2010 NHL Free Agency: Is 2010 the 'Summer of the Pay Cut'?

Thumbnail image for ollijokinen3.jpgAfter years of NHL teams seemingly gorging themselves at the buffet table that is unrestricted free agency, it seems like the league is starting to exercise a little “portion control.” Jamie Fitzpatrick did a nice breakdown of the growing trend of players taking pay cuts for About.com.

20 Forwards Signed
– Based on average annual salary, nine get a raise over last season, eight take a pay cut, and one guy signs for the same money (two salaries not available).

Fitzpatrick notes that the biggest pay increases (so far) went to Manny Malhotra and Matthew Lombardi while Olli Jokinen will see the largest drop in pay. There are still plenty of free agent forwards – including guys who put up substantial goal totals such as Ilya Kovalchuk and Alex Frolov – so the overall summer might end up a touch more positive for forwards.

16 Defensemen Signed
– Eight players increase salary over 2009-10, while five take a chop, and one guy holds the line (one not available).

zmichalekhappy.jpgI’m surprised that a big chunk of defensemen took a pay cut, too, because I was thinking this might be the summer of defensemen cashing in. (More on that very subject later today.)

It turns out that Zbynek Michalek (166 percent increase) and Dan Hamhuis ($2.5 million per year to $4.5) will probably be the most excited to see their brand new pay checks in October. Fitzpatrick points out that Pavel Kubina will make $1.15 million less per year, but I think that’s more aboout the market correcting an inflated salary than him being “the biggest loser.”

8 Goaltenders Signed
– Three get a raise, four get a rollback, and one salary is unchanged.

While this summer has still (in my opinion) been a great one for defensemen, it’s been a horrid one for goalies. Just ask Evgeni Nabokov and Marty Turco, two potential big money makers who are sitting on the sidelines. (I give Turco and Nabokov slightly more benefit of the doubt that Ilya Kovalchuk because they’re probably not taking a “$100 million or bust” stance. Still, the two high profile goalies must not pay attention to the limited amount of job opportunities for goalies in the NHL right now.)

Is this the “Summer of the Pay Cut”? I’m not sure if I’d go that far, but it’s been a season of lateral moves for players and their sad panda agents. We’ll see if the many unrestricted free agents waiting on the sidelines will up-end the less moneyed trend or confirm the fact that NHL owners might actually be watching their money a little bit this year.

Scroll Down For:

    Video: Crosby to Dan Patrick – Subban fight ‘wasn’t as bad as it looked’

    1 Comment

    Listerine, the 2017 Stanley Cup Final, and a growing rivalry. Sidney Crosby and P.K. Subban battled it out at the highest level not so long ago, but some of that action looked worse than it actually was.

    At least, that’s the message Crosby sent on “The Dan Patrick Show,” as you can enjoy in the clip above.

    As a bonus, Crosby also discussed his favorite Stanley Cup traditions – hey, there can be traditions when something happens three times – and how Mario Lemieux inspires some especially creative ideas:

    Rebuild on hold? Red Wings reportedly eye Girardi, Hainsey, Daley

    Getty
    12 Comments

    For the first time in ages, the Detroit Red Wings missed the playoffs. To some, the sliver lining was that this might send a message to management to truly commit to a rebuild.

    Perhaps GM Ken Holland & Co. aren’t quite ready for that.

    Look, one or even a couple of potential free agent signings won’t disqualify the Red Wings from going younger. Still, the rumored defensemen they’re targeting aren’t exactly spring chickens.

    Three names floating out there are Trevor Daley, Dan Girardi, and Ron Hainsey.

    Daley was mentioned by The Athletic’s Craig Custance, MLive.com’s Ansar Khan, and the Detroit Free-Press’ Helene St. James. Khan and Custance both mention Hainsey and Girardi, too.

    Even in one-case mentions, the “veteran” theme continues, with Brian Campbell‘s name coming up while forward Thomas Vanek seems like at least a remote possibility to return to Detroit.

    Let’s look at the ages of the defensemen mentioned, noting that Daley is older than some might have expected.

    Daley – 33
    Girardi – 33
    Hainsey – 36
    Campbell – 38

    In the case of Daley and Girardi, you could also argue that each blueliner also has a lot of “mileage” for their age. Girardi, in particular, plays the sort of grinding, shot-blocking style that might have accelerated his troubles with the Rangers.

    As great as experience might be, even for a “final push,” this sends a troubling signal. In Mike Green (31), Jonathan Ericsson (33), and Niklas Kronwall (36), the Red Wings already have an aging group of defensemen. Kronwall and Ericsson are dealing with injuries that may hinder them for the remainder of their careers, too.

    When you also note that Holland exposed 25-year-old goalie Petr Mrazek instead of 33-year-old Jimmy Howard, the picture isn’t especially pretty.

    Maybe the Red Wings can have their cake (push for a playoff rebound) and eat it too (start to transition to youth), yet it’s not necessarily the aggressive move toward a rebuild that many likely hoped to see.

    At least there’s time for Holland to prove these early worries wrong.

    Note: In other Red Wings news, the team signed Ben Street to a one-year extension.

    Blue Jackets sign Schroeder after trading for him

    Getty
    4 Comments

    Not long after acquiring him in a minor trade from the Minnesota Wild, the Columbus Blue Jackets signed Jordan Schroeder to a two-year contract.

    The team confirms that it is a two-way deal for 2017-18 and then becomes one-way in 2018-19.

    Schroeder is guaranteed $350K for the first year of that contract and then $650K in 2018-19, according to the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline.

    The 22nd pick of the 2009 NHL Draft receives a fitting contract: he’s been a “tweener,” bouncing around the NHL and AHL. He hasn’t been able to make much of an impact, Schroeder at least provides some organizational depth.

    That could come in handy, as Portzline indicates that Sam Gagner – not so surprisingly – is expected to garner a lot more attention this time around in free agency. Perhaps Schroeder could serve as insurance for Gagner?

    NCAA star Spencer Foo chooses the Flames

    4 Comments

    NCAA standout forward Spencer Foo decided to sign with the Calgary Flames, as The Sports Corporation and team confirmed. The signing might not be official until free agency kicks off on Saturday, July 1, but he apparently made his decision.

    After managing 25 points in each of his first two seasons with Union College, Foo exploded in 2016-17, racking up 26 goals and 62 points. You can see some of his highlights in the video above.

    He didn’t go drafted, so this could be a case of another scorer blossoming late.

    Foo is an Edmonton native, so playing close to home in Calgary likely factored into his decision. He was connected to the Edmonton Oilers in earlier rumors while MLive.com’s Ansar Khan indicates that his final choice came down to the Flames or the Detroit Red Wings.

    Calgary is already classifying him as a RW. Perhaps he’ll be that long-desired fit for Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan? There’s another positive aspect for the Flames, as this might help to soften the blow of giving up a bundle of assets in the Travis Hamonic deal.

    The Sports Corporation tweeted out a photo of Foo, 23, in a Flames jersey: