UFA Cup Half Empty

Gainey says:

"I think that we want to play a fast game. We don't want to be vulnerable to (tough play). We have big guys. Perhaps we can be bigger and more rugged, but I think our philosophy is: We're quick, we're exciting, we're on the attack, we play to score, we're going to play to beat you within the rules. We just need to do it a little better."

Tom Benjamin wrote something a while ago (can't find the post now) stating something to the effect of this: Teams that win by playing tough don't get better by adding speed. They get better by getting tougher. Teams with speed don't get better by adding size, they get better by adding more speed. I think that's true. Play to your strengths and don't try to be everything to everyone.

Gainey also said:

"We'll be open to trying to find another forward. Our defence, we have some long-term sustainability."

Taking his comments as a whole, they suggest he might try to add a forward of a type we already have on the team. Beyond that, I have no idea what he's scheming. Could be a centre, left wing, right wing, could be a top liner, secondary scorer, checker or depth player. Any move that bumps a current 3rd liner down to the 4th would be an improvement.

A blockbuster long term signing is unlikely. With Plekanec, Higgins, Komisarek all expiring in 2009, a big ticket UFA might make for a tight squeeze to get under the cap. Koivu and Kovalev are expiring too, but even if they re-signed neither would take up any more proportional cap space than they do now. Anyway, this is a weak UFA year and it would make sense to save 2010-2015 cap space for a better player down the road.

I like the idea of going out West for a FA. The better conference translates to better value when contracts are based on counting numbers. Also, this is certain: he should be seeking a solid EV player, not a PP specialist.

TSN's Scott Cullen put together this list of impending FAs. I don't trust his judgement - an awful lot of the "next best" group of players appear to be better than a lot of the "top" group.

Below, I've picked all the players from Cullen's list that might just be pursued by Gainey, even if the chance is extremely remote.

Marian Hossa, RW, Pittsburgh
2.07 EVP/60, top line competition
Depending on what the Rangers do with Jagr, he may be a possibility. He's going to get big bucks despite his off year. The upside of the limited number of UFAs this summer is that a lot of the usual suspects have funds tied up in other players. Still, Hossa should have a few offers to juggle. I think the 'winning' contract will be a cripplingly long one. If Sather throws his hat into the ring, MTL will probably have to outbid them by a substantial margin.

Mats Sundin, C, Toronto
2.74 EVP/60, top line comp.

Daymond Langkow, C, Calgary
2.08 EVP/60, #2 line comp.
Solid player with numbers bolstered by Iggy. He won't be a bargain.

Kristian Huselius, LW, Calgary
2.11 EVP/60, #2/3 line comp.
Numbers took a jump, making him risky.

Sean Avery, LW, N.Y. Rangers
2.25 EVP/60, top line comp.
Not on my team.

Ryan Malone, LW, Pittsburgh
1.94 EVP/60, top line comp.
Not many players like him available this year, he'll get a whopper of a contract. Stay away Bob.

Radim Vrbata, RW, Phoenix
2.06 EVP/60, 3rd line comp.
Had ok scoring numbers against weak opp. in the PHX shooting gallery.

Brian Rolston, LW, Minnesota
1.42 EVP/60, #2 line comp.
Hard to imagine him leaving Min. If he does, he'll be in such demand that a good value deal is unlikely.

Jason Williams, RW, Chicago
2.06 EVP/60, top competition
Limited track record, but good production this year when he played. The most often mentioned UFA in the blogs this year? Is there too much buzz to get a good deal?

Vaclav Prospal, LW, Philadelphia
2.36 EVP/60, top line comp in Tampa
OK looking numbers, but was more of a passenger on the lines he was on in TB and Phi.

Michael Ryder, RW, Montreal
1.35 EVP/60, #1/#2 line comp.
He will be a good bargain somewhere, if someone can find a good home for him (secondary scoring line with a good centre).

Markus Naslund, RW, Vancouver
1.79 EVP/60, #3 line comp.
Old, but there is a good opportunity for value here. His stock is low, partly due to the defensive style of the Canucks. He would be moving into a higher scoring situation here. If he finds his way to Montreal I'm afraid Gorges will have to give up his sweater number.

Andrew Brunette, LW, Colorado
2.56 EVP/60, #2 line comp.

Pavol Demitra, LW, Minnesota
2.34 EVP/60, #3 line comp.

Cory Stillman, LW, Ottawa
1.93 EVP/60, #2 line comp.

Martin Straka, LW, N.Y. Rangers
2.17 EVP/60, #2 line comp.

Miroslav Satan, LW, N.Y. Islanders
1.65 EVP/60, #2/3 line comp.
Skated with the likes of Vasicek and Bergenheim. His dip in production might mean good value, but some nutty GM will probably be willing to overpay.

Niklas Hagman, LW, Dallas
1.91 EVP/60, #2 line comp
He had an unfortunate (for us) production spike in a contract year, which will raise his price. He played top 6 difficulty minutes for DAL, looks like good 3rd liner.

Jay Pandolfo, LW, New Jersey
1.99 EVP/60, #1 line comp

Chris Kelly, C, Ottawa
1.68 EVP/60, #2/3 line comp
Didn't look quite as good this year with less depth in OTT. Possible 3rd line C.

Bryan Smolinski, C, Montreal
1.54 EVP/60, top line comp
Did an adequate job for his role. Had a bad sv% behind him, making his +/- uglier than it should have been.

Antti Miettinen, RW, Dallas
1.94 EVP/60, #3 line comp
Not quite as good as Hagman. There are better bottom 6 options out there.

Jaroslav Hlinka, C, Colorado
2.28 EVP/60, #2 line comp.

David Vyborny, RW, Columbus
1.1 EVP/60, #2 line comp
His numbers took a nose dive on Hitchcock's Bluejackets. Could be a bottom 6 steal.

Ladislav Nagy, LW, Los Angeles
1.95 EVP/60, #3/4 line comp
Had some decent linemates, faced weak opp and had poor production. Like Vyborny, he is a gamble.

Pascal Dupuis, LW, Pittsburgh
1.46 EVP/60, #2/3 line comp
OK 3rd/4th liner inexplicably playing on Crosby's wing this Spring. He's the kind of guy the Habs should have picked up in February.

Ruslan Fedotenko, LW, N.Y. Islanders
1.5 EVP/60, #1/2 line comp
Not much in the way of counting numbers. Played pretty tough opp. Could be a bargain and produce with better players.

Matt Cooke, LW, Washington
1.17 EVP/60, #3 line comp

Randy Robitaille, C, Ottawa
1.83 EVP/60, #3 line comp

Niko Kapanen, C, Phoenix
0.91 EVP/60, #3 line comp
Weak opp in the desert and did nothing.

Chris Gratton, C, Tampa Bay
1.54 EVP/60, #3 line comp
Bottom 6 in Tampa, did little at EV, takes penalties.

Matt Bradley, RW, Washington
1.36 EVP/60, #4 line comp
4th liner on a team without a lot of depth.

Patrick Rissmiller, LW, San Jose
1.2 EVP/60, #2 line comp
With Grier/Mitchell, he played some tough mins in a tough division. He would cost peanuts and is a prime candidate to do a good job in a bottom 6 role. This year's Kostopoulos?

Georges Laraque, RW, Pittsburgh
1.35 EVP/60, 4th line comp

Josef Vasicek, C, N.Y. Islanders
1.57 EVP/60, #2 line comp
Not bad EV shot numbers, and only 27.

Mark Streit, D/W, Montreal
1.57 EVP/60, #3 line comp
PP numbers inflate his value. If he's paid market value for his counting numbers, it's bad value.

That's it?? So this is why Brunnstrom is such a hot commodity.


"Junior hockey phenom John Tavares has fired his agent and will now be represented by his mother, the Toronto Star reported in Tuesday's editions"

Remember the last Next One?
The Oshawa Generals phenom?
Who was ready to play in the NHL at 17, draft be damned?
Who was represented by a family member?

Yeah, that worked out well.


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