July 1st was quite tame this year in terms of contract lengths and money being dished out in the NHL.
We didn't get the "Hossa" 12 year deal, or the "Brian Campbell" 57 million dollar deal.
But, there were still some big deals handed out, majority of them being smart. There were some overpaid guys, but hey, that's free agency. And it should only get worse as teams miss out on guys and over compensate to make sure they get a second or third tier guy.
The biggest name out there, Kovalchuk, has yet to sign, but today was the day of the defenseman.
I'll try my best to analyze the signings today, but it will be much easier to look back in a few years and see which teams did well (maybe by accident for not getting their guy who flopped on another team), and which teams did poorly.
But as they say, hindsight is 20/20.
Terms: Three years, $16 million
The Sens lost arguably the best defensive defenseman in this year's free agent class, but gain the best offensive defenseman. The Senators were willing to give Gonchar that extra year the Penguins didn't want to give.
Sens GM Bryan Murray said that Gonchar was their main target, and phoned him at 12:01 EST. I had actually brought up Gonchar going to the Senators, but it was still a little surprising.
This is actually a great fit, and for only a 5.5 million dollar cap hit it's reasonable.
I wrote a preview of the Senators-Penguins series when they were facing off in the first round this year. One thing I had against the Senators was their lack of offense coming from their blue line, and a guy like Gonchar can step in and have a huge impact.
For a team that finished 21st in power play percentage, Gonchar will be a huge help quarterbacking their PP. He will also will serve as a good mentor to young defenseman Erik Karlsson.
Terms: Martin: Five years, $25 million
Michalek(pictured): Five years, $20 million
When you go the free agency route, more often than not, you are going to be overpaying players.
These two are no exception, but they are still very reasonable contracts and great signings.
The Penguins had a lot of defensemen with expiring contracts, so they needed to fill some voids, and voids they filled.
Paul Martin had some injury problems, but he will try and fill the hole left by Gonchar's departure. He won't be able to flat out replace Gonchar, but he is a great alternative, and with the up-and-coming Goligoski, Pittsburgh shouldn't have issues generating from the back end.
Michalek is mostly a shut down guy, but his offensive game is underrated because he wasn't really used in that role in Phoenix.
Michalek as a whole was pretty underrated, to be honest. A few years ago, in the preseason when Gretzky was the coach of the 'yotes, the management told him to play Michalek. Gretzky declined, saying he wanted to 'hide' him from the league.
He has been hidden from the league for a while, but really broke out last year. He should get a lot of attention with his new contract and his new tenure with the former Cup champs.
Terms: Jokinen(pictured): Two year, $6 million
Tanguay: One year, $1.7 million
Oh man, what deja vu.
I could have sworn that the Flames have had both these players at one time and they didn't work out. Oh, wait.
First of all, the Tanguay signing is actually a pretty good one. He's coming off a bad year, but 1.7 million isn't a huge risk for one year. It will be tough for Tangs to score worse than his 37 points next year. He actually had some decent chemistry with Iginla, so hopefully they can get going.
Jokinen, on the other hand, is just puzzling. He didn't work out at all. Yes, he is much cheaper than when we had him, but surely a reunion like this can't work.
There was some bad blood after he left, and now he is coming back. I am sure this won't be good for the locker room.
Tanguay was pretty good, but these are still questionable moves to say the least. Sutter, I really really hope you're not done.
Terms: Two years, $6 million
The Coyotes are likely to lose Lee Stempniak and Matthew Lombardi, so adding a forward is great for them, especially throwing another veteran into a fairly young core.
Whitney could easily step into the top line and log some good power play minutes, and will provide a great locker room presence that a Stanley Cup winner can bring.
Phoenix continues to do well, after their great trade deadline. Kudos, Don Maloney.
Terms: Two years, $4 million
A good signing by the Sharks who needed a goaltender after not offering Nabokov a contract.
Two million per year is a great number for Antero, who can handle the duties as a number one, but he will most likely be sharing duties with Thomas Greiss. Expect Antero to get more starts.
His time in Tampa was one of mixed results. He looked like a solid starting goaltender at times, but he struggled with consistency. I think he should play well as a Shark, but we could see the Sharks miss having an elite goaltender, at least in the regular season.
We all saw what the Hawks did with Niemi, and the Flyers with Boucher/Leighton. The Sharks will hope Niittymaki can provide that same magic for them in the playoffs. If he can, it will be a steal for two million dollars.
Terms: Two years, $3.6 million
A little overpriced, but this looks like the end for Souray.
Foster put up 42 points in 71 games for Tampa last year. His best asset is a rocket shot, so he will most likely be the replacement to Souray, who should have a new home before the start of the year (if anyone want's to take on that contract).
A pretty good signing, as the Oilers could hope to be competitive next year, but it should be a growing phase as guys like Taylor Hall, Magnus Pääjärvi-Svensson and Jordan Eberle should be in the NHL.
Terms: Volchenkov(pictured): Six years, $25.5 million
Tallinder: Four years, $13.5 million
Hedberg: One year, $1.5 million
Volchenkov was arguably the best defensive defenseman available, and the Devils got him for a very good price. For a great defensive team, Volchenkov, arguably the leagues best shot blocker, will only add to that. Keeping Brodeur fresh will be key for the Devils and what a segue to the next signing.
A veteran goaltender in Hedberg should help relieve Brodeur. He is not the goalie he used to be, and will need some relief if he wants to be fresh for the playoffs.
Paul Martin is a better player than Tallinder, but Tallinder will be able to replace Martin (hell, Martin only played 22 games last year so they really won't miss him too much).
Overall, a great day was had by the Devils as they added a shot blocking machine for a very reasonable price, a puck mover to replace the departed Martin, and Hedberg to provide relief down the stretch.
With all this money given though, is Kovalchuk gone for sure? The Devils say they're still in it, but I'm not sure the money is there.
Terms: (reported) Three year, $9 million
After losing Tallinder and Toni Lydman to the Devils and Ducks respectively, the Sabres needed to sign a defenseman.
The money here for Leopold is a bit steep, but the Sabres needed to act. He's bounced around lately, and should hope to find a fit in Buffalo.
Sabres fans shouldn't expect much though. Leopold is good, but he won't wow you or anything. A bit overrated to be honest.
Terms: Two years, $3 million
Tampa GM Steve Yzerman said he wouldn't chase any big names in free agency, and he stuck to that.
Ellis will push Mike Smith, and the starting job will most likely switch hands on more than one occasion.
Mike Smith has had some injury issues and some consistency issues, so bringing in a guy like Ellis who could handle number one duties is a good deal.
At 1.5 million per year, it's even better.
Terms: Hamhuis: six years, $27 million
Malhotra: three years, $7.5 million
Hamhuis was long rumored to go to the Canucks, and in the end he did. Word is that he took a pay cut to do so.
A good signing (price is a little high, but they did get the hometown discount(Hamhuis was born in BC)). He does fill a need for the Canucks. Their biggest need was on the blue line, and they did good by getting a great two way player in Hamhuis. It seemingly looks like Bieksa is on his way out now, though.
Malhotra was quite pricey, but he's a solid third line center and great in the faceoff circle.
But, prospect Cody Hodgson came into the discussion on this one. He is 99 percent NHL ready, and should look to slot into the third line, but this can't really happen with Malhotra there. Malhotra could play on the fourth line, but why pay a guy that kind of money to play on the fourth line?
Maybe, if the Canucks are serious about a Cup run, they could trade Hodgson for a big asset. Almost every Canuck fan rates Hodgson very highly (and for good reason) and would be sad to see him go.
But, if GM Mike Gillis can get that last piece to the Vancouver Canucks Stanley Cup winning puzzle, I think 'nuck fans would understand. (Although Vancouver fans and media also rated Grabner highly, but were fairly quick to shoot him down after he was traded.)
Terms: Four years, $6.6 million
Ah, Glen Sather—the only thing keeping Daryl Sutter from being named the craziest GM in the NHL right now.
Boogaard is a good enforcer, and the Rangers lost tough guy Jody Shelley to the Flyers.
The fact is, Boogaard is no where near the $1.65 million he is going to earn every year of this deal. He has two goals in the past four years. Obviously the Rangers aren't paying Boogaard to score goals, but there are a ton of guys that can play that energy role and can also provide at least some minimal offensive output.