Angus shares his thoughts on the madness of the free agent market in the NHL.
1. There aren't many NHL teams with a more promising short or medium term future than the Dallas Stars right now. Jim Nill has put some serious work in over the past few weeks, quickly reshaping what was a decent team into a formidable one. Heck, he added three NHL calibre centers in one day last week.
A few particular things I have liked:
Signing Sergei Gonchar and drafting Valeri Nichushkin. The Stars couldn't have known that the big Russian would have been available with the 10th pick when they traded Gonchar, but they must be counting their lucky stars that he was. Gonchar was integral in the development of Evgeni Malkin in Pittsburgh, from a hockey and more importantly a lifestyle standpoint.
Moving Jamie Benn back to win. Poolies rejoice – it is a matter of when – and not if – we see Benn at the 85+ point mark. He's one of the best forwards in hockey, and he will play his natural position of left wing again.
Not trading Stephane Robidas, Trevor Daley, or Alex Goligoski. Perhaps this comment is premature, but good teams are chock-full of versatile and experienced defensemen. These three all bring unique elements to the table, and they are all capable of playing in different situations (Robidas in particular). It isn't the best defense in hockey, but with stud rookie Brenden Dillon in the fold, the future is bright on the back end.
2. Toronto's offseason – one step forward, two steps back.
I don't have any major issue with the David Clarkson signing. It is a bad contract, but almost all UFA contracts are bad. Clarkson will make the Leafs a better team for at least two or three years – the rest of the deal, not so much. But that isn't a problem right now. What I do have a problem with:
Buying out your best center (Mikhail Grabovski) in order to overpay for a decent third line center masquerading as a top line center (Tyler Bozak). Grabovski played brutally tough minutes last year and the Leafs will miss him.
Overpaying for Jonathan Bernier, not once, but twice. W