As the dust settles from the opening weekend of the NHL’s annual unrestricted free-agent frenzy, teams that missed out on the best UFA talent could turn to the trade market. For several clubs, that means pursuing a top-pairing defenseman.
After the Edmonton Oilers acquired Adam Larsson last week, GM Peter Chiarelli said he was pleased with his current D-corps. However, that hasn’t stopped speculation he could still be in the market for a skilled puck-moving rearguard.
Colorado Avalanche GM Joe Sakic insists he intends to re-sign restricted free agent blueliner Tyson Barrie. However, the Edmonton Journal’s David Staples suggests until Barrie and Avs coach Patrick Roy declare things are fine between them, the Oilers could still pursue the 24-year-old defenseman. TSN’s Bob McKenzie also shares this view.
Contractual obligations force your trusty correspondent to declare the definitive list of winners and losers from the first day of free agency at a time before the ink is dry on all of the contracts. Who knows who won the day? After all, Thomas Vanek hasn’t even been a healthy scratch as a Detroit Red Wing yet.
With that in mind, we present our Winners and Losers from Canada Day, better known as the Start of Silly Season. If you subscribe to the theory that is held by a number of GMs that more mistakes are made on July 1 than any other day of the year, then perhaps the biggest winners are the teams that did nothing. Maybe it was the Colorado Avalanche, who picked up two players who were not extended qualifying offers and another who was bought out for a total cap hit of $5.3 million.
But that’s no fun. You, dear readers, demand Winners and Losers. Please keep in mind that everyone overpays. So here goes:
Free agency opens on Friday, as teams will be officially allowed to sign players on the open market, and fans around the league should be excited.
No, wait, excited isn’t the right word. What’s the one I’m looking for? Terrified. That’s the one. You should all be terrified.
That’s because, despite the occasional success story, NHL teams tend to be terrible at signing free agents. They can’t help themselves. And it rarely takes long for the initial excitement of a big signing to give way to the realization that a team has just handed out too much money for way too many years.
As we count down to Friday’s deadline, let’s take some time to look back at some cautionary examples of how quickly a big deal can go bad. Here are my picks for the five worst unrestricted free agency signings of the past two decades.
One of the Florida Panthers’ needs heading into the off-season was a backup goaltender to relieve Roberto Luongo here and there.
Al Montoya had performed admirably over the past two seasons in just that role, but with some options for him to go elsewhere — and maybe even earn a larger share of the net duty — the 31-year-old appeared ready to head elsewhere as an unrestricted free agent. That left the Panthers in the market for some backup help, but they took care of that Thursday by shipping Rocco Grimaldi to the Colorado Avalanche for netminder Retto Berra.
Berra, 29, is locked up at $1.45 million for the upcoming campaign, per CapFriendly, and he’s coming off of a somewhat decent run in the Colorado goal this past season. Read more
In recent weeks, Colorado Avalanche restricted free agent defenseman Tyson Barrie was a hot topic in the trade rumor mill. But according to Avalanche GM Joe Sakic, the 24-year-old blueliner isn’t going anywhere.
The Denver Post’s Mike Chambers reports Sakic said he’ll be meeting with Barrie’s agents during the upcoming NHL draft in hopes of working out a new long-term contract.
Sakic tells Chambers that if they cannot work out a new agreement, it’s expected Barrie will head to arbitration. “Either way, he’ll be here,” said the Avs GM.
It’s possible Sakic called his rival GMs to gauge their level of interest in Barrie and the type of return he might fetch. That could account for the recent speculation involving Barrie. Taking Sakic at his word, it’s evident the Avs wish to keep Barrie in the fold for at least the immediate future.
The Colorado Avalanche finished five points out of the post-season in 2015-16, but even considering their narrow playoff miss, there are obvious issues on the blueline and a lack of depth at forward.
Even with the problems facing the Avalanche, though, GM Joe Sakic says there’s not going to be a big fix coming to Colorado when free agency opens. Sakic told The Denver Post’s Mike Chambers that the Avalanche don’t have designs on being active in the free agent market when it opens July 1, choosing instead to be patient and look for additions later in the off-season.
“We’re not going to be looking that day,” Sakic told Chambers. “As the summer goes on, we’ll see what good fits are. But on the July 1, don’t expect us to go after any big long-term deals. Within our own, we’re going to discuss what we have within, but outside on July 1 we’re not going to go after a big splash.” Read more
Marc Savard has now been traded twice without having played in a single game.
The injured 38-year-old center was dealt Friday – the second time in less than a year – in a move made strictly because of salary cap implications. Savard is now a member of the New Jersey Devils, leaving the Florida Panthers for minor-leaguer Paul Thompson and center Graham Black, a 23-year-old prospect.
Earlier this season, some speculation suggested the Vancouver Canucks might pursue Los Angeles Kings left winger (and Vancouver native) Milan Lucic via free agency. The Kings and Lucic, however, are reportedly working toward a new deal that will keep him in L.A.
The Canucks could find another local boy potentially available on July 1 to help them on the wing. St. Louis Blue right winger Troy Brouwer recently told Vancouver’s News 1130 radio he’s thought about joining the Canucks. “Family and friends, playing for my hometown, it would be an experience for sure,” Brouwer said.
Lacking skilled depth on right wing, the Canucks could use the services of the 30-year-old Brouwer. The 6-foot-3, 213-pounder is experienced, durable, physical and has three 20-plus goal seasons on his resume. He’s also coming off a strong playoff performance, with eight goals and 13 points in 20 games.