While you wait for the others...

Robert Cleave
July 25 2010 11:25PM

                                  Mason Raymond, soon to be very wealthy, I'd guess.

 

We've talked plenty around these parts about the summer the Flames have had thus far, but it seems like a good time to peruse the activities of Calgary's Northwest brethren since season's end. 

 

 

Minnesota:

Current one-way deals: 21. Cap space: 2.897M. Outstanding RFAs: none. UFAs of note: Nolan (2.75M)

 

The most notable move wasn't an addition, but securing the best player on the team in the long-term. Mikko Koivu re-upped for a considerable sum, but as I mentioned when it happened, he's a pretty high end center, and that's the kind of salary players of his ilk garner. His numbers at Behind the Net show a player that handle the best of the league, and he does it with Brunette and Miettinen on his wings. 

The next news of import is that of the potential return of Pierre-Marc Bouchard. Losing a top-sixer for all but one game would sour most team's seasons, and Minny was no exception in 09/10. Concussions are tricky things, but his return to health would portend better days for the Wild.

On the signing front, the Wild have hedged their center-ice bets by adding Minnesotan Matt Cullen for three years at 3.5 million. Cullen has been a second/third banana during his time with Carolina and Ottawa, and his last foray into UFA status ended with the Rangers shipping him back to the Research Triangle. 3.5M for a 33 year old guy that averages 50 points or so against middling comp might be the going rate, I guess, but I suspect Matt Stajan will be better for the same money over the next three years in Calgary. See, I can comment about a Flame contract without blasting Sutter to the rooftops. And people say we're alway negative around here ;-)

Anyhoo, speaking of overpays, the Wild also added Eric Nystrom on a 3 year, 4.2M deal. That's a contract that requires a separate post of it's own, and I'll be doing just that in the next couple of days. Spoiler alert: It isn't as bad as the Boogaard deal. Nothing will match that, possibly ever. The Wild also re-signed Josh Harding to a 1.2M deal. He's always been one of those goalies that has been expected to be acquired by a team looking for a starter, and nothing ever happens. He's nothing special, IMO. and that contract is likely a waste of money unless Backstrom gets hurt for an extended period of time. As a summary, the Wild will very likely be better than they were last season, but it will likely be due to slight rebounds from Backstrom and Havlat, as well as Bouchard's return to health, rather than any acquisitions they may have made thus far.

 

Colorado:  

Current one-way deals: 14. Cap space: 23.785M  RFAs: Mueller (1.7M)  Stewart (850K) UFAs: Salei (3M) Tucker (2.2M) Svatos (2M)

 

Last year's Cinderella stuff aside, this is a team that's clearly trying to set up for the future. The most significant expenditure this summer was a two year deal for Kyle Quincey at 3.125M a season. That's an interesting deal for Flames' fans, since it adds another comparable for Ian White's arbitration, and not a cheap one, either. 

Otherwise, it's been status quo in Denver. Adam Foote signed a bonus-driven deal, Brandon Yip re-upped for 725K and the 'Lanche set Tom Preissing adrift, buying out the defender for 916K over each of the next two seasons. The serious action for Colorado will occur when they come to terms with Mueller and Stewart, but even with healthy raises for both and another player or two, Colorado looks like they want to be a team that keeps the payroll below 50M for the next couple of seasons. They will have to pay Craig Anderson next summer, and if he has another season like last year, he'll be quite likely be in Halak territory on his next contract. Still, unless Stan Kroenke suddenly opens the taps, the Avalanche are headed the kid route even more resolutely than last year. As a note, neither Mueller or Stewart are up for arbitration. Stewart might get a pile coming off a 28 goal season as it is, but if Clarke MacArthur was worth 2.4M in arbitration...lucky damn Avalanche (again).

 

Edmonton:

Current one-way deals: 17. Cap space: 14.068M  RFAs: Gagner (1.6M) Cogliano (1.1M) Brule (800K) Deslauriers (625K) UFAs: Pisani (2.5M) Comrie (1.25M)

 

The Oil have made the move towards a full rebuild, with a passel of young forwards likely to be added to the mix this fall. Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson are three pretty famous youngsters that stand a decent chance of sticking around come the fall. 

If young men are headed in, that usually means old guys headed out, and Ethan Moreau and Fernando Pisani are part of the gang of '06 that are likely gone. Moreau is already ensconced in Columbus, and unless Pies is willing to play for the minimum, he'll be elsewhere come September. The Oilers also bought out Robert Nilsson and unloaded Patrick O'Sullivan to the Dogs. As an aside, what's one way to tell when a player has a bad contract? Well, when he plays for three different teams during its three year span, he might be in possession of such a deal. 

In terms of acquisitions, the Oilers also added Colin Fraser from the Hawks and signed Kurtis Foster as an UFA from Tampa. If Foster's healthy, he can boom it on the PP, but he's a bit of an EV sinkhole. Fraser might be a nice player at the price. The club still has Sheldon Souray on the books, but as Flames' fans must be all too aware by now, unloading expensive old guys is a hassle at the moment.

Nothing but crickets regarding Sam Gagner, though. Seems odd to me. He has to be a part of the plan over the next few years, and guys like that normally get their deals done pretty quickly. Andrew Cogliano is also in need of a new deal, and again, nothing, although he seems surplus to requirements if all the kids make the leap. The Oilers also have Gilbert Brule headed to arbitration. That MacArthur award must have given Steve the Assessor a bit of a shiver, and for good reason. When third liners get that sort of money, it's pretty hard to keep players of real value in the fold.

The best move of all this summer for Edmonton might well have been sending Pat Quinn out to pasture. Tom Renney gives the appearance of understanding the concept of matching lines and utilizing certain players in certain game situations to spice up the offence. I suppose the next best move for the Oilers might well be if they can get a hanging judge in Phoenix this fall. Having Khabibulin's deal disappear would allow them to escape a mistake, and if the mewlings from the ownership this week are to be believed, voiding the 11.25M left on Khabi's contract might just be the kind of cash needed to save Daryl Katz from an apparent life of unfathomable penury. Or something to that effect.

 

Vancouver:

Current one-way deals: 22  Cap space -1.183M  RFAs: Raymond (883K) UFAs: Entirely too many to list, frankly.

 

Darryl Sutter gets plenty of stick around these parts for his cap management, and with some justification, but Mike Gillis is pushing a few boundaries himself this summer. First, let's look at the additions.

The Canucks have added two decent defencemen in Hamhuis and Ballard, although both have the whiff of second pairing types to me, and Dan Hamhuis' UFA deal seems like an overpay. He was clearly Nashville's 4th D in terms of QComp and ZoneStarts last year, and he had an OK year, but he didn't exactly blow the doors off. Somehow, that makes him worth 4.5M a season for 6 years. Meanwhile, Ballard got absolutely torched at EV playing against the toughs in Florida, even allowing for some difficult ZoneStarts, so expecting him to be a solid top paring guy in Vancouver is a serious reach. With these two newcomers, the Canucks have 9 D on one way deals. Of course, when one of those 9 is Sami Salo, I'm willing to accept the argument that they really only have 8.5. The Canucks may or may not be able or willing to move Kevin Bieksa before the fall to clear the log jam.

I'm not sold on the Hamhuis deal, but the signing of Manny Malhotra will likely look worse down the line. He had a decent year in terms of possession against the third string in San Jose, but his +/- was goosed by a PDO of 105.1. 2.5M a year for 3 years is likely a million a year too much. I know, it's a bit rich to talk about third string centers making too much as a Flames' blogger, but still...

Vancouver still has one major RFA shoe to drop as well, with Mason Raymond headed to arbitration later today. I don't doubt that he benefited from most of a season alongside Ryan Kesler, but that also meant he played the toughs more nights than not, so 1.87 PTS/60 in that role is solid, and a 98.0 PDO doesn't suggest he had fortune on his side. He had better numbers in tougher circumstances than Clarke MacArthur, so if he gets 2.5-3M in arbitration, that will put the Canucks about 4M over the cap. Absent a Bieksa move or Salo having a year-long LTIR stint, well, I hope Francesco Aquilini enjoys lighting money on fire. 

 

Summing up, Vancouver likely has had the flashiest summer in the division to this point, but I'm not convinced that they weren't a better team with Willie Mitchell patrolling the blue. That noted, there still seem to be a few moves that seem inevitable in Vancouver, like a Bieksa deal, and Edmonton would likely prefer to move Sheldon Souray if they could. In fact, I'd suspect that the only team in the division that's basically done for the summer is Minnesota, so this might well just be a mid-term report. 

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Robert Cleave is a perpetually grumpy Winnipegger.
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#1 Kent Wilson
July 26 2010, 07:50AM
Trash it!
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Good stuff.

Harding has always struck me as a guy who could be capable enough starter if nothing else. His deal in Minny is bad because he's aback-up, but if someone could pull him out and install him as a #1 or #1A, they'd likely get value.

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