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Simmons: 'Buyer Beware'

This is the kind of stuff that causes NHL GMs to lose sleep at night. From Toronto Sun columnist Steve Simmons:

In fact, a whopping majority of long-term, big money free-agent contracts signed after the NHL lockout have turned out to be gigantic wastes of money.
If teams could do it all over again, would they be throwing large money at Adrian Aucoin, Adam Foote, Mike Rathje or Alexei Zhamnov?
What about this oddity? Nikolai Khabibulin is paid more than Martin Brodeur.

Don't forget about these guys:

Last summer it wasn't much different: Gigantic money for Zdeno Chara and Pavel Kubina, who didn't even get their teams into the playoffs.
Eleven million for Martin Gerber, who sat on the bench for the Ottawa Senators.
Now fast-forward to July 1: Let the overspending for Scott Hartnell and Ryan Smyth and Kimmo Timonen and Daniel Briere and Scott Gomez begin.

Still, free agency is not always a disastrous proposition, if the money is spent on the right players, as Simmons points out here.

The only expensive free- agent signing from 2005 that has worked out well is the Scott Niedermayer deal, which saw the defenceman get paid $27 million US for four seasons.

So choose wisely.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  June 17, 2007; 9:03 AM ET
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Next: Draft Day Could Be Wild


Problem is many ailing clubs try to fix everything with a big signing and no strategy. Khabibulin was expected to be a missing piece, but the Blackhawks need more than just him (and his quality is debatable). He's overpaid because Chicago is a terrible place to play, whereas Broduer is full of cup success and believes in NJ's plan.

The key is to add the right pieces at the right time. Niedermayer was a huge piece of a club that pulled everything together this season. The other FA's listed went to varying situations ranging from good, to terrible, to over the hill.

This is the same reason I don't believe the BS that Ted said about Chara mid-season. Yeah, he went to the Bruins, and yeah, they had about the same points in the standings at the Caps. But the rest of their team is pretty bad. One marquee D-man like that could've made a substantial difference for Washington, which has solid goaltending and pretty decent scoring-- just overmatched D.

The Caps are going to have to overpay to attract talent. That's just how it is. We don't have playoff success, or a large fan base, and only a few amazing players. Let's just hope we are a club missing a few pieces we can buy and not a perpetual train wreck with no hope and no plan like Chicago.

Posted by: GJ | June 17, 2007 5:23 PM | Report abuse

I competely agree with everything that GJ said above. That was a great synopsis. At times, I get very annoyed by the Leonsis spin machine. I'm not an idiot and I find the rhetoric condescending. If all doesn't go well this offseason, I expect Ovechkin, Semin and whoever else bolt the first chance they get. You can only "buy a system" for so long without results. DC fans have been buying into the system for at least 25 years now. Enough is enough. put up or shut up. You have ovechkin and Semin and some young talent. Shepherd them right or the wolves will have their way.

Posted by: M | June 17, 2007 8:33 PM | Report abuse

Guys, re: Leonsis, bear in mind that the vast majority of us know more about hockey than the owner. He's a guy with money and little time who is a fan. We're guys and gals with little money and lots of time who are fans. No contest.

I've never spent five seconds caring about an owners public comments unless it's "I'm not going to spend any money ever."

Posted by: Shmoo | June 17, 2007 11:07 PM | Report abuse

It's a lottery, but I still think Chara will make a difference, especially after Clueless is gone.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 17, 2007 11:23 PM | Report abuse

Pothier was a bust as well.. 4 mil per for what they were hoping was a PP / puck-moving defensemen and by season's end he was 4th on the depth chart... hardly a 4 mil per guy

Posted by: Pothier | June 18, 2007 7:03 AM | Report abuse

I've said this before, but...why does everything think Pothier was signed for 4 mil? 2.5 million a year FOR 4 years...that's unfortunately the (FA) going rate for a 3rd/4th defensemen.

Posted by: Jeff | June 18, 2007 7:32 AM | Report abuse

I still can't believe they gave Pothier a deal worth $10 million per season!!!

Just kidding.... Jeff beat me to it. I've seen others refer to Pothier as making $4 million also.... maybe it just FEELS like the Caps overpayed THAT badly.

Posted by: SM | June 18, 2007 10:24 AM | Report abuse

there not a chance anyone of pothiers ability signs for any less than 2.5 mil/year this summer, so everyone needs to relax. He was a quality signing that adds quickness and depth to the d corps. and the people that are still going on about how he makes 4 mil, get an f-ing clue.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 18, 2007 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Pothier's signing was not a bad one for the Caps; it's just that they needed so much more on defence. jurcina was a good pickup (IMO). Now I top 2 defensive defensman and a good first line center.

Posted by: Lee | June 18, 2007 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Pothier's signing was not a bad one for the Caps; it's just that they needed so much more on defence. jurcina was a good pickup (IMO). Now a top 2 defensive defensman and a good first line center.

Posted by: Lee | June 18, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Pothier's signing was not a bad one for the Caps; it's just that they needed so much more on defence. jurcina was a good pickup (IMO). Now a top 2 defensive defensman and a good first line center.

Posted by: Lee | June 18, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

so that's what happens when you hit submit three times.....

Posted by: Lee | June 18, 2007 11:26 AM | Report abuse

I am not expecting the big name player this offseason but I do expect some solid players to be coming to Washington. I always thought that GM had a pretty good eye as to who will fit in the system. However, I am not interested in bringing back fan favorites. I'd rather see new blood.

Also, the Caps scheme to develop a cup contending team through youth always bothered me. I always thought that you should have the veterans in place and then you phase them out with the young guys. Rather then putting mites on ice and waiting for them to mature. Because now we are at a point where the Caps are going out and getting veteran help which seems to defeat Ted's original plan.

Posted by: Chris | June 18, 2007 11:44 AM | Report abuse

There are obviously multiple ways to build a team. The idea of having a team of veterans and then replacing them with younger players as they age is definitely one way to do it, but the problem is that the young players will rarely get the ice team needed to grow into the roster spot that is/was held by a vet (of course, teams like Detroit seem to have no problem doing this).

The opposite of that is to give the kids ALL the ice time, and then when you think you've got a good idea of what you have and what you need, add those pieces. The Caps claim to be doing that...but the problem is if you do it this way you have to be able to scout the available players and add the right pieces so they fit well with the kids. If you sign someone to fill the #1 D spot for a lot of money and they bomb your smart plan of building from within has been ruined, and the future is also stunted with the bad signing.

I think that is why this offseason may be more about the 2nd tier players across the board, as opposed to going out and spending over 10% of the cap on a single player. But hey, we are just days away from actually seeing what the Caps off-season moves may look like.

Posted by: Jeff | June 18, 2007 12:27 PM | Report abuse

I know it sounds like a promo for "Lost" but very soon all our questions will be answered. (Actually, maybe we are on some mysterious island waiting to be rescued)I expect to see a significant deal on draft day. Maybe our #1 and Eminger for Marleau? If the Caps get a known star in here before July 1st that should be enough to convince a top FA that the team is for real. It will all be a lot clearer two weeks from today.

Posted by: b .orr4 | June 18, 2007 1:30 PM | Report abuse

I don't see why we wouldn't want to bring back Bates Battaglia. He's a proven strong checking winger and could play with Gordon and Sutherby. I'm also willing to bet Mcphee could get him for a bargain...just like Pothier.

Also - I say make Jurcina captain - he's that good.

Posted by: teddy leolem | June 18, 2007 2:40 PM | Report abuse

wow teddy, any credibility you had went out the window with those couple of sentences

Posted by: Anonymous | June 18, 2007 3:00 PM | Report abuse

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