After a bewildering and emotional first few days of NHL free agency, let's review the Top 5 stunners:
5. The Capitals think they won the Stanley Cup.
Except they didn't. Again. OK, so this isn't the least bit surprising, but I couldn't leave it out. GM George McPhee, last seen on the verge of tears and sinking into the side of an elevator on some episode of 24/7, deserves kudos for shipping Semyon Varlamov to Colorado for 1st and 2nd round draft choices, snagging Troy Brouwer from the Hawks for a 1st round pick, and somehow convincing UFA Tomas Vokoun - a legit number 1 goalie - to sign for 1 year at $1.5 million. Stellar. McPhee somewhat undermined these moves by overpaying free agents Brooks Laich, Joel Ward, and Roman Hamrlik, but there is no doubt the Caps were a big winner this weekend. The key phrase being "this weekend." But the Caps being the Caps, they basically raised a championship banner on July 1. You would think Ted Leonsis would have learned by now to avoid premature coronations, but you'd be wrong. He's already written another love letter to his team.
|"We're tremendous, don't you think?"|
You think Paul Martin is overpaid? Maybe he is. But Ray Shero was ahead of the curve last season when he locked up Martin and Zbynek Michalek long term, because people lost their minds on Friday scrambling to sign the top defenseman in an increasingly thin field of free agents. Columbus signed James Wisniewski to a 6 year, $33 million deal. Let that sink in. Now consider that the Penguins have Kris Letang at a $3.5 million cap hit for three more seasons.
|Looking Up at James Wisniewski|
Dale Tallon is the salary cap genius who as Blackhawks GM signed Brian Campbell to that 8-year, $7.1 million dollar per year contract, hamstringing the Hawks and forcing them to dismantle a Cup champion, at least until Chicago finally - incredibly - had that albatross lifted from its neck by - wait for it - Panthers GM Dale Tallon! And Tallon was just getting started. When the clock struck noon on Friday, in a race to hit the salary cap floor, Tallon shelled out about $18 million per season for a tasting menu of Tomas Fleischmann (4 yrs, $18 million), Scottie Upshall (4 yrs, $14 million), Tomas Kopecky (4 yrs, $12 million), Sean Bergenheim (4 yrs, $11 million), Marcel Goc (3 yrs, $5.1 million), and - this is the best - 35-year-old Ed Jovanovski (4 yrs, $16.5 million). Not exactly five star dining. In fact, I just threw up a little in my mouth. By this measure, Max Talbot at 5 yrs, $9 million almost makes sense. Almost.
2. Paul Holmgren is on crack.
We love Max Talbot. Game 7 hero, great locker room guy, wonderful in the community, yada, yada, yada. But it was highly questionable for Ray Shero to even offer Talbot a three year deal. Based solely on production - not character or reputation - Talbot may have had a problem cracking the Penguin lineup as soon as this season. If everybody's healthy, the following forwards are certain to be among the top 12 coming out of training camp: Crosby, Malkin, Staal, Kunitz, Kennedy, Dupuis, Cooke, Neal, Adams, Sullivan, and Asham. That would have left Talbot to battle Letestu, Jeffrey, and Tangradi for the final spot. Anybody think that was sure thing for Max? He had to take that Flyers contract. It's hard to swallow for the fans, I understand, but come on. Talbot disappeared for long stretches in each of the last two seasons, scoring a grand total of 10 goals. He is going to be stealing from the Flyers for the next half decade. All I can tell you Max is, thanks again.
|"Don't wake Holmgren."|
Too harsh? We don't need to rehash everything that went down on #jagrwatch. Let's just leave it at this: Jagr attempted to explain his choice to join the Flyers by reasoning that Crosby, Malkin, Datsyuk, and Zetterberg are all left-handed, and he prefers working with right-handed centers like Briere and Giroux. Makes about as much sense as anything that happened this weekend.
|Could Have Sworn He Was Left-Handed, Too|