It’s Canada Day for our neighbors to the north (opening day of NHL free agency for the rest of the world) and is there a better way to celebrate than to sit around TSN and wait for jaw-dropping free agent signings like… Radim Vrbata to the Lightning for three years, nine million?
Just like hockey fans throughout the great white north, Radim can’t control his glee for signing with a restocking Lightning club that’s already grabbed Ryan Malone, Gary Roberts, and Vinny Prospal to replenish their meager talent at wing past Martin St. Louis.
Elsewhere in the NHL, Oilers GM Kevin Lowe followed up his deal for Kings offensive defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky by dumping children’s entertainer and gritty winger Raffi Torres on the Columbus Blue Jackets for permanent prospect Gilbert Brule and sending Joni Pitkanen to Carolina for injury-prone winger Erik Cole. The Minnesota Wild filled a need for an offensive defenseman as well, picking up Marek Zidlicky from the Nashville Predators for a prospect and a fourth-round pick.
Numerous teams have resigned their own pending free agents, the most notable being Ducks winger Corey Perry getting 26.625 million over five years. The Detroit Red Wings resigned both good defenseman Brad Stuart and weakest link defenseman Andreas Lilja. I suspect the NHL mandated Lilja’s presence on the team in the interest of league parity.
Update: The Vancouver Canucks have apparently offered Leaf Legend Mats Sundin a 20 milliion dollar two-year deal to bolster their anemic offense. The Washington Capitals signed former Avalanche and Canadiens goaltender Jose Theodore to a two-year deal, starting an exodos from Colorado that has also seen corner-man Andrew Brunette sign a three-year, seven-million dollar deal with the Wild and defenseman Kurt Sauer sign for four years at 1.75 per with the defense-decimated Phoenix Coyotes.