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The Better Life

Quite a few players signed up for "The Better Life" during the past couple of weeks. With all the recent talk about Matt Cullen's contract being too high, I thought we would compare his contract with some of the others that hit the books starting July 1st. We'll start with my previous listing of proposed targets for 3rd line center, since that is Matt's position.

My number one choice was Bryan Smolinski. Bryan is a consistent 40 to 50 point a year player who I thought could have been signed for about 2 million a year for 1 or 2 years. Well, if no one else agreed with me, at least Bob Gainey did. Montreal signed Smolinski for one year at 2 million dollars. The deal was announced on July 2nd.

The second center on my list was Todd White. Todd was sought after by a few teams and was signed the very first day of free agency by Atlanta for 9.5 million over 4 years. That's an average of about 2.4 per year, a bit more than the Canes wanted to spend on him. The length of this contract is also a concern since Todd has been injured a bit the past few years. If we compare the contracts between White and Cullen, obviously Cullen's is for 400K a year higher. But now let's compare stats. In the long term, White has had the better career, but during the past 2 years, White scored 32 goals and 84 points while Cullen has 41 goals and 90 points. On top of that Cullen had 18 points in the 2006 playoffs and helped to win the Cup. The old saying of "what have you done for me lately" applies perfectly here. If I had to make a choice between these two, I'd pick Cullen, higher salary or not.

Next on my list was Michal Handzus. Here's a real head scratcher. The dude signed a 2 million dollar, 1 year contract with Chicago last year and played just 8 games because of a season ending knee injury. Last week the Kings gave him a 4 year deal worth 4 million per year. How is he possibly worth that much more money after the worthless year he just put in? In my opinion, this deal has disaster written all over it. If we look at Michal's last 2 years, he scored 14 goals and 52 points compared to Matt's 41 and 90. Again, I'll take Cullen and his deal all day long over this one.

Dainius Zubrus was also on my list and here's another beaut of a contract. He was signed by the Devils for over 20 million for 6 years! That's an average of about 3.4 million per year. While his production was higher than Matt's, it wasn't that much higher. Zubrus scored 47 goals and had 117 points over the past 2 years. A six year contract for a 3rd line center is a long time though. Again, I think Cullen might be the better bargain.

Other players on my list were Yanic Perreault and Mike Peca. Perreault signed for 1.5 million and Peca is still unsigned. Neither of these players really compare with Matt. Some Caniacs were hopng for Robert Lang since he wasn't wanted by the Wings this year. Lang got 8 million for two years and only scored 39 goals the past two years. (2 fewer than Cullen). Am I making my point yet? If you compare Cullen's salary with other contracts signed so far this year, it's not that far out of whack. As a matter of fact, it's preferable to most of them. Even Rusty Fedotenko got 2.9 million from the Islanders and Torts almost ran him out of Tampa on a rail after last season. He only had 12 goals and 20 assists last year and his 2 year production is 38 goals and 73 points.

I'm not going to even discuss the other crazy contracts which were signed. Briere is not worth almost 7 million dollars a year. Drury might be worth his 7, but is Gomez, and for 7 years? Even Captain Canada, Ryan Smyth himself isn't worth the 6 million plus he'll get over the next 5 years. Crazy stuff. Rod Brind'Amour's contract sure seems cheap now, doesn't it? He's done a lot more in his career than any of these guys. Speaking of bloated contracts, Souray is getting over 5 million per year for 5 years from the Oilers. The dude has a monster of a slap shot, but is a bit slow in his own end. But Kevin Lowe is probably hoping that he will be the replacement for Chris Pronger. Before Oiler fans celebrate too much, I wonder if Souray will change his mind and sign yet another contract with someone else? Ooops, sorry...that was Nylander.

Question of the day: Will the Canes ever announce this "pending" trade the media keeps yapping about? Inquiring minds want to know! TGIF and happy Friday the 13th!

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