I know it’s easy to criticize some UFA signings more than eight months later but nonetheless it’s fun to do. There were some great and not so great signings last off-season, let’s take a look:
Marian Gaborik – New York Rangers – 37.5 million for 5 years – You can criticize Glen Sather all you want for the awful work he’s done with the Rangers in the past decade but this was one of his best moves, for now… 7.5 million seemed like a lot for a player who could never stay healthy but this year, Gaborik has recorded 76 points in 66 games including 37 goals. Everyone knew he was very talented but he’s probably better than many thought and he’s shown that he can stay healthy.
Craig Anderson – Colorado Avalanche – 3.6 million for 2 years – The main reason why the Colorado Avalanche will make the playoffs this year costs only 1.8 million in cap room. Anderson has recorded 35 wins in 62 games including 7 shutouts and a 0.922 save percentage. Believe it or not, the Avalanche are allowing 3.2 more shots per game than last year but are giving up 0.47 fewer goal per game. Funny thing is that this is Anderson’s worst season in terms of save percentage since 2005-2006.
Nik Antropov – Atlanta Thrashers – 16 million for 4 years – When the Thrashers signed Antropov, the general consensus was: poor Thrashers, they have to overpay players to get them to come to Atlanta. Well, they might have paid more than his market value at the time but it turned out pretty good for them. Antropov has 63 points in 68 games so far this year and is the 30th highest scorer in the NHL. 4 million a year for a top 30 scorer is an excellent deal and it’s even better when you consider Antropov has 21 points in 17 games since the Ilya Kovalchuk trade to New Jersey.
Maxim Afinogenov – Atlanta Thrashers – 0.8 million for 1 year – We all knew that Afinogenov was a very talented player but he’d struggled in Buffalo in the past two years and the Thrashers decided to give him a chance. It worked out well for both sides as the Thrashers are currently fighting for a playoff spot and Afinogenov should get a pretty nice increase in salary this off-season.
Vaclav Prospal – New York Rangers – 1.1 million for 1 year – The Rangers did something similar to the Thrashers by giving Vaclav Prospal a chance. Prospal is on pace for 67 points this year and is a big reason why the Rangers are still in playoff contention. Glen Sather had a pretty nice off-season in 2009, it’s unfortunate that he blew it in 2007 and 2008 with Wade Redden and Chris Drury, 14 million per year until 2013-2014 for two very struggling players.
Mikael Samuelsson – Vancouver Canucks – 7.5 million for 3 years – Samuelsson had been a solid player for the Red Wings in the past four years totaling 149 points in 278 games with about 15 minutes of ice time per game. This year he is getting 17 minutes per game including three on the PP and he has scored 30 goals in 70 games. He’s had problems with injuries in the past but he’s been healthy for the past two years and should continue to be a very valuable player for the Canucks.
Alexei Kovalev – Ottawa Senators – 10 million for 2 years – Kovalev has had an up and down year just like he has for his entire career and he is currently on a big down. 5 million a year for a guy with only 17 goals and 30 assists in 69 games is a lot. The good news for the Senators is that Kovalev could turn it around at any point and could have a great year in 2010-11 but, they’re stuck with him for now.
Martin Havlat – Minnesota Wild – 30 million for 6 years – In the off-season, this seemed like a very long contract and an expensive one for a player who had over 70 points only once in eight NHL seasons. Havlat has only 49 points in 66 games this year including only 16 goals. It is especially expensive for a player who doesn’t bring much to the team other than his scoring.
Mike Komisarek – Toronto Maple Leafs – 22.5 million for 5 years – In my opinion, Mike Komisarek is a “defensive defenseman” who isn’t particularly good defensively. He doesn’t contribute offensively and he will often get out of position defensively in order to make the big hit. He might have 85 hits and 62 blocked shots in only 34 games but he is a -9, has 14 minor penalties and only 4 assists.
Samuel Pahlsson – Columbus Blue Jackets – 7.95 million for 3 years – I know that Pahlsson was signed for his defensive play but 2.65 million a year is an awful lot for a player with 2 goals and 9 assists in 69 games. He is the leading penalty killer for the Blue Jackets but they are 13th in the NHL, same as last year, and Pahlsson is a -11 at even strength this year. This is way too much money for a defensive player who doesn’t seem to have that much impact on his new team.