Capped: Reviewing Last Year’s Free Agent Disappointments

by Chris Pudsey on May 5, 2016
  • Capped
  • Capped: Reviewing Last Year’s Free Agent Disappointments

This week's Capped discusses some free agent signings from last year that did not work out. 

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In the previous Capped, I reviewed some of the better unrestricted free agent signings from the summer of 2015. In this week’s Capped, we flip the script, and take a look at a few that simply didn’t work out, for whatever reason. 

In no particular order, here are some of the disappointing players coming off signing their new contracts last summer.

Mike Green – Detroit Red Wings

Contract:  Three years, $18 million ($6.0 million AAV)

GP

G

A

Pts

PPP

+/-

SOG

PIMs

Hits

Blks

74

7

28

35

20

-6

124

38

106

71

The Red Wings were desperately trying to find an offensive right-handed shot from the point last off-season, and thought they had shored up that spot when they signed 30-year-old Mike Green to a three-year contract. 

For whatever reason, and it can’t completely be laid at the feet of Mike Green, the Red Wings struggled to score this year, especially on the power play. Green was brought in to help the offense and to move the puck, and he didn’t do either overly well. The Wings power play went from leading the league a year ago with 70 power-play goals to only scoring 50 goals this year. The power play last season clicked 24% of the time while this season, it only converted 19% of the time. If I recall correctly, the Wings were not even deploying Green on the power play for a while during the regular season.

On a personal level for Green, comparing this year to last year when he was still in Washington, he played in two more games but had ten fewer points. His seven goals this past season were one of his lowest totals in his professional career.

Simply put, for the $6 million he’s earning for the next couple seasons, he needs to put up better overall numbers before we can start looking at Green as being good value for the Wings.The Wings paid for the old Mike Green from his earlier Capitals days and instead, just got what appears to be an OLD Mike Green.

Cody Franson – Buffalo Sabres

Contract: Two years, $6.65 million ($3.325 million AAV)

GP

G

A

Pts

PPP

+/-

SOG

PIMs

Hits

Blks

59

4

13

17

7

-5

92

26

61

56

Considering most defensemen who can skate and chew bubble gum at the same time are usually getting $4 million a year without blinking an eye, the $3.325 million Franson seems like a bargain. Unfortunately, he makes this list because of the lack of return that the Sabres thought they were getting when they signed the former Leaf/Predator. 

In all honestly, Franson hasn’t done much since getting dealt last season from the Leafs.  Franson was putting up solid numbers for the Leafs when he got dealt to the Preds (32 points in 55 games) and was getting quality minutes, especially on the power play for Toronto. That all changed after getting traded. In 23 games last year with Nashville, he only scored one goal (on the power play, nonetheless) and added three assists.  

Buffalo, desperately needing offense from the blue line, brought in the 28-year-old Franson as a free agent to be a power play specialist and even a bit of a leader for the younger roster that GM Tim Murray was assembling. At one point, you could pretty much pencil Franson in for 30+ points, 10+ PPP, a ton of hits and blocks. Unfortunately, it just hasn’t worked out as well as Franson had hoped to this point in Buffalo. Honestly, his seven power play points wasn’t too bad, but his overall production wasn’t overly impressive.

As if the season wasn’t going bad enough for Franson, he suffered a concussion mid-February and wouldn’t play again the rest of the season. It ended what was simply a disappointing season for the big right-handed defenseman. He still has one more season left on his current deal; maybe he can bounce back next year but it seems his main value, a heavy shooting, power play specialist, is all but gone in Buffalo with the emergence of some of their young guns.

Considering his age, he’s far from done, but needs to find the right fit for his limited skillset.

Chris Stewart – Anaheim Ducks

Contract: One year, $1.7 million

GP

G

A

Pts

PPP

+/-

SOG

PIMs

Hits

Blks

56

8

12

20

5

2

78

73

72

10

I am sure no one is surprised to see this guy’s name on any “disappointing” list. I think he’s been on one for a few years now. Either way, he really under-performed this year compared to other crappy years from Chris Stewart.

The fact that he was unable to score at least 10 goals in a season (the first time in his pro career he has never reached that milestone) or get more than 20 points (again, never happened before) says just how bad his season was. Even back in 2010/11 in Colorado, when he only suited up for 36 games, he was able to exceed those numbers (13G, 30 pts).

We’ve come to expect lackluster seasons from Stewart ever since he tempted us with his abilities back in 2009/10 when he scored 28 goals and put up 64 points. Year after year, he’s let fantasy owners down, but this year was nothing but a complete stinker.

I have read that his conditioning was questioned this year more than any other, and that could have played a part, but no matter how you look at it, I don’t think anyone expected this bad of a season, especially the Anaheim Ducks.

He’s a UFA this summer. It will be interesting to see who the next foolish team will be who takes a chance on Stewart and his “abilities”.

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There are two more than I want to touch on who were more of a gamble that simply didn’t work out, rather than a disappointment per se. I am sure the teams who signed them ended up being disappointed but only because they hoped for the best and were reaching. Either way, here are a couple guys who started the year in the NHL on cheap contracts and ended up in another league (and in one case, another country) by the end of the season.

Alexander Semin – Montreal Canadiens

Contract: One year, $1.1 million

In a desperate attempt to try and find some offense from the wing, the Habs took a desperate shot on Semin, hoping he could find his scoring touch again after being a pretty consistent 20+ goal scorer for the Carolina Hurricanes and Washington Capitals in previous seasons.

Alas, it was not meant to be. The former 13th overall pick back in 2002 managed to skate in 15 games for Montreal, scoring one goal and adding three helpers. The Habs eventually put him on unconditional waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract. He had just been bought out by the Carolina Hurricanes at the end of the previous season.

In case you are wondering, Semin ended up signing with the Metallurg Magnitogorsk in the KHL where he played 20 regular season games, scoring five goals and chipped in nine assists. He also helped them win the KHL title by adding 15 points in 22 playoff games.

Cody Hodgson – Nashville Predators

Contract:  One year, $1.05 million

The 26-year-old Hodgson was brought in to try and fill a hole down the middle, and hopefully add some offense for the Predators, but like Semin, it simply wasn’t meant to be.

Playing in a third line role for the Preds, Hodgson played in 39 games, scoring three goals and added five assists. Once the Preds traded for Ryan Johansen, Hodgson was the odd man out and was placed on waivers.

He finished the year with the Predators AHL franchise in Milwaukee, and actually didn’t play too bad down there, scoring four goals and added seven assists for 11 points in 14 games. 

Hodgson is still young enough that someone could sign him to a two-way contract but I don’t expect much more than that for him going forward. 

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As always, I appreciate you taking the time to give my column a read. Please, chime in with any of your own disappointing free agent signings from last year’s free agent frenzy. 

Also, feel free to follow me on twitter @chrispudsey