Last offseason, Coyotes GM Don Maloney prognosticated that some GM’s may “go berserk” at free agency and “the people who have money may just blow their brains out.” Maloney wasn’t too far off in that regard. With the exception of the Parise/Suter signings, this year’s free agency hasn’t been as crazy. Though, several high priced talent (i.e. Semin, Doan, Selanne) remain unsigned.
Anyway, we are going to break this analysis into two posts. Today’s post will focus on some of the “bigger names” and pricier contracts that have been handed out, while tomorrow’s post will focus more on the role players.
Zach Parise (F) to the Minnesota Wild for 13 years, $7.539 million cap hit
Parise will likely never play out this contract, so the term is irrelevant to me, but $7.5 million could be a significant cap dent if the new CBA ushers in a lower cap ceiling. All Wild fans can hope for now is that Parise meshes with Mikko Koivu, who is signed for another six years ($6.750m cap hit) and also sports a no-movement clause.
Ryan Suter (D) to the Minnesota Wild for 13 years, $7.539 million
Likewise with Parise, this is a significant dent to have on your cap, especially for a defensemen. The good thing is there are no other defensemen under contract for the Wild beyond 2014. Hopefully the Wild’s coaching staff can get all of these guys on the same page. I’d also expect the Wild to ditch their passive 1-2-2 forecheck now that they have an incredible arsenal of talent.
Matt Carle (D) to the Tampa Bay Lightning for 6 years, $5.5 million cap hit
Some feel Carle was kind of like the blueline version of Jordan Staal for the Flyers, buried on the depth chart behind bigger name players. Others feel the Lightning overpaid for someone who hasn’t cracked 6 goals since his rookie year (06-07). Either way, Carle was a 40 point defensemen on the market and those guys always get paid. A Carle/Hedman combo could prove to be lethal for the Lightning.
Dennis Wideman (D) to the Calgary Flames for 5 years, $5.250 million cap hit
You could make the same arguments for Wideman as you could Carle. Was Wideman’s production being stifled playing behind Chara in Boston and Green in Washington? It’s hard to know. Wideman has put up 30 point seasons and 50 point seasons in the past few of years. He could continue the same inconsistency in Calgary where the Flames are just identity-less and always on the verge of roster upheaval.
Jason Garrison (D) to the Vancouver Canucks for 6 years, $4.6 million cap hit
This is in an interesting contract. Garrison scored 16 goals and 33 points from the blueline last season for the Panthers, but it was only his second full season in the league and he’s already 27 years old. If he comes crashing back to earth, this is going to be one bad contract to have on the books, especially since he has a full no-trade clause.
Although many think he’ll be able to maintain those numbers playing with the uber-offensive Canucks, people forget there are four other capable defensemen on that roster who want their minutes with the Sedins and company. Keeping his blueline happy is probably not an easy task for head coach Alain Vigneault.
Last season Jagr scored 19 goals and 54 points for the Flyers. More importantly, he was universally praised in Philadelphia for his work ethic and being a mentor for young stars such as Claude Giroux. Obviously Dallas gave Jagr a substantial raise over last year’s ($3.3 million) contract in hopes he will do the same for their guns Loui Eriksson and Jamie Benn.
From a numbers perspective, it is hard to predict what kind of output Jagr will have at age 40. Last season his production slipped after the All-Star Game and he was a non-factor against the Devils in the playoffs when the Flyers finally ran into a real goalie. Still, if Jagr puts up around the same points and can help Loui become one of the best talents in the game, this signing will be a win.
Ray Whitney (F) to the Dallas Stars for 2 years, $4.5 million cap hit
The 40-year-old undersized Whitney proved to everybody last season he still has it. Whitney scored 24 goals and 77 pts for the more defensive oriented Coyotes, which was his highest output in three years. With a top 6 featuring Jagr, Benn, Eriksson, Roy, and Ryder, Whitney should be able to maintain a 60 point production despite being one of the oldest players in the NHL.
PA Parenteau (F) to the Colorado Avalanche for 4 years, $4 million cap hit
The 29 year old finally got his due after years of shuttling back and forth between the Show and the minors. After the Rangers let him walk two years ago, Parenteau went to the Islanders and tore it up with John Tavares. He scored 20 goals and 53 points in 2010-11 and 18 goals and 67 points this past season. It’s nice to see one of these pint size (his 6’0 200 lb listing is incredibly generous) AHL goal scorers finally transition to the NHL successfully.
Jiri Hudler (F) to the Calgary Flames for 4 years, $4 million cap hit
It’s hard to know whether Calgary got a 25 goal scorer or a 10 goal scorer. Over the next four years they’ll likely have both.
*Also, here’s my analysis of last offseason’s top free agent signings. It’s always fun to look back and see which players lived up to their contracts and which players did not.