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Silly Season 2009: Free Agents and Trades--Who Goes Where?

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How Will the Summer '09 Free Agent and Trade Market Be?

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davetherave

davetherave
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Now that the playoffs are over, the real fun begins.

Who goes where?

With rumours of Free Agents and Trades spreading as fast as they can be imagined, comparisons will be made between the guesswork, educated or not, about the movements of players throughout the NHL.

GMHockey Members, like the seeming majority of hockey fans, have an insatiable appetite for trade and free agent speculation...the juicier, the better.

While there are many sources for lists of available players and their salaries, NHLNumbers has been voted by GMH members as being their leading choice.

http://nhlnumbers.com/

So, as the flurry of activity begins in anticipation of the Entry Draft and the July 1 Free Agent Sweepstakes, hockey folks will be armed with their plans and prognostications, matching their wits not only with each other, but with the media and the men who run the hockey business.

Over at MaxHockey.com, columnist Dan Rice kicks off the poker tournament of puckological prescience with his snapshot--the first in a series--of what's to come.

OLD FACES IN NEW PLACES: THE 2009 FREE AGENTS (PART ONE)
Dan Rice, MaxHockey.com, June 15, 2008

For the 29 teams (and their fans) that don’t win the Stanley Cup, there is always next year, and next year starts on June 26 -- the first round of the NHL Entry Draft and on July 1 -- when teams are allowed to begin signing unrestricted free agents.

I’m going to leave sizing up the draft and its potential prospects to the experts (but the New York Islanders BETTER draft John Tavares) and I will try to provide a guide to who could be going where this summer as far as established players go.

Listed below (in no particular order) are the most notable players who could be signing with new teams and a few possible trades that we could see going down.


Today we start off by looking at the goalies. Next week we will examine the crop of defenseman and the following week we break down the forwards.

Jean-Sebastien Giguere to Toronto (trade from Anaheim) -- After sitting out the entire 2009 postseason after being usurped in the Ducks’ net by Jonas Hiller, Giguere will want to have an opportunity to play and he could join his old GM Brian Burke with the Maple Leafs as they try to bring Toronto its first Cup since 1967.

Vesa Toskala to Anaheim (trade from Toronto) -- Anaheim would like a cheaper version of Giguere to work with Hiller in the Ducks’ crease and Toskala is a reliable option when he is healthy.

Scott Clemmensen to Colorado (from New Jersey) -- Clemmensen filled in admirably when Martin Brodeur went down last season, becoming the first goalie not named Brodeur to win 25 games in a season in franchise history. Clemmer will want a shot at a starting gig and the Avalanche should be desperate enough for a goaltender.

Antero Niittymaki to Washington (From Philadelphia) -- After blowing Game 1 against the NY Rangers, Jose Theodore was banished to the bench and 20-year-old rookie Simeon Varlamov backstopped the Caps all the way to Game 7 in Round 2 against Pittsburgh. I’m guessing Theo won’t be back and Niittymaki would be a solid complement to the neophyte Russian goalie in DC.

Martin Biron to Tampa Bay (From Philadelphia) -- Two playoff losses to in two consecutive seasons to Pittsburgh is unacceptable in the City of Brotherly Love, but I expect Biron to land in Tampa, who has longed to have a no. 1 goalie since Nikolai Khabibulin bolted for Chicago after the lockout. The 31-year-old Biron along with young Mike Smith could put Tampa in a battle for one of the final playoff spots in the East.

Ray Emery to Philadelphia (from the KHL) -- After being banished from Ottawa, the easily excitable Emery toiled in Russia last season and if Philly believes he can return to his form from the Senators Cup run in 2007, the Flyers will ante up to add what has always been their missing piece (a solid, no. 1 goaltender) since the 1970’s.

Nikolai Khabibulin to Edmonton (from Chicago) -- Over the last few season the Oilers have collected a nice group of young talent, but had to rely on a myriad of goaltenders, most notably Dwayne Roloson, that just couldn’t carry the load. Khabibulin could be the missing piece in the Great White North and he should allow Edmonton to make some noise in the Northwest Division.

Craig Anderson to NY Islanders (from Florida) -- Rick DiPietro went down early and often last season and although Joey MacDonald and Yann Danis performed to the best of their abilities, it still wasn’t enough as the Isles languished in the NHL’s basement for the majority of the season. Anderson is a goalie who isn’t the flashiest, but proved he can handle the workload in Florida when Tomas Vokoun battled inconsistency last season.

Martin Gerber to Florida (from Toronto) -- Gerber will be signed to tandem with Vokoun as they try to get the Cats to the playoffs for the first time since 2000.

Dwayne Roloson to Buffalo (from Edmonton) -- Ryan Miller’s ankle injury cost the Sabres a playoff spot, and Roloson is better than Patrick Lalime or Mikael Tellqvist who combined to single-handedly derail Buffalo’s postseason hopes in Miller’s absence during March. Roloson should be able to hold the fort down should Miller go down again.

Manny Fernandez to Colorado (from Boston) -- As stated earlier, the Avs are in desperate need of goaltending help and the Clemmensen-Fernandez duo should provide them with a stable base as they try to rise from the ashes.

Jose Theodore to St. Louis (trade from Washington) -- The Blues seem to have a glut of defensemen, which is the position Washington really needs to upgrade. Theodore and Chris Mason should battle for the no. 1 job in the Blues’ blue paint.

Peter Budaj to Philadelphia (trade from Colorado) -- Budaj is a restricted free agent and I expect the Flyers to acquire his rights and sign him to backup Emery.

Ty Conklin stays in Detroit -- Conklin seems like the perfect fit with the Wings sharing the workload with the always underappreciated Chris Osgood. Expect that he will re-sign with the Wings on a one or two-year deal, ending his string of three consecutive Winter Classics.

Kevin Weekes stays in New Jersey -- Well-liked by his teammates for his never-ending work ethic, expect Weekes to backup Brodeur for the next one or two seasons.

Next week: Who will sign Jay Bouwmeester and will Scott Niedermayer retire, stay in Anaheim or play elsewhere?

Dan Rice covers the NHL for www.MaxHockey.com and NYCSportsnetwork.com. E-mail him: Fooman76@aol.com

---

GMHockey Members are never at a loss when it comes to this subject, so hopefully this thread will prove to be the kind of engaged, imaginative and even controversial discussion we have all come to enjoy.

So what do you think of Rice's forecasts?

What are your own?

What deals might or should be made?

What deals won't--or shouldn't be made?

What will the shocker deals, and the blockbuster deals, be?

Over to you!

PS...the poll is multiple choice.



Last edited by davetherave on Mon Jun 15, 2009 5:12 pm; edited 2 times in total

wprager

wprager
Administrator
Administrator
Heatley will be a block buster, so I voted "There will be blockbusters". Other than that, meh. I'm more interested in who we draft and whether we will have a top-five or two 1st rounders otr whatever.

shabbs

shabbs
Hall of Famer
Hall of Famer
That's quite a bit of forecasting... will be interesting to see how accurate he tracks.

davetherave

davetherave
All-Star
All-Star
shabbs wrote:That's quite a bit of forecasting... will be interesting to see how accurate he tracks.

Agreed...

Rice's suggestions all actually make sense...should be fun to watch.

wprager

wprager
Administrator
Administrator
Flyers went with Esche, so there's one prediction (Budaj) biting the dust.

Overall, there were quite a few trades that had me rising my eyebrows:

1. Theodore to anywhere. Why would St. Louis take him? Why would *anyone*?

2. Same thing with Gerber. With all the new goalies coming up (Varlamov, Mason, Smith, Elliott, etc.) is there any room for Gerber in the NHL?

3. Can Edmonton afford Khabibulin? I mean, if they continue to go after high-end forwards?

davetherave

davetherave
All-Star
All-Star
wprager wrote:Flyers went with Esche, so there's one prediction (Budaj) biting the dust.

Overall, there were quite a few trades that had me rising my eyebrows:

1. Theodore to anywhere. Why would St. Louis take him? Why would *anyone*?

2. Same thing with Gerber. With all the new goalies coming up (Varlamov, Mason, Smith, Elliott, etc.) is there any room for Gerber in the NHL?

3. Can Edmonton afford Khabibulin? I mean, if they continue to go after high-end forwards?

Prager, maybe you can do Brackets on these. Wink

As the Silly Season unfolds, I'll try to post a variety of prognoses from different 'pundits', so we can compare their forecasting with the facts later on.

Should be fun...



Last edited by davetherave on Tue Jun 16, 2009 2:12 am; edited 1 time in total

PTFlea

PTFlea
Co-Founder
Co-Founder
I'll have to look at it tomorrow, but the one that jumps out is the Theodore to St.Louis trade. Good luck moving a 4.5 million dollar, back up goaltending contract.

Especially considering how good Mason was for the Blues last year - and the seeming ease of getting a quality back up this summer.

No dice. JD will want nothing to do with him.

davetherave

davetherave
All-Star
All-Star
From Sports Illustrated and The Boston Globe yesterday, June 15:

GMS EYEING BRUINS FORWARDS

A number of NHL GMs, aware of Peter Chiarelli's public remarks about potential hard decisions in regard to his roster, have called his Bruins office in recent weeks to discuss his interest in moving a forward or two. The only Boston forwards with no-trade clauses are Marc Savard and Marco Sturm.

Boston Globe

http://www.boston.com/sports/hockey/bruins/articles/2009/06/14/getting_real_with_kessel/?page=3

Mojo

Mojo
Rookie
Rookie
Some of Rice's predictions are pretty laughable. As some have already noted, Theodore to anywhere is ridiculous. Way too much money for a guy whose best games are a long way off. I get the interest in Giguere to Toronto, but why on earth would Anaheim want Toskala? If they think Hiller is their #1, why would they want to trade for a $4 million back-up. This makes no sense. They would more likely invest that money somewhere else.

That was a pretty good prediction about Emery considering he wrote this piece a few days after Emery signed. Not sure about his Budaj guess though.

I think his best ones are the Colorado goaltending tandem. This makes a lot of sense.

davetherave

davetherave
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All-Star
A view from Chicago, including an agent's perspective on the market and the salary cap, by ESPNChicago's Al Cimaglia:

Money may be tight, but GMs feel pressure to spend
Havlat, Khabibulin may draw lucrative deals
June 15, 2009, Al Cimaglia ESPNChicago.com

With the NHL free-agent market approaching on July 1, many Blackhawks fans want to know whether teams will pony up for Nikolai Khabibulin or Martin Havlat.

An agent who preferred not to identified, told me that most general mangers are afraid to be left behind during the free-agent signing period.

He remarked the fear of not being able to win, and the pressure to keep their jobs, push general managers to go beyond the point of prudent spending. General mangers are given permission to spend to win, and the exuberant signings continue.

An example would be the
New York Rangers from July 2007.

Although
Scott Gomez and Chris Drury are talented hockey players, they really hit the jackpot. Gomez inked a $51.5 million deal and Drury signed a $35 million contract to play in New York for a number of years. Gomez and Drury were among the top free agents available, and they took full advantage of a fortunate situation. Interestingly, there are strong rumors the Rangers would love to trade both this summer.

Many would say
Brian Campbell was also in the right place at the right time. Campbell was at the top of the free-agent market on July 1, 2008. The Blackhawks were not going to be denied, and with a little help from Campbell, the Hawks were able to land their free agent. According to some, the Atlanta Thrashers actually outbid the Hawks, but Campbell chose Chicago.

Was Gomez worth $51.5 million over seven years?

Was Drury worth $35 million over five seasons?

Was Campbell worth an eight-year, $57 million dollar contract?

Yes, to at least one team at the time.

Were their salaries inflated due to a combination of over-anxious general mangers and spend-happy franchises?

Yes, according to my unnamed agent, and I would agree.

The quantity of quality free agents available for those positions at the time also was a factor. It should also be noted, some franchises have a strong enough balance sheet to afford to pay up for certain players.

We discussed the likelihood of the NHL salary cap decreasing for next year. He believes it will most likely stay the same. If the cap does change, he thought it would stay within $300,000 of the current $56.7 million limit.

The agent also said the Canadian dollar has rebounded somewhat, and there have been more playoff games this year than last. Playing additional postseason contests is a big factor to consider as NHL profitability increases. Playoff revenue, especially for later-round games, is significant as ticket prices keep going higher.

My unnamed source then commented the upcoming free-agent market for top-end players is rather thin, which could mean available big-name talent could benefit just as much as Drury and Gomez. Havlat is considered to be in the upper echelon of available free agents. The middle tier is strong, and he believes there will be robust bidding for those players as well.

The economy is faltering and there are still a number of teams losing money, but it may not matter very much. Come July 1, fearful general managers and the desire to win will overwhelm some franchises. Certain fortunate players will receive huge paydays once again.

PTFlea

PTFlea
Co-Founder
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Mojo wrote:Some of Rice's predictions are pretty laughable. As some have already noted, Theodore to anywhere is ridiculous. Way too much money for a guy whose best games are a long way off. I get the interest in Giguere to Toronto, but why on earth would Anaheim want Toskala? If they think Hiller is their #1, why would they want to trade for a $4 million back-up. This makes no sense. They would more likely invest that money somewhere else.

That was a pretty good prediction about Emery considering he wrote this piece a few days after Emery signed. Not sure about his Budaj guess though.

I think his best ones are the Colorado goaltending tandem. This makes a lot of sense.

The thing about a prospective Toskala for Giguere trade would be the term. Giguere has 2 years at 6 million and Toskala only one more at 4.

PKC

PKC
All-Star
All-Star
SpezDispenser wrote:
Mojo wrote:Some of Rice's predictions are pretty laughable. As some have already noted, Theodore to anywhere is ridiculous. Way too much money for a guy whose best games are a long way off. I get the interest in Giguere to Toronto, but why on earth would Anaheim want Toskala? If they think Hiller is their #1, why would they want to trade for a $4 million back-up. This makes no sense. They would more likely invest that money somewhere else.

That was a pretty good prediction about Emery considering he wrote this piece a few days after Emery signed. Not sure about his Budaj guess though.

I think his best ones are the Colorado goaltending tandem. This makes a lot of sense.

The thing about a prospective Toskala for Giguere trade would be the term. Giguere has 2 years at 6 million and Toskala only one more at 4.

I still think Toskala is a hell of a goaltender even at $4-million for a season...he got the short end of the stick playing for that train wreck in Toronto.

PTFlea

PTFlea
Co-Founder
Co-Founder
PKC wrote:
I still think Toskala is a hell of a goaltender even at $4-million for a season...he got the short end of the stick playing for that train wreck in Toronto.

For sure.

davetherave

davetherave
All-Star
All-Star
I expect there will be a number of these 'Free Agent Tracking' lists. TSN's is out today and can be accessed here:

The following is a list of prominent free agent signings since the end of the 2008-2009 regular season. You can sort the list by using the team drop-down menu, or clicking the header above each column.
Eastern Conference Free Agents | Western Conference Free Agents | TSN.ca's All-Free Agent Team


http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/feature/?id=11850

PTFlea

PTFlea
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Co-Founder
Nice, thanks for the handy links Dave.

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