Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A buyer's guide to the remaining NHL free agents

Hey Teemu, how many days does it
take you each offseason to decide if
you want to play another year?
As August winds down, it's beginning to feel like the entire NHL is on vacation. There's nothing to talk about, because nothing is happening.

That's good news if you're a hockey fan who could use a break before gearing up for the coming season. But it's terrible news if you're one of this year's unrestricted free agents who hasn't yet found a new home. With many rosters appearing to be locked in as training camp approaches, it could be difficult for even one-time star players to find work.

Here's a look at a few of the biggest names still available, and the cases for and against signing them.

Bryan McCabe
The good: In seven years since the lockout, has lead his teams to one more playoff game win than you have.
The bad: Is kind of hard to get in touch with these days, since his phone is constantly being bombarded with voicemails from Tomas Kaberle yelling "Dude, you were totally wrong, waiving a no-trade clause to leave Toronto is awesome!"
Where he'd fit: He can definitely still help a team on the powerplay, assuming the area they need help with is their "miss the net three times then fall down and give up a shorthanded breakaway" play.

Chris Campoli
The good: Is known as a puck-moving defenceman, which presumably makes him more valuable than a defenceman who insists on keeping the puck stationary at all times.
The bad: Has spent almost his entire career with the Islanders and Senators, so has never had any experience clearing a rebound.
Where he'd fit: Should be attractive to a potential President's Trophy winner, since he's proven he can single-handedly win a crucial playoff game for one.

Teemu Selanne
The good: Now that's he's older and more mature, no longer recklessly throws his glove in the air after a big goal and then shoots it down; now throws the glove and then writes it a stern but respectful letter.
The bad: Has clearly lost a step, occasionally looking a little winded while skating circles around some defenceman who's 20 years younger than him.
Where he'd fit: Winnipeg, according to people who are still hoping that the original Gun 'N Roses lineup will reunite.

Pascal Leclaire
The good: Every NHL contract he has signed so far has, eventually, expired.
The bad: Gets hurt every time a puck touches him, so that's like three injuries a year.
Where he'd fit: Would be a great addition for a team looking for a veteran starting goaltender, assuming the league adds 7,000 expansion teams between now and September

Brett Lebda
The good: Owns a Stanley Cup ring according to his official bio, so apparently is really good at using eBay or something.
The bad: Struggled so badly last year that he was occasionally referred to as "The poor man's Brett Lebda".
Where he'd fit: Pretty much any team that thinks it's one veteran defenceman away from contending for the ECHL title.

Cory Stillman
The good: As a member of both the 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning and the 2006 Carolina Hurricanes, is the only player in NHL history to own two Stanley Cup rings that everyone has agreed to pretend never happened.
The bad: Is comfortable switching between left wing and right wing depending on what makes the most sense for the situation, so has no chance of ever getting a job analyzing politics for a major US network.
Where he'd fit: Any team looking for a veteran who can mentor young players without strangling them when they say "Hey, did you know I wasn't even born when you were drafted?"

Kyle Wellwood
The good: Signed with the St. Louis Blues as a free agent last year, and didn't make a single bad play the entire time he was there.
The bad: Put up disappointing offensive numbers last year in the KHL, although in fairness scoring is traditionally much lower in that league because many teams cannot afford nets.
Where he'd fit: Played for the Sharks last years, so who's kidding who, Minnesota.

Sergei Samsonov
The good: Obviously isn't demanding way too much money, since if he was the Panthers would have kept him.
The bad: Won the Calder Memorial Trophy in 1998, but has never even come close to competing for it since.
Where he'd fit: On your fantasy team as a "sleeper pick" based on name recognition, then on the waiver wire by mid-November, just like every year.


  1. Are you saying I'm delusional for wanting to see Teemu back in Winnipeg? Dammit...

  2. Teemu will return to Winnipeg - Sat Dec 17, 2011 ANA @ WPG ;)

  3. I just want Wellwood to sign somewhere so I can have one of our guys photoshop another sweater onto Big Boy.

  4. I laughed pretty hard at the Teemu part and the first part of the Wellwood bit. Well done DGB.

  5. The whole Brett Lebda bit was venemously hilarious!

  6. @Gregaaron.... SHHHHHHHHHHH!

    @DGB - I admire your restraint in not suggesting Kyle Wellwood was working out for either the Avalanche or Capitals this afternoon.

  7. Haha, I've picked Sergei Samsonov as a sleeper pick more than once! I never learn.

  8. Mike here,

    I don't think any powerplay would ever use a play that has the defenceman fall down and give up a breakaway.

  9. I LOLed at "7000 expansion teams by September".

  10. Oh Christ... The "poor man's Brett Lebda" had me in stitches.

  11. Definitely 5 stars! I have a feeling that Brett Lebda has become this year's version of Vesa Toskala. :)

  12. I think Wellwood is a good fit pretty much anywhere, as he is equally familiar with the drive through at Dunkin' Donuts as well as Tim Horton's.

  13. Lebda's & McCabes pieces made me think there should be a new position in the NHL, the DWB (designated whipping boy)

    Instead of going to the penalty box, they could be locked up in stocks and the fans could throw their popcorn at them. (Not to mention run interference for the star players who are slumping!)

  14. The Campoli bit made me laugh and then burst into tears.

  15. Nice to see Kyle Wellwood find a home in the Peg.
    Anyone call ahead to make sure the Mcdonalds drive thru is 24 hrs there?

  16. "Michael Polo said...

    Lebda's & McCabes pieces made me think there should be a new position in the NHL, the DWB (designated whipping boy)

    Instead of going to the penalty box, they could be locked up in stocks and the fans could throw their popcorn at them. (Not to mention run interference for the star players who are slumping!)"

    Why popcorn? Waffles are much more popular.