While big name forwards like Penguins sniper Marian Hossa and Maple Leafs center Mats Sundin remain on the market, most of the
premier living defensemen in the NHL free agent pool have been snapped up. The biggest deal went to former Shark and Sabre Brian Campbell, who parlayed coining the term “Umbergered” (and smooth puck-handling skills) into eight years and 56.8 million dollars with the Chicago Blackhawks. Campbell moves a bit further east to be closer to his family, but he certainly didn’t take a pay cut to do so.
Elsewhere, Wade Redden turned no interest (and some disdain) from his former team, the Ottawa Senators, into six years at 6.5 million per year with the New York Rangers. The Rangers also re-upped Michal Rozsival for four years and twenty million.
If these salaries seem inflated given the relatively recent history of the 2004-2005 lockout, keep in mind that redbeard defenseman Mike Commodore swindled the Columbus Blue Jackets out of 18.5 million over five years and the Toronto Maple Leafs gave Jeff Finger, a young defenseman with twenty-four career points, 14 million over four years. The latter move prompted All Things Avs to quip “No wonder that team hasn™t won a Stanley Cup since 1968.“
While increasing the salary cap 6.4 million to a ceiling of 56.7 million means that teams can afford to pay second-pair defensemen like Commodore more than five million per season, these moves seem downright ludicrous considering NHL owners’ gripes about rising salaries during the lockout. The NHL still lacks a TV deal that pays money up front or garners attention on the Worldwide Leader
of Idiocy, so perhaps employing a bit of restraint might be a good idea if fans want to watch hockey in two years.