Free Agency Frenzy Recap - The Rest of the League

It has been nearly 24 hours since the start of free agency yesterday.  In that time, $321.1 million was spent on free agents.  Overall, $932 million has been spent on this free agent class since Martin St. Louis negotiated an extesnion last July.  That is an average of more than $31 million per team.  The shocking part?  Restricted free agency isn't even counted in this because no offer sheets were declined yet.  More surprising yet, the 4 players expected to be the highest paid of this class of free agents have not even signed deals yet.  I am, of course, speaking of Brad Richards, Tomas Vokoun, Steven Stamkos, and Drew Doughty.  Doughty, Richards, and Stamkos all stand to pull in deals worth $7-8 million a year, cap wise.  Vokoun will have a hard time finding a suitor to take him, but he could easily fetch $7 million as well.

Perhaps the most amazing thing is that there are still 13 teams who are below the salary floor, meaning they absolutely have to make more signings or else face legal action from the players union.

With that in mind, let's take a look at the signings of the rest of the league, shall we?  You can view Red Wings signings here.

I'll start this off by thanking Cap Geek, Yahoo! Sports, ESPN, and TSN.  These are my sources and where I got all my information yesterday regarding the free agency.  There will be no links beyond this point, everything comes from those four sites.

Former Red Wings

  • Derek Meech - Winnipeg Jets - 1 year, $700,000
    I will start the second part of my recap off with my favorite signing of yesterday, Derek Meech.  Forever at the core of our jokes, Meech has shown very little NHL potential.  In all likelihood, he will spend his career as an AHL player playing a handful of big league games each year.  For Meech, the Jets offer a better chance of playing more game in the NHL and a chance to start fresh.  For the Jets, Meech offers little in terms of play.  However, he does have years in the Detroit Red Wings system.  Our farm system is the gold standard and Meech will provide priceless leadership and mentorship to the new Jets farm system.  Great move by the Jets, great decision by Meech.  I wish him luck in Winnipeg.
  • Andreas Lilja - Philadelphia Flyers - 2 years, $1.475 million
    There was a very common theme yesterday: teams overspending, particularly Florida, Buffalo, and Philadelphia.  This, however, was the only level headed move that any of those three teams did.  Despite his deficiencies, Lilja is a serviceable 3rd pairing defenseman and at just a $737k cap hit, there was little risk in signing him.  The Flyers were short on cap space, so this was a great signing in a market where defenseman got overpaid at every turn.
  • Tomas Fleischmann - Florida Panthers - 4 years, $18 million
    Speaking of those three teams overpaying.  Tomas Fleischmann is a former draft pick of the Red Wings, once considered a very promising prospect for us.  We lost him in the Robert Lang trade a few years back and he has slowly developed into a decent player.  Many commenters in the Open Threads yesterday were salivating at the idea of Fleischmann returning, but there was no way Holland would pay him $4.5 million.  The Panthers need to hit the cap floor, though, so this was a decent signing for them.

  • Ville Leino - Buffalo Sabres - 6 years, $27 million
    Leino may very well become the best undrafted player in the league.  The former Swedish league MVP was plucked off waivers from Detroit by the Flyers two seasons ago and quickly became a star there, often cited as the main reason they made it to the Finals that season.  However, the Sabres really overpaid for his services.  He may be worth $4.5 million, but he has not proven himself worthy of a 6 year contract yet.  The Sabres obviously hope he grows into it, but there is still doubt as to whether he will ever be more than a second line forward.

The Rest of the League

  • Jaromir Jagr - Philadelphia Flyers - 1 year, $3.3 million
    Ok, now that you have stopped laughing long enough to make it to the recap, let us discuss what really happened here: Jagr and his agent played the Red Wings and Penguins like fiddles.  He used us both to drum up interest and then began a bidding war.  The Penguins and Wings bowed out as soon as the bidding war began and the Flyers offered $3.3 million to him.  I will be straightforward: Jagr is not worth that, especially on a team that is in cap trouble.  In addition, Jagr may have managed to fully destroy his relationship with Pittsburgh in the process, which is a downright shame.
  • James Wisniewski - Columbus Blue Jackets - 6 years, $33 million
    Wisniewski was often cited as the ideal signing for Detroit, but that was not the case.  Wisniewski will be one of the highest paid players in the league for the next two seasons.  With bonuses, he will make $9 million thisyear and then $10 million next year.  I will leave you with this quote:

"For me, knowing Detroit's history they don't really pay the market value for a defenseman or any player,'' Wisniewski said on NHL Live. "So I didn't think that was going to be a fit for myself.

  • Michal Handzus - San Jose Sharks - 2 years, $5 million
    I include Handzus in this recap for two reasons. First, as a precautionary tale.  It was reported at 12:15PM yesterday that he would be returning to Philadelphia who was overpaying.  This turned out to be false and his agent had to do a mad scramble and it turns out that they had never even spoke with Philly. The second reason I include him is that he is going to current playoff enemy San Jose, replacing Ben Eager who signed a decent deal with Edmonton.  The Sharks did not overpay for Handzus and we will definitely need to keep our heads up when he is on the ice.
  • J.S. Giguerre - 2 years, $2.5 million & Seymon Varlamov - 3 years, $8.5 million - Colorado Avalanche
    Acquiring these two was arguably the best deal of the day.  Colorado was in negotiations with Tomas Vokoun, but Vokoun overvalued himself and the Avs bowed out of the negotations only to pull the trigger on a trade to acquire Varlamov (an RFA) from Washington, sign him to a deal and then sign Giguerre.  Both are reasonably priced and should provide a great goalie duo in Colorado, provided they can stay healthy.
  • Erik Cole - Montreal Canadiens - 4 years, $18 million
    I include this just to show how bad a deal Fleischmann was signed to.  Erik Cole, a proven commodity who will likely excel without Eric Staal in front of him, was signed to an identical contract.  While I would have liked to see him signed for $4 million, Montreal was right to overpay slightly to get him.  He will be a perennial all star candidate for the Canadiens.
  • Maxime Talbot - Philadelphia Flyers - 5 years, $9 million
    While a $1.8 million cap hit is not horrible, the Flyers are taking a gamble by signing him for 5 years.  Talbot, on the other hand, pulled a Jagr and burned all bridges with the insanely loyal fans of Pittsburgh.
  • Jan Hejda - Colorado Avalanche - 4 years, $13 million
    When the dust settled and it appeared that most of the free agent defenseman worth anything had already signed, Wings fans turned their heads toward the Blue Jackets.  We fans picked wrong, though.  We signed Commodore instead of Hejda, who got a heft contract from Colorado.  With the Avs having one of the best farm systems in the league, this contract will end right as Colorado starts feeding its youngsters into the lineup and Hejda will really have to prove himself to have any real future with Colorado.
  • Ed Jovanovski - Florida Panthers - 4 years, $16.5 million
    Here is that theme again: Florida overpaid for Jovanovski.  They needed to,being  so far from the cap floor, but they overpaid nonetheless.  With the "35+" rule in effect, Jovanovski will cost them $4.125 million against the cap even if he retires.  Ideally, Jovanovski would have gotten something along the lines of 3 years and $9 million, something I would have been ok with the Wings signing him for, but I cannot be angry that the Panthers overpaid him here.  As it stands, they still have not hit that cap floor.  Even after overpaying Jovanovski, Jose Theodore, Fleischmann, and Scottie Upshall.

And that is it for now.  It is being hurled around Twitter right now that Brad Richards is about to sign an astronomical deal with the Rangers, so keep an eye out for that.  Otherwise, I wonder what else is in store this offseason?

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