July 1st Free Agent Frenzy



So it’s July 1st at 12:00 noon and the free agent frenzy has begun.

The Flames jumped the gun by signing Edmonton native, Jay Bouwmeester (I’m gonna have to get used to typing that one!) to a 5-year deal after trading for the right to negociate with the soon-to-be-UFA by sending Jordan Leopold and a 3rd round pick to Florida.

Flames GM Darryl Sutter took a gamble with this trade, but it paid off for him after Bouwmeester agreed to a contract that will see him earn more than $6 Million per season for the next 5 years in a Flames uniform.

Vancouver was the next team to make a big-deal, re-signing the Sedin twins to 5-year $6.1 Million contracts about 1 hour prior to the noon deadline. Canucks fans (who are notorious for loving the Sedin sisters) should be content with this signing, which was made ever more important a short while later when Matthias Ohlund booked his flight from Sweden to the sunshine after signing with the Tampa Bay Lightning for 7 years (Seven years?!!! for a 32 year old?!!!). At least the Canucks can leverage the Sedins when attempting to get Roboto Luongo to re-sign soon.

The Ohlund signing seems to be a good fit for Tampa, who just acquired 6’6″ Swedish defenceman Victor Hedman in the Draft. Presumably, Ohlund will tutor the young Swede as he breaks into the NHL.

There was a bit of a lull in free agent signings until the next big name was signed just after 2pm. Marian Hossa agreed to a 12-year, $62.8 Million deal with the Chicago Blackhawks. The Hossa deal is front-loaded (a trend today), with him earning $59.3M in the first 8 years, and $3.5M in the final 4 years of the contract.

Other notable free agent players signed early were ex-Oiler goalie, Dwayne Roloson (NY Islanders, 2yrs, $5M), Mike Knuble, (Washington, 2yrs, $5.4M), Ty Conklin (St. Louis, 2yrs, $2.6M), Thomas Kopecky (Chicago, 2yrs, $2.4M) and ex-Flame Steve Montador (Buffalo, 2yrs, $3.1M)

As I went out to shop for some BBQ supplies for this evening, Scott Niedermayer had just signed a 1yr, $6M contract to stay in Anaheim. This was followed by a mish-mash of ~$1M/year players until the Oilers found their replacement for Roloson: Nikolai “the Bulin Wall” Khabibulin, who they signed for 4 years at $3.75M per year.

One minute later, the Flames announced something that made me very happy: the resigning of RFA Adam Pardy. This kid proved himself last season and he will make a solid contribution to what is shaping up to become THE top defence in the league.

It took another hour of players like Hal Gill (Montreal, 2yrs, $4.5M), Scott Clemenson (Florida, 3yrs, $3.6M) and Erik Cole (Carolina, 2yrs, $5.8M) before another big name was dropped: Mike Cammalleri.

Everyone knew that Cammi’s production last season would set him up in the $5-6M range for his next contract, and the Flames simply could not offer him that much. So Cammalleri went where any good Canadian kid who had experienced what life in a hockey town (CGY) is really like: to a Canadian market that cares about hockey. I was sure he’d sign in Toronto, but with all the UFA and RFA players on their way out of Montreal, it wasn’t a surprise to see Cammalleri sign a 5-year, $30 million contract with the Habs.

So it’s with a tear and a “see you in the Bell Centre” that I say farewell to one of my favourite players from last season. Mike Cammalleri earned the first 6 of those $30 million last season. I hope he can keep it up in Montreal.

After securing Cammalleri, Montreal lost one of their key UFAs when Mike Komisarik signed a contract with Toronto that will pay him $22.5M over 5 years.

Things seemed to be wrapping up around 6:30pm after Sami Pahlsson signed with Columbus for $7.95M over 3 years, though one player on the “A List” still remained unsigned. Sometime after 8pm Marian Gaborik signed a 5 year, $37.5M deal with the NY Rangers.

News of Gaborik’s signing came shortly after Minnesota announced that they had signed Martin Havlat to a 6 year deal worth $30M.

Once all was finished, this year’s July 1st Free Agent Frenzy included over $350 Million in contracts, which is above par for the past 4 seasons.

About Greg Hounslow (558 Posts)

Greg is the founder of Red Mile Blog has been following the Flames through good times and bad since they arrived in Calgary in the early 80s. He has written hundreds of articles on the Flames since 2005 and considers himself an expert on hockey inconsistency and frustration. He shoots right and usually plays defence, but has been known to jump up in the rush. He is a 2-time CAHL men's league champion and knows the sweet taste of beer from a Cup.

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