Wednesday, August 03, 2005


Free Agent Frenzy: The Big Blue Bombshell

After a couple days of Free Agent Frenzy, it's obvious that the new CBA is not idiot-proof, as Gary Bettman had intended. You just can't legislate stupidity, or lack thereof.

Case in point: Glen Sather. It's obvious that he is not the man he was in his Oilers days (where his initial drafting boon, trading acumen, and luck created his dynasty maked his many weaknessess). Marek Malik, a lovable ogre who has been a solid citizen for the Canucks for a few seasons, was signed to a $7.5mil/3yr deal! $2.5 mil per season for Marek 'Harry Munster' Malik?

As Tom Benjamin might suggest, Malik is a very good candidate to flounder in a situation where he is out of his element. With the Canucks, Malik was used perfectly and his weaknessess were masked while his strengths (mainly his long reach) were exploited for the benefit of his own team. Overall, Malik is an AVERAGE NHL defenseman. Do AVERAGE defensemen deserve $2.5mil a season? Only if you are in New York, where there isn't a dollar that doesn't seem to be foolishly spent.

Then, there is the case of Martin Straka. At a 1-year deal, Straka isn't much of a risk...until you start paying him $3mil for that year. Straka has missed 119 games in the past 3 NHL seasons, and is more brittle than 3-year old gingerbread (He had his injury problems in Czechia last year, too). His production in 03/04 (26 points in 54 games) was the continuation of a downward trend and his defence is below-average these days. The smart GM would have given Straka an incentive-laden deal or no deal at all. The Rangers took a big gamble and it has more chance of causing harm than good.
The Rangers still need to find a good goalie, as Kevin Weekes is not going to lead that team to the playoffs...good luck, Glen.

Back to the Blues, the team which has had nothing but bad news, for the most part. Trent Whitfield? Aaron Downey? Those guys are the bottom of the barrel and are not going to help the Blues

Imagine the elation Blues fans felt when Larry Pleau managed to swing a deal with one of the few GMs dumber than he is: Kevin Lowe.

The St. Louis Blues have traded Chris Pronger to Edmonton for defencemen Eric Brewer, Doug Lynch and Jeff Woywitka.

TSN has learned that Pronger, the NHL's most valuable player and top defenceman in 2000, has agreed to a five year contract extension worth $6.25-million per year.
For a team in a bind like the Blues were, this deal is excellent. The Blues get a 26 year-old defenseman who has played with Team Canada and will only get better as he matures. I know Eric Brewer has frustrated Oilers fans at times, but he is still one of the better young rearguards in the game. The Blues also got one of the better defensive prospects in the game in Jeff Woywitka, and a decent depth defenseman prospect in Doug Lynch. Trading Pronger's big contract for a great defenseman in his prime, and two solid prospects was more than I ever expected out of Larry Pleau.

Now, Larry needs to sign Eric Brewer to a long-term contract since he is an RFA. Woywitka and Lynch will also challenge for roster spots, though their salaries aren't yet determined. At the very least, the Blues put some stock on the prospect shelves and get a pretty good replacement (less the great offence) for Pronger.

Here is the updated roster for the Blues, with the minimum salary the Blues would pay under a 'Qualifying Offers Accepted' scenario.

Blues Roster 08-03-05

I wouldn’t expect Brewer and Salvador to accept the absolute minimum, but the Blues suddenly have a lot more salary cap room to work with. Pleau needs to go out and find 2 more good wingers in order for this team to compete.


Today's Breaking News

  • 1. Markus Naslund has signed a 3-year deal for $18mil. I know this might not make 100% business sense, but I am certainly happy to have Naslund back. I guess he was brought to tears by all those love letters we wrote ;)

  • 2. Jerome Iginla has signed a 3-year deal with the Calgary Flames for $21mil. Naslund set the price for top-tier snipers, and Iginla followed suit and got the big deal he expected. If any player deserves a $7mil a year salary, Iginla, a complete player, would be it.

  • 3. For all of the "Players want to play with Crosby hype", the Penguins finally delivered and signed SERGEI GONCHAR to a 5 year/$25mil deal. At those figures, does it look like Crosby was the deciding factor for Gonchar? I'm pretty sure he'd sign with the Penguins at that salary, even without Kid Cros. A power play with Dick Tarnstrom (if they get him signed) and Sergei Gonchar at the points = deadliness...throw in a dash of Lemieux, a pint of Crosby, and a sprig of Recchi...damn.

  • Comments:
    Hey Jes.

    It's Big Dan.

    I agree the Blues absolutely raped Lowe. They got more than they ever imagined for Pronger.

    Suddenly, the Blues have a solid defenseman in his prime and two with promise.

    Note that Doug Lynch is a little bit better than Woywitka. Woywitka is far more hyped but Lynch has more stickhandling abilities.

    That being said, this move was good for the Oilers too for reputation's sake only.

    Also, Brewer keeps trying to squeeze every penny out of Lowe every summer. Lowe probably got tired of it. It will probably take at least $2.5 million for you to sign Brewer.
    For those of you worried that the CBA would dismantle the Canucks can rest easier now that they've re-signed Naslund.

    Who's next? Could Naslund pursuade Forsberg to wear a Canuck jersey this winter?
    Sure, their PP is going to be nice but Fleury's going to crack if they play him like that again. Recchi, Crosby, Lemieux, Gonchar and ... Andy Chiodo. Huh.
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