It’s always amuses me that Canada Day and Free Agency Day occur simultaneously. While it may make sense to some, Canada being a hockey mad country, I think the pain associated with losing a player in the free agent market would make many Canadians wish the two were separated (Ryan Smyth anyone?). Also, with phones that have data plans, I hope those of you keeping a constant vigil keep your eyes on the road, and don’t ignore the kids too much.
Twelve noon, every July 1st since starting this blog, a little buzzer goes off in my head. I get excited, and watch the screen. At 12:02 PM, I start pacing, and about a minute later, I start to realize that this is going to be a long day. A feeding frenzy doesn’t look like a frenzy until it’s well under way.
Last year, I had to get on a plane, and found out when I landed that Ryan Smyth had signed a five year deal with the Avalanche. As exciting as it was to get one of the big four free agents, I am yet to be seriously impressed with his output (55 game, 37 points, yee-haa).
The year before, I was salivating over my keyboard, and all I got for it was Tyler Arnason, and watching Rob Blake go to the Kings, and Dan Hinote go to the Blues. Disappointed? Sure. Could I see the writing on the wall, that the Avs would miss the playoffs? No.
This year, the Avs need goaltending help. The market is thin, and while conventional wisdom says that Jose Theodore is the best one out there, which should tell you about the market. The Avs still have Tyler Weiman in the system, but he needs a little more time down there before being a solid choice for the big club. Aside from that, what does the team need?
Defense? Sure, you can never have too much, but with Liles locked up, and Adam Foote signed, show me the holes?
Forwards? A few wouldn’t hurt, but until the decision of Joe Sakic is made (and for all we know, the decision will be made to be a free agent), there aren’t going to be any big splashes.
Check back later for updates.
1:39 PM EST: Andrew Brunette is back with the Minnesota Wild. Three disappointing things here. 1) He is no longer an Av. 2) He is back with the Wild. 3) TSN’s free agent tracker is so lame, this news hasn’t popped up yet. My reputable sources right now are Alanah at Kukla’s Korner and James Mirtle. Bloggers win again.
2:51 PM EST: I thought this was old news, but I guess not. From the Colorado Avalanche:
The Colorado Avalanche Hockey Club announced today that it has signed forward Per Ledin to a one-year contract.
Ledin, 29, spent this past season with HV 71 Jonkoping of the Swedish Elite League, where he tallied 33 points (16g/17a) and 137 penalty minutes in 52 games. The left winger finished third on the team in penalty minutes, fifth in goals and sixth in points. He also appeared in all 17 playoff games for Jonkoping, which captured the league title.
Um… OK. I have no idea what to make of this. Are the Avs still looking to make up fro the sins of Hlinka?
BIG UPDATE: 3:00 PM EST: Things are starting to pick up, with some Avalanche related signings. Jose Theodore is going to be with the Capitals for the next two years, and Kurt Sauer got signed by the Phoenix Coyotes for four years, continuing a tradition of Avalanche defensemen going directly to the ‘Yotes.
The Theodore signing is big for the Capitals, and could tip the team in either direction, depending on which Theo shoes up that night. I haven’t seen a dollar figure yet, but I can’t wait to see how it lines up with his previous contract. I’m guessing that a one year deal was all the Avs wanted to offer, and Theo was looking for two. But that’s only a guess. Now, if the Avs signed Huet….
3:12 PM EST: This was one deal I thought may happen, and puts the fear back in my heart. Andrew Raycroft signed a one year deal with the Avalanche. Seriously. One bad goalie for another? Peter Budaj had better be ready, or this could be a wild ride. This had better be a two way deal, meaning they can send him down to the minors if need be.
3:22 PM EST: The day is getting worse and worse. From Jori at Colorado Avalanche Prospects:
According to NHL.com, it is now confirmed that Mitch Love, Dan DaSilva and Tyler Weiman were not extended qualifying offers. All three are unrestricted free agents as of 10:00 AM MST today.
I like Mitch Love, and I think the world of Tyler Weiman. This sucks. Nuff said.
3:26 PM EST: It seems like as soon as I update, something else happens. Jeff Finger was just signed as a free agent by the Toronto Maple Leafs, for 4 years at 3.5 million a season. There was no way the Avs were going to sign him for that long, with the signings of Liles and Foote. I think the Leafs are overpaying for someone who isn’t as proven as other defensemen out there, but good for Finger. The debate will last around four years as to who the Avs should have signed, Liles or Finger, but I feel the right choice was made. Leafs fans, pray he doesn’t drop his stick.
3:32 PM EST: I’m reading that the Theodore deal was for 2 years at $4.5 million a year. And with that, you can forget about feeling bad about Jose moving on. Overpaid? Sure, but he’s able to play a market where goalies are a little harder to come by, and number one goalies are in short supply. I don’t feel much of a loss here, other than a few blogging stories about how bad he’s playing. I’m sure Raycroft will more than make up for things.
4:19 PM EST: I go to the grocery store, and the Avs sign Darcy Tucker. The Avs got him for 2 years at $4.5 million total. I guess this isn’t a bad deal, but we’ll wait and see.