Monday, July 2, 2007

NHL Free Agency 2007: Where Kip Miller Could Snag 5 mil a Year

I intended to wake up today and write an update piece on the on-going NHL free agency, but the scribes over at The Pens Blog have already done an admirable job in doing so. Still, a few thoughts and updates for everyone who might have missed some of the recent news...

  • The Pens signed Darryl Sydor and Petr Sykora to two year deals. Yes, the article questions Sykora's defensive awareness, but the bottom line is this: the Pens picked up two veterans, a much needed defenseman, and did so at a relatively inexpensive rate.
  • Pens signed RyanWhitney to a 6 year, 24 million dollar deal, with the majority of the money coming at the end of the deal. Whitney finished 6th in the league in points by a defenseman and many felt he was coming into his own by the end of the season. The backloaded deal is obviously constructed in such a way to allow cap room to sign the numerous young assets the Pens currently have.
  • Paul Kariya, who supposedly had serious interest in signing with the Pens, has signed with the Blues for three years. As excited as I was to think of Kariya playing with Crosby (John Buccigross spent three columns in a row getting giddy over this), I was wary that he would be costly and do little to improve our lacking defensive unit. Ray Shero, never one to let me down thus far, thought similarly and went with veteran defenseman over expensive playmakers. I think the Kariya move would have been a win-now type of move, whereas Shero is clearly more focused in building slowly around a nucleus and avoiding stupid contracts.
  • Speaking of stupid lord, what in the hell is going on in the Atlantic? The Pens Blog, as linked above, did a great job illustrating the insanity of some of the deals. The Rangers have made the free agent market simply absurd - if Scott Gomez and Chris Drury are worth $7 million a year in a league with a $50 million salary cap, then what is someone like Sidney Crosby worth? 14? 15? A full two thirds of the team's salary cap? Similarly, the Flyers put 1/8 of their payroll (and that is assmuing they spend the max) into Donald Briere. Donald Briere. $6.5 million. Unreal. Just for the record, Joe Thorton will be making $6.67 million next year.

You know what all of this reminds me of? The NFL, and that is a terrific thing, I think. Stupid, poorly run teams will pay good players (not stars, but good players) far too much money, sinking their chances of signing other "good" players and thus ending up with poor results. This happens time and time again in the NFL. Seemingly every week in the NFL off-season I see some cornerback I had only heard of once in a fantasy league get signed for 7 years, $49 million. It almsot always seems to be the Bills or Cardinals or Lions doing this. And we really don't even need to discuss the Washington Redskins.

The hockey free agent market is way out of whack right now, but just like smart NFL teams (Steeelers and Patriots come to mind), smart hockey teams will benefit from the big spending. Let stupid teams overpay for overvalued talent and simply sit back, build a nucleus, stockpile young assets, and watch the crummy teams lean on three quasi-stars who eat up 60% of their payroll. The Pens are doing things the right way, and it makes me feel damn good to be a Pens fan right now.

End of Post

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