players played far more significant roles with their teams than some other similarly rated players but I think these ratings should give an indication of what each player is capable of. It also might point out players that just posted big numbers either because they got a lot of ice time or just played with really good line mates as these ratings do factor in who each player has played with and against. I’ll also point out that the more ice time a player plays the more reliable the ratings are. For players who played a lot over the past couple seasons you will generally find the lowest season to season difference in the ratings.

So lets start out with defensemen. After the table I will post a few of my thoughts.

06-07 06-07 06-07 07-08 07-08 07-08 Average
Name Age Team Off. Def. Overall Off. Def. Overall Overall
Marek Malik 32 NYR 1.33 1.32 1.32 1.19 1.22 1.21 1.27
Brian Campbell 28 SJS 1.40 1.07 1.25 1.26 0.92 1.10 1.18
Keith Carney 37 MIN 1.19 1.25 1.22 0.99 1.19 1.09 1.16
John-Michael Liles 26 COL 1.28 1.05 1.18 1.15 0.98 1.08 1.13
Michal Rozsival 28 NYR 1.12 1.30 1.21 1.03 1.06 1.04 1.13
Jassen Cullimore 34 FLA 1.22 0.85 1.01 1.11 1.33 1.23 1.12
Mark Streit 29 MTL 1.20 0.86 1.05 1.31 0.93 1.15 1.10
Chris Chelios 45 DET 0.85 1.23 1.07 0.97 1.25 1.13 1.10
Wade Redden 30 OTT 1.26 0.87 1.08 1.35 0.86 1.12 1.10
Kurt Sauer 26 COL 0.97 1.00 0.98 1.20 1.22 1.21 1.10
Jan Hejda 29 CLB 0.87 1.06 0.97 1.15 1.26 1.21 1.09
Jaroslav Modry 36 PHI 1.04 1.29 1.17 0.98 0.94 0.96 1.07
Paul Mara 27 NYR 0.98 1.06 1.02 0.88 1.29 1.08 1.05
Bryce Salvador 31 NJD 0.93 0.96 0.95 1.22 1.08 1.14 1.05
Steve Montador 27 FLA 0.84 1.15 1.00 1.14 1.03 1.08 1.04
Matt Walker 27 STL 1.05 1.13 1.09 0.94 1.03 0.99 1.04
David Hale 26 CGY 0.87 1.26 1.07 0.82 1.18 1.00 1.04
Patrice Brisebois 36 MTL 1.05 0.92 0.99 0.83 1.30 1.05 1.02
Freddy Meyer 26 NYI 0.94 1.12 1.03 1.05 0.97 1.01 1.02
Karel Rachunek 27 NJD 1.09 0.93 1.01 1.07 0.97 1.02 1.02
Andreas Lilja 31 DET 1.17 0.98 1.06 0.93 0.98 0.96 1.01
Dmitri Kalinin 26 BUF 1.26 0.97 1.11 0.76 1.06 0.91 1.01
Mike Weaver 29 VAN 0.93 0.89 0.91 0.82 1.33 1.09 1.00
Petteri Nummelin 34 MIN 0.94 0.92 0.93 1.00 1.10 1.05 0.99
Jim Vandermeer 27 CAL 0.92 0.93 0.93 0.93 1.15 1.04 0.99
Brad Stuart 27 DET 1.19 0.80 0.98 1.10 0.88 0.99 0.99
Jason Smith 33 PHI 0.96 0.94 0.95 0.96 1.06 1.01 0.98
Steve McCarthy 26 ATL 1.14 1.39 1.24 0.51 0.92 0.72 0.98
Mike Commodore 27 OTT 1.16 0.86 1.00 1.06 0.86 0.95 0.98
Ron Hainsey 26 CLB 0.94 1.02 0.98 0.89 1.05 0.96 0.97
Adam Foote 35 COL 0.70 1.03 0.87 0.88 1.20 1.05 0.96
Mark Eaton 30 PIT 0.85 0.87 0.86 0.96 1.10 1.04 0.95
Rob Blake 37 LAK 0.98 0.90 0.94 1.04 0.82 0.93 0.94
Doug Janik 27 TBL 1.02 0.84 0.93 0.73 1.13 0.93 0.93
Aaron Miller 35 VAN 0.86 0.92 0.89 0.94 0.96 0.95 0.92
Sean Hill 37 MIN 1.14 0.99 1.06 0.84 0.68 0.76 0.91
Andrei Zyuzin 29 CHI 0.67 1.15 0.92 0.88 0.73 0.81 0.87
Jeff Finger 27 COL 0.00 0.00 1.27 0.96 1.11 0.00
Luke Richardson 38 OTT 0.00 0.00 0.00 1.01 1.06 1.04 0.00
Nolan Pratt 31 BUF 0.00 0.00 0.76 1.27 1.03 0.00
Mike Mottau 29 NJD 0.00 0.00 0.84 1.15 0.99 0.00
Sandis Ozolinsh 34 SJS 0.00 0.00 1.11 0.78 0.97 0.00
Magnus Johansson 33 FLA 0.00 0.00 0.95 0.95 0.95 0.00
Bryan Berard 30 NYI 0.00 0.00 0.84 0.94 0.88 0.00
Dick Tarnstrom 32 CLB 0.00 0.00 0.82 0.91 0.86 0.00
Alexei Semenov 26 SJS 0.00 0.00 0.74 0.83 0.78 0.00
Teppo Numminen 38 BUF 1.36 0.96 1.16 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00

In my opinion the potential steal of the defense free agent crop could be Marek Malik. His play dropped off a bit last year but he always seems to get it done defensively dating back to his days in Vancouver. His +/- ratings the past 5 seasons are +23, +35, +28, +32 and +7. But because he had a bit of an off year last year he could be had for a very reasonable price.

A defenseman to be real cautious on is Ron Hainsey of the Blue Jackets. Statistically he had a very good year in Columbus but my ratings rate him as average at best. There is talk that he might command upwards of $4-5 million but that would likely be a huge mistake. This is a guy who benefited from playing a big role on a weak team.

Mark Streit and Wade Redden might be identical players. Too bad for the team that pays Redden as if he were a well rounded defenseman as opposed Mark Streit who might earn half of what Redden will get more as a PP specialist.

Carney and Chelios show that getting old doesn’t mean getting bad. Their roles and overall contribution have diminished but in the right role they can still contribute to good teams.