NHL Free Agents 2011: Dallas Stars and the 18 Biggest Losers of Free Agency
This year's NHL free agency period has seen a lot of moves quickly take place. Many teams have made new additions that should help their teams in the coming season.
The New York Rangers picked up highly sought-after free agent Brad Richards and hope he'll bolster their offense.
However, as there are some winners, there are also some losers. Some of these losers are teams and some are players.
Some are losers because they lost out on somebody or because one of their players left for greener (often, greener as in money) pastures.
Here are the 18 biggest losers so far in 2011 free agency.
18. Cory Stillman
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Twenty days into free agency, after the majority of free agents have secured a new contract for 2011-12, Cory Stillman is still waiting to sign.
Sure, the veteran left wing is 37 years old and therefore not as quick a player as he used to be. However, Stillman probably thought that with his two Stanley Cup championships, some team would take him.
Now, he'll just have to wait and hope that a team is looking for leadership and comes to him late in the summer.
17. Alex Kovalev
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Like Cory Stillman, Alex Kovalev probably thought he'd have at least one taker by now in NHL free agency.
After a lackluster performance at the end of the 2010-11, the Pittsburgh Penguins decided not to re-sign the veteran forward.
He has won a Stanley Cup before though and could bring veteran leadership to a team.
Surely, he'll be signed late in the game, when teams don't have many more options.
16. Bryan McCabe
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Bryan McCabe was a pretty hot commodity at the trade deadline last year.
However, he didn't perform as well as the New York Rangers might have hoped and so he became a free agent on July 1.
He's still looking for a new gig, but so far has yet to find one.
15. Columbus Blue Jackets
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They were able to sign him, for six years at $33 million overall.
First of all, they probably could have just waited until July 1 to sign him, instead of trading away a future draft pick. After all, Wisniewski wasn't one of the front-runners on the free agent defenseman list.
Secondly, the $33 million over six years is a pretty hefty deal, especially for a defenseman who really has yet to prove himself as a consistent top defenseman in the league.
14. Kyle Wellwood
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Last summer, Kyle Wellwood became an unrestricted free agent, but after remaining unsigned, went to play in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League.
In 35 games with the Sharks, Wellwood tallied only 13 points.
After all that trouble, he's become a UFA again and so far, there hasn't been any buzz about him.
13. J.P. Dumont
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During the 2009-10 season, J.P. Dumont scored 45 points. Last season, his production dropped to just 19 points, in only four less games than the previous season.
Needless to say, the Nashville Predators decided to buyout the last $4 million of Dumont's contract, since that is a hefty price to have under their salary cap for just 19 points.
The buyout made Dumont a UFA on July 1, but so far, there haven't been any takers.
12. Chris Drury
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Chris Drury has had a pretty successful hockey career. However, he missed almost three-fourths of the 2010-11 season and only scored five points in the 24 games he did play.
The New York Rangers decided to buyout the remaining $5 million of his deal, as he otherwise would have been a $7.05 million cap hit.
Clearing that space was good for the Rangers, as it allowed them to sign Brad Richards.
Unfortunately, the loser in that situation was Drury and he has yet to find another team for 2011-12.
11. John Madden
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John Madden may be 38 years old and his production may have been declining in the past few years, but he's still a good defensive-minded forward, a former Selke Trophy winner.
He also has been a part of three Stanley Cup championship teams.
Yet, Madden is still available on the free agent market.
10. Dallas Stars
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The Dallas Stars signed Sheldon Souray to a one-year, $1.65 million deal.
This is the same Sheldon Souray that spent the entire 2010-11 season playing in the AHL, as no team was interested in acquiring him.
I understand that the Stars are hurting financially, but still.
9. Vancouver Canucks
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The Vancouver Canucks had three defensemen poised to become free agents on July 1: Kevin Bieksa, Christian Ehrhoff and Sami Salo.
They re-signed Bieksa and couldn't afford to keep both him and Ehrhoff.
They traded Ehrhoff's rights to the New York Islanders, receiving a fourth-round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft in return.
8. Tomas Vokoun
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Tomas Vokoun avoided what probably could have been more lucrative deals in free agency and signed for one-year, $1.5 million with the Washington Capitals.
To put it in perspective, he made $6.3 million last year with the Florida Panthers.
If Vokoun gets the Cup he's after, then he's not a loser in this deal. However, if he doesn't, he could have gotten so much more on another team with the same result.
7. Toronto Maple Leafs
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Richards chose to instead sign for nine years at $60 million, an average of $6.7 million a year.
If the Leafs had offered him a longer deal, perhaps he could have been theirs. Or, maybe not, who knows.
Instead of acquiring Richards, the Leafs signed Tim Connolly. That's really not the same.
6. Nashville Predators
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The Nashville Predators have had a tough free agency thus far.
First, they've lost both Joel Ward and Marcel Goc; Goc to the Florida Panthers and Ward to the Washington Capitals. Ward was one of their best players in the playoffs, helping the franchise win their first playoff series.
Now, they're having a tough time signing Shea Weber and it looks like they'll go to arbitration with him.
This means that they won't get him locked down to a long-term deal and he could walk in a couple years. That's a tough loss.
5. New York Islanders
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The New York Islanders were in dire need of defense. They recognized that it would be difficult to lure a top free agent to sign with their team, so they traded for the rights to Christian Ehrhoff.
They couldn't come to terms with Ehrhoff though and turned around to trade his rights to the Buffalo Sabres, who eventually signed him.
Ehrhoff could have helped the Islanders become a better team, at least defensively. It's a huge loss that they couldn't get it done.
4. Philadelphia Flyers
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I'm sure you'll be surprised to see the Philadelphia Flyers on this list and feel free to disagree with their inclusion on this list.
Yes, the Flyers signed Ilya Bryzgalov and finally have the veteran goaltender they've been looking for. However, they traded away both captain Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, two of their top scorers, to clear the cap space.
You can argue that both haven't been as productive as they used to be, however, Richards played through an injury the entire season and both were still tied for third in team scoring.
Richards and Carter are high-caliber players that are difficult to replace. We'll have to wait to see if Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn can eventually do the job, as they're all still young and developing.
3. Florida Panthers
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The Florida Panthers lost their goaltender Tomas Vokoun to division rival, the Washington Capitals in free agency.
That has to sting, especially considering that they probably would have paid him more than the $1.5 million the Caps signed Vokoun to.
Sure, the Panthers have signed many, many more players that should help improve their team, but Vokoun was a tough loss.
2. Dallas Stars
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The Dallas Stars have already appeared on this list, but that was for signing Sheldon Souray.
This time they appear because they lost Brad Richards. Yes, they couldn't afford to keep him and essentially made that decision, but the fact of the matter is: they lost him.
That's a tough blow to the declining franchise. A player like Richards is impossible to replace, especially when the team doesn't have the financial means to sign another player of his caliber.
1. Phoenix Coyotes
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The Phoenix Coyotes are another team experiencing financial woes, as the city of Glendale and the NHL are the only things keeping them afloat.
Two more harsh blows came to the team this offseason: losing goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov and defenseman Ed Jovanovski.
They knew they couldn't re-sign Bryzgalov, so they traded his rights to the Flyers. Jovanovski on the other hand, chose to return to the Florida Panthers.
Those are two really tough losses for a team that is struggling to get fans in the stands and has struggled in the playoffs as well.