Friday, July 06, 2007


Ampersand, Etcetera

There was a fairly significant event in free agency today; not to mention some other things to point out:

Brad Lukowich signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning earlier this week. (Source: TSN) Personally, he did better in his second season with the Devils; but I don't think he was going to last much longer in NJ. Not with a healthy Richard Matvichuk and an improving Andy Greene and Johnny Oduya. I would think he'll have a more stable spot in Tampa Bay. Mr. Frisby has some thoughts about Lukowich and other new signings to the Devils at Frozen Fiend.

Speaking of thoughts about signings, Trendon Lynch has been heating up at On Fire about the Devils' new signings of Kevin Weekes and Dainius Zubrus, not to mention the rumors surrounding defenseman Sheldon Souray coming to the Devils. Just keep scrolling at On Fire. If you're into Sheldon Souray-to-New Jersey rumors, Patricia at 2 Man Advantage has been your one-stop blog for all of that. I'll refrain on any comments here about Souray unless he becomes a Devil. To be brief, I don't think he'd be that great of a signing in general, especially with a potentially large contract that his performance could command.

TSN has reported today that Scott Clemmensen has signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Given that he got so little time in New Jersey being Martin Brodeur's backup, I must say I'm pleased he'll be getting playing time in Toronto. Granted, it will most likely will be with the Toronto Marlies; but it beats sitting on the bench for over 90% of the season.

The biggest news of the day involves the Edmonton Oilers of all teams. If you want proof that things have changed; the Oilers offered Thomas Vanek of the Buffalo Sabres a 7 year contract worth $50 million! The linked article at TSN notes this while discussing what else general manager Kevin Lowe will do for the Oilers. Now, the reason why this is a big deal isn't the fact that a player who has not played over 200 games (but does have 68 career goals) is being offered so much - it's the fact that he was offered anything at all.

Vanek is a Restricted Free Agent - and since he was given a qualifying offer from Buffalo prior to July 1, Buffalo normally has the first rights to sign the player and match any other offers. It is not often that other teams try to get RFAs because the original team can easily match the offer. Furthermore, if the player does sign with the team providing the offer (an offer sheet, if you will), then the original team is compensated with draft picks depending on the amount of the contract. So if Vanek signed with Edmonton and Buffalo let it go, Buffalo would get Edmonton's next four first round draft picks - a substantial compensation, to say the least. However, considering that the Oilers have not done much in this offseason, Lowe swung for the fences.

Unfortunately for Edmonton, Buffalo matched the offer immediately and will give Vanek the exact same contract. A lot of money? Definitely. However, it's defensible. For starters, players who score 40 goals that early in their career are rare - if his career continues to produce, he would definitely be worth that much. Furthermore, while draft picks are tempting, they are essentially question marks. Maybe the picks would be high and the Sabres could have drafted a player like Vanek. Or they could pick high and the prospect would not develop into a good player. Proven commodities are generally better assets than potential ones. Lastly, Buffalo definitely had the cap space given the loss of Daniel Briere and Chris Drury - this sort of move is really effective if the targeted team is too close to the salary cap ceiling. So Lowe swung for the fences, but ultimately missed.

In my opinion, while RFA hunting isn't often and generally not looked upon well, Lowe should have targeted the Rangers. Specifically, Henrik Lundqvist. Lundqvist is an RFA and arguably a big reason why the Rangers are competitive again since the lockout. Given that the current goaltending tandem in Edmonton is Dwayne Roloson (who will not get any younger) and Jussi Markannen (who will not get any better), Lundqvist would be a big upgrade. Plus, consider that the Rangers do not have much room to maneuver under the salary cap. Lowe could have offered Lundqvist a very large contract and really put the squeeze on the Rangers. Maybe enough of a squeeze to get Henrik Lundqvist for a long time (and a lot of money) and make a lot of Devils fans happy. Well, he didn't. Technically, the Oilers could try again for Zach Parise; but I can't imagine they would be successful (the Devils also have a ton of cap space to match any contract for Parise).

Back to more Devils-relevant issues, today was the last day to file for arbitration, if I'm not mistaken. The NHLPA website has the whole list of the 29 players who did file for salary arbitration. The good news is that no Devils have filed for arbitration. Since Zach Parise is a RFA coming off his entry level contract, only Paul Martin would be eligible and he did not file. No bad feelings, no forced contracts, no problem.

Now for some non-hockey news items: I have an essay posted at Interchangeable Parts about why I love hockey. In the future, I'll re-post it here (for my own reasons); but in the meantime, I suggest you go check it out over there. Though you probably read IPB everyday anyway.

Finally, I just want to say thanks to all of you for reading this blog. It's a great feeling knowing that you have readers from Moscow to Kobe, Hyogo to Edmonton, Canada to Bombay, Maharashta to Bogota (New Jersey). Thanks.


I agree that potential prospects aren't as sure as someone like Thomas Vanek, but the $7mil cap hit will hurt the Sabres in the long run. At the end of next season, Teppo Numminen (likely about to retire), Jochen Hecht (in for a big raise from 2 mil), Dmitri Kalinin (in for a decent raise from 2 mil), Brian Campbell (in for a big raise from 1.5 mil), and Paul Gaustad (in for a big raise from 712k) will all be free agents. The season after, Spacek (3.3mil), Afinogenov (3.3 mil), Connoly (3 mil), Miller (2.7 mil), Kotalik (2.3 mil), Pominville (1 mil), and Stafford (1 mil) will all be looking for more money. If they play the comparison game with Vanek's 7 mil, the Sabres risk losing a good amount of their core players over the next few years to better offers elsewhere.

What has to worry Darcy Reiger right now is whether or not the majority of these guys will jump ship when their contracts are up simply because he felt that losing Vanek for 4 1st round picks was too much to bear after losing Brier, Drury, and Zubrus. We'll see how it plays out, but for now, I would've taken the picks.
Kevin Lowe and Glen Sather are friendly colleagues and didn't feel it was ethical for him to do so. The only way this upcoming season, Devils fans will feel better is if you win games against the Rangers.

That's it. I love my Rangers. I dislike the Devils immensely. But the Blueshirts have seen big names not work out, lines that don't fit, the individuals bigger than the system. The reverse of Your Trust of Lou.

Lundquist loves the Rangers, the audience of MSG -- this was an agreement between Glen and Henrik's agent to petition arbitration - to not allow teams such as Edmonton to poach. Don't worry, a long-term deal will be made before any hearings.

Have fun with our ex-Blueshirts.

You used to be Strong New Jersey, but now you are Weekes!

The Dark Ranger
A couple of things;

1.) Buffalo is screwed. If losing Zubrus, Briere and Drury only gets you $10 million under the cap, and you've got all the big names aaron b. already mentioned, yet to sign as RFA's in the coming years, this past season truly was your shot at skating a Cup! Have fun Sabres fans, your run is done.

2.) Classic, Ranger fan talking in the past tense about "individuals bigger than the system." You realize you still have Jagr, right? The same Jagr that gave up in Washington. The same Jagr that came out in SI and said that the reason he's thriving in NY is because he doesn't listen to Renney, and essentially does whatever he wants to, because he's so good that his teammates just accept it! I'll take the Devils philosophy any day, over the individualist Rangers.

Furthermore, Weekes is an upgrade from Clemenssen, no matter what, and at almost the same money, for a year longer, I'll take him.

Congrats for overpaying for Gomez and Drury. Enjoy that.
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