The Detroit News’s John Niyo suggests that the Red Wings made some relatively wise signings during Steve Yzerman’s first crack at the unrestricted free agent marketplace as the Wings’ GM, “Eschewing sizzle for sensible signings” in Valtteri Filppula, Patrik Nemeth and Calvin Pickard:
Taken together, it’s hardly the kind of hat trick we grew accustomed to when Yzerman was in uniform, or even in a suit, in Detroit. But while all three moves “are designed to help us immediately,” Yzerman noted, “our hands aren’t necessarily tied into long-term contracts.”
Others certainly can’t say the same around the league. Barely a half-hour into the official free-agent signing period, teams had committed some $300 million in salary. That’s chicken scratch compared to the NBA, where teams doled out a whopping $3 billion in guaranteed contracts in six hours Sunday night at the start of free agency.
But in a league where the cap still carries consequences — last month’s P.K. Subban trade is just one of many examples — free-agent spending sprees often don’t make sense in the long run.
Some of these teams are certainly going to regret the moves we saw Monday. The Rangers made Artemi Panarin the league’s second-highest paid player with a seven-year, $81.5 million contract, while the Panthers handed Sergei Bobrovsky, the mercurial two-time Vezina Trophy winner, a seven-year, $70 million deal at age 30. Elsewhere, veteran winger Mats Zuccarello got $30 million over five years from the Wild, and the Penguins ponied up $21 million on a six-year deal — six years for a bottom-six forward? — in Brandon Tanev.
Asked about that, Penguins GM Jim Rutherford shrugged, “It’s the way things work on July 1: You either give the player close to what he wants or you don’t get the player.”