NHL Talk: Blackhawks Dive into Free Agency, Sign Campbell and Huet

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NHL Talk: Blackhawks Dive into Free Agency, Sign Campbell and Huet

The Chicago Blackhawks, a joke of a franchise in the last decade, have certainly made a big splash on the first day of free agency on Tuesday.

Chicago landed star defenseman Brian Campbell with an eight-year contract and also signed goalie Cristobal Huet to a four-year deal.

Campbell's deal is reportedly worth over $57 million.

These two signings have got to be huge for a young team like the Blackhawks, who made a late run last year only to miss the playoffs by a few points.

Chicago has been awful in the last decade, making the playoffs just once (2001-02) in that span. But even that appearance shouldn't count, as the Hawks bowed out in a mere five games.

Adding Campbell would certainly boost the power play, which was one of the worst in the NHL (24th overall) last season, and with sophomores Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, along with fellow youngster Patrick Sharp—all of whom are only going to get better—fans in Chicago could be in for an exciting future.

And Huet, who led the Washington Capitals to the playoffs after being acquired from Montreal, is an upgrade over the oft-injured Nikolai Khabibulin and the over-the-hill Patrick Lalime.

Looks like the Chicago Blackhawks are finally serious about winning. One concern, though: Is Campbell (or anyone for that matter) really deserving of an eight-year deal?

*****

I wonder what fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs are thinking of Mats Sundin right about now.

The long-time Leafs captain, now an unrestricted free agent, was reportedly going to be a Montreal Canadien.

Then, on Tuesday, we learn the Vancouver Canucks offered Sundin a two-year, $20-million contract.

I'm sure many Toronto fans out there don't want Sundin to return to the Leafs, and would probably like to see him go to a contender like Detroit or Pittsburgh...but him perhaps going to another Canadian team like the Habs or Canucks?

Just wonder what fans who bleed white and blue have to say about this...

*****

Three free-agent signings are making me scratch my head.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have picked up backup goalie Curtis Joseph. And I ask, "Why?" I still maintain the Leafs were smart not re-acquiring Gary Roberts.

I mean, why would a franchise trying to rebuild pick up guys who were part of the losing in the past?

Joseph was great in his first stint in Toronto, yes, but he (and Roberts) was a part of the veteran teams that failed to get the job done in the playoffs in the late '90s and early 2000s.

So why bring Cujo back? His value as a backup or as a tutor to the young guys probably is minimal. Why not bring in new blood? It's suddenly like Toronto wants to turn back the clock, with the Leafs having Cliff Fletcher back, and the Blue Jays re-hiring Cito Gaston and Gene Tenace.

And, oh, the Colorado Avalanche lost Jose Theodore and brought in ex-Bruin and Leaf Andrew Raycroft. Explain that one to me.

Andrew Raycroft sucks, for crying out loud. The former rookie of the year won only two games for the Leafs last season and cost Toronto many points in the standings when he kept giving up late back-breaking goals early in the season.

Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Lightning, plagued by inconsistent goaltending last year, signed ex-Capital Olaf Kolzig, who lost his job to Cristobal Huet late last season. Explain that to me, too.

*****

One piece of Bruins news: Backup Alex Auld, who played well for Boston after being acquired mid-season, is now an Ottawa Senator.

Auld will surely be missed in Boston. The newest Senator was 9-7-5 with a sparkling 2.32 GAA and equally impressive .919 save percentage after struggling in Florida and Phoenix the last season and a half.

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