With the NHL Free Agency period set to kick-off at noon today, here are my predictions as to where some of the top free agents will land:
The Big Fish: Brad Richards – it will be a battle between the New York Rangers and the Toronto Maple Leafs, and with a contract close to $8 million for way too many years, the Big Apple will reel in Richards. The Rangers have many pieces already in place and are one player (like Richards) away from being contenders in the East. Toronto just has too many needs for Richards to go to T.O. and the media scrutiny will make him lose his hair like so many other Maple Leafs.
The Consolation Prize: Tim Connolly- the next best center available after Brad Richards, the Toronto Maple Leafs will overpay to get some help down the middle. He will be an improvement over anybody in their system, but is a risky venture with his injury history. If the Leafs go this route, hopefully it is on a short term contract and is more of a stopgap signing.
The Quiet One: Tomas Kaberle – sadly, Kaby is considered one of the top free agent defenceman available, and will chase the money. Having took less on his last contract with the Leafs (5 yrs, $21,250,000, $4.250 million per), and now having his name on Lord Stanley, Kaberle will look to score big. With the New York Islanders losing out on Christian Ehrhoff, they will sign Kaberle to big bucks to get a proven puck mover to help their very young D-corps.
The Wiz: James Wisniewski – with his rights dealt to Columbus, and with Ehrhoff off the board, Wisniewski becomes one of the top D-man available this off-season. With the Detroit Red Wings looking to retool after the retirement of Brian Rafalski, they will sign the Michigan native to a reasonable contract and turn him into a 60 point D-man in the Detroit system. And with the resigning of Jonathan Ericsson yesterday, Detroit’s back-end will survive and continue to be strong.
The New Finnish Flash?: Ville Leino – with a breakout campaign this past year with 53 points, while making under a million dollars, look for Leino to cash in big. And the team looking to spend is the Florida Panthers. With over $30 million to spend, the Panthers need bodies and salary and Leino is a good bet to more then quadrupled his salary.
Franchise Goalie: Tomas Vokoun - With Ilya Bryzgalov off the market, Vokoun is the best goalie available. With the Colorado Avalanche letting go both their NHL goalies this past week, they have no choice but to sign Vokoun. He will provide solid goal tending for the Avs, but he needs to be signed today as Vokoun turns 35 tomorrow.
Tough Guy: Zenon Konopka – with a great year on the Island, Konopka will get paid for his hard work and land with the Edmonton Oilers providing leadership, grit and toughness from the fourth line. He’ll also help protect the kids from anybody as Konopka likes to drop his gloves once in awhile.
The Injured One: Simon Gagne - coming off multiple seasons that were plagued by injuries, Gagne may have to accept a one-year deal at less than market value to re-establish himself as a impact NHLer. Look for the LA Kings to make a push as they seem to be going for it this year after their pick-up of Mike Richards.
The Flash: Tomas Fleischmann – if he is over his health issues, look for the Flash to cash in big. I think once again the Florida Panthers will open there wallets and give Fleischmann a huge deal over many years. With Fleischmann being able to line up at center or wing, this would be a good pick up for the Panthers.
The Bull: Raffi Torres – he has got Brian Burke written all over him. Look for the Toronto Maple Leafs to give Torres a little too much money for a guy that sometimes runs around like a chicken with his head cut-off.
The Mullet: Jaromir Jagr – with good offers from Pitsburgh and Detroit, look for Jagr to chase the money and land with the Montreal Canadiens who need help with size up front. This will be a horrible move on both parties and will turn into a soap opera in Montreal.
These are just a few of my predictions of where some of the big free agents will sign. The free agency doors open at noon today, can wait to watch the crazy contracts that will be given out today. Check back here at SenShot for any Senators signings and a full recap of the days events.
Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.
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