This year’s UFA market proved pricey. A lack of supply forced GMs to overpay for assets. Using “overpay” might be premature, because the future has yet to be played out, but when previous statistics don’t correlate with a contract’s price, questions should be raised. Of course, this happens every year. Voids in every club’s rosters need to be filled with an insufficient UFA pool. Not every team wins. But what’s really intriguing about this off-season is that there were a few teams with money to spend that came up short. Organizations are constantly asking themselves: Is it better to hold money and wait for future endeavors or overpay a player or two to fill needs now? Here are some teams that came up short, with activity, so far this summer.
Although Vancouver landed Jason Garrison, one of the best available UFA defenseman, they lost Aaron Rome and Sami Salo in the process. The organization also let Marc-Andre Gragnani, a critical piece in the Cody Hodgson trade, walk and sign with Carolina for less than a million. I guess this leaves room for Keith Ballard to try and earn his paycheck. But defense wasn’t the main focus for the Canucks this off-season. It was moving Roberto Luongo, who still remains on the squad. The club expressed its interest in moving forward with Cory Schneider as their number one goalie and Luongo expects to be moved soon. The departure of his cap hit will allow decent talent to come back. But, potential trade partners KNOW Luongo needs to be moved, so this ties Mike Gillis’s hands a bit. Rumors have Toronto and Florida as potential destinations for Luongo. Both teams have a number of offers they could generate. Who offers the most?
Detroit Red Wings
After Nick Lidstrom retired, Brad Stuart departed for San Jose and Zach Parise and Ryan Suter signed with Minnesota, the Red Wings are left with glaring holes in their lineup – namely on defense. As it stands now, their top-six defensemen are Niklas Kronwall, Ian White, Jonathan Ericsson, Kyle Quincey, Jakub Kindl and Brendan Smith. It’s not a terrible group, but definitely doesn’t compare to last year. It’ll be interesting to see if Detroit stands pat, makes an offer to a UFA (Carlo Colaiacovo, Pavel Kubina, Cam Barker, Randy Jones or Brett Clark), proposes a trade (Keith Yandle) or gives its prospects a shot at a roster spot. For now, it appears as though the Red Wings have opted for the last option. Will the young guys show up or will the Wings finally fall off?
Why haven’t the Penguins been able to lure a scoring winger into town? Who wouldn’t want to play with Sidney Crosby, right? No matter the reasons, Pittsburgh is left with an unfilled slot on Crosby’s wing. This is really a moot paragraph. Crosby is an elite player and the Penguins are a very good team. Whoever is on Crosby’s line will do well. Ask Pascal Dupuis. It’s strange that the Penguins haven’t improved their defense either, especially with so much money to spend. Brooks Orpik is rock-solid and Kris Letang is an all-star defenseman. But even with him them in the lineup, help is needed. Let’s not forget the departure of Zbynek Michalek.
Chris Pronger isn’t likely to play for a while, so the Flyers took a shot at acquiring Shea Weber. Nashville matched their offer sheet and during the process, Philly lost Matt Carle via free agency to the Tampa Bay Lightning. The acquisition of Luke Schenn definitely helps, but one can’t help but wonder what Paul Holmgrem will try next. He said he’s satisfied with his team, but if that were the case, why is he trying to claim everyone in sight? You can’t blame him for trying and, to be honest, the Flyers are still going to be competitive next season with or without anymore additions. In a few years though, the team is going to have a bunch of young talent in need of significant raises.
The Blackhawks have resigned Johnny Oduya and acquired Sheldon Brookbank since free agency opened on July 1st. Like most teams, the ‘Hawks attempted to woo Zach Parise. When that failed, there were few option left in the market. Chicago has a very good team, both on offense and defense, but would love to make a significant addition. Corey Crawford hasn’t solidified himself as the starter just yet, so Chi-town could still make a move for a goalie (Roberto Luongo, Jonathan Bernier, Craig Anderson, Brian Elliott).
New Jersey Devils
The New Jersey Devils lost an important player in Zach Parise, but it’s not going to be seriously detrimental to the organization. Lou Lameriello has been able to maintain a competitive team after losing significant players in the past (Scott Niedermayer, Scott Stevens, Jason Arnott, etc.). Still, that void needs filling and quickly. Luckily, before Parise chose another destination, the Devils were able to resign some significant players (Stephen Gionta, Peter Harrold, Bryce Salvador, Steve Bernier and Martin Brodeur). I’m excited to see how this team responds with Parise. Let’s not forget, they were the 2nd best team last year.
Who else do you think came up short this off-season?