NHL Free Agency: Ville Leino and 5 Early Free-Agent Busts
It is only a few weeks into the season, and teams are starting to separate themselves in their respective conferences.
What is helping (or hurting) the teams' separation are some key additions they made during the offseason.
Players like Jaromir Jagr in Philly, Kris Versteeg in Florida and Brad Richards in New York are leading their new teams to the top of the Eastern Conference.
These are the good (or great) free-agent signings this past summer. What about the rest and not-so-good signings?
Here are five early season free-agent busts.
Ville Leino, Buffalo Sabres
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Contract: six years, $27 million.
In Detroit, Ville Leino seemed lost. In Philadelphia, he seemed to find a home and found a system that worked for him.
After notching 19 goals and 53 points as part of one of the most dangerous line combinations in the league in Philadelphia last season, Leino has surely been one of the biggest busts in 2011.
He's recorded only four points, along with a minus-four. It's a good thing he was not brought in to Buffalo to be a premier player.
Tomas Kaberle, Carolina Hurricanes
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Contract: three years, $12.75 million.
Tomas Kaberle has seemed to have lost his magic. Once a dominant player and one of the best offensive defenseman in the league, Kaberle has yet to even light the lamp once this season.
Even for the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins, Kaberle failed to fit in on last year's team.
This summer, Kaberle still got a hefty contract and again is not living up to expectations. This is not the play we have come to expect out of him.
Usually, Kaberle is good for 10 goals and 40 assists, not to mention a key player on the power play—which, by the way, is scoring at a rate of only 13 percent.
Sean Bergenheim, Florida Panthers
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Contract: four years, $11 million.
This may be a little premature and a little unfair, but Sean Bergenheim can still be labeled as an early bust for 2011. He's hardly been on the ice to prove otherwise.
Bergenheim has only two points in eight games played this season. He wasn't on the ice for the season opener because of injury and has recently came back from a lower body injury.
After he had a big playoff run last year with the Lightning, I think more was expected. However, I will give him a semi-pass for now since he is probably not 100 percent.
Scottie Upshall, Florida Panthers
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Contract: four years, $14 million.
The Florida Panthers sit in second place in the Southeastern Conference, but it is not the doing of some big free-agent signings.
Another overpaid player has been Scottie Upshall. Florida gave an average salary of $3.5 million to a player who has yet to reach 20 goals in a single season. In only 15 games this far, Upshall has been in the sin bin for 23 minutes too.
James Wisinewski, Columbus Blue Jackets
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Contract: six years, $33 million.
Columbus is certainly getting the most they could possibly get out of their big prize signing this season. He's averaging almost 27 minutes a game on the ice, which is leading the NHL by far.
However, while on the ice, Wisniewski is not producing like he has been expected to. Sure, no defenseman is supposed to score 20-plus goals in a season, but to not have any at this point and to have a minus nine through only eight games? That's a bust, especially since that huge contract was probably a bad idea for Columbus in the first place.