1) The link above is to a very interesting piece done by spector at how the big/high priced free agents (unrestricted as well as restricted as there is less of a difference these days)are faring thus far. He lists the guys who signed the megabucks this past off season and see how they are doing/project their final totals then decides if they are worth it.
2) What we find interesting is how predictable the vast majority are doing thus far. We decided to go through his list add some of our own and make our own commentary:
3) For example these players are playing at or below previous years:
- Scott Gomez- Got off to a slow start(as the rest of the Rangers did). However, as we mentioned when he was signed Scott is a gifted player for sure, BUT he has never been a goal scorer. His current pace of about 60 points would be only slightly under an average season for Scott, regardless of the 10 million dollar salary.
- Keith Tkachuk- One of our least favourite players. We feel he has stolen money from teams the last few years. He again(see Bertuzzi) somehow managed to convince a GM that he deserved big money. This time the Blues (after trading him to the Thrashers) got him back over the summer(as we predicted) fora 2 year 8 mil deal. Unlike Bertuzzi though so far at least Keith is earning at least part of that money. projecting a 20 goal/70 point season would make the Blues outlay appropriate. But we still dislike him nonetheless
- Thomas Vanek- Along with Dustin Penner won the NHL's version of Lotto when Kevin Lowe made his offer sheet for the Austrian forward. The pressure is on Thomas and thus far he hasn't lived up to the 7+ mil cap hit the Sabres were 'forced' to accept. He is on pace for a decent season with 25 goals 60 points, but far from what his contract makes him need to be.
- Scott Hannan- Was one of the more sought after defensemen this past off season. Many teams coveted the former Shark for his ability to log a ton of minutes, his grit and and leadership qualities. The Av's thought they won the sweepstakes, throwing 4 years, 18 mil at the B.C. native. Thus far they aren't getting their monies's worth. A 'plus player 'through out his career, he is on pace to finish with an abysmal -43!
- Chris Drury- The Trumbull, CT native was another of the more sought out forwards this past summer. Like Gomez, perhaps teams over estimated his offensive ability as Drury, despite his post season heroics, has never breached the 70 point plateau. he makes a good 2nd line center, but a 7 mil/year cap hit was over payment in our opinion (Unless of course he leads the Blueshirts to a Cup!)
- J-S Giguere- The former Conn Smythe Trophy winner(2003), and current Stanley Cup winning goalie was resigned by the Ducks for a 4 year 24 mil deal over the summer. No one can fault the team for placing their faith in Giggy. Unfortunately thus far(along with the rest of the team) he hasn't been playing like champs. His GAA and Save % are only mediocre. Given his past, we wouldn't be worried.
- Mathieu Schneider- The NY,NY native has been one of the more productive offensive defenseman to play and not be noticed in the league. This year, when he plays he is productive/earning his big cash deal, but his age may be showing with a series of injuries which have limited his games played thus far.
- Ryan Smyth- The NY Islanders did all they could to land the wing; having traded some decent assets to get him at the deadline. However Ryan chose(as we at FAUXRUMORS told all prior to his decision) to stay in the west where the Banff Alberta native felt most comfortable. Like Drury his offense is decent, but unspectacular. The Avs(and Isles) also coveted his intangibles that led to his nick-name of 'Captain Canada'. Also, like Drury, the jury will be out until the post season to see if the investment (6.25 cap hit) was appropriate.
- Scott Hartnell- This one falls under the heading of 'What were the Flyers thinking!' The guy is a 3rd line forward. Thus far he's playing well(for a 3rd line forward) not a guy making 4.2 mil! He's on pace to accumulate an unimpressive 10 gaols and 28 points. Of course Flyer brass will point toward their improvement as a team and give Scott some of the credit for bolstering the roster. We would not have given him 6 years with his concussion history either!
- Jason Blake- The former Islander spark plug seemed to come into his own on the Island. Putting up career year stats in 2006-07 of 40 goals. The Isles tried to resign him, but Blake wanted an additional year which the Leafs obliged (4 year 12 mil) for the 34 year old Minnesota native. So far he hasn't lived up to the advanced billing; projecting for an underwhelming 10 goals. However, no one could have predicted his health issue(Leukemia). We wish him the best!
- Kimmo Timonen- The 32 year old Finn defenseman was another(along with Hartnell) of the pilfered Predators that the Flyers acquired last summer when the Nashville ownership problems caused them to cut payroll. Also like Hartnell the Flyers gave him a 6 year deal worth about 40 mil! Even with his numbers(projected to be 46 points) he is NOT worth that kind of out lay! His +/- also are NOT impressive!
- Dustin Penner- Another off season lottery winner. The 25 year old projected power forward had a very nice rookie season with the Ducks; Combining with fellow youngsters Ryan Getzlaf and Cory Perry they formed a formidable power trio. However in our opinion he was undeserving of the 4.2 mil/year 5 year deal a desperate Kevin Lowe gave him. Dustin is having a typical sophomore season that under different circumstances would seem OK, but for his salary he is underachieving.
- Todd Bertuzzi- Five years removed from his last productive season(Injuries and poor play) Big # 44 somehow convinced Brian Burke to give him a 2 year, 8 mil deal. So far Todd is producing as expected. Garnering an unimpressive 1 goal/6 pts in 14 games. Looking like one of the bigger busts this off season.
- Michael Nylander- Will probably come close to what most expected production-wise, but that minus jumps out like a sore toe! He may rack up 76 or so pints(he had 83 last year) but he also projects a minus 36! Also, thus far he hasn't been the answer to the Caps need for a true #1 center for Ovechkin. To his credit, he has been a mentor to rookie, and fellow Swede Nick Backstrom; becoming Nylander's 7th child some have written. However, the Caps made a big investment in money and years(4 years 20 mil) Perhaps they expected more/too much?
4) Some have(thus far) earned their dough:
- Pavel Datsyuk- The Redwings rewarded the 28 year old Russian center with a contract extension last April that pays him 6.7 mil for the next 7 years. So far the investment seems to be paying dividends. Along with Zetterburg, they have propelled the Detroit Sextent to the top of the league. He is on pace for 30 goals and 90 points, possibly eclipsing his production(87 points) the prior 2 seasons.
- Danielle Briere- Many, including us at FAUXRUMORS have been Briere detractors in the past. However the diminutive center from Gatineau, Que is surprising many. We didn't see him living up to the big contract(8 years 6.5 mil cap hit)the Flyers gave him this summer. Coming off a career year is always a gamble, however Danielle may surpass last years numbers. he is on track for a 40 goal, 100 point season. making him worth every penny. Of course some will say that if the Flyers fail to win in the post season it makes that moot.
- Mats Sundin- May provide leadership, but thus far his production is what got him noticed by us. Has really been well ahead of what most expected. The 36 year old Swede is on pace for his best season, offensive-wise since 1993 when he garnered 114 points for the Nordiques. Even if he tails off a bit he is on his way to earn the 5.5 mil he is currently receiving.
- Paul Kariya- Another player enjoying a bit of a renaissance. He was once one of the top players in the NHL. Though he has tailed off a bit the last few years he still has been productive. His days of 50 goals and 100 points may be over, but 30 goals 90 points is possible. Helping the resurgent Blues regain some respectability. It remains to be seen if the Blues investment for 2 additional years(6 mil/per) for the 33 yr old pays off. Thus far, it has.
- Sidney Crosby- The Penguins made a VERY wise decision to extend the contract of their resident superstar as early as they did. The deal kicks in after this year, but will pay him 8.7 (no coincidence) for the following 5 years. If Sid had wanted, or if the Pens had waited(see caps and Ovechkin) he could have easily garnered as much as 11 mil/year(assuming the salary cap goes up again next summer). However they came together early, and Sid decided to place the team first and take the home town discount to leave room for others. On pace for another 120+point campaign.
- Brian Rafalski- Before Niedermayer left the Devils he was a highly underrated offensive type defenseman. He was signed by the Redwings this summer to replace the departed Schneider. So far the Wings don't miss Matthieu one bit with Brian on pace to have a career year; Possibly as much as 70 points for the high flying Detroit team. Making the 6 year 30 mil deal for the Michigan native look very good so far.
- Andrei Markov- Habs fans forgetting quickly about the 'loss' of Sheldon Souray. Andrei even has a decent minus(projected to -25) to mimic the departed former Canadian defender. The Russian will need to tighten up his defensive game to make the 4 year investment look good, but most Habs fans would still prefer him to Souray
- Roman Hamrlik- May not be putting up huge offensive numbers, but has been the quieter/steadier of the big three Hab defenders thus far. The 33 year old Czech is now far removed from being the top draft pick overall by the Lightning in 1992. He never developed into the Czech version of Bobby Orr some stated at his draft, he has quietly become a steady two-way defender. Much more reliable in his own end now then in years past. Making the Habs investment of 4 years looking like a sound choice.
- Sheldon Souray- Incomplete. Having missed most of the year its unknown what a difference(positive or negative) his presence would have made. We should know soon.