DAILY PRIME - JULY 2, 2014: THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE UGLY and THE MAYBE
At the end of the Stanley Cup finals all eyes turn towards the NHL Entry Draft and then soon after, the free agency period that begins at noon on July 1st. Teams, after just completing their season either by being one of the 14 teams not making the playoffs, or those who fell short during their quest for the coveted Cup, know where they stand in regards to the top NHL teams. Playoff teams, and non-playoff teams alike, take stock of their team makeup and plan accordingly knowing what will be needed in the future and what their immediate needs. Future, and perhaps some current, needs may be fulfilled by the NHL Entry Draft, but for the more pressing immediate needs, the free agent period is a quick-fix solution to all teams. Some teams make good, solid additions, while others, at first glance, look to be just throwing good money away. I will take a look at what I believe are some good moves, some bad and some that are downright ugly.
DAN BOYLE: Last week I had posted that adding defenseman Dan Boyle to the New York rangers would give the Rangers what they were sorely missing for the past few years, and that is a power play quarterback. Having Center Brad Richards on the point was clearly not the solution. Bringing in Boyle, who will be 38-years old on July 12th, gives the Rangers an experienced point man and a defenseman who can still contribute offensively. Boyle’s production slipped last year, but with the Michael Del Zotto project not working out, his should be able to post a 45+ point season, and that will be a breath of fresh air for the Rangers PP.
CHRISTIAN EHRHOFF: The Penguins knew they had to fill the loss of Matt Niskanen with a steady defenseman who could provide offense because of all the injury-prone defensemen on the Pittsburgh squad. With Olli Maata not expected to start the season on time along with Kris Letang not being able to stay away from the injury bug, there was a need to be filled and Ehrhoff is a nice stopgap. Maata and Derrick Pouliot, who is also recovering from off-season surgery, are expected to be the main components on the backline for years to come. So, in the meantime, Ehrhoff fills that gap for the upcoming year at a reasonable $4 million price tag. Ehrhoff had 3 straight seasons of 40+ points but those were on more high-powered offenses than Buffalo’s where he has played the last 3 years. Mid 40’s should not be problem for the German defender on this talent-laden Pittsburgh team.
MARTIN HAVLAT: Alright, the price tag of $1.5 million makes this a good signing, but Havlat is not made to withstand the rigors of the 82-game NHL schedule. There was a three year stretch where he did manage to play 70+ games, but for the most part you can expect the once highly promising right winger to miss some stretches of time during the season. I’m surprised that Lou tossed some money at an injury-prone star such as Havlat. It’s only for one year, so I guess it was worth the risk.
RYAN MILLER: The only reason why I have this under the BAD column, is because I am confused as to what direction the Vancouver Canucks are going. True, they needed a more established goaltender in order for the team to be competitive, but letting go of Garrison and especially Kesler and bringing in young talent makes you wonder if that is indeed obtainable. Trading away veterans and stacking up on young talent and then signing a 33-year old goaltender doesn’t jive for me. I wonder what the Sedin twins think about all this.
MILAN MICHALEK: There was no doubt in my mind that the Ottawa Senators were moving ahead without Michalek, especially since dealing Jason Spezza to the Stars. The Sens managed to make me look twice at what I was seeing. Michalek held so mcu promise in his early years in the NHL while with the San Jose Sharks scoring 213 points in 315 games in his first 4 full seasons, a .67 ppg rate. Take out his 60-point in 77 game 2011-2012 season, and he only scored at a .51 ppg rate. Clearly disappointing and not the kind of production the Sens were hoping for. $4 million per year for 3 years might be a bit much for such an underwhelming player, but hey, it’s not my money.
DERYK ENGELLAND: Ask Deryk Engelland, or his agent, for the upcoming lottery numbers because they surely hit the jackpot yesterday. Engelland signed a 3-year $8.7 million contract with the Calgary Flames. Not bad for a 32-year old defenseman who has scored only 43 points in 243 NHL games. I tried to research for some hidden talent that perhaps the Flames were seeing, but I could find anything. The most goals is the 7 he scored in the 2001-2002 while with the Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL. In fact, that season was also the season where he scored the most points in his career with 17. So, unless Calgary knows something the rest of us don’t know, they clearly overpaid for this support defenseman unless they needed this salary to reach the Cap floor.
T. J. BRENNAN: The New York Islanders just may have gotten the point man they needed when they signed T.J. Brennan to a 1-year, $600K contract. All this kid did last year was go 25-47-72 points in 76 AHL games. That was the most points by a defenseman in the AHL since 2005-2006. Since 2006-2007, besides last year’s spectacular showing, the offensively talented defenseman has scored 14+ goals in 5 different seasons split between the QMJHL and the AHL. Now he just needs to apply it in the NHL, but he will have the wizardry of John Tavares to perhaps help him find his way. Definitely worth a late flier in your fantasy draft this upcoming season.