For most high profile free agents, July 1 is the day they cash in. For Eric Staal, it was a day to take an enormous haircut. It wasn’t long ago that people were talking about Staal as one of the most sought-after free agents this summer. But when the dust settled, he took a 58 percent cut in his average yearly salary on a three-year deal. A three-year deal.
If you’re looking for the newly signed free agent who has the most to prove and should be most highly motivated in 2016-17, Alexander Radulov is probably the first who comes to mind. But not far behind will be Staal, who will be on a quest to prove he’s still an elite center in the NHL. He certainly hasn’t looked like that since the lockout shortened season in 2012-13 and is coming off the most miserable season of his career.
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.
In what has already been a busy day on the trade market, the Florida Panthers are getting in on the fun.
Looking to build their blueline, the Panthers have sent a sixth-round draft pick and conditional fourth-round selection to the New York Rangers for the negotiating rights to veteran blueliner Keith Yandle, according to TSN’s Darren Dreger. The conditional selection will only be included in the deal if Yandle, 29, signs with the Panthers, and Florida will have little less than two weeks to make that happen before free agency opens on July 1.
Locking up Yandle would be a big get for the Panthers, who would end up the winners of the sweepstakes for arguably the top free agent rearguard. Yandle scored five goals and 47 points in his first and only full season as a member of the Rangers. Though he played a second-pairing role with the Blueshirts, Yandle would almost certainly become a top-pairing defenseman in Florida, especially if free agent-to-be Brian Campbell doesn’t end up returning to the Cats. Read more
The world is saying goodbye to Gordie Howe right now, but it isn’t really goodbye, is it? Mr. Hockey will always be a pillar of the sport, both for his incredible talent on the ice and his affable personality off of it.
While many great Howe stories have come to light since his passing, countless others can be shared. The man really had an incredible life. Here are five amazing tales from Gordie himself, from his autobiography, “Mr. Hockey: My Story.”
With the NHL draft and free agency fast approaching, speculation persists in the Boston media over what Bruins GM Don Sweeney will do to bolster his D-corps.
CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty reports free agency isn’t Sweeney’s preferred route this summer. However, he points out that puck-moving blueliners such as the New York Rangers’ Keith Yandle and Alex Goligoski of the Dallas Stars could be available if the Bruins GM opts to dive into the free-agent pool.
Haggerty also reports of trade rumors suggesting young defenders such as Jacob Trouba of the Winnipeg Jets, Tyson Barrie of the Colorado Avalanche and Hampus Lindholm of the Anaheim Ducks could be available. However, he worries the Bruins could lack the resources to land one of them.
The past five seasons have been successful ones for the New York Rangers, with eight playoff series victories, three conference final appearances and one Eastern Conference championship, but a woeful showing in the first round this post-season has left the potential for major changes in New York this off-season.
Heading into the summer, the Rangers have only seven forwards and five defensemen from their playoff roster locked up to contracts for the upcoming season, and even those currently under contract could be on the move. According to the New York Post’s Larry Brooks, the only players who are certain to stay are Henrik Lundqvist, defenseman Brady Skjei and rookie Pavel Buchnevich. Outside of that trio, though, Brooks reported the Rangers are “prepared to listen to offers for everyone.”
It might seem inconceivable, but that means the Rangers could be saying goodbye to captain Ryan McDonagh, Derek Stepan, Derick Brassard, Mats Zuccarello and, yes, Rick Nash this off-season. That said, the price will have to be right for the Rangers to move out their top talent. Read more
Could the New York Rangers trade left winger Rick Nash this summer? Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman suggests it’s possible. He thinks the Rangers have been asked about the 31-year-old forward, speculating they could move him under the right circumstances.
Friedman points out Nash’s $7.8-million cap hit over the next two seasons and partial no-trade clause as potential stumbling blocks. He also notes the Blueshirts defended the struggling winger this season, who played through injury.
This isn’t the first time Nash has surfaced up in the rumor mill this month. On May 1, the New York Daily News’ Pat Leonard suggested the Rangers used the big winger as trade bait to pry defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk away from the St. Louis Blues. However, the New York Post’s Larry Brooks doubts the Blues will look at Nash as the missing piece to their championship puzzle. Read more
Status: NHL left winger from 2003-2015 for San Jose Sharks, New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils.
HT: 6-2 WT: 225 pounds
DOB: September 30, 1982 In: Fermeuse, Newfoundland
First Hockey Memory: “Probably when my mother took me to play. I think I was six or seven. She only put me into hockey because my cousin was playing. I didn’t like it that much at first but then I started to like it.”
Hockey Inspirations: “I think when I was growing up my dad took me to see the Montreal Canadiens play in the winter. We were big Montreal Canadiens fans. And Eric Lindros was a player who always impressed me, how he played, power forward.”
Last Book Read: “Was Football Life, Bill Parcells.”