Jul 072012

Anders Linback signs with Tampa Bay, $3.6 million for two years

It’s a bargain deal if Lindback pans out but still a good gamble if he doesn’t. The real price Steve Yzerman paid were the two second rounders (Pontus Aberg, who Vancouver should’ve taken, and Colton Sissons) and one third rounder in 2013, but the Lightning already had two picks in the first round (Slater Koekkoek and Andrei Vasilevski). It was a price Yzerman could afford to pay. It’s still a wait-and-see approach with Lindback an RFA at the end of the contract. I think Lindback’s going to be good.

Nick Foligno re-signs with Columbus, $9.15 million for three years

At $3.05 million a season, it’s a fair price to pay for a borderline second line winger. It almost makes too much sense for a team like Columbus to pull it off. I still don’t doubt that Foligno will end up in Buffalo where his father played and brother Marcus currently plays, and that could happen as soon as this three-year pact expires. The Jackets almost surely won’t be a playoff team then anyway.

With the big fish gone, teams are looking at trades or bargain deals. There’s nobody left to splurge in free agency, but here’s a couple players that could provide some great value to the teams that sign them.

Weekend recap will be posted on Monday.

Players are all under 30, corresponding number is NHL salary in the last (or only) year of their contract.


Alex Semin, RW/LW $6.7 million, age 28

The fact that he hasn’t bolted to Russia yet, where he’s guaranteed to make more money, tells me something. Putting the character¬†assassination¬†aside, and even though some of that criticism directed towards Semin is warranted, he’s still an incredibly talented player. I don’t think he’ll score 40 goals unless he ends up on the Penguins, but I’m sure he knows he’s not going to get $6.7 million from any NHL team. He’s a player, I think, who could really excel on a more veteran team. Detroit would be a great fit and who better to play alongside Semin than Pavel Datsyuk, but I hear the Red Wings aren’t interested. My guess: he’s going to a contender for about $4 million.

Marc-Andre Gragnani, D $550,000, age 25

A lot of Canucks homers fans thought Gragnani was the deal-breaker in the Cody Hodgson deal. He was clearly not, as I’ve said before, not exactly an impact NHLer (scroll to comments), though he is a step up over Alexander Sulzer. He’s a talented offensive defenceman with major holes in his defensive game. He’s a potential future Marc-Andre Bergeron-lite – he won’t put up the same big numbers on the power play but serves the same sort of purpose. I think there’s a few teams showing interest, but he’s gotta think about where he’s going to get the most ice-time.

Andrei Kostitsyn, RW/LW $3.25 million, age 27

Better defensive game but worse offensively than Alex Semin with potentially just as many headaches. He’s entering his prime, which means the best has yet to come for the former 26-goal scorer. Far too inconsistent to be a good second-line winger, but a team that needs some scoring punch on their third line with some 12-15 minutes to spare a night would suit him. In a good year he could score 25, but still 15-20 in a bad year. Whether he wants to take less money and a lesser role is up to him, of course.

Peter Mueller, C/RW $2.5 million, age 24

Mueller missed an entire season due to a concussion and returned to score 16 points in 32 games. Not bad for a player who’s been out of it for so long. I’m a little surprised the Avs gave up on him already, though there’s always a chance he returns to Colorado. He’s a risk, of course, but can pay huge dividends too. The former eighth overall pick had 54 points in his rookie season. There’s potential.

Cam Barker, D $2.25 million, age 26

Barker has been laughably overrated since the world juniors, even though he did post 40 points in 68 games one year. Without a deep Blackhawks team to make him look better, Barker is a decent second unit power play quarterback with a shaky 5-on-5 game. Check out Bryan Reynolds’ write-up on him at Hockey Wilderness. Still, he’s worth taking a look at if you can get him for cheap. But between Barker and Gragnani, I’d go with the latter.

Matt Gilroy, D $1 million, age 27

Another highly-regarded college signing, the former Boston U star has played on three different NHL teams already and hasn’t impressed any of them. This is as about as good as we’ll ever see Gilroy get. A depth signing, at best.

Dan Winnik, LW $1 million, age 27

A good depth player who I’m a little surprised the Sharks didn’t bring back. Lining up with Adam Burish on the right wing would’ve made for a pretty pesky fourth line. He’s physical and he’ll come cheap.

Chris Campoli, D $1.75 million, age 27

A little unpredictable with his ability to jump up into the play, but that’s what makes him so dangerous offensively yet a liability on defence at the same time. Rank ’em: Gragnani, Campoli, Barker, Gilroy.

Kyle Wellwood, C/RW $700,000, age 29

He should be back in Winnipeg. He’s got some good, soft hands, which will be a nice contract to the rest of the Jets roster outside of Alexander Burmistrov. The team could take care of the puck a little better and someone’s got to hang onto it in the offensive zone to make some plays.

Benn Ferriero, C/RW $605,000, age 25

A feisty, small but quick forward who can play all three positions, though he’s much better on the wing. He’s good enough to be a good AHL scorer but his size really holds him in the NHL. He’s a player who could excel in Europe more than North America.

Gilbert Brule, C/LW $1.85 million, age 25

I still think he can be a regular NHLer, though dreams of him playing in the top six are exactly that now. He’s a potential spark plug and if all goes well he’ll still end up being a good third-liner with ability score 15 goals a year. That’s a pretty valuable commodity, but he’s got an injury history and he’s far too inconsistent.

Erik Christensen, C/LW $925,000, age 28

A pure shootout specialist, for some teams it really pays off to have a guy like him on your roster. His play will frustrate any coach but there’s talent there. If John Tortorella calls you out for being inconsistent but is willing to give you more chances based on your talent, you’ve probably got something pretty special. Let’s face it – the Devils wouldn’t be in the playoffs without their league-leading 12-4 shootout record and Ilya Kovalchuk (11-for-14, 7 game-deciding goals) wouldn’t have found his mojo had not been for his success in it either. Shootouts are an awful way to gauge which team is better, but a point is a point so don’t squander it. The most talented shooters aren’t always best in the shootout anyway (which supports Marc Crawford’s decision to not use Wayne Gretzky in ’98) and I thought the best last year, other than Kovalchuk, was Washington’s Matt Hendricks (5-for-6, 3 game-deciders).

  6 Responses to “Free agency day six recap”

  1. While I also think Lindback is going to be a good NHL starting goalie, I do believe he is in for a very rough year down in Tampa. In his two years backing up Rinne in Nashville, Lindback posted a 16-13-0-4 record in 38 appearances with a .914 sv% and 2.53 GAA. Granted, some goalies need to play lots of minutes to really shine, but with such a small sample size, it is difficult to tell with Lindback.

    Anyways, here is why I think he is in for a particularly tough year in Tampa. He has never played more then 49 games in a season, and never more then 22 in North America. He will be counted on heavily in Tampa, and it is still uncertain as to whether Lindback can handle the work load. Only time will tell here. A second factor working against him is the personnel that he will have in front of him this year. Not only did Nashville have a much better roster the last couple seasons then Tampa will this year, but their system is much more responsible. I think everyone knows that Guy Boucher likes to trap, but Barry Trotz’ system in Nashville is a perfect team oriented defence. Tampa puts up stiff opposition in the neutral zone, but tends to fall apart if the opposing team gains a clean entry into their zone. Whereas Nashville’s system is dependant on constant pressure all the way up the ice supported by solid back checking and responsible defensive zone play, forcing shots from the perimeter.

    Basically, Lindback is in for a season where he will play more games then he ever has before, will face stiffer competition (on a regular basis) then he is used to, and will play on a weaker defensive team then he is used to. All of these factors lead me to believe he will struggle mightily in his first season in Tampa.

    I believe that of all of the places where Luongo could have been traded, Tampa made the most sense from a purely hockey perspective. It will be interesting if Yzerman ends up regretting balancing the entirety of his organizations’ hopes on the shoulders of such an unproven player.

    • I agree with Yzerman’s thinking though. That Luongo contract is way too much of a burden. For a re-building team you want as much flexibility as possible. And once Gillis named his price, it was an easy call.

      • Its a really tough call, that is for damn sure. On one hand, I completely agree that a rebuilding team would want the flexibility. Lindback’s 2 year deal, and his RFA status see to that. However with the pieces that have been added this summer (Carle and Salo) as well as what they already have (Stamkos, St. Louis), Tampa seems primed to take a run at the South East Division title.

        I guess in the end I am not so much disappointed that Yzerman signed Lindback, but I am disappointed that the signing signified a different direction for the franchise. With Luongo in net, I truly think this team could have taken the South East division. With Lindback, they will struggle to make the playoffs. Yzerman can not afford to waste what few remaining years Marty St. Louis has left. Because when he leaves, their window shuts.

        • Even if they had Luongo, they’re going to get ousted in the first or second round. If a top prospect and a top pick was the bare minimum, I’d say no thanks. The Lightning will be far weaker without Martin St. Louis, but they’ve also got a lot of good players coming up the pipeline and Stamkos is still young. I wouldn’t mortgage the future in this case.

  2. Yzerman should have at least considered Luongo, because he needs stability in net. From any standpoint I have no idea why he would have shut the door on the Canucks, yet. I do agree with the contract situation, as TB has big money towards Lecavalier (he will never agree to get traded) and Ohlund. But the bottom line is you have to win games, despite your monetary situation, or else you won’t make coin.

    If any goalie in Tampa Bay does well, I will be surprised. Any.

    Lindback’s deal is a weird one. I am surprised that he got only two years, given the amount Yzerman gave up to acquire him, and I think Lindback should have wanted more of a guarantee. The best thing for TB here is that Lindback is a RFA, not UFA, at his contract’s end.

    • I’m sure Yzerman considered Luongo. Gillis and him talked, but Yzerman (rightfully) balked at the price and that was that.

      I’m not surprised Lindback got a short-term deal since he’s unproven. Could you imagine if the Leafs had signed Gustavsson to a five-year deal instead? He’s going to a team that’s trending up and a chance to start.

      I’m really high on Lindback. I think he’s far and away above Harding and Jonathan Bernier.

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