To those of you ready to hand Lord Stanley over to the Rangers, think back to when a certain team landed Kariya and Selanne a few summers back. Cups are not won or lost in July, although the chance to hoist the Cup can change drastically.
First off, I'm not a big fan of any contract over five years. Dobber made a few good points on this a few weeks back, and I'll add one. Go back a few years ago and read your fantasy pool guide or the latest hockey magazine. Hell, even from 2003 you'll see names like Daze, Bure, Allison and Palffy dominating. You'll also see top prospects like Jani Rita, Brandon Reid, and so on.
My point is that hockey can change over time, and likes to. Change is one constant in the NHL, especially in the cap world. These GM's like Paul Holmgren and so on are not worried about their cap situation in eight years. They just want to ice the best possible team for the immediate future so they can retain their jobs. When you get impatient ownership, these situations arise.
Enough rambling… here is my high and low five so far.
1) Brad Stuart (LA, one year, 3.5 million) – smart contract for both sides. The Kings get a stopgap while Jack Johnson can develop, and one with considerable upside still. Stuart gets to prove himself for a big contract, and has a great young core in LA to continue to mature with. Very smart contract for both sides as it gives flexibility to each party.
2) Scott Hannan (Colorado, four years, 4.5 million) – finally have their Adam Foote replacement. Hannan is young, will fit well in the rugged Northwest division, and wears his heart on his sleeve. The Avalanche went after a glaring need and filled it perfectly.
3) Petr Sykora (Pittsburgh, two years, 2.5 million) – great contract term, solid top six talent. He is a terrific complementary player (great with Arnott and Elias in New Jersey). Steal of a price as well, especially considering guys like Fedotenko got more.
4) Michael Handzus (LA, four years, 4 million) – while he is coming off a knee injury, he has never had injury problems in the past. Handzus is the type of player you can't measure in points, he will provide some great stability and two-way presence for the maturing Kings. The exact type of player an up and coming team needs to play pressure minutes and play smart hockey.