NHL Free Agency Unfiltered
Each year, the passing of noon on July 1 tolls the beginning of NHL free agency and excessive binge drinking as I keep up with its usually frantic pace. 2010-2011's free agency began with a donnybrook of dishonor, as two highly-regarded players in this town -- seriously, though, you people put way too much stock into that walking venereal disease Talbot -- went to most despised of rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers. These moves forced me to reach record beer consumption for any free agency year; my local beer distributor reaped the benefits.
Max Talbot and Jaromir Jagr now get to take on the gap left by... Jeff Carter and Mike Richards. Smooth move, but even those who can't stand them jags the most have to admit that Claude Giroux and James Van Riemsdyk still have room to grow and fill those shoes. Danny Briere even seemed to take a break from playing catcher in male-on-male sexual rendezvous to score a few goals.
Regardless, G.M. Paul Holmgren apparently set the bar for managing stupidity that every team strove to match by giving out some ridiculously stupid fuckin contracts. Let's look at the winners and many losers of the first day of (and those leading up to) free agency.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Above all, they got an actual center with talent in Jeff Carter. Carter has scored 144 goals in the last four seasons -- I'm pretty sure that's more than the Penguins top two-line wings combined. And now that he is no longer a Flyer, I can mildly respect Carter for his talent rather than demeaning him as a no good, two-faced asshole. Yeah, they gave up a lot for him, but Voracek is never going to match those numbers, and G.M. Scott Howson is at the point where he makes this team better or they're going to tie him up and ship him off to Cleveland, whose only joy comes from leaving and in any way defacing LeBron James in a pathetic attempt to raise their own self-esteem.
They also locked up defenseman James Wisniewski who will give them some much-needed puck movement and work well on the power play with offensively-gifted defenseman Kris Russell. They may have overpaid him some, but he fits in on teams that aren't dreadfully fuckin awful (Islanders, I'm lookin at you). If Steve Mason can actually play like he deserves to be a Canadian this year, the Jackets will be a solid bet to make the top-8 out "West."
Pittsburgh Penguins: Am I an irrational homer? Of course, but fuck you anyway because the Penguins stood pat in a market that was as impulsive and short-sighted as the 18,500 people who yell, "Shoot!" every six fuckin seconds at a Pens game. They re-signed 20-goal scorer Tyler Kennedy at a reasonable $2 million clip and they brought in crafty, talented winger in Steve Sullivan for $1.5 million on a one year deal. For them, there's reduced risk and high reward -- yeah, he might bitch out like Comrie (Duff has Urlacher-like shoulders; I would be surprised to see him with consistent black eyes and bruises), but at the price and term, the Penguins can kick his ass to the curb if he don't still got it (*cough* Kovalev *cough*).
Best yet, Shero learned from dealing with that slimy fuck Hossa, and told "Dickhead Devastator," Jagr and agent Paul Svoboda (read previous posts to clear up any confusion there), to rot in hell for playing games with their contract.
Phoenix Coyotes: Hard to consider them overwhelming winners, given that they didn't do much, but much like the Pens, they made affordable, smart signings instead of awarding massive, inflated contracts to mid-tier players. Radim Vrbata, a solid and skilled two-way forward, was a strong signing at $3 million per year -- he had 19 goals last year, 17 points on the power play, and can work both ends of the ice. As a multiple 20-goal scorer, he could've made more; compare his contract to Brooks Laich's who is getting paid $4.5 million per year (granted for more recent goal production). With this signing, along with some grit and complete disregard for others' safety in Raffi Torres, the Coyotes stayed within their budget and are primed to reach a number of 1-0 shootout wins in frenetic, high-paced action that hasn't been seen since the Devils were the cure for insomnia.
Philadelphia Flyers: There has been nothing more satisfying about this free agency than the glorious three-day arc that saw the Flyers trade away two of their top point producers about to enter their prime and replace them with marginal, overpaid "talent." It was like the Lord of the Rings trilogy, without Peter Jackson taking seven hours to 'conveniently' tie up all the series' loose ends at the conclusion of the third film. (Look, we get it -- Aragorn becomes king; Sam penetrates Frodo in a wonderful release of homoerotic tension; just end the fuckin movie already.)
As I said above, yeah, they still got some talent, but these jags gave up the best player in each of their deals, so them getting some prospects and picks in return won't mean shit when they got another 36 years without a Stanley Cup. Bryzgalov also ain't gonna have as tight a defensive corps in front of him -- just Chris Pronger who will later attempt to sleep with Ilya's wife, kids, and anything else with an orifice to be filled -- so don't go thinkin that the Flyers' playoff goalie woes are going to suddenly evaporate. So, yeah, they were the biggest loser by default, but they're particularly fucked now.
Washington Capitals: Ok, so I'm pretty much just listing teams that I loathe anyway, but if you disagree with my picks, then consider this: go fuck yourself. Now, for further consideration, the Capitals honestly did better as the day(s) went on. They ditched that flaky jag Varlamov and got some picks in the process, and then signed a decent goalie in Thomas Vokoun, who -- for whatever reason -- the Pens can never seem to score a friggin goal against.
When it comes down to it, though, their defense still fuckin sucks at, you know, defense. They still have that moped-driving ass clown Mike Green, who couldn't take the body on my grandma without getting injured. Carlson's good, but he ain't gonna anchor the whole team defensively, and he still leans on the offensive side. So how do the Caps fix it? By signing Roman Hamrlik to a two-year $7 million deal. Yeah, pure brilliance -- sign a grumpy, slow, over-the-hill fuck to solve all your defensive shortcomings. He's not completely out of talent, but you don't need him to cover tons of minutes or handle the puck in the back -- for $1 million, you could sign a mean bastard in Jim Vandermeer or Mike Commodore to beat somebody's ass in front. That's an extra $2.5 million a year you could put into Iron City, frozen pizzas, or even another hockey player.
Then there's the Joel Ward signing. For fuck sake, the guy had a good playoff performance this year (7 goals, 13 points in 12 games), but really $12 million over four years for a 29-point, -1 player? Yeesh. Besides, how the hell is the jag going to even put up points when he's competing for minutes with that showboatin dick nugget Ovechkin, that pussy Semin, and that clutch moment no-show Backstrom, along with the rest of those Globetrotter assholes?
Alright, I need some more beer. Update in a little while, jags.