My name is Anthony Weigel and I am super excited about the opportunity to write about the NHL here at Hockey Sentinel. Last season we had some of the best playoffs in recent memory and from the looks of it, this season will not disappoint. I am going to take a look at some of my favorite and least favorite free agent moves and why.
Thomas Vanek to Minnesota Wild
I absolutely love this move. The Wild had a Cinderella run to the Western Conference Semis and took Chicago to their limit. What this team lacked all season (besides a solid number 1 goalie) was scoring. Since their inception, the Wild have always been known as a tough defensive team but one who has trouble putting the puck in the net. Their best players minus Marian Gaborik have all been very good two-way players but don’t score 35+ goals a season. Thomas Vanek will give them another offensive weapon and just make the depth of this team that much scarier. Vanek signed a short-term 3 year contract that gives the team flexibility to sign their upcoming young studs. He is a proven goal-scorer and playmaker who I think will generate a lot of offense. He will join the second-line, likely with Mikko Koivu and Charlie Coyle, which allow their first line of Parise-Granlund-Pomenville to remain intact. Unlike what we have seen many NHL teams do, the Wild did not over commit to a 5-6 year deal to an aging veteran whose production will likely be declining in 3 years.
Paul Stastny to St. Louis Blues
Are you sensing a theme here? This acquisition fits the Blues perfectly in that they needed another center. Stastny is a talented, clutch player who showed last season he can score in the playoffs. He brings veteran leadership to an extremely talented team and may even allow David Backes to move back his natural right-wing position. He signed a 4 year, $28 million dollar deal which means his contract will end right when his skills start to wane a little bit. It’s scary to think that he makes the Blues better considering they were second in the division last season.
Christian Ehrhoff to Pittsburgh Penguins
After losing Matt Niskanen, this was a move that needed to be made. Ehrhoff is a very good defensemen who gives Pittsburgh another weapon on the power play. Such a good player signing a 1 year, $4 million dollar deal is rare these days but it gives both player and team flexibility. If the Penguins are close to the cup, Ehrhoff may be able to get one final large contract to close out his career. It allows the Penguins to see what Ehrhoff still has left in the tank before committing to him long term.
Now for the bad…
Benoit Pouliot to Edmonton Oilers
This is a mix of good and bad for me. They needed another center who could play, which they got in Pouliot. He played very well for the Rangers last season and was very good in their playoff run. The reason that I really don’t like this trade is frankly, I don’t think he does enough to justify committing 5 years and $20 million dollars. His career high in points is only 36 and the most goals he’s scored are 15. He is entering his prime but that’s just too large of a contract to give to a 3rd line center.
Marian Gaborik resigns with Los Angeles Kings
As a Minnesota Wild fan, I saw a lot of Marian Gaborik when he was younger. Heck, he was probably my favorite Wild player growing up. He is a natural goal scorer and that was on full display as he helped the Kings win the Stanley Cup. Apparently, he has decided to finally become a two-way player which makes him a much more valuable player. So, if I have all these glowing things to say why don’t I like this? Well three reasons. First, his scoring has dropped off dramatically the last 2 years. He has 57 total points in the last 2 seasons with only 23 goals. Second, they gave him a 7 year deal worth $34 million dollars. By the time this contract expires, he is going to be 39 years old. It’s very unlikely that he will be a productive player by then and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him out of the NHL in less than 7 years. The third reason is injury history. Only 5 of his 13 seasons has he been able to play more than 75 games and he has a long history of groin injuries. I know they just won the cup and they are still a fantastic team but I think this move was ridiculous.
Those are a few of the moves that I like and a couple that I don’t particularly like. What other moves were good and which were bad? I look forward to reading your comments and sharing in the wonderful world of the NHL.
A little bit about me. I am 28 years old currently living in Austin, Texas. I have a beautiful wife that I’ve known since we were 13 and we have a 7 month old daughter. I was born and raised in the State of Hockey and I went to the high school where they used our arena to film portions of the Mighty Ducks movies. I am a lifelong hockey fan who has been able to grow up watching some incredible Minnesota Golden Gopher hockey teams. I went to college at Minnesota State University – Mankato and went to school with David Backes, Ryan Carter, Tim Jackman and John Kalinski. I would love to hear feedback from all of you so follow me on twitter @weigel_a. I am excited to share in the upcoming NHL season with all of you!