Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Musical Chairs Over?

1) Several players with name recognition remain unsigned free agents as many teams get their camps underway. The initial free agent signing frenzy of the first two weeks in July over, and many teams are either content with their team or have little cap space to add much more, the music has died down and many vets may find themselves left standing without a team come October.

2) Some of the more 'fortunate' have been given 'invites' by teams, in hopes to get a spot on a roster.

We'll go through a non comprehensive list of available players, and discuss which may be interested. Very few, if any of the remaining players will get more than a 1 year deal. Most for under 1 million, and many for a tad over minimum and possibly bonuses if they are over 35.

Firstly in goal:

  • Manny Fernandez- despite having excellent numbers last year before suffering from an injury that caused him to lose the co-#1 job with eventual Vezina winner Tim Thomas. Rumours abound from imminent retirement to a possible signing by the Sharks.

  • Martin Gerber- "Swiss cheese" got a few nibbles this off season. In fact was offered a deal in Pittsburgh before they eventually signed Brent Johnson. Decided to go back to Europe and play in the KHL for more cash. No one will miss ya Gerbs!

  • Manny Legace- One of the few lucky ones getting a 'try out' in Thrashers camp. Sources tell us he has a better than even shot at making the team on a 2 way deal with Lehtonen and Hedberg frequently injured

  • Kevin Weekes- The writing was on the wall last season when journeymen Scott Clemmensson took over as the team's starter when Marty Brodeur got injured. As of today no team has called and Kevin may have to decide to play in the AHL to continue his pro career and hope a team will need his services. (A long shot right now)

  • Dan Cloutier- How desperate are the Wings? Sorry, even in his Dan "prime" sucked. If he makes the team it says more about Jimmy Howard and a dearth of depth in net than anything

Next on defense:
  • Niclas Havelid- Has returned to play in Sweden

  • Daryl Sydor- Is in Blues camp on a try out. He has a shot to break their line up especially if injuries to their defense corps are anything like last season. We'd say its a 60:40 chance he'll be signed

  • Denis Gauthier- The 32 year old former King defender remains unsigned.

  • Dmitri Kalinin- The former Sabre 1st round pick remains available after finishing the season in Phoenix

  • Martin Skoula- Given a free agent try out by the Panthers. With 6 defensemen already under contract AND Chris Backman also there on a Try out basis its a long shot for Marty to find work with the cats barring injury.

  • Marc-Andre Bergeron- The 28 year old has always been an enigma. Blessed with significant skill, but hasn't put it together consistently. Good offensive numbers but a defensive liability. May have to wait into the season to play or may take an offer on the other side of the pond

  • Chris Chelios- The 58 year old may have to finally come to the realization that's its over.

On to Forward: where we have quite a few 'names' out there:

  • Peter Sykora- In Minny on a try out basis with a better than even shot of making the Wild squad

  • Manny Malhotra- The long time Blue Jacket is looking for work for the first time in his long career. Decent defensive forward, but there are a glut of folks in that category this year

  • Dominic Moore- Like Malhotra a good defensive forward who will likely eventually find work with a team looking for a 4th line center PK specialist, but at a significant pay cut from last season in Toronto

  • Micheal Peca- His name might get him an offer, but if any one has been watching they can see that Michael is a shadow of his former self

  • Robert Lang- The now 38 year old Czech is being rumoured to be invited to the Habs cap, but not quite yet. Some may recall that prior to his Achilles season ending injury last season he was the team's leading scorer. Gainey should give him a look.

  • Mats Sundin- Oh geez, please just go away Mats! We don't want (yet another) fall of reading crap about where mats will end up- Vancouver or Montreal?

  • Max Afinoganov- We are hearing that max has a couple of 1 year offers he's considering. A BIG pay cut though. New jersey, Atlanta and Edmonton have inquired most recently. He'll be on a roster by October

  • Miroslav Satan- May have to sell his soul for another shot. The former Pen was hoping to sign back with a former team the NYI where he was seen working out this summer, but alas the isles left him behind on LI when they left for camp. Its either Europe or buses of the AHL for Miro

  • Blair Betts- Good PK/face-off specialist in Philadelphia on a try out basis. Our sources in Philly tell us its a near certainty that Blair will be on the Flyer's opening night roster

  • Theoren Fleury-Back in Calgary where it all started for the now 41 year old. One of the more intriguing comeback stories. Has he cleaned up his act? If so we could forsee Theo having a very nice return to the NHL.

  • Jason Allison- Where have ya been Jason? After 2 years and 1000 Eklund rumours he resurfaces in Toronto. Not sure if he'll be any more likely to be able to handle the faster 'new NHL' than he was 3 years ago.

3) Now unlike some who wrote about the 'glut' of players who went unsigned, we don't think this situation is the result of some kind of collusion or owners hatched conspiracy. It s a simple case of math; More players than available jobs. Teams are still going to spend the same money on these guys. With a salary cap tied to revenue teams are still spending millions, but they are being more selective of whom they give that money now. When a younger and slightly cheaper player with more potential upside is going against a grizzled vet the team will now give the nod to the younger guy. Its an unfortunate result of the new salary paradigm, but in the end it results we feel in a better overall product

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