Looking Back: NHL's Booms and Busts of 2008 Free Agency

Dustin PollackContributor IJune 12, 2009

NEW YORK - APRIL 07:  Wade Redden #6 of the New York Rangers skates against the Montreal Canadiens on April 7, 2009 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The Rangers defeated the Habs 3-1.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

I’ve decided that I’m not going to bore anyone with another article on my prediction for Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals tonight. I’ve read plenty already, most of which make great points favoring either the Wings or the Pens.

One thing I can say is that at the end of tonight one team, either Detroit or Pittsburgh will hoist Lord Stanley’s mug. But come tomorrow, hockey fans will need more to think about, listen to, and watch than a piece-by-piece breakdown of Game 7.

With the NHL's free agency only a few weeks away, teams around the league are looking to sign big names like the Sedin twins, Martin Havlat, and Jay Bouwmeester. But every season, certain blockbuster signings turn out to be busts and some low-key signings make general managers look like geniuses.

So as the 2008-'09 season comes to a close, I thought why not look back at some of last summer's signings, including which ones turned out to be booms and which turned out to be busts.

After his third straight 30-plus goal season, on July 1 the New Jersey Devils signed veteran forward Brian Rolston to a four-year deal that would pay him just over $5 million per season. Rolston failed to produce, only notching 15 goals and 32 points.

Although he averaged five less minutes on the ice per game (just 15:05 per game) than his last season with the Wild, Rolston still scored less than 20 goals, something he hasn’t done since the 2000-'01 season.

Therefore, Rolston is a bust thus far.

Wade Redden and Markus Naslund were two big offseason acquisitions by Glen Sather and the New York Rangers. Redden signed a six-year, $39 million contract in July and Naslund signed for two years, $8 million.

However, the two failed to live up to expectations.

After a couple of rough years in Ottawa, some felt that Redden would find himself again in New York. He was never a goal-scoring machine, but he used to be someone who could anchor a power play and play solid in his own end.

In '05-'06 Redden was a +35 rating. But this season, Redden only managed to notch three goals and was a -5 rating.

As for Naslund, he had his lowest point total (46) since 1997-'98 with Vancouver. Naslund was also a -10 rating and decided at the end of this season that it was time to hang up the skates for good.

Both Redden and Naslund have been, or were, busts.

David Backes was one of many young talents to break out in St. Louis this past season. In his third NHL campaign, Backes tallied 31 goals (more than his first two seasons combined) and 54 points.

Backes and many of the St. Louis players were refreshing booms.

Possibly the biggest signing of the 2008 offseason came from Detroit in signing Marian Hossa to a one-year, $7.4 million deal. Hossa scored 40 goals this past season, helping an already strong team up front.

Who would have thought that after basically rolling through the 2008 playoffs en route to the Stanley Cup, the Wings could get more talented? Hossa proved it.

A definite 2008 offseason boom.

After signing a one-year, $3.5 million deal, Miro Satan failed to show up this season. He was given the opportunity to play with Sidney Crosby, but only managed to tally 17 goals this season.

Satan was once a 25-35 goal-scorer, but the Pens didn’t really see that side of him this season. Satan was also a healthy scratch in the biggest game of the Penguins season (Game 6 of the finals), basically showing his overall value to the team.

Satan has been a bust for the Penguins this season.

Other Notable Booms from 2008 Free Agency

R.J Umberger: signed a four-year, $15 million deal on July 7 and scored a career high 26 goals, helping the Columbus Blue Jackets to a franchise-first playoff berth.

Mark Streit: a small bright spot this season in Long Island, leading the Islanders in points with 56 after signing a five-year, $20.5 million deal in July.

Owen Nolan: signed a two-year deal worth $5.5 million in July. Nolan scored 20-plus goals (25) for the first time since 2002-'03.

Scott Clemmensen: Taking over for an ailing Martin Brodeur, Clemmensen had 25 wins in 40 games, notching a 2.39 GAA and a .917 save percentage—all this after resigning with New Jersey on July 10, 2008 for one year and $500,000.

Other Notable Busts from 2008 Free Agency

Sean Avery: signed a four-year $15.5 million deal with Dallas on July 2. He was released from the team after making foul comments in an on-air interview, after only 15 games as a Star.

Avery was later picked up by the Rangers and finished the season in New York, totaling eight goals and 14 assists.

Cristobal Huet: After signing a four-year contract worth $22.8 million with the Chicago Blackhwaks, Huet lost his starting job to Nikolai Khabibulin. For a good chunk of the season and most of the playoffs, Huet was a $5 million backup goaltender.

Who will be the free agent booms and busts of 2009-'10. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.