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102 Hours Worth Of Free Agency Thoughts

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Okay, so my math may be a little off.  It’s Canada Day weekend, there shouldn’t be any arithmetic.  Unless, of course, you are an NHL general manager, than you better hope you have your math hat on.  A quick note to say I hope our fellow Canadian readers, as well as our loyal readers situated the south had an enjoyable holiday weekend.

Now, let’s divulge into what has so far been a somewhat reserved free agency period, One timer style.

–The big news coming out of free agency this hour is this report out of the L.A. Times that indicate the Los Angeles Kings are quite far apart on signing Ilya Kovalchuk. While they may not be out of the running entirely, Helene Elliott suggests the prospects are quite dim.  So where does Kovalchuk go?  The Islanders reportedly seem to be the only team willing to offer him the term he is looking for (rumoured to be 10 million for at least 10 years) but are there other suitors?  What about New Jersey?  Toronto?  One would think that although Burke would love to pull off the major move of free agency, the reasons Kings GM Dean Lombardi is balking about bringing in Kovy (term) is likely the same reasons Burkie has reservations.

–I thought the signing of Colby Armstrong was a good, albeit unsurprising addition.  While you can argue all day that they may have overpaid, the fact is, as Garrett Bauman pointed out, the market tends to get overinflated on July 1, and this year wasn’t all that different.  Still, at $3 million, “Army” gives the Leafs a guy who can hit, play tough, kill penalties, and chip in offensively.  Some are already bouncing around comparisons of a youthful Darcy Tucker, and I think that would suit most of us just fine if Armstrong could deliver that type of performance.

–My only word of advice to fans, not just to Toronto, but any team in general: Don’t doom these poor guys before they even step on the ice.  Already in free agency, I have heard lots of negativity towards certain signings, which creates a toxic atmosphere all around.

–Really thought we would see Martin Biron in Montreal backing up Carey Price, but I can’t say I don’t enjoy the fact they settled for Alex Auld instead, a move that has even the most loyal Habs fan shaking his head.  Biron also had his deal announced at 12:03, making July 1 the only day in the NHL where tampering doesn’t exist (unless of course your name is Brian Burke, then I am sure Gary would find a way.)

–Not sure I would have paid the dollar amount, or the yearly term, that the Senators did when they signed Sergei Gonchar, but the fact of the matter is the Senators got a good puck moving defenseman who will improve their powerplay dramatically.  Pittsburgh, meanwhile, could make off very smart by turning Sergei Gonchar into younger players Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek.

–I was upset a little bit to see Manny Malhotra be taken off the market courtesy of the Vancouver Canucks.  Malhotra is a guy I thought could really anchor the Maple Leafs penalty kill and fourth line, all the while bringing leadership and dependability to the team.  It is, however, quite possible that the Leafs were inquiring about the services of Malhotra, but were turned away by what can only be described as a steep price, no matter how you feel about inflated markets.

–Good on Tampa Bay for the early moves they have made this summer with Steve Yzerman at the helm.  Every single person who has dealt with Yzerman in the GM role say he is very educated, fair, and highly intelligent, which are all tangibles that could describe his play on the ice as well.  It looks like Stevie Y has a real firm vision for the Lightning, and fans in that area should be getting real excited.

–Speaking on the Lightning, I couldn’t have been happier to see Pavel Kubina return to Tampa Bay, a place I know he really enjoyed playing.  I was also one of the (few) Kubina supporters during his time with the Leafs.  While he doesn’t have great speed, I thought he used his size and intelligence well, and has a big, heavy shot from the point.

–A quick shout out to Flames GM Darryl Sutter.  What’s that?  There is nothing clinically wrong with him?  Oh…my mistake.  Seriously, did Sutter spend June 30th smoking weed and watching the AMC channel?  Hello, McFly, it’s not three years ago.  And further to the point, Sutter knows that team three years ago wasn’t very good either right?

–Nice to see Nikolai Kulemin and John Mitchell back in the fold.  I knew the Leafs would get a deal done with Kulemin, and when it was announced, I thought it was very fair for both sides involved.  Mitchell, meanwhile, will be the on the bubble and he knows it.  That contract is small enough that it could easily be allocated to the minors should Mitchell start the season slow.

So that’s the first 102 hours, give or take a few Molson Canadian…err, I mean hours.  What will the next hundreds of hours bring?  Who’s to say, but hopefully there is more excitement, and hopefully the Leafs can address their scoring.  One way or another.

With 102 hours of free agency in the books, what do you think so far?

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