Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Musical Chairs?

1) As we have seen the past few years the initial flurry of free agent activity inevitably calms down in a hurry after the first few days. This year was no different. We saw many signings in the first few hours on July 1st, and the big fish in this years FA pool, Brad Richards was landed by the NY Rangers this past Saturday, thus ending a busy 48 hours of activity. Yes there are some decent players left, but i think we've seen the last huge deals as many teams like Florida who had tons of cap space to fill are less inclined/can give big cash for the remaining free agents

2) Thus the Musical Chairs analogy comes into play. No doubt a player like Kaberle will find a soft landing, but it wasn't so soft (financially speaking) for one of the most sought after (most thought anyway) goalies in this years UFA class. Tomas Vokoun was the only legit starter in my opinion available. As the only big name goalie available this summer, like Brad Richards, he'd have his pick of 4-5 teams who were in need of a new starting goalie/an upgrade in that position. Right? As such his agent/he declined a very generous 3 year 15 million dollar offer from the Florida Panthers who wanted to retain the Czech.

3) From what we've heard, when Dale Talon was spurned by Vokoun he immediately set his sights elsewhere, regardless of his old goalies availability. The biggest domino to fall was the trade of Semyon Varmalov to the Avalanche by the Washington Capitals. This immediately eliminated the most likely destination of Vokoun. Colorado GM to his credit didn't want a temporary roster filler, and instead went after Varmolov to be not only their goalie of the future but the present as well. They also added JS Giguere to fill out their net minding tandem. Florida then turned around and signed former Colorado and Washington goalie Jose Theodore to a 2 year deal. Thus reducing Vokouns options.

4) Phoenix, the other likely destination, decided they also didn't want to spend big $$ on a 35 yr old. Following this evidently Vokoun and his agent did the math and saw the number of available starting jobs pretty much gone. We're told it was then that they reached out to Washington. Having lost 1 goalie, perhaps George McPhee would like to add a veteran and someone to mentor fellow Czech Micheal Neuvirth? McPhee apparently liked the idea and came back with what Vokoun's agent thought was a lowball figure but the DC GM intoned that this was a take it or leave it offer. The Caps intended to go into the season with Neuvirth as their starter and hot prospect Braden Holtby as his backup, so they had the upper bargaining position.

5) Apparently player agents, especially agents of goalies have yet to learn. When you are offered a good deal before free agency, you should take it!! Ask Evgeny Nabokov about this! Last summer he was in a similar position. Having turned down a long term multi million dollar offer from SJ, he found himself back in Russia and so miserable his play suffered. Now he's also hoping to be traded or be part of the NY Islanders. Not where he could have been if he took the deal. It remains to be seen if these two will be held as exmples of what not to do. Else there may not be enough starting goalie 'chairs' left.

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