If you’re like me, you assumed that the craziest amount of money to be handed out on July 1st would be handed out to Jason Garrison, if he did indeed sign on Canada Day. And Garrison did, and I was worried that his cap hit would be north of $6M, perhaps even reaching $6.5M.

Reading to a few armchair commentators who don’t get routinely get involved with player analysis, you’d think that Jason Garrison was flash-in-the-pan, a player who scored 16 goals last season, will be a career season and he’ll fade away into obscurity.

But Garrison at a price below $5M is an excellent deal for a player who has put up two solid defensive seasons. As noted by Jonathan Willis last season when this blog was still known as ‘Houses of the Hockey’:

There’s more to those heavy minutes than simple ice-time.  Of the Panthers’ six regular defenders, four broke just about even in terms of starting in the offensive versus the defensive zone – the exceptions were Weaver and Garrison, who started in their own end 60.0% of the time.  Not only did they take on a ton of defensive minutes, but they did it against the best players – Garrison and Weaver finished first in both Quality of Competition and Relative Corsi Quality of Competition.

Despite that, no pairing in Florida was less likely to be scored on than Weaver and Garrison – they averaged around 2.00 goals against per 60 minutes of even-strength ice-time.  They were outshot by a slight margin, but given the minutes they were playing that’s an accomplishment, not a criticism.

I don’t believe that his new club will expect him to score 16 goals this season. Nobody does, and the people who appear to be criticizing this signing for the Vancouver Canucks are doing so off a mis-understanding of what they think the Vancouver Canucks see in him.

The money handed out on July 1st was actually surprisingly rational, with much of my own personal criticism more on the end of some of the four-year terms given out to entirely replaceable fourth line, role players such as Adam Burish, Brandon Prust or Paul Gaustad.

P-A Parenteau, who is a good winger with some good underlying numbers, but who isn’t a world-beater, was probably the third best forward on the UFA market, but his price was kept to a remarkably reasonable $16M over four seasons.

Some teams found certain value for hockey players. David Moss, a player who, despite a high Corsi Rel QoC and low zone starts, led his Calgary Flames in Corsi last season, signed for two years in Phoenix for $2.1M per season, due to some persistent injuries. Healthy and in the lineup, he represents a good value buy that Phoenix needs to make to compete.

Jay McClement, one of the better checking centremen in the group, signed at $1.5M per year over two seasons in Toronto. Brad Boyes, a former 40-goal scorer who still has breakout scoring potential, signed for just $1M in Long Island. Up and down TSN’s “Sortable UFA Tracker” which is a very handy tool, there are few deals that scream “July 1st” the way that Ville Leino and Joel Ward’s large contracts did last summer.

Two defencemen who saw some success in tight minutes, Mike Lundin and Dylan Reese, also went on July 1st to Ottawa and Pittsburgh, respectively, neither signing gaining much notice or scrutiny. Lundin signed for a year at $1.15M and Reese probably signed at a lower cap hit, but both represent some good value.

With the exception of the Prust and Filip Kuba contracts, there weren’t any overpays on July 1st. A couple of term lengths ran amok. Overall, NHL GMs were quite restrained, even when signing major players like Garrison and Parenteau, and they ought to be commended for their judgment yesterday.

Some teams made some good moves.