The Free Press’s Helene St. James examines the Red Wings’ best and worst free agent signings since 1998 this morning. This story parallels St. James’ article regarding the 11 best and 11 worst draft picks since 2008.
I prefer to accentuate the positive, so let’s examine St. James’ “bests“:
1. D Brian Rafalski
Signed: 2007 (5 years, $30 million)
A master at tape-to-tape passes, Rafalski produced 204 points in 292 regular-season games and 40 points in 63 playoff games before retiring early because of injuries.
2. F Brett Hull
Signed: 2001 (2 years, $9 million)
He scored 30 goals his first season and led the star-studded 2002 playoff team with 10 goals while forming the “two kids and a goat” line with Pavel Datsyuk and Boyd Devereaux. Hull ended up staying three seasons, leading the team with 207 points in 245 regular-season games and fourth with 24 points in 39 playoff games.
3. G Chris Osgood
Signed: 2005 (1 year, $800,000)
Lost on waivers in 2001 after the trade for Dominik Hasek, the Wings brought back Osgood and he ended up staying five seasons. He took over for a struggling Hasek in the 2008 playoffs and backstopped the Wings to the Stanley Cup, and did what he could to help defend it, going 15-8 with a .926 save percentage in the 2009 playoffs.
She continues at length, and I suppose you could consider this a solid critique of Ken Holland’s regime as Holland mostly made moves via the free agent marketplace.