I’ve always been behind the theory that free agent signings can only help a team so much, but they can break that trend. This off-season, there were many free agent signings that may have panned out, and also those that didn’t quite come close yet. Halfway through their first season with their new teams, let’s see how the 10 biggest free agent signings are doing:
Jarome Iginla (Boston, 1 year, $6M) – Sure, he’s older and a bit slower, but he still manages to find the back of the net without problems, this year through 43 games he’s got 13 goals and 29 points. However, those numbers are a bit underwhelming, coming from a man who carried a franchise on his shoulders for so long. Though the Bruins are a defensive team, and they can afford guys like this, as long as they can produce. Verdict: Pretty good deal
Mike Ribeiro (Phoenix, 4 years, $22M) – One of the better play-making centers, Mickey-Ribs has always been crafty and piles up many assists, as well as scoring every now and again. Though his defense could be better, he is an offensive spark on a team in need of one. He’s right around his career pace this year, with 21 assists through 42 games, but the ‘Yotes can ask for more out of this guy, who’s 33 years old and has reached 70 points 3 times in his career. Verdict: Good deal
Daniel Alfredsson (Detroit, 1 year, $5.5M) – This was one of the first signings this off-season, and created shockwaves through the hockey world, mostly because Alfie was playing somewhere that isn’t Ottawa. The Red Wings gave him a 1 year deal, similar to that of Mike Modano, at the end of his career, but that doesn’t mean Alfie can’t play. He’s totalled 30 points in 37 games, which is right around the pace he was scoring almost anywhere outside his prime years. He was well worth the flier Detroit gave him. Verdict: Good deal
Nathan Horton (Columbus, 7 years, $37.1M) – Horton just returned from a major shoulder injury that has sidelined him since the playoffs last season. Columbus didn’t really care about the injury, and paid him anyway, in hopes of him boosting the offense when he returns. He’s played in 3 games, garnering a goal and an assist, but it’s way too early to tell if it was worth the big contract or not. Verdict: ???
David Clarkson (Toronto, 7 years, $36.75M) – For the first 10 games of his Maple Leafs career, he sat in a press box, suspended without pay due to leaving the bench in a pre-season brawl. Along with another suspension, he’s missed 12 due to Shanabans. In the 31 games he has played, he’s racked up 8 points, 47 penalty minutes, and a -2 plus/minus. Let’s be real here, the only time Clarkson eclipsed 35 points was in 2011-12, where he scored 30 goals and 16 assists. 7 years for that? Verdict: Bust
Valtteri Filppula (Tampa Bay, 5 years, $25M) – Throughout his career with the Red Wings, Filppula has been a solid 2nd line guy who can score, and play responsibly in his own end. He has had a little bit of an injury history, but that didn’t stop the Bolts from making this signing. This year, he has 17 goals and 17 assists in 43 games, and has been playing well to try and help the team out in the absence of their number 1 guy in Steven Stamkos. Verdict: Great signing
Stephen Weiss (Detroit, 5 years, $24.5M) - Weiss was one of the top guys in Florida while he was there, and though that isn’t saying much, originally one would think that it made sense to give this contract to this guy. Halfway through the season, however, he’s played just 26 games, racking up a staggering 4 points, and 1 sports hernia surgery. So far, the Wings are paying him over $1M per point. He will return after the Olympics. Verdict: Bust
Ryane Clowe (New Jersey, 5 years, $24.25M) – There is reason to believe he’s lost his scoring touch from San Jose. He scored 3 goals last year for the Rangers, and has only 3 assists in the 12 games he’s played for the Devils. After missing a huge chunk of the season with his concussion, he’s become a bit of an offensive liability for New Jersey, as if they could afford having another one around. Verdict: Bust
Vincent Lecavalier (Philadelphia, 5 years, $22.5M) – If the Flyers were going to pay him for his good years in Tampa, he’d be getting more than $4.5M per year. But at that money, he should be scoring a bit more than a point every 2 games, with 16 points in 30 games. He also has been fighting an injury bug, something the Flyers can ill afford. Fortunately, the Flyers have other guys who can carry the scoring. Verdict: Close to bust
Jaromir Jagr (New Jersey, 1 year, $4M) – At first, I was apprehensive to call this a good signing, but Lou Lamoriello always has a plan. Jagr has been a cornerstone of this year’s offense in Newark, with 35 points in his 44 games with the Devils, and a +/- of +12. The offense seems to siphon through him when he’s on the ice, dominating puck control, and he knows what to do with the puck wherever he his. Verdict: Great signing
Some other wild card signings that have worked out, like Michael Ryder (NJ, 2 years, $7M), Mason Raymond (TOR, 1 year, $1M) or Mikhail Grabovski (WAS, 1 year, $3M), and some busted, like Matt Cullen (NSH, 2 years, $7M) or Daniel Briere (MTL, 2 years, $8M).
Team building isn’t all on free agents. But some acquisitions can be huge for your team, while others don’t quite work out. Next week, we’ll take a look at the trades from this season so far, and judge who won the deal. Till next time, puckheads!