Jim Nill, who probably has a better understanding of what a hacker is than Jim Nill, has had a pretty good start to his career as Stars GM.

Jim Nill, who likely has a better understanding of what a hacker is than Tyler Seguin, has had a good start as Stars GM.

One of hockey journalism’s true follies is the immediate reaction to the first weekend of unrestricted free agency. Every writer is dying to tell you which teams won and which teams lost before the newly signed player has even put his apartment on the market. It’s foolish, embarrassing and hurts the reputation of the media as a whole.

That’s why today, I won’t give you the winners and losers of free agency.

Today, I will give you the winners, losers and SO MUCH MORE of free agency.

Look, I’m no better than anyone else. I have opinions. Some good, some bad, all pointless. To be honest, it’s the summer, and there’s less and less to write about, so let’s go just go into this fully aware that it’s silly and have fun with it.

So without further ado, here are free agency’s winners, shootout winners, ties, losers, blowout losers and healthy scratches after just three days.

WINNERS

Bobby Ryan was loved by red-headed children in Anaheim, but he's wanted out for a while now. Sorry, red-headed kid.

Bobby Ryan was loved by red-headed children in Anaheim, but he’s wanted out for a while now. Sorry, red-headed kid.

Ottawa Senators – The day started off great, as 40-year-old Daniel Alfredsson decided to leave Ottawa for Detroit. I know that sentimentality washed over the city of Ottawa like a Swedish rainbow of bittersweet Isterband, but it wasn’t the worst thing that could’ve happened. I know it’s a great punch line, but really, he picked up the puck after losing Game 4 in Ottawa, said postgame the team wasn’t good enough, then went out and laid an egg in Game 5. Your 2013 Mark Messier Leadership Award winner!

That gave the Senators more money to spend, and Bryan Murray pulled off the big deal of the day and landed Bobby Ryan from the Ducks. It came at the expense of Jakob Silfverberg, a prospect and a first-round pick, but it’s worth it if they can lock up Ryan.

The addition of Clarke MacArthur is a sneaky-good move too. The Senators could use someone to replace Sergei Gonchar on the blue line, but even if that doesn’t happen, this weekend was still a win for the Senators.

Detroit Red Wings – I’ll be the first to admit that I thought the Red Wings would miss the playoffs last season. But it turns out they are still pretty good and now they are coming to the East, which means 140 points isn’t out of the question now that they’ve added Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss to the lineup.

That gives Detroit a top-six of Zetterberg-Datsyuk-Alfredsson and Franzen-Weiss-Nyquist with Helm-Abdelkader and either Cleary or Samuelsson as the third line. Yeah, that blue line is scarier than a snake that bites you on the butt while you’re sitting on the toilet, but the Red Wings look really good heading into the season. And with solid veterans in the locker room, they can make sure they prevent Alfredsson from losing focus and quitting when things get tough.

When the cap rises to about $70 million next season, Kenny Holland will have about $20 million in salary coming off the books. Alfredsson at one year for $5.5 million vs. Damien Brunner for three years and $10 million is everyone’s issue here, but the Red Wings have young players coming through the system, making Alfredsson the right play.

Yes, toilet snakes are real.

New Jersey Devils – Look, no one is saying Lou Lamoriello didn’t overpay for Ryane Clowe. That’s a lot of money for a guy who could be at the start of a career freefall. But take away his 2013 debacle and look at what he did in his previous four seasons. Who was better — him or David Clarkson? Clowe is a year older, but it’s well within reason for him to bounce back and be even better than Clarkson.

Michael Ryder is what he is at this point. He’ll show up, score you 20 goals, have sick hair, disappear for 15 games, still have sick hair, and that’s what $3.5 million gets you. Ryder is pretty darn good in the postseason, should the Devils make it there.

Throw in the fact that the Devils retained Patrik Elias and Dainius Zubrus after having just Ilya Kovalchuk, Travis Zajac and 32 fourth-line guys signed among their forwards entering the weekend, and it has to be considered a win. Parting with Henrik Tallinder was a necessity with the Devils teeming with defensemen and so close to the cap.

Dallas Stars – Jim Nill became the first GM in NHL history (probably) to solve his center-ice issues all in one day. He acquired Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverely in one trade and Shawn Horcoff in another. No one is saying the loss of Loui Eriksson is a small one, but the work Nill did this weekend was exceptional.

The big key here is if Nill was aware of Seguin’s penchant for not changing his clothes and leaving his phone around homophobic friends. People love to make jokes about how old people are bad with technology, but when it comes to iPhone passwords, Seguin seems to have a similar understanding of that as my grandfather, and he died like 20 years ago. I also don’t remember my grandfather hanging out with bros who couldn’t resist gay jokes, so really, my grandfather was like 100 times better than Seguin but couldn’t skate like him.

Also Dan Ellis is an upgrade as a No. 2 goaltender.

SHOOTOUT WINNERS

Nathan Horton received a big contract that led to people making a lot of jokes but it's important to never forget that people are stupid.

Nathan Horton received a big contract that led to people making a lot of jokes but never forget that people are stupid.

Columbus Blue Jackets – Retaining Sergei Bobrovsky and landing Nathan Horton (yeah, yeah, *contract joke* but this is free agency and this is what players cost sometimes) instantly makes the Jackets better. If you’re Columbus, you have to be fearful of Horton’s health, because while yes, he is 28, with all of his injuries, he may have the body of a 68-year-old. And I don’t mean Hellen Mirren’s 68-year-old body. More like Brian-Doyle Murray’s 68-year-old body.

Just like the Red Wings, the Jackets are moving East and could be a contender if their young players continue to grow and Bobrovsky doesn’t turn out to be a lockout-season wonder.

Carolina Hurricanes – Everyone expected a big move at the draft, but Rutherford made his move to get a defenseman Friday by getting Andrej Sekera from the Sabres for Jamie McBain and a second-round pick. It’s not flashy, but it’s a considerable improvement on a team that may or may not have had more than one defenseman on its roster last season. I only caught a few Hurricanes games and it’s possible fans who won contests were allowed to be the team’s second pairing at home games.

Jim Rutherford took a $700,000 gamble on Mike Komisarek, who is probably the only person in the world happier to leave Toronto than I was after I spent nine hours at the airport before my flight departed, and improved the back-up goalie position by getting Anton Khudobin, which means Cam Ward might play fewer than 68 games for once.

You’re not going to run out and say YES WE GOT SEKERA HERE COMES THE CUP if you’re a Hurricanes fan but these are nice little pickups.

Winnipeg Jets – Kevin Cheveldayoff had a plethora of room under the cap when things got started Friday, but outside of minor signings, didn’t do anything until acquiring Devin Setoguchi for a second-round pick Saturday.

Coupled with trading for Frolik at the draft, it’s been a quietly decent offseason for the Jets. Once Cheveldayoff inks his RFAs – Blake Wheeler, Zach Bogosian, Bryan Little, Alex Burmistrov among others – the Jets could have a playoff team on their hands.

Devin Setoguchi will likely be very motivated while in the final year of his contract but maybe he won't because who can truly look inside someone's mind and see the future?

Devin Setoguchi will likely be very motivated while in the final year of his contract but maybe he won’t because who can truly look inside someone’s mind and see the future?

Wait, there is no more Southeast Division. Forget it.

I mean, they’re in the West now. Have you seen that conference? The Jets could wind up looking like a 7-year-old accidentally placed in eighth-grade class, looking around at the other students wondering how they are so good at everything. Still, a good weekend though.

New York Islanders – Travis Hamonic wasn’t a UFA, but getting him under contract for seven years is a great move by Garth Snow. He’s a really good young defenseman who has room to get even better, even if most people haven’t heard of him because they don’t watch hockey for a living despite having a job that requires they watch hockey.

In the UFA world, the Islanders brought back Evgeni Nabokov at a nice price and Pierre-Marc Bouchard is greatly underrated. Count me among the people who believe last season was a fluke and the Islanders would’ve missed the playoffs in an 82-game season, but these were smart moves one season before the team moves to Brooklyn.

Pittsburgh Penguins – Rob Scuderi is an upgrade on the blue line and, unlike the very wealthy Kris Letang, is really good at playing defense as a defenseman. Ray Shero kept Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis and also Craig Adams if you’re into that sort of signing.

The Penguins are in a man-made prison with their goaltending, but a team that was really good in the regular season in 2013 suffered its biggest loss in free agency when Matt Cooke signed in Minnesota. While teams like Chicago and Boston are dismantling, the Penguins are retaining their key pieces.

Chicago Blackhawks – It’s like 2010 all over again. Win a championship, shed salary to get the under cap, hope it works out. Most of Stan Bowman’s work was done long before the weekend, but he found a suitable replacement for the erstwhile Ray Emery and kept Bryan Bickell and Nick Leddy.

Situations in which salary must be chopped are difficult ones, the Blackhawks seem to have made the most of it.

Edmonton Oilers – They had a weird weekend to me. It’s like they did a lot, but it’s like they did nothing. They said goodbye to Nikolai Khabibulin and Shawn Horcoff, but they brought in Andrew Ference. There’s a whole lot of other moves around those – hello, Boyd Gordon and welcome back, Ryan Jones, and fare thee well, Eric Belanger – but it’s like a pitcher with a wild, elaborate windup who can’t break 87 with his fastball.

Mixed sports similes aside, the Oilers seem to be saying, “We have a really good core here, we bolstered the blue line simply by not bringing back Ryan Whitney, so let’s take a run with what we have.” I like that. To me, and I’ve yet to say this, the Oilers are finally going to be a playoff team in 2014.

Minnesota Wild – At first glance, they look like losers. Like, the-first-year-of-the-Ottawa-Senators losers. Keith Ballard? Matt Cooke? Mitchell Friedman?

But Chuck Fletcher got jammed up when Dany Heatley couldn’t be bought out. He had to make some tough decisions, and one of them was going with the young guys perhaps more than he wanted. The optics of dealing Devin Setoguchi for a pick are bad, but if that means more minutes for Charlie Coyle or Mikael Granlund, what’s wrong with that? With the cap coming down, this is what has to be done.

Cooke is a bargain as a Cal Clutterbuck replacement. If losing Matt Cullen bothers you, it shouldn’t. The Wild aren’t any worse off now than they were at the end of the season. Heck, they may be even better.

Phoenix Coyotes – A case can be made that no one spent taxpayer money better this weekend than the Coyotes, who landed arguably the best offensive center on the free-agent market in Mike Ribeiro.

Don Maloney still has work to do – the Coyotes have just 10 forwards on their roster now – but adding Ribeiro without losing much is a nice start.

TIES

Tyler Seguin, seen here wearing a suit that clearly wasn't ironed before he left the hotel for the rink, needs new friends.

Tyler Seguin, seen here wearing a suit that clearly wasn’t ironed before he left the hotel, needs new friends.

Boston Bruins – Peter Chiarelli was in a situation where things had to happen in order to get the club both under the salary cap and in a position to pay Tuukka Rask a large sum of money over an extended period of time. Everything he did or he even didn’t do raised eyebrows.

Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley were sent packing to the Stars, who sent the delightful Loui Eriksson back to Boston. Nathan Horton was allowed to walk to Columbus, and Jaromir Jagr was never coming back. Andrew Ference? Later, man. Anton Khudobin? It’s been real, brother.

Chiarelli signing Jarome Iginla should make the Bruins winners simply for the comedy of watching fans and media backtrack after slagging Iginla for picking Pittsburgh over Boston at the trade deadline.

There are simply too many moves to assess here, hence the tie. All this dumping of salary and letting players walk is so the Bruins can sign Rask, and if he lives up to his huge contract, this makeover will be worth it.

Montreal Canadiens – It’s not that they didn’t do anything, but Marc Bergevin’s biggest move was signing Danny Briere, and Briere isn’t very big. I’m not a guy who believes a smaller player can’t be effective, but a team of guys under 6-feet are never going to have success in the NHL.

Adding Briere cancels losing Michael Ryder, who did not seem to be a favorite of Michel Therrien. Is it better to stand pat than pay out of the nose for a Nathan Horton or Ryane Clowe to complement the good, young core the Habs have? As I like to say, only time will tell.

New York Rangers – There wasn’t much for Glen Sather to do in free agency except fill some depth holes, which sounds really dirty if you say it aloud. Dominic Moore is a very good fourth-line center who can kill penalties, Benoit Pouliot is great as a 12th or 13th forward, and Aaron Johnson has skates and a stick and can play defense.

The real key will be what happens with RFAs Ryan McDonagh, Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin. The Rangers are thin on cap space with the retention of Brad Richards for one more season, so Brian Boyle’s days in New York are likely numbered.

Tampa Bay Lightning – Let’s say you’re Steve Yzerman. You studied under Kenny Holland for four years. You learned at the feet of the master. You studied at the finest GM university in the league.

It's possible that Steve Yzerman knows something about Valtteri Filppula that Ken Holland doesn't, but it's not likely.

It’s possible that Steve Yzerman knows something about Valtteri Filppula that Ken Holland doesn’t, but it’s not likely.

Now, let’s say your long-time professor says he’d rather have Stephen Weiss than Valtteri Filppula at basically the exact same salary. What does that tell you? Does it raise a red flag? Does it make you think he knows something you don’t? Or, does it make you go out and sign the guy your mentor just cast off?

Well, if you’re Yzerman and are desperate to replace Vinny Lecavalier, you sign Filppula as quickly as you can. I’m leaving this in the tie category for now because the Lightning needed a top-six center desperately, but remember this if Weiss outperforms Filppula in the coming years.

Anaheim Ducks – They were really close to squeaking out a loss, but bring back Saku Koivu and dealing Bobby Ryan for essentially Jakob Silfverberg is about as good as it gets for Anaheim.

Off topic: Did you know Cam Fowler makes $4 million a year for the next five seasons? He does.

The Ducks weren’t working with a lot of cap space and have to keep $5 million available for Teemu Selanne. This was about as well as they could’ve done.

Calgary Flames – Karri Ramo, huh?

Hey, the Flames seem committed to rebuilding and didn’t throw a ton of money at players that would only help them finish 10th in the West instead of 13th. “Jay Feaster didn’t do anything dumb” is perhaps the biggest upset of the 2013 offseason.

Vancouver Canucks – On the whole of the offseason, yes, Mike Gillis is about the loseriest loser to ever lose. He dealt Cory Schneider for the ninth pick in the draft and nothing more, and now he has to placate professional poker player Roberto Luongo, who probably mentally checked out of Vancouver a year ago.

But in terms of free agency, there wasn’t much Gillis could do with the team pressed against the cap. No major signings, no major departures, unless you count Luongo’s will to live as a departure.

LOSERS

Doug Armstrong tried desperately to sign an elite center, but had to settle for Derek Roy instead.

Doug Armstrong tried desperately to sign an elite center, but had to settle for Derek Roy instead.

St. Louis Blues – Doug Armstong was about as openly desperate for a middle man as a mafia guy looking to launder money. He went after Vinny Lecavalier hard, only to be outbid by the Flyers, who have no concept of money or a salary cap. Mike Ribeiro went to Phoenix, Matt Cullen went to Nashville, Danny Briere went to Montreal and Stephen Weiss went to Detroit.

That left the Blues with Derek Roy and a one-year, $4 million contract.

The Blues appear poised to contend for a Cup, yet Armstrong wasn’t willing to pay the top centers on the market and instead gives Roy a “prove-it” contract. How Roy reacts to being the Blues’ third option (at least) will go a long way in determining the quality of this signing, which doesn’t appear to be very good today.

Philadelphia Flyers – Overpaying for Vinny Lecavalier when you don’t need Vinny Lecavalier is the worst way to add Vinny Lecavalier. They needed a defenseman and added Mark Streit right before the frenzy, but the problem there is Mark Streit isn’t a top-two defenseman and the Flyers needed one really badly. Of course, the market was thinner than Calista Flockhart during a fast (timely jokes) but overpaying Streit isn’t the answer.

I know everyone loves the Ray Emery story, but with Steve Mason as your only goaltender, Emery’s durability is a huge issue. Emery hasn’t played more than 34 games since the 2006-07 season, and he’s going to have to play more than that in Philadelphia. I’d be absolutely grim if I was a Flyers fan right now.

Los Angeles Kings – This makes it two straight offseasons in which Dean Lombardi won’t tinker too much with his team, and with a Stanley Cup and final four appearance in that time, it’s tough to blame him. But the loss of Rob Scuderi is a big one, and will put more pressure on Slava Voynov and leave the Kings with an even smaller margin for error should injuries befall the blue line again.

This would be a shootout loss if I felt like adding one more arbitrary category, but I don’t, so it isn’t.

BLOWOUT LOSERS

Phil Kessel is seen here in utter disbelief that he is on the bench while Tyler Bozak is on the ice celebrating a goal without him.

Phil Kessel is seen here in utter disbelief that he is on the bench while Tyler Bozak is on the ice celebrating a goal without him. Kessel’s jaw opened so wide he had to have emergency surgery after the game.

Toronto Maple Leafs – Dave Nonis chose Tyler Bozak over Mikhail Grabovski, which will be a source of conversation until global warming drowns us all in 50 years, while paying David Clarkson an exorbitant amount of money to play hockey for his team despite Clarkson not being all that great. They are inexplicable contracts that highlight an inexplicable offseason in which the Leafs solved their nonexistent goaltending crisis by trading for a goalie that has never started in the NHL.

I try to look past contract terms and salaries when judging free-agent signings because if you go by that, you will hate every contract. Everyone is overpaid. But Bozak is not very good at hockey unless you put him with very good players. You know how you can put literally anyone (P.A. Parenteau, Brad Boyes) on the right side of John Tavares and that player will have great numbers? That’s Bozak. He’s the center of Tavares right wings.

As for Clarkson, I think he will be a consistent 20-goal scorer but not much more for the Leafs. He’s the right wing of Bozak, who is the center of Tavares right wings, so I feel like the Leafs are slipping down this wormhole to where Bozak and Clarkson will find themselves on a line with Tavares and no one will score.

Where was I? Oh right. The Leafs gave 12 years and $57 million to two players who can’t create their own offense and rely heavily on star players in order to get their numbers. If Judd Apatow represents Patrik Elias and Phil Kessel, Clarkson and Bozak are the Leslie Manns of the NHL, fine in their own rights but finding themselves in great situations because of who they spend a lot of their time with.

Florida Panthers – When Joey Crabb is your big free-agent addition, something did not go as planned in your front office. Two years ago, Dale Tallon did his best impression of Supermarket Sweep, throwing everything he could into his shopping cart with no worry about the price. This year, he sat on his hands with a team that regressed partly because of injuries but mostly because of not goodness.

The Panthers are going to bank on their slew of great young players this season, and that’s a fine plan in a thin free-agent market, but they could’ve used a decent forward or a defenseman better than Mike Mottau.

Nashville Predators – David Poile is in a tough spot, and that spot is Nashville, Tennessee. In the history of the organization, how many UFAs that weren’t Predators at the time has he been able to entice into coming to the Music City? Whether it’s the location, the market or whatever, big-time UFAs don’t go to Nashville.

If Viktor Stalberg scores 35 goals next season, the Predators can say they solved their offensive problems in free agency.

If Viktor Stalberg scores 35 goals next season, the Predators can say they solved their offensive problems in free agency.

That doesn’t mean the Predators, who are as desperate for goals as any team in the NHL, have to overpay for bottom-six forwards who can’t score. Two years and $7 million for Matt Cullen? Four years and $12 million for Viktor Stalberg? Four years and $10 million for Eric Nystrom? Four years and $7.4 million for Matt Hendricks?

That’s some wild spending on players who aren’t going to affect too many outcomes of games, but that’s the price of doing business in Nashville. Poile has done a magnificent job of keeping the Predators competitive over the years, but this seems like a lot of money poorly spent by a team that has to spend every dollar wisely. The Predators will have two third lines and two fourth lines for the 2013-14 season.

HEALTHY SCRATCHES

Buffalo Sabres – Darcy Regier choosing not to spend money on free agents is a symbolic win, sure, but the Sabres didn’t do much over the weekend. Regier re-signed Matt Ellis and Alexander Sulzer and brought in Jamie McBain (and a second-round pick) in a trade for Andrej Sekera. Nathan Gerbe was bought out and Henrik Tallinder was reacquired for a minor leaguer.

What Regier does with Thomas Vanek and Ryan Miller will be the real offseason for the Sabres, but for now, this weekend was like lying on the couch and watching the Bourne trilogy; oddly satisfying in a lazy sort of way yet you feel like you could’ve done more.

Washington Capitals – Mike Ribeiro left. He was never coming back. That’s it. The Capitals signed literally no one this weekend. Matt Hendricks also left, but whatever.

If you told me George McPhee didn’t put on pants this weekend, I wouldn’t be surprised.

Colorado Avalanche – As they should, Joe Sakic and company watched from the sideline after landing Nathan MacKinnon with the first pick in the draft. Forget about McPhee not wearing pants; I’d like video of Sakic and McPhee in their underwear playing World of Warcraft all weekend.

San Jose Sharks – You know the scene in Office Space where Peter just sleeps all weekend and doesn’t go to the office? That’s my image of Doug Wilson during free-agent weekend. He did nothing, and it was everything he thought it could be.

(I know this isn’t the Bag Skate format you’ve come to love or potentially not care about or know about but if you want to shoot me some e-mails for the next one, it’s always dave111177 at gmail)

Comments (112)

  1. Leafs – Its even worse when you consider that the Leafs may not have enough money to sign their RFA’s.. one of Kadri, Franson, and Gunnarson may be lost.

    • And it gets even worse when you realize that the Leafs are paying $5.5m/season for David Clarkson, whose 3 best career seasons were 46, 32 and 24 points. His shooting % isn’t quite as deceptive at Jason Blake’s, but it’s close….

    • And that is ignoring the cheaper RFAs of Colborne, Fraser and Komarov.

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  2. Losers – Toronto
    Winners – Every other team.

    Why bother writing an article right?

  3. Clarkson is slated for the 2nd line with Kadri…not Bozak

  4. I’ve read this a few places now and I’m kind of baffled each time – how is losing three bottom-6ers and the backup goaltender a ‘dismantling’? This is nothing like 2010 for the Blackhawks.

    • This exactly. Once RFA Marcus Kruger is re-signed, the ‘Hawks will have 16 of the 20 players who suited up for game 6 against the Bruins signed for the 2013-’14 season. The only players gone are 3 bottom-6 forwards, 1 of whom was a healthy scratch 4 times this postseason including games 1-2 of the SCF, and the back-up goalie. In what universe is that a post-Cup sell-off?

      Remember when the 2011 Cup winning Bruins lost only 3 players from their Cup winning roster during the ensuing off-season and the storyline was how it was the exact opposite of the 2010 ‘Hawks and their cap-induced firesale the previous summer? Now the 2013 ‘Hawks lose the exact same number of skaters as the 2011 Bruins but since they also lost their backup goalie it’s somehow another major sell-off? Yeah that makes a ton of sense…

      • The Hawks did also utilize two additional amnesty buyouts… they may not have impacted the Cup Finals but they were roster changes still.

        • 2 amnesty buyouts on players who were not part of the active roster at any point of the season, regular season or playoffs, in 2013. Both spent the season in the AHL, they were Ice Hogs not Blackhawks. Bringing them up in this conversation is asinine

          • They are still part of a roster purge from a cap perspective.

            Shows that both Cup winners were rather poorly managed from the cap perspective.

          • The ‘Hawks managed the cap poorly because they bought out 2 contracts for all of $5M in cap space that were both signed under the previous CBA which would have allowed them to be buried in the minors? Yeah, really sound logic there.

            The ‘Hawks 2010 cup winner was horribly managed from a salary cap perspective, no arguing that. Hell, that’s why Dale Tallon was fired during the summer of 2009 despite the ‘Hawks being clearly on the upswing, making the playoffs for the first time in years and advancing all of the way to the 2009 western conference final. His screw up getting QO’s out to their RFA’s led to the ‘Hawks overpaying for many of them, which directly led to the situation whereby they had to purge over half of their Cup winning roster. Tallon had also made other poor decisions such as giving Brian Campbell way too much money over way too many years, and inexplicably signing Huet to a 4-year contract with a $5.625M cap hit. Additionally, the post-Cup cap situation wasn’t helped by the fact that Toews and Kane were in the last year of their entry level deals and signed extensions during the season which kicked in for the 2010-11 season and (deservedly) included large raises. They were in such dire straits that even after said purge they were left no cap space and had to replace the departed players with sub-replacement level veterans (e.g. John Scott, Fernando Pissani) and/or prospects that weren’t ready yet.

            Conversely, after winning the cup in 2013 the ‘Hawks traded away 2 bottom-6 forwards and let another bottom 6 forward and their backup goalie walk as UFA’s. The backup goalie was replaced by one of at least equal value (Khabibulin), the 3 forwards will be replaced from a now much deeper prospect pool by some kids that have been champing at the bit for their chance at the big club and would already be in the league in most other organizations, and the ‘Hawks will still have enough cap space for a trade-deadline acquisition if need be.

            With or without the buyout of 2 contracts that were buried in the AHL under the previous CBA,, drawing parallels between the roster turnovers from the 2010 ‘Hawks cup winner and the 2013 ‘Hawks cup winner is just flawed. Every roster has turnover, no team enters a season with the exact same roster it finished the previous one with. Claiming any sort of cap mismanagement by a team that wins the Cup and then brings back 16 of the 20 guys from their Cup-clinching active roster including the starting goalie, all 6 defenseman, and every top-6 forward is just idiotic.

          • Well said Pete.

            I like Frolik, Stalberg, and Bolland as much as anyone (probably more) and Emery was a solid backup that deserves a shot to start; however, this team is decidedly NOT dismantling.

            Kruger will slot into Bolland’s spot as the 3rd/4th line center, Pirri (maybe Smith) will slot into Kruger’s vacated 4th line C/LW role, Shaw will bump over to 3rd line wing and pest, and one of Smith, Morin, Bollig, Carcillo, or Hayes will jump into Frolik’s role on the 4th line and the PK will still be fine with Kruger/Saad and Toews/Sharp/Hossa/Handzus/Smith.

            Dave, how do you consider it ‘dismantling’ when a team is:
            *losing just 4 of 23 skaters to play in at least 1/4 the games, all bottom 6 players, and your backup goalie
            *Especially when they are being replaced by:
            —Ben Smith, a 24yo who was 12th in the A in G and has 7 G in 28 career games (including an OT GWG in an elimination game)
            —Jeremy Morin, a 22yo who was 7th in the A in G and 15th in scoring, and has 5 points in 15 career starts
            —Brandon Pirri, a 22yo who now has 2 20+ G seasons in the AHL and was the league’s top scorer LY and had 2 points in 5 games when filling in for an injured Sharp in 11-12
            —Jimmy Hayes, a 24yo who was 20th in the AHL in goals and has 6 goals in 41 career starts
            —Khabiboulin who actually has had a better Sv% and 5on5 Sv% than Emery each of the past 2 years, and comes with the same injury risk as Razor

            There are a million and one reasons why the Blackhawks won’t repeat in 13-14, but ‘dismantling due to salary cap purging’ won’t be one of them.

  5. Say what you want about the Grabo & Bozak dilemma…not sure Nonis had much of a choice at the end of the day, but you are way off point about Bernier and Clarkson. Your definition of ‘creating one’s own offence’ is too narrowly defined. Crashing the net and making life miserable for opposing defencemen and goaltenders is usually more effective than a guy who can handle the puck like a Plekanec/Ribeiro/St. Louis-type player…give me the guy who physically intimidates over the fringe player any night. Finally, I’m tired of the media saying ‘big price for a guy who hasn’t been a starter in the NHL’….watch some friggin games…Bernier is ready to be a star…LA moved the wrong goalie…..he is never out of position or off-balance, has quiet feet and plays a lot like Rask. Sometimes teams have two stars at the same position…hop in the DeLorean and poll Packers fans about Aaron Rodgers a year or two after he was drafted…very few people thought he’d be the real deal….how many people are in that line now?

    • Whens the last time the Packers and Leafs played? I think your generalization of fan/expert expectations are too narrow. Also, football sucks.

    • have you watched Jonathan Quick play net?

      • I’ve watched Quick play quite a lot…and he cheats to cover the bottom half of the net…he will not have a long career because his quickness will fade in a couple of years and people will burry high on him all night. There were already signs of it this season…thankfully LA has another young goalie in the system…

    • I just want to clarify something.
      You would rather have David Clarkson than Martin St. Louis.
      Correct me if I’m wrong but I think St. Louis won the Art fucking Ross trophy last season.
      This makes precisely zero sense.

      • He’s also insisting that Johnathan Quick is going to suck in just a few years, so I don’t really know why you expect him to make sense…

  6. You do know Tavares plays for NYI, right? You only mentioned him in 3 out of 4 paragraphs in the Leafs review, and 0 out of 3 paragraphs in the Isles review.

  7. I didn’t think the Derek Roy signing was that bad. The Blues have no offensive talent at C and I think the 1 year deal is more about seeing if their homegrown wingers will produce better with guys who do more than stand in front of the net and ask to be used like a six foot tall basketball backboard.

    At least the guy didn’t get term. One year? I’m cool with it. If it works out it’s found money.

    • Problem is, St Louis is now left with just under 8M to re-sign Pietrangelo, Stewart and Allen. The 3 of them could easily demand 11M

      • Of course, “getting the RFAs signed” played no part in the Winner/Loser analysis. The analyst seems to think that Armstrong should have spent even more money to land one of the other options… which would leave less for the RFAs.

  8. I disagree with the Flyers being losers. Lecavalier was the best FA forward available and will make much more sense if they trade Schenn or Couturier. Streit was the best FA defenseman available and they desperately needed a puck-mover; plus, Timonen is likely retiring after this season. And Emery was dirt cheap.

    Did I mention that those 3 signings combined still add up to less than Briere and Bryz’s cap hits? The Flyers significantly upgraded their team from last year and actually MADE cap room.

  9. Isn’t the you can’t win small narrative pretty lazy especially when it comes to Montreal. Chicago won almost every single game last year with a small team. Montreal had a pretty good record and was also one of the best possession teams.

  10. And I would consider neither Lecavalier nor Streit’s contracts overpayments considering what Gonchar, Clarkson, Clowe, etc. also received this offseason.

  11. The Horton signing surprises me a bit if only because both he and Gaborik are primarily RWs. Can’t really get them out there together without shifting one to the off-wing.

    The Khudobin signing also surprised me because it was so cheap. I just don’t understand Boston letting him walk given what he got from Carolina… was the 200K savings from going with the untested Chad Johnson really worth it?

  12. Disagree completely with the Leafs section, We never seem to have a problem scoring goals, adding better grinders and one at that who actualy has offensive skills is a good addition. Yes he’s overpaid but who the fuck isnt? Reimer did everything we could have asked so Bernier cant be a set back. I prefer Bozak over Grabo other then Grabo’s puck possesion stat thats all hes good for. Turns it over and over and over again.

    • Wait… a team that dressed BOTH Colton Orr and Frazer McClaren for a playoff game now needs MORE grinders?

  13. Leaf fan here…. buying-out Grabo was the right move. contract to high to trade, and not adjusting to Carlyle system, Mac was a star some nights – invisible the next, and again not fitting into new system. Trading Scrivens, Frattin and a 2nd rounder for Bernier was brilliant, and will threaten Reimer for number 1.

    Adding an experienced center in Bolland with 2 cups under his belt, signing Clarkson will provide the grit, agitator in front of the net providing space for Kadri and Loops.
    Based on this article, I don’t see how they lost or are a worse team! The Leafs top 2 lines are competitive and have the skill to play against any team. The third line as it stands now would be one of the best in the league: Kuliman, Bolland, and McClement/Colborne

    On a different note:

    Their defence is the concern with Dion, Liles and Gardner signed, they still have to sign: Gunnarsson; Franson; and Fraser (arbitration). Kostca is done, Holzinger, Blacker and Rielly are fighting to earn a spot. But as it stands now, Liles did not fit the system and was bench most nights (needs to be traded or be a 3rd buyout with a cap hit), Ryan McDonagh(Rangers) receiving 4.7 mil / yr for 6 years….So what is Franson worth, Gunnarsson is due for a raise. With only 11 mil left to sign 5 players, someone has to go, and only makes sense with the TJ Brennan signing on Defence…. A trade must be in the works! On Hockeybuzz, hearing Leafs have interest in Ryan Whitney….I highly doubt that due to cap space! The only financial view that could make sense to retain most players is: Franson is traded or Liles traded/bought-out to a team like Edmonton, Calgary or even the Islanders……

    RFA’s: Kadri; Colborne; Franson; Gunnarsson; and Fraser

    Have a good day all

    BrudderClyde

    • Well, spelling and grammar errors aside, you had me until mentioned Hockeybuzz. Still, many of your points are accurate, and I too think we have a very deep 4 lines capable of great things.

      • My spelling and grammar is terrible…. But I had to express my point of view with the perspective of the Leaf being losers.
        There are numerous teams right now that are above the cap or very close to the cap and still have some of their key players to sign. At this point it’s like a poker game with those teams – are they going to buy-out their assets or trade them due to desperation. I hope Nonis play’s his cards well and has patience.
        Leafs have depth that is just not recognized that can make the bottom six at forward position or at least six, seven position on defence here is a few:
        Forwards: Biggs, Broll, D’Amigo and Ross.
        Defence: Percy, Reilly, Blacker, and MacWilliam
        Goal Tenders: Sparks – two years in the farm system
        I believe that one or two of the players listed above are going to pose a threat at making the team and this is great news for Leaf fans.
        If the Leafs can trade Liles or Franson, it will probably will go out as a package deal with one of the players listed above. The Leafs will have to retain some salary from Liles though if traded.
        Again, this is why I say the Leafs are not losers during the UFA Frenzy, as they have depth that can make the team.
        BrudderClyde

  14. Well, it’s just an opinion piece so I can’t quite call it trash, but it’s close.

    The Bernier and Clarkson pickups are awesome. Bernier is a 24 year old goaltender that is extremely highly regarded. The only reason he hasn’t played much is because he happened to have the unfortunate circumstance of playing on the best goalie in hockey. Just a thought, but maybe he picked up a thing or two in those years. I redo that deal every time, considering Frattin is a middling prospect that belongs on the 3rd line, and Scrivens is an AHL caliber goalie destined to be a backup forever.

    With the Clarkson signing, Nonis may have over termed him, but he sacrificed a little money to build an identity for the Leafs, something they have been lacking for quite some time. In addition to that, we add a lot of grit, a player that will win battles in the corner, play in front of the net, and has the ability to play on special teams with success. He is also coming with the right attitude to his favourite team.

    That, in addition to the Bolland signing and the release of Grabovski, makes the Leafs a win in my mind. Grabovski has glaring issues in his game, despite that fact that he’ll play with itchy eyes. His attitude sucks, as we saw when he left, even though he is still getting paid for 7 years for doing virtually nothing, and has the ability to go play somewhere else and get paid there. He also disappears for vast amounts of time, and can’t win faceoffs, is tiny, and has a penchant for giving the fucking puck away frequently.

    If I have a complaint, it’s with the Bozak deal, but it has the added benefit of keep Kessel happy and comfortable, and he was number 2 in faceoff percentage last season, which as we saw in the post season was an extremely valuable commodity.

    We still have plenty of money left to sign Kadri and Franson, although I could see Franson moving. I do hope he somehow manages to move Phaneuf, and the cap will increase for the next 8 years, so let’s remember that as well, getting these guys signed now means we don’t have to pay more for them in a few years. We don’t even know what else Nonis has in the works, so let’s just calm down and watch, but overall I think we added to a young team on the way up.

    • Grabovski is actually an excellent two way player.

      He “disappeared” because Carlyle used him 100% as a checking center. And he did a surprisingly great job in that role, playing against the other teams best forwards, and starting a strong majority of his shifts in the defensive zone. Every game. He also had stomach issues that forced him to the hospital in April.

      As a result, he didn’t score as much. But it’s not like he was spoon fed powerplay time with Kessel or Lupul like Bozak was.

      As for his faceoff %… I think he came in just over 50% on the year. Bozak had something like 52% on the year. Which, even on the surface is a not a huge difference. In reality, that’s something like HALF an extra faceoff win per game in an 82 game season, or one extra faceoff win per game in the shorted season. So really, a meaningless stat.

  15. Islanders were not a fluke who solely made the playoffs based on the short season. In fact, they started the year off horribly, and then seemed to come together and play stronger as they year went on. Defense became organized and stronger as the year went on. They didn’t back into the playoffs. Also, the flyers and devils regressing isnt that shocking, as they’re both older and have their issues. Flyers had goalie issues, which seems likely to happen again, and guys like Giroux and Voracek had really good seasons, so I’m not sure where a lot of growth will be coming from with Philly. Devils are old, and got older. Isles speed game will help them stay consistent, because it will tire other teams out I think. Obviously goal tending is a problem, but Nabakov wasn’t awful during the season, and both top goalie prospects have a decent chance to break through this year.

  16. There should never be a mention of Ryane Clowe without referencing his chain mail jersey

  17. i thought Toronto was doing just fine until this past weekend,Holmgren is absolutely out of control in Philly.Detroit is going to make some noise in the East this year I like their moves.What is Montreal doing?Pittsburg spent some money and looks strong to me.Vancouver is clueless.Ottawa is also going to make some noise.Boston should be about the same,those 3 minor leaguers are the real crux of this trade,washes out their poor draft this year.Dallas got a number 1 and a number 2 center from Boston and Horcoff,it is up to Seguin to grow up and be the All Star he can be.Nashville,Minnesota,Columbus and the Islanders better be better for their fans sake.The Avalanche still need a better defense.St Louis,Phoenix,Tampa Bay,Florida,San Jose,Anaheim,Buffalo,Calgary,Edmonton,Winnipeg,LA,Rangers,Washington,New Jersey look to be out of the playoffs to me.Chicago will be in the finals again.

    • Peverley most definitely is not a #2 center… he is a third liner on a good team and an injury fill-in for the top 6.

      Note that Seguin has never actually played center in Boston other than a stray shift here or there. He was sheltered on the right wing playing with defensive wiz Bergeron. While his talent is unquestionable, his claim on a 1C spot is debatable.

  18. Winner: Lozo for throwing in a fantastic Office Space reference.

  19. I always love the “Bag Skate” articles. I laughed out loud many times, especially when it came to Roberto Luongo and his professional poker playing career…

  20. “Ryder is great in the playoffs too”… are you kidding me? did you just google him and find out he was with Boston that one year? He is inconsistent and softer than Datsyuks hands. Seriously… do you even watch hockey? The only way Ryder is strong in the playoffs is if their in Florida and the ice melts… because floating is his only major skillset aside from cherry picking.

    epic fail of an article, about as insightful as your readers have come to expect I guess.

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