Hoo wee! KrogBlog history today! I'm gonna continually update this post as NHL free agent news pours in. It's a neat technique I learned from every other blog online. All times are Pacific, of course, because the West Coast is the best coast. Common knowledge.
9:55am - The Lightning resigned Vaclav Prospal last night, but the terms were not disclosed, possibly due to embarrassment. The Lightning just heard about the salary cap right after the signing and didn't want people to realize they messed up with another $5 million a year player. Brian Rolston, a big believer in sunshine laws, then told the Lightning he was going to hit the market. The Lightning got nothing for the draft pick they sent Minnesota. The upshot? It's not a further cap hit.
9:57am - The Capitals gave Mike Green $21 million over 4 years. Nobody worries about Washington keeping their team together even though Viktor Kozlov is a UFA after next season.
10:00am - The Pens have kept Pascal Dupuis for about $1.3 million a season. Very reasonable and he could replace Malone's points next year, although obviously not Malone's toughness. Pascal, I am asking you right now to shoot next year. Shoot, shoot, shoot. Shoot at all times in all situations. Don't make the extra pass. The extra pass is Crosby's job. Your job is to shoot. SHOOT! (NOTE: Word is, Dupuis' contract has a bonus beard clause. If he lets that face carpet go all season, he gets an extra $100,000 per inch of beard. And judging from his playoff beard, it'll look like Billy Gibbons is skating next to Sid by December.
10:09am - Still no word on Hossa, although one Boston columnist doesn't think the Bruins can afford him, despite the relentless buzz that Boston would try. Because, get this, the Bruins are already paying some guys a lot of money and couldn't add an $8 million player to the mix. Of course, I already mentioned that a month ago. You'll also note that I predicted the Bruins would cut Glen Murray and his huge deal, something that is now being talked about. Seriously, is it this easy to be a sportswriter?
10:16am - One player the Penguins were supposedly interested in, Radim Vrbata, just signed with...hold on...you'll never guess...Tampa Bay. Three years, $3 million per season. In his career, Radim Vrbata has been traded three times. Once for Bates Battaglia, once for Kevyn Adams and once for Future Considerations. Vrbata allegedly got interest from a lot of teams, so $3 million seems pretty cheap. Particularly when his career high 56 points last year was more than Malone had. More points, less money. Either Radim Vrbata has a really bad agent or he's a natural follower that didn't want to miss the party in Tampa. (UPDATE: Word is Tampa's owners misread the league's CBA and thought the salary cap was $156 million. Now they're scrambling, trying to figure out what to do.)
10:20am - Tampa announces a revolutionary lineup strategy for next season. Six forwards on the ice at all times, no defensemen, no goalie. Their signings finally make sense.
10:22am - Tampa signs Mike Gartner for 2 years, $12 million.
10:35am - After the Kings traded Mike Cammalleri to Calgary, the Penguins' grand plan to unload Malkin fell apart. Can't believe the Kings would make a three-team deal in which they gave up Cammalleri for the #12 pick when they could've had Malkin! It's almost like...like...Bruce Garrioch is just making stuff up. Weird. The Canadian media is usually so solid with trade rumors. Anyway, since they couldn't unload Malkin, the Penguins had no choice to resign him. Word is, he getting the same amount of cash money each year as Crosby. That leaves...calculating...calculating...pending...$38 million for rest of the team. There's no way we can keep Jordan Staal now! Everybody was right when they said Pittsburgh could never keep this nucleus together!
10:50am - Malkin's and Crosby's salaries combined put them in line with team tandems like Iginla and Phaneuf, Heatley and Spezza, Gomez and Drury and Briere and Timonen. The difference is, Malkin and Crosby are the two best players in the league. Curiously, even though Iginla, Phaneuf and Kiprusoff all make $7, 7 and 8 million a year, nobody worries about Calgary keeping their team together. Nor are they concerned about keeping Gomez, Drury and Lundqvist together. No, only Pittsburgh has cap issues.
11:04am - The Devils are keeping Bryce Salvador, Jay Pandolfo, David Clarkson and Barry Tallackson. This should finally help New Jersey get past the 1,000 season tickets sold plateau.
11:05am - One of the earliest deals today was Edmonton moving Joni Pitkanen to Carolina for Erik Cole. Two things here. One, with Cole gone, will Carolina fans continue to boo Brooks Orpik? Two, Edmonton will definitely be trading Erik Cole next summer as he's now infected with the Chris Pronger one year curse. They traded Pronger for Lupul, then the next year traded Lupul for Pitkanen and now another year down the line traded Pitkanen for Cole. Since I do well on IQ tests, I can recognize the pattern here and predict that Cole is traded for a defenseman in 2009. Nice to see Edmonton has such a solid plan for the future in place. Carolina, now they have a plan in place. They want seven defenseman that skate, move the puck and don't check anybody.
11:10am - Andrew Brunette is returning to Minnesota from Colorado, keeping his promise to only play in cities that have good college hockey.
11:12am - The Penguins have kept Mark Eaton for less than he made last year. He either really likes Rayjean Shero or really feels guilty about only playing 71 games the last two seasons combined. Either way, Eaton is really good and if he is taking less money, we can use the savings to up the deductible on his health insurance and save a little money. I like the signing, which means it's a total success!
11:34am - The Lightning have not signed anybody in the last 90 minutes. Sources say the Tampa fire department is checking the team offices for a carbon monoxide leak, assuming that if they aren't signing anybody, they must all be passed out.
12:03pm - If we start getting into speculation, this post will be longer than I am, but it would be many kinds of awesome if Jerry Jags returned to Pittsburgh. The only thing better would be Vancouver giving Mats Sundin $20 million for 2 years and 150 total points.
12:04pm - Jose Theodore has left Colorado for Washington, which means Cristobel Huet will be going elsewhere. Huet's agent made it clear earlier that he views this summer as Huet's one and only chance for a big free agent contract. Hey, you know who needs a goalie? Tampa Bay! Theodore apparently will get $4.5 million a year. Wow. Golly. I guess Washington's strategy was if you can't sign the best FA goalie, go for the second best. Even if those two guys are Cristobal Huet and Jose Theodore.
12:06pm - Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo's hockey blog is possibly anti-Penguins and is very, very, very possibly a terrible writer and terrible hockey mind. You could do a hell of a lot worse than a second line of Ryan Malone-Steven Stamkos-Radim Vrbata. He's right, you know. You can put Jussi Jokinen on that line instead. Radim Vrbata had 41 points in 2006-2007. That would also be doing a hell of a lot worse.
12:13pm - The second Penguins cult hero from this season is gone. Ty Conklin is now with Detroit. He will not get a Stanley Cup ring. Also, the Canadiens have kept their RFA, Andrei Kostitsyn, who is actually one of their best players.
12:15pm - Todd Fedoruk signed a 3 year deal with Phoenix. Between now and 2012, the most common Fedoruk-related quote will be, "Todd Fedoruk? He's still in the league?"
12:29pm - The Leafs gave Jeff Finger $3.5 million a year for 4 years. Yes, THE Jeff Finger. They also brought back Curtis Joseph for about the fifth time. Nice to see the new regime in Toronto is doing things totally differently. Jeff Finger had 19 points, 40 PIMs and a +12 last season. So his most impressive statistic is now...$3.5 million per season.
12:50pm - Balls. Not only is the Tampa Bay brass alive and well, they just signed Adam Hall away from the Penguins. That's too bad. I really liked Hall. He played hard, played a great checking role and even gave up his #18 for Marian Hossa. And it couldn't have been about the money, since Tampa only gave him 3 years, $600,000 per. Outsports is trying to confirm a secret relationship between Malone and Hall. And has anybody asked Mathieu Darche what he thinks of Tampa bringing in 15 forwards to compete for his spot?
12:52pm - At 3:40pm ET, two goons went off the board. The Rangers took Aaron Voros and the Penguins signed Eric Godard. Godard, who - ahem - still actually fights, must be replacing Big Georges Laraque. However much Godard is getting, it can't be anywhere near the $1.75 million Laraque will get.
12:54pm - Chicago is slowly and stealthily getting better and they just signed Cristobal Huet. Finally, Khabibulin is free to return to Tampa Bay!
12:55pm - Cory Stillman at $3.2 million is a much better signing than Radim Vrbata. Too bad he has to play in Florida now.
12:58pm - Word is Godard will get $550,000 a year. Economical! Rayjean Shero definitely knows how to get value when he needs it. I proposed replacing Laraque with a much cheaper goon/enforcer/blockhead earlier and it's nice to know Shero is a regular reader.
1:06pm - Much talk about the Penguins about signing Darcy Tucker goes nowhere, as he's signed with Colorado. Of course, for $2.25 million a year, the Penguins are better off without him. Unless we lose Ruutu. Tucker will have a lot of room in the Colorado locker room, since the Avalanche lost Kurt Sauer and Jeff Finger today. How will they ever replace their third defensive pairing?
1:08pm - As suspected, the increased salary cap and floor has money flying around like a 20-man bachelor party blowing through Las Vegas. Speaking of which, rumor has it that the Rangers are looking at Orpik, Redden and Campbell. How do they handle that? Is every offer contingent? Could they put out three offers and unexpectedly have all three accepted and then they're stuck paying three defensemen $18 million a year? That would be fun and amusing. "Well, once we got Redden, we didn't want Orpik, but he sent back a signed contract before we could void it. So...I guess we'll make it work."
1:33pm - Tampa signed Olaf Kolzig to a 1-year, $1.5 million deal loaded with bonuses. Kolzig was so terrible last year that a decent young Caps team had no chance of making the playoffs until they benched Kolzig. I wonder if one of the bonus clauses is "$5,000 if you beat out Mike Smith for the starting job." Which...if Kolzig does beat out Smith for that job, they might be even worse off than they were an hour ago. Who has the more...nebulous...goalie situation right now? Tampa with Kolzig, Smith and Ramo, Washington with Theodore and Brent Johnson or Colorado with Budaj and Raycroft? If the league follows through on promises and does actually shrink goalie equipment this summer, those three teams are going to get all kinds of lit up.
1:37pm - I know Shero is smart and I know I shouldn't panic, but uh...shouldn't we be signing a winger? I know offers are out to Hossa, Rolston, Jagr, Naslund and Huselius with Ryder in the background, but other teams have heard of those guys too. Right now, our lines are Dupuis-Crosby-X, Sykora-Malkin-X, Talbot-Staal-Kennedy and Godard-Taffe-X. That's a little thin up front for my tastes.
1:39pm - Speaking of which, it seems pretty clear that Detroit is Hossa's first choice and we are clearly his second, even though we're offering more money. Kind of a weird situation. This is the type of thing an ugly guy has to deal with. He asks a girl if she's free Friday and she says yes, unless Dave calls her.
1:57pm - The breathless anticipation can finally stop. Alex Auld has signed with Ottawa.
2:45pm - It's only 15 hours into free agency, but nothing that Larry Brooks has predicted is even coming close to being true. Though I guess it's possible that Hossa just rejected 12 years, $100 million from Boston. They haven't resigned Roszival either, despite Larry's soothsaying a few weeks ago. As a reminder, the man gets paid for this column.
2:51pm - It's possible that Rocky Wirtz hated his dad, Bill. After the old man died and was buried in a $35 unfinished pine box as requested, Rocky immediately put Blackhawks home games on local Chicago TV, undoing nearly a decade of dad's bad work. Today, he's throwing money around like a trophy wife renovating the master bathroom. First, it was $5.625 million a year for Cristobal Huet. Now it's a staggering, stunning, whopping, major $56.8 million for Brian Campbell. Over 8 years, that's $454 million a year! Wait, divide not multiply. $7.1 million! Still, that's a lot!
Chara and Lidstrom are the only defenseman who will make more per year than Campbell. Though the way his deal is structured, Kimmo Timonen actually makes $8 million last season and this coming one. Kimmo Timonen! Jesus, Philadelphia! What the hell? Lubomir Visnovsky is on the books for $7 million last season and this one. Jesus, Los Angeles and Edmonton!
Last year, Brian Campbell had 62 points, 20 PIMs and a +8. The year before, he had 48 points, 35 PIMs and was +28. He's clearly a #1 defenseman in the NHL, but wow. Maybe he got an extra $2 million a season because his hair will match his new Blackhawks home sweater. The one thing Brian Campbell did best in 2007-2008 is time his UFA year to come when there were no other good defenseman available during a cap bump. That's the kind of crafty leadership Chicago needs!
3:03pm - Some numbers to consider. When they add in Campbell, Chicago will be $2 million over the cap. Assuming they didn't sign Huet as trade bait, that probably means Khabibulin has to be moved. Shouldn't be too hard. What team wouldn't want a goalie earning $6.75 million in the last year of his contract after going 23-20 with a .909 save percentage last season? May I suggest Tampa Bay as possible destination?
On Chicago's payroll, Havlat, Lang, Sharp, Byfuglien, Ladd, Seabrook, Sopel, Campbell, Keith and Huet will combine to make $38 million. Every other player on the roster will make under $1 million next year, including Toews and Kane, who fought each other for the Calder this year. How will Chicago keep this young team together?! Probably by letting Havlat and Lang go when their contracts expire next summer.
Tampa will be right up against the cap this year, but under it. It's next year they have to worry about. Right now, for 09-10, Tampa has 12 guys signed, but they'll eat up $38 million of cap space. And they'll literally have no goalie. I'm sure they will be quite active in free agency once again.
3:13pm - Mike Commodore took 5 years, $18.75 million to play for Columbus. Ottawa's deadline deal of Eaves and Corvo for Stillman and Commodore netted them a first round sweep and no players after July 1.
3:31pm - Brian Rolston will not play for the Penguins, but he will play against them at least six times next season. Rolston will earn $5 million a year in each of the next four years in New Jersey. Good news for him is if he recreates his last two seasons and puts up 64 or 59 points, he'll be one of New Jersey's top two scorers. They won't feel like they overpaid at all!
3:32pm - Word is, Hossa might not make a decision until tomorrow. That somewhat crimps Rayjean's plan to get confirmation from Hossa and then proceed accordingly. Huselius, Ryder, Naslund, Jagr are all still floating around in the Crab Nebula. I have big hopes for Huselius and think if he got $5 million per, he'd be the best of the league's new $5 millionaires. But I still like Rayjean's determination to not overpay just because everybody else is. As it stands now, we would be well under the cap and ready to strike next summer when Travis Moen hits the open market. Or Max Afinogenov. Or Erik Cole. Or Alex Tanguay. Or the Sedins. Jonathan Filewich, 2008-09 is a big opportunity for you!
3:55pm - The Devils signed Bobby Holik. They've finally found the gritty checker they've been searching for for years.
3:55pm - Niklas Hagman signed with Toronto for 4 years, $3 million per. I guess he hadn't heard about Jeff Finger getting $3.5 per. Hagman was another name tossed around as a potential Penguins winger. Hagman is more potential than anything else, but the pickings get a little slimmer for Pittsburgh. TIOSP, who is completely tuned in, keeps saying that the $4.5-5 million per year Huselius wants is too rich for Rayjean's tastes. Rayjean knows around 10,000 times more about hockey than I do (rough estimate), but I think that's fine for Huselius. Two seasons ago, he had 77 points and a +28. Last year, he struggled and still has 66 points. But he had 30 points in 25 games when paired with Iginla. If $5 million is the league's going rate, if that's what Malone and Rolston are getting, shouldn't Huselius get as much?
4:02pm - Hey, Larry Brooks was right about something! The Rangers did resign Michal Roszival for $5 million a year. No word yet if they've been able to get Mark Streit for $2 million a year or Joe Melichar for $25,000. (NOTE: Mark Streit had as many points as Brian Campbell did last year, one more power play point and more shots. He did have a worse +/-, though, -8. He also has sat back today and watched Campbell get $7.1 million, Roszival 5, Mike Green 5.2 and even Mike Commodore 3.2. Streit will be expensive. Hell, Jeff Goddamn Finger got $3.5 million. Jeff Finger! Man, Leafs fans are already preparing to run Finger out of town.)
4:26pm - Bored and lonely after six hours of idleness, Tampa Bay's ownership just cut Martin St. Louis and then immediately resigned him to the exact same contract.
4:46pm - Roszival wasn't enough for the Rangers. Now they've signed Wade Redden for $6.5 million per year for six years. Next year, Redden and Roszival will combine to earn $11.5 million on the blueline. Here's hoping they also combine to go +110. Redden, Roszival, Gomez, Drury and Lundqvist next season will earn $34 million. The other 17 guys on the roster will have to make do with the other $22 million. Right now, the Rangers' third highest paid forward is Petr Prucha at $1.6 million. After him is Dubinsky at $650,000. It's the gilded age all over again. Note to Jagr, Straka, Shanahan and Avery: I don't know where you'll be playing next season, but I'll be damned if it's in the Garden.
Side point to this Redden signing. A few years ago, Ottawa had to choose between keeping Redden or Chara as they both headed toward free agency. They let Chara go to Boston, which most people thought was the wrong decision. Redden's play slumped, he's been chased out of town and now Ottawa has neither man. They really have it together up there in the Canadian capital!
5:25pm - Mark Streit just got $4.1 million a year for 5 years. The bad news is, now he has to play for the Islanders. Their power play isn't nearly as good as the Canadiens. It's not nearly as good as your beer league team's power play. So expect Streit's numbers to dip a touch.
5:26pm - Hooooooo man. That's about it for Day 1 of free agency. The Pens held pretty steady and did a nice job of bringing back Eaton and Dupuis on the cheap. Godard can replace Laraque at a quarter of the price. Across the league, some teams like Atlanta and Los Angeles spent the day playing golf. Others like Chicago and Tampa Bay went completely insane. Pittsburgh was somewhere in the bottom of the middle. If Hossa comes back or we get Huselius, it's been a good start to the summer. If not, we need a surprise to step up next season, which is known in Pittsburgh as pulling a Sykora.
I'm no math whiz. I'm no capologist. I'm just one handsome man with Google and I think some teams are going to be severely constrained fiscally in the next year or two. Some of these signings today were just preposterous. I mean, as I understand it, if Chicago tried to waive Khabibulin to buy him out, and some team snagged him from the wire, Chicago would have to pay half of his salary.
More tomorrow as the ridiculous continues.