"I'll just wait here until someone figures out I can still play."

“I’ll just wait here until someone figures out I can still play.”

Every summer it seems like there are a handful of guys who slip through the cracks of GMs’ attention spans for what seems like way too long, and certainly this offseason has been no exception. While teams scrambled to give too-old or too-mediocre players too much money, others seemed, for relatively few reasons, to sit on the market for far too long.

The interesting thing, though, is that some of these guys are still on the market as a result what seems to be a fit of good sense by general managers league-wide, which as you likely know all too well, is rather a rare thing. Jaromir Jagr, for instance, remains unsigned and now appears to be preparing himself mentally for the possibility that he won’t be coming back to the NHL next year, if ever.

Could it be that general managers now officially see Jagr as being too old? Not worth giving $4 million for a year or something like that? Seems like it would be impossible, doesn’t it? He still put up 35 points in 45 games last season, which is nothing to sneeze at, and his underlying numbers all seem to show that he was pretty effective at driving play, even if he rarely did so in a way that was aesthetically appealing. The only thing I can think of, and it doesn’t make a lot of sense, is that his zero goals in the Bruins’ playoff run is what’s keeping interest limited. I can’t imagine that any GMs are that cautious of the fact that he’s now 41 years old, given that they were not shy about giving him slightly more money at 40 and his points-per-game actually went up despite having arguably worse teammates in Dallas and Boston than he had in Philadelphia.

Mikhail Grabovski and Damien Brunner, meanwhile, seem like the more obvious guys for whom teams should — and, you’d think, would — be lined up around the block.

The obvious stigma for Grabovski is that a team as bad as the Maple Leafs bought him out, and perhaps that he’s one of those dangerous and terrible Russian players we’re always hearing so much about. But one must also consider that he’s not Russian and also that the Maple Leafs are run like an only-somewhat successful tire fire. On the other hand, he is a proven driver of possession who is not so far removed (by a year of being woefully misused by a coach who is an obvious idiot) from two consecutive 50-point seasons. If Derek Roy of all people can get $4 million out of St. Louis, albeit for one year, then certainly interest in Grabovski should be far more significant. So significant that they’re willing to pay him something commensurate to that level for multiple years which is what he’s probably — and should be — asking for? Well, that much I doubt.

Brunner is a little easier to understand all the way around. Nothing overwhelming in terms of possession, and you can probably make the argument that he was the product of his linemates, but when he’s asking for about the same money as Danny Cleary on a two- or three-year deal, and he’s just 26, don’t you at least kick the tires on that? Nashville just gave Eric Nystrom four years and $10 million. Brunner, though a player with far different skills, seems in all respects to be a better investment. Yet he waits by the phone nonetheless.

Tom Gilbert is another guy I kind of can’t believe hasn’t been scooped up, though again the arguments against bringing him aboard are at least as convincing as those for it. His possession numbers aren’t great and neither is his points total. However, when used in the right situations, he could be an effective defenseman. It’s hard to guess at what his asking price might be, but some of the money being thrown around on defensemen this summer seems to dictate he could be a reasonable option for just about any team looking for a good third-pairing guy. If Ben Lovejoy can get three years, anybody should be able to.

Finally, we come to a player who is on this list of guys who should really have been signed by now literally every time he’s a free agent: Kyle Wellwood. I don’t know whose dog he ran over (easier joke: “ate”) to be so routinely given short shrift. Like a few of the others, he took a big step back in terms of production this season, but was among the best on the Jets in terms of driving possession; he started 48 percent of his shifts outside the offensive zone, and ended 52.6 percent of them there. He was also only given 12 minutes a night at even strength, and finished just 13th on the team in power play TOI, which, yup, that’s going to cut into your point totals. He also won 55.1 percent of his dras last season (though somehow only took 78).

There’s really no good reason for these guys to not be signed, other than GMs aren’t always great at player evaluation. Which I suppose isn’t news at all.

Comments (22)

  1. There’s just no love for Peter Mueller.

    • Possibly the unluckiest player in the NHL last season. He’s gonna be an absolute steal for whoever gets him.

      • Totally agree. Was hoping the Bs might take a run at him for 3rd line wing. He hasn’t put it all together, but he’s young and plays for a bottom rung team so no one knows him.

    • Another guy forgotten often and similar to Muller, Wolski.

  2. Mason Raymond would be an OK signing, no? How were his advanced numbers? Is it the back that scares people away?

    • The comments I’ve seen (albeit from Vancouver media, so they’re not the guys making the decision) is that there are a few issues:
      -he’s a perimeter player (doesn’t go to the hard areas in front of the net, the corners)
      -doesn’t produce consistently enough to be a 2nd liner, doesn’t have the grit to be a 3rd liner (he’s not a physical guy/minute muncher) – so where does he fit on your roster?
      -he’s has been traditionally very good defensively and on the penalty kill, but those numbers dropped off this year

      The back is healed, and healed over a year ago, so I can’t see that legitimately being an issue.

  3. I’m thinking that there may be interest in Grabovski but he is on his honeymoon. I doubt he scheduled his nuptials thinking he might be cut loose. If he wants his marriage to last, he probably isn’t picking up his phone ad making big life plans just yet.

  4. I wonder how much of a role some of these guys agents have in this. If you’re represented by a guy certain people don’t like to deal with, and those teams are the ones you’d have the best chance of catching on with, that could be an issue. Or perhaps some of these guys are being told they’re worth more than they really are and are holding out for more money.

  5. As seeing Wellwood play the last 2 seasons, he is an interesting player. When the Jets signed him 2 years ago I was disgusted, I already had Antropov on my team that I hated, now Wellfeed …. how many more bum ex leafs can we get ? To my surprise, Wellwood ( and Antropov to that point as well) showed me some value and I became of fan of theirs. Wellwood is an extremely smart hockey player and during both seasons with the Jets, every player always stated they loved being his linemates. I dare to say that Wellwood started the ol’ flip the puck high in the air trick to get it our of your zone without causing an icing but allowing either a line change or a potential break for a streaking player. The downside of Welly is that he isn’t good enough for a top 6 forward and just a little too small for the bottom 6. Another drawback is that he is pretty slow and won’t beat you on the rush and is known to have a pass first approach in the offensive zone. However, if your team already has the big bodies for the bottom 6 roles, then Welly’s small frame wouldn’t be that big of an issue because of his hockey smarts and creativity.

  6. These articles are always a bit odd in that they seem to assume since a player hasn’t been signed he hasn’t had offers or at least had teams calling his agent expressing interest. I’m sure at least some, if not most, of the guys mentioned here have been approached by at least one team already. You could write the same article from the other point of view demanding to know why UFA player X hasn’t gratefully signed the first contract to hit his agent’s fax machine.

  7. Didn’t Grabovski badmouth pretty much everyone in the Leafs organization when he was booted? Maybe teams think he’s not a “team player”?

    Jagr always wants as much money as he can get…he’s probably gotten offers, but may be expecting more $$’s than he’s likely to receive at his age.

    Brunner has a limited resume, so it may be hard to know exactly what he’s worth. You’d think he’d have a bunch of offers though.

    Kyle Wellwood is fat. Even though he’s not.

    • He badmouthed the coach among others after being a good team player and not complaining about how he was criminally misused during the season.

  8. The dumb GMs have run out of money/cap.

  9. I think it’s just general cash consciousness (except for Grabovski). Will any of the other players add significant value over someone you have under an ELC? If not then why overpay. These are the guys who have and continually will be squeezed by the cap. Your Hart candidates will continue to break the bank but the savings will come from the middle.

  10. which one of these is straightest city of them all, i aint playin near no homo’s.. and i know theres plenty of them in most of the cities in the league ( anyone else find it weird crosby has never been seen with a girl yet, just sayin.. him and colby armstrong are GAY together )
    ANA = Homos
    BOSton = Homos, racist ass homos
    Bufffffffalo = In between toronto and new york.. yep, homos
    Calgary = Cowboy homos
    Carolina = possible homos
    Chicago = lots of blacks ans hispanics = Brothaz on the DownLo, too risky
    Colorado = possible homos ( mostly in aspen, but too close )
    Columbus = even LeBron james was so scared of all the homos, he fled from nearby cleveland
    Dallas = only two types of people come from Texas….
    Detroit = Noone lives there anymore, place is a ghost town.. full of homo ghosts
    Edmonton + EskiHomos ( fringe festivals are congregations of mass homosexuality )
    Florida = makes San Fran look straight
    Los Angeles = Probably dont need to say much here
    Minnesota = I dont know much about minnesota, except they got lots of homos
    Montreal = Poutine, Maple Syrup, all used as Lube for their epidemic of buttsex
    Nashville = the worlds biggest collection of in the closet homos
    New Jersey = Homos with ( thanks to their love of cannolis ) the most cushion for the pushin
    New York (isles) = this could be the winner
    New York ( rangers) = they got gay ass motherfuckers selling real estate to even bigger cocksmokers for a million bucks for a stinkin little closet of an apartment ( kind of ironic to sell homos a closet )
    Ottawa = politician homos, and super homos that get run out of toronto
    Pheonix = where homos go to retire
    Philly = city of brotherly love…
    Pittsburgh = this was a possible winner, along with Carolina, long island, and the others coming up, but then i remembered this is where Sidney Crosby and Colby Armstrong started their gay affair, and ever since, homos been flooding the place
    St. Louis = Good ol’ possible homo free St. Louis, love it
    San Jose = Guilty by cali association, homos
    Tampa Bay = Same as San jose, florida style
    Toronto = even their fat ass crack smoking mayor goes to gay pride week.. Canadas florida, victoria comes second
    Vancouver = A melting pot of Butt-welding
    Washington = Americas Ottawa, minus the homos fleeing from Toronto
    Winnipeg = Edmonton is the coldest homos can get their dicks up, so the Peg should be safe
    and the winner is… St. Louis.. Fuck the other places, they probably got homos, Carolina is as bad as texas, if i give ottawa shit for spill off homos from Toronto then Long island has to have some of new yorks flamers, and winnipeg.. theres drugs for that

  11. PS No hate for gays here, be who you are and do what makes you happy. and Im sure all of these guys will be signed before training camp
    Grabovski – FLD 4yrs 4.5
    Jager – Car 1yr 3.3
    Hainsey – Car 1yr 3
    Brunner – NJ 4yr 2.5
    Gomez – NJ 1yr .8
    Wellwood – PHX 1 yr 1
    Raymond – PHX 2yr 2.25

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *