Hindsight is a wonderful thing and many of us would look a hell of a lot smarter if we were able to go back in time and change some of our more dubious decisions. Remember that high school picture that you hoped would be quickly forgotten? Remember how you used to dress in those days? Did you think your favorite striped blue shirt would be gazed upon by millions of people on the internet years later when you became a massive celebrity? Looking back, probably not. 

Yes, hindsight is often 20/20, particularly when it comes to hairstyles, tattoos and free agent signings.

If we could go back in time, many of us would do things a little differently. Considering what NHL players are signing for these days, you wonder if some teams also wish that they could go back in time and wait until August 1st to sign guys, rather that having made all their moves on July 1st. It’s way easier to say today how money should have been spent than it was a mere 30 days ago. But then again, who am I to talk? I once said that the Oilers won the Pouliot/Jacques for Parise trade right after it happened. Could I have been more right?

When you look at how frugal teams have become in the past few weeks, you can’t help but wonder why so many felt the need to overspend a few weeks ago.

Unrestricted free agents generally get overpaid

It’s a fact. And it isn’t just the Oilers who need to overpay to get a player to come here. Controversial columnist, Larry Brooks wrote on July 26th that the Oilers were being desperate in their need to overpay star players to join the team.

Here’s a snippet of what he wrote:

Don’t the Oilers get it? Their city is the last place in North America (other than presumably Ottawa and perhaps Atlanta) that Heatley wants to live, and their team is the last one in the NHL (insert a disclaimer or two) for which he wants to play.

Enough already with the bribery and the convincing. The team and the city look more than desperate. They are beginning to appear pathetic with their continued pursuit of the player who for good reason has become hockey’s most disdained individual.

We know. The Oilers have to overpay in order to entice players of Heatley’s on-ice pedigree to come to their city, and that’s the reason why Nik Khabibulin was able to get an over-35 contract worth $15 million over four years on July 1.

What I find laughable here is Brooks’ suggestion the Oilers have to overpay, because of the City. C’mon Larry – wake the f**k up. In the City that never sleeps all the Rangers seem to do is over pay guys to report to the team.

Scott Gomez gets $7.3 million a year for five years. Chris Drury got $7 million, Wade Redden is a $6.5 million cap hit on the books and injury-prone Marian Gaborik takes home a cool $7.5 million. Larry, do you really think these aren’t overpayments too?

The fact is teams overpay for UFAs all the time, especially in the first few days of July, and normally throughout the summer. But not this year. This year it would seem the well has dried up.

Looking back now…

I wonder if the Habs are re-thinking offering Brian Gionta $5 million a year, when it looks like they could get Alex Tanguay for less than half of that now? Mike Comrie made $4 million last year, and while he struggled with only 10 goals, the three previous seasons he tallied 21, 20 and 30. He turns 29 in September and he’ll probably sign for $1.5 million at the most.

Proven checkers like Mike Peca, Manny Malhotra and Blair Betts are still on the market, and if they get a deal it could be close to $750,000 or less. I spoke with Betts yesterday at a golf tourney and the phone hasn’t been ringing at all lately. He is a proven veteran, who kills penalties and is good in the room, yet no interest. I know the Oilers have too many contracts but signing Betts to a one-year deal for $650,000 wouldn’t hurt. Hell, some veterans might accept two-way deals at this point, just to get to camp. I bet Dominic Moore is regretting not signing the Leafs offer of close to $2 million back in June, because when he signs it will be for half of that.

I think many teams blew their wad in early July, and while they might have interest in a player, they simply have no money left to spend today. One positive should be that fans will see a lot of desperate players playing just to maintain, or get a new contract next year. That should make the dog days of the season a bit more competitive – or at least you would think it would.

Did the Oilers over pay for Khabibulin? You bet they did. But it is hilarious to suggest that it is only cities like Edmonton desperate to overpay players into bring them into the organization. New York City – the “supposed” best city in North America overpays players more often than most.

And they win all the time don’t they?