Starting at Center...
Tomas Fleischmann - Signed with Florida for four years, $18 million (2010-2011 salary: $2.6 million)
Look, I get that the cap went up five million. I also understand Florida was about a billion underneath the cap floor. But I don't understand how missing half a season and putting up 31 points warrants a $2 million annual raise. Fleischmann now only makes $275,000 less per year than Tim Connolly.
Certainly not the first time Dale Tallon grossly overpaid a player in his career, as you'll see later in this lineup...
At Right Wing...
Scottie Upshall - Signed four-year, $14 million contract with Florida (2010-2011 salary: $2.25 million)
We've seen more from Upshall on Twitter than we have from him on the ice. Yet he was one of four forwards to get a four-year deal from the Panthers. The same Scottie Upshall who has never played more the 61 games in a season. Yes, the same Upshall whose career high in points is 34, set this past year. And yes, the same Scottie who has played a total of 21 games in April, May, and June in his career (FYI: they all came in April).
At Left Wing...
Ville Leino - Signed with the Sabres for six years, $27 million (2010-2011 salary: $800,000)
Sabres' Owner Terry Pegula's isn't afraid to spend. The Sabres went after Leino and gave him nearly six times more money per year than he made in 2010-2011. Last year he set career highs in goals (19) and assists (34) for the Flyers. However, it was really his first full, productive season at the NHL level. So making him the third highest paid forward on your team could probably be viewed as a bit of a gamble.
The key to improving your team is marketing your franchise as one that is willing to do and pay whatever it takes to win. It seems they are certainly doing that in Buffalo.
James Wisniewski - Signed with Columbus for six years, $33 million (2010-2011 salary: $3.25 million)
Blue Jackets' GM Scott Howson is showing some stones this offseason, that is for sure. He has done a lot to revamp the franchise's image this offseason: trading for Jeff Carter and overpaying for Wisniewski.
Putting up 51 points in a season is respectable, but the body of work doesn't warrant the price tag. Want to see the CarFax on "Wiz?" Columbus will be his fifth different city since the 2008-2009 season. Nonetheless he now has a cap hit that is only $38,462 less than Norris Trophy-winner, Stanley Cup champion, and former Blackhawks teammate Duncan Keith.
In 2011-2012, he will be the sixth highest-paid blue-liner behind Christian Ehrhoff, Zdeno Chara, Duncan Keith, Chris Pronger, and Brian Campbell. Gulp...
Ed Jovanovski - Signed four-year, $16.5 million deal with the Panthers (2010-2011 salary: $6.5 million)
"Jovo-Cop" is heading back to where it all started; the team that drafted him first overall in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft. That is a great story, and how things should end for such a veteran. Wait, four years and over $16 million?!
Since posting a career-high 51 points in 2007-2008, Jovanovski's production has declined, falling to just 14 points this last season. Yeah, that Sheldon Souray deal is looking awfully tasty now isn't it?
And In Net...
Semyon Varlamov - Traded to Avs, signed three-year, $8.5 million deal (2010-2011 salary: $765,000)
Yes, you heard right. The Avalanche gave up a potential lottery pick in next year's draft, along with a conditional second rounder for a goalie has never started more than 25 games in a season.
"Well wait just a minute, Stephen. Did you know that Varlamov had the fourth best save percentage in the league last year at .924?!" Why yes I did. Did you know he only appeared in 27 games and faced a mere 759 shots? (For perspective: Robert Luongo saw 1,753 pucks in 60 appearances, and Ryan Miller had a look at 1,964 shots in 66 games played).
I won't compare Tomas Vokoun's deal with the Caps to Colorado, as the Avs likely would have had to pay more. But the Avalanche likely gave up more than necessary. An offer sheet to the restricted free agent, Varlamov would have only required a second round pick. Instead they added a potential top-10 draft selection to the deal for a goalie who hasn't been a clear-cut number one guy and who often is hurt.
Varlamov is still just 23 years old, so things may work out. That is what Avs fans are hoping for. As if they needed something else to worry about after the Chris Stewart trade...
Second Unit: Here is the next line of overpaid acquisitions from the 2011 crop of free agents...
C- Tomas Kopecky - Signed with Panthers for four years, $12 million (2010-2011 salary: $1.2 million)
W - Sean Bergenheim - Inked a four-year, $11 million deal with Florida (2010-2011 salary: $700,000)
W - Erik Cole - Signed with Montreal for four years, $18 million (2010-2011 salary: $2.9 million)
D - Jonathan Ericsson - Inked three year, $9.75 million deal with Detroit (2010-2011 salary: $900,000)
D - Andy Greene - Re-signed in New Jersey for three years, $12 million (2010-2011 salary: $738,000)