Buffalo is that-a-way

Free Agency Day 1: Lunacy Ensues In Some Markets

Following the overinflated contracts to Brooks Laich and Christian Ehrhoff leading in, could we expect anything less than some more mind-blowing deals on the first day of NHL Free Agency?  Of course not, and if that is what you were hoping for then you were not disappointed.

Wisniewski's multi-million dollar smile

How about starting the day off with a 6 year, $33 M contract for former Montreal Canadiens defenseman James WisniewskiColumbus felt that the 27 year old, whose rights they had earlier traded for, would be the key to improving the Blue Jackets’ woeful power play, in turn helping them make the playoffs for only the second time in franchise history.

 

Proceed to the Buffalo Sabres.  They followed up the acquisitions of Robin Regehr and Christian Ehrhoff by inking former Flyer Ville Lieno and his 30 CAREER goals to a 6 year, $27 M deal.  These recent signings & trades signify the willingness of the new owner Terry Pegula to spend money.  Now GM Darcy Regier must learn how to spend it wisely.  Ask Glen Sather about how with great power comes great responsibility.  Ponying up $27 M for Lieno might just send the Sabres down the path of Chris Drury and Scott Gomez.

The Florida Panthers were the most active team, but being more than $20 M below the salary FLOOR, they needed to spend money.  They added some long term contracts with Tomas Fleischmann (4 yrs, $18 M), Ed Jovanovski (4 yrs, $16.5 M), Scottie Upshall (4 yrs, $14 M), Sean Bergenheim (4 yrs, $11 M), Marcel Goc (3 yrs, $5.1 M) and Jose Theodore ($2 yrs, $3 M).  The Panthers also traded for Kris Versteeg, bringing them within range of the Cap Floor.

The Philadelphia Flyers made a splash by signing a couple of former Penguins, bringing Jaromir Jagr into the Orange and Black on a 1 year, $3.3 M deal, and Max Talbot to a 5 year, $9 M contract.  The Montreal Canadiens made a splash by signing Eric Cole, formerly of the Carolina Hurricanes.  They signed Cole to a 4 year, $18 M deal, to add a speedy, gritty forward the the ranks.

These are just some of the deals that went down yesterday.  The biggest fish in the Free Agent pond, Stars centre Brad Richards, held court in his agent’s office and listened to a number of proposals yesterday and is expected to make his decision sometime today.  The list is apparently down to the usual suspects:  Toronto, New York Rangers, LA Kings and perhaps one surprising suitor, the Calgary Flames, who are after that elusive first line centre.

Some other names still awaiting contracts include Tomas Vokoun, Simon Gagne, Bryan McCabe, Jason Arnott and Tim Connolly.  As a final note, Brian Elliott did somehow manage to get another NHL contract, signing with St. Louis for 2 years.

For a complete list of FA movement, check TSN’s UFA Tracker.

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