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.