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Confusing July 1 signings

Jeff Finger had played one full NHL season before getting a four-year, $14 million deal from the Maple Leafs. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Jeff Finger had played one full NHL season before getting a four-year, $14 million deal from the Maple Leafs. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

One can only imagine the negotiating that took place between Toronto GM Cliff Fletcher and the agent for marquee defenseman Jeff Finger.

Was the $14 million for four years the first offer Fletcher made? If so, Fletcher should have his head examined. If not, does that mean the Finger camp rejected earlier offers of, say, $8 million for four years, $10 million for four years or $12 million for four years? If so, they should have their heads examined.

Finger may turn out to be a quality defenseman for the Leafs, but at 28 he’s still largely unproven in the NHL and asking for or expecting any more than $2- or even $1-million annually was a cool, calculated risk that turned up aces. Finger went from journeyman to marquee signing with one signature.

Here are some other July 1 signings that have us confused:

10. Cristobal Huet. Another $5.625 million for a goalie when Chicago already has Nikolai Khabibulin. And Huet is not even among the league’s top 10 or 15 keepers.

9. Brad Stuart. He’s decent, but his $3.75 million per year from the Red Wings puts him in Jeff Finger’s stratosphere.

8. Mike Commodore. He’s a solid enough support guy for the third defensive unit, but $3.75 million from Columbus?

7. Wade Redden. There once was a time he was among the league’s best defenders, but $6.5 million a year from the Rangers won’t take five years off his decline.

6. Niklas Hagman. Like Jason Blake the year before, the Leafs love to overpay ($3 million) for players after an aberration season. Averaged less than 11 goals per season in his first five, then 27 this year.

5. Brian Campbell. More than $7 million annually from Chicago suggests he should become a Norris candidate.

4. Bryce Salvador. Devils will be paying him almost $3 million annually to fill out the blueline corps.

3. Ty Conklin.
A monster comeback season (.923 save percentage) only got him $750,000 in Detroit? That’s a terrific bargain.

2. Michael Ryder. A miserable season gets you a million-dollar raise in Boston.

1. Jeff Finger. If he’s not truly a late bloomer, Fletcher will be a monumental laughingstock.

The THN.com Top 10 appears Wednesdays only on thehockeyenews.com.

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