As we’re now well into the bargain bin days of NHL free agency, it isn’t a surprise that the names showing up on the transactions wire are a little less familiar and a little less touted then the players who went around July 1. Three players I’ve kept half an eye on have signed in the last couple of days, and all fit into that category.
Chicago Adds Veteran Pisani
It hasn’t been easy to be Fernando Pisani the last few years; in addition to some nasty ramifications from ulcerative colitis, Pisani has had to contend with back trouble and a broken ankle. When he’s played, he’s rarely looked 100%, and he’s never been able to live up to the lofty expectations generated by a four year contract signed in the wake of his 2006 playoff heroics.
Still, there are a lot of things to like about Pisani. He has a strong two-way game: underrated offence that nicely complements strong defensive play. It hasn’t always been evident, given how much time he has missed the last few seasons, but if healthy he could be an ideal third line forward for a contending team.
Chicago signed him yesterday for one year at $500,000. It’s a great bet; if he’s limited to a fourth line role the money is fine and there’s a very good chance he can outperform that contract.
Steve Yzerman Brings In Bergenheim
Sean Bergenheim isn’t exactly a household name; playing a depth role for the Islanders will do that to a player. He does, however, exemplify one thing Yzerman has done well since taking over the top hockey job in Tampa Bay: he fills a specific role, and he does it well. Bergenheim’s been a minus-4 total over three seasons with the Islanders since coming back from Europe; given the weakness of the team during that span that’s a remarkable statistic in and of itself.
Bergenheim played a third line role with the Islanders and got a lot of own-zone starts (information courtesy of behindthenet.ca) but still came out rather well.
Andy Hilbert Rejoins The Islanders
Speaking of the Islanders, they’ve brought back Andy Hilbert for another tour of duty. Hilbert is a former scoring star who was a relatively high draft choice (37th overall in 2000) but eventually found a role as a defensive depth guy in New York.
He spent most of an ugly 2009-10 in the minors, seeing only spot duty with Minnesota, but one imagines he’ll have a better chance to crack the roster in New York. That said, it’s a two-way deal, and speculation over at Lighthouse Hockey is that he’ll spend most of next season in the minors.
I’ve previously mentioned Hilbert as a guy who could outperform at the NHL level.