Ice Chips: Free Agency Recap
Marion Gaborik (left) and his hottie and headed to Broadway while Marian Hossa (right) signed a lifetime deal with the Hawks.
If you’ve been in an NHL coma since the Penguins hoisted the Stanley Cup, well, you’ve got a few things to catch up on — a few things as in $300+ million spent on free agents within the first few days of free agency. Who changed hands? Uh…well, a lot of guys. However, here are the critical ones:
- I’ve totally got Marian Hossa figured out now. He uses the playoffs as a bit of window shopping to see what team he wants to go to next (or perhaps what city has the best strip clubs to visit). First as a Penguin, he left for Detroit, now from Detroit he signs a ridiculous 12-year deal with Chicago. The Fantasy aspect of this? While Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane become free agents next year, one has to look at how Dale Tallon will balance his cap hit. Guys like Dustin Byfuglin may suddenly be available as the season rolls around. In the meantime, look for Hossa to take Martin Havlat’s place in the Hawk lineup — that means playing on different lines as things change up.
- Speaking of Havlat, the Minnesota Wild decided it wanted to stop paying one injury-prone guy with the first initial of M. to pay another injury-prone guy with the first initial of M. While Marian Gaborik may have fled (see below), the Wild signed up Havlat as its new go-to guy. Havlat doesn’t have the same skill as Gaborik and is probably more fragile. While he will get all the chances in the world to be Minny’s top dog, it really comes down to two things: how healthy can he stay and what will new coach Todd Richards’ system be like?
- Oh, and that Gaborik guy? Instead of Jacques Lemaire bitching about how he doesn’t play defense, he’ll have John Tortorella on Broadway screaming about why he’s soft. The difference, though, is Tortorella will let Gaborik go at top speed. Of course, the Rangers have been the black hole of offence for other talented players lately, so why will this be any different? For one, Gaborik can make offence out of nothing — something guys like Scott Gomez and Chris Drury couldn’t do.
- The Montreal Canadiens have remade themselves…sort of. Remember that notion that the Habs were undersized but talented? Um, well…Chris Higgins takes flight in exchange for Gomez, then the Habs sign Mike Cammalleri and Brian Gionta. All skilled guys, all kinda smaller, so, yeah, not a lot’s changed in Montreal.
- Other things that haven’t really changed: Steve Sullivan resumes his comeback in Nashville, David Booth stays as Florida’s main offensive threat, the Sedin twins continue to confuse people in Vancouver, Scott Niedermayer stays within driving distance of Disneyland for at least one more year, and Erik Cole and Chad LaRose remain with Carolina.
- At the draft, Florida and Calgary swapped Jay Bouwmeester for Jordan Leopold. Come free agency, both guys stayed in their new spots. Florida obviously got the shorter end of the stick while Calgary’s offense will come seemingly come from the back end, with Bouwmeester joining Dion Phaneuf for a formidable power play combination.
- Goaltenders on the move: Colorado’s ugly netminding situation gets interesting, as backup Craig Anderson gets a shot at the starting role with the Avs. Nikolai Khabibulin takes the reins in Edmonton (obviously, he must have seen something interesting in Edmonton that Chris Pronger and Dany Heatley didn’t). How hurt is Rick DiPietro on Long Island? Hurt enough that the Islanders signed a guy who could start his share of games in Dwayne Roloson.
- Toronto is trying to get tougher, signing punch-put artist Colton Orr and adding reliable defenceman Mike Komisarek. Komisarek is a great stay-at-home defender capable of playing in-your-face hockey by dishing out some serious thuds.