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NHL Free Agency - Day One Recap and Discussion

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The biggest news around Raleigh, North Carolina yesterday was that Erik Cole re-enlisted for another two years on the Carolina Hurricanes.  According to the Canes Country poll on the front page, an overwhelming 85% of you are in favor of that deal, although a very vocal minority is against it.  For those of you who are unhappy, things could always be worse.  Wait until we take a look at some of the other deals around the league.  (see below)

Lost in the shuffle yesterday were the signings of Michael Ryan and Patrick Dwyer.  Both agreed to a two-way deal, which gives the Hurricanes the ultimate flexibility.  While both spent some time with the big club last season, they will most likely be spending most of their time in Albany next year.  It's a bonus that both are NHL tested if needed though.

Also, there is a little matter of the signing of Chad LaRose, still pending.  Apparently, Jim Rutherford was a little peeved late yesterday afternoon when LaRose's agent never returned a phone call.  Rutherford was reportedly waiting on bated breath because he was in the middle of dealing with another free agent.   Interesting. 

We will see how that all works out, but don't count on LaRose being out of Raleigh until you see the official ticker that has him signing elsewhere.  We will be watching for that news all day today.  

Also lost in the shuffle was the announcement by ESPN magazine yesterday that the Hurricanes franchise was rated the second best franchise out of 122 sports clubs analyzed.  Congratulations to Hurricanes management.  We will investigate about this a bit later and run a more detailed article once we have completed some research and have more facts.

Now for the recap-

The most active team?  Bob Gainey and the Montreal Canadiens.  They wanted some new blood and that is exactly what they got, but at what price?  After being laughed at around the league for taking Scott Gomez's outrageous 7.3 million dollar contract over from the Rangers, they went out and added even more expense.  Check out these numbers-  Mike Cammaleri, 30 million over five years.  Brian Gionta, 25 million over five years.  (WOW)  Jaroslav Spacek and Hal Gill were also both added with multi-year contracts.   That's a lot of bread, but they can certainly afford it.  The Habs are trying to buy themselves a good team, but will it work?

The funniest deal?  Martin Havlat to Minnesota.  The Wild refused to re-sign Marian Gaborik because of his injury issues, but replaced him with another injury prone player.  We will see what happens there.

The Rangers replaced Gomez's 7 million dollar contract with another one for Marian Gaborik.  While the superstar can look like the most dynamic player in the league at times, he remains a walking groin injury.  Can he stay healthy in NY?

The Sedins stayed in Vancouver, no surprise.  Nik Khabibulin signed in Edmonton with a 50% cut in pay.  Can he stay healthy?  

Marian Hossa signed a lifetime contract in Chicago.  Teams are beginning to figure out how to circumvent the salary cap a bit now, as they sign star players to long term deals, and front load the payments.  Hossa's deal ends up only paying him a million a year in the final years of his 12 year deal.  If Chicago decides to cut him or if he retires, it's at minimal cost to the team.  Look for the future CBA negotiations to address these types of deals. 

The Southeast Division got better as Washington signed Mike Knuble.  Tampa and Atlanta both improved their defenses.  Florida kept David Booth and is looking to make a splash today. 

Chris Neil managed to get a four year deal worth $8 million from Ottawa.  The price of agitators just went up. 

Speaking of agitator, we will continue keeping an eye on the LaRose situation and will report as soon as we hear anything.  Or perhaps Rutherford will sign the "other free agent" he is working with?

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Let's compare Cole's contract to a couple of others.

Chris Neil, $8 million for four years.  Last three years of production- 21 goals, 37 assists, 58 points.

Erik Cole, $5.8 million for two years.  Last three years of production- 69 goals, 85 assists, 154 points

Brian Gionta, $25 million for five years.  Last three years of production- 67 goals, 91 assists, 158 points.

If you compare Cole's contract with Gionta's and take into consideration that Cole is a more physical player, (look at the hit totals for each player), Carolina got a bargain.