I wrote an article a few weeks ago in anticipation of the start of the NHL free agency period. I described it as the NHL’s “silly season”. I had no idea it would be as silly as it was.
In an off-season where very few marquee free agents were available, teams paid major dollars for players who could best be described as fringe. $300 million was spent on Tuesday, with players such as Jeff Finger (4 years, $14 million) and Michael Ryder (3 years, $12 million) getting some of the more eyebrow raising deals. Finger has less than 100 games of NHL experience and Ryder, although a former 30 goal scorer, spent the majority of Montreal’s playoff run in the press box. Even teams that didn’t get the chance to spend much money were making headlines. The Vancouver Canucks offer of 2 years, $20 million to Mats Sundin blew anything else Sundin was offered out of the water.
One of the more interesting signings occurred yesterday when Marian Hossa signed a one year, $7.45 million deal with the Detroit Red Wings. It may become apparent in my articles that I am a Wings fan, and while I am absolutely thrilled he chose Detroit (can you say repeat?), it was one of the more puzzling signings that I can remember. Various sources had teams throwing big money at Hossa, who was reportedly offered a 7 year, $50 million deal by the Penguins before July 1. Edmonton was apparently prepared to sign Hossa to a 9 year contract in excess of $80 million. For a player of Hossa’s pedigree to turn down that amount of money in this day in age is almost unheard of.
But after seeing the Stanley Cup when it visited Newfoundland earlier this week, it’s not difficult Hossa’s desire to win it, especially after coming so close with the Pens this year. While there is still a season to be played, it’s hard not to like the Wings chances to repeat.
There are still some solid free agents left on the market, with players like Sundin and Jaromir Jagr still without homes for next season. Although most of the money has been spent already, expect to see some negotiations drag on right until training camp, especially when some guys (I’m talking about you Mats) can’t decide whether they want to play next year or not. The drama will continue.