After much of the dust has settled from the opening missiles of NHL free agency, we can browse around the league and reports about the New York Islanders' approach to do something totally appropriate for this Independence Day weekend: Covet our neighbors' goods.
The first 48 hours of free agency are fun for a variety of reasons, one of them being you are literally seeing 30 teams try to win at Musical Chairs, Monopoly, and Screw My Successor all at once. It proceeds with the speed of day 2 of the draft (when picks from rounds 2 through 7 come off the board in rapid succession, allowing little time for off-the-list thought), yet there is a whole lot more research, data and money in play.
Though all of this stuff is hashed and rehashed in comments to our breaking news and bits posts, I'm interested in opinions on some of the contracts handed out around the league, and whether you'd take them. (You can weigh the sequence and "only if we hadn't added X," or you can consider them in a vacuum. It's your forum.)
We'll start with the baseline...
What the Islanders Did
It's clear from reports, many via Newsday's Arthur Staple and the Post's Brett Cyrgalis, but also from other hockey media, that the Islanders made concerted and better-than-they-settled-for bids for at least Dan Boyle, Thomas Vanek and Brad Richards.
While the initial report was the Islanders only bid "a little stronger" than Minnesota's contract for Vanek, it turns out they returned to the table with the long-term offer too. But as he later said and finally admitted on NHL Network, the Isles were his second choice, but only if things didn't work out in Minnesota. Yearlong rumor (and tampering) now finally confirmed.
Personally, for all three of the above cases, I'm thinking it could be a happy accident then none of the players accepted.
What Others Did
Here is where I'll toss up a totally-not-comprehensive list of other deals that interested me, for better or worse. (Feel free to add/discuss more from this full list.)
Niskanen is a wonderful topic, because reasonable people can differ over how valuable he is. Personally, I didn't want him for the rumored asking price (7 years, $40 million), which turned out to be exactly what he wanted. No, no, for the love of a Kyle Okposo KO punch, no. But I get that there is debate on this. Time will tell.
What isn't debatable is the absurdity of the Orpik contract (5 years, $27.5 million). For the love of Mario's respect for the game, what a foolish outlay for a meathead whose effectiveness will delightfully decline before our very eyes.
Which makes it hurt with what the rival Penguins did...
Pittsburgh gets Christian Ehrhoff for one year, $4 million.
I don't think there's a single person who wouldn't love this deal. As with Vanek, Paul Stastny and Richards, however, this appears to be a case of the player valuing situation over money. (We saw what happened last time Ehrhoff chased strictly money.)
Speaking of which...
Paul Stastny to St. Louis for four years, $28 million.
It's an overpay, but in the current CBA environment I've held that I don't mind overpayments for good players if the term is reasonable. Four years in your mid- to late-30s is dangerous. Four years in the athletic prime is just fine. Stastny is from St. Louis, Blues GM Doug Armstrong is set on limiting the length of deals, and both found a match.
Speaking of which, an underrated move for the Blues on this day was getting "defected" former draft pick Jori Lehtera to finally come over from the KHL. This should be another major addition, and only deepens the insane arms race that has made the Western Conference vastly superior to the patsies we watch in the East on a nightly basis.
They did suffer a minor loss, however...
This is obviously a very minor move, but I thought I'd note it for what it reflects: The Blues have tried to copy the Kings by building a rotating cast of effective fourth-liners to avoid a massive dropoff after their good top lines. Cracknell was one of those guys to fill in capably when needed. Under-the-radar signing, but one that helps L.A. as it manages its cap and approach to sustaining its contender status.
Brian Gionta to Buffalo for 3 years, $12.7 million
Not a bad contract, but awfully curious choice. I heard in the morning before the starting bell that Gionta wanted to go to Buffalo. It's like all that excitement and playoffs in Montreal was too much. Weird. I smell Brian Rolston.
I am damn glad the Isles added Jaroslav Halak. And Chad Johnson was a decent grab for backup.
Blake Comeau to Pittsburgh for 1 year, $700,000
Ales Hemsky to Dallas for 3 years, $12 million
I would've done that deal for the Isles in a heartbeat. Not a crazy commitment for a talented player. Grabovski gives the Isles good depth and flexibility down the middle, but Hemsky would've been an interesting (if injury-prone) addition to their wing.
Jarome Iginla to Colorado for 3 years, $16 million
Great as Iginla has been, I can't help thinking this deal will be regretted as he enters his age 37, 38 and 39 seasons. This is the team that got rid of P.A. Parenteau for a washed-up Daniel Briere, too. Odd moves.
Dave Bolland to Florida for 5 years, $27.5 million
What? Good for Toronto, I guess. Dale Tallon grabs yet another former Hawk.
Matt Moulson to Buffalo for 5 years, $25 million
Good for Moulson, who actually got one of the more lucrative contracts given out this week. His parting with the Isles has been rehashed over and over, from the idea he would want this much and the Isles would prefer that outlay for someone else who was more of a driver on the first line (like Vanek, who declined, but also has his own limitations).
The final verdict probably falls on how productive Moulson remains or continues to be as he goes into his 30s, and how the Isles' youngsters and fallback UFA additions do in their place.
Who'd You Covet? Who'd You Mock?
Alright, those were my initial reactions to ones that caught my eye. We've already discussed the Isles' moves a ton, but in the light of a few days hindsight, which other teams' deals did you love or hate?