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Free Agency 2011: Blow it all up

July 1, 2011

Crosby and Jagr will get a lot more face-time this season. Just, well, not as teammates. As divisional and state rivals. 

We’re not even three hours into July 1, aka Canada Day, aka the day free agency begins in the NHL, and already, things seem wild. Much wilder than last year. And much wilder than previously conceived.

Is it the fact the CBA expires next year? Is it the presence of a few hard-hitting guys that are not yet locked down? What’s prompting this upheaval? Is it the fact the salary ceiling and floor and ratcheting up once again (but this is a trend of several seasons)? That many teams (looking at you, Florida) sent a bunch of assets packing last year and need to work doubly hard to catch up to the floor? Maybe we’ll never be able to isolate a single reason, or even a sensible set of reasons.

There have been a number of significant trades, signings and moves. Here’s my breakdown of noteworthy players and events in these first three hours. The delightful thing is that nobody knows how these deals will really shake out.

Panthers and Coyotes play rough

Two teams that used to operate on a shoe-string budget, are, well, operating on a new shoe-string budget. But it looks ridiculous in the process.  Dale Tallon, acquiring Campbell and acquiring and signing Kopecky, already made his mark. Throw in Jovanovski, Theodore and Upshall. Is this in a bid to get to that floor? Of course. But the Panthers, and lord knows where this money will come from to pay for this all, are beginning to look like a legitimate team. The Coyotes in the meantime signed up for Raffi Torres’s talents, secured Radim Vrbata once again, got the Caps’ Boyd Gordon, and snatched up back-up Mike Smith from Tampa. These are a lot of personnel moves. Meanwhile, both teams have lost players to trade and UFA status, too. So, replenishing was in order. Can’t go too wrong with whom they replenished with. But still, the jury is mostly out on whether you can cobble a team together from free agents.

Jaromir Jagr goes to Philly, slaps all of Pittsburgh in the face

Alright, admittedly, I am from an era after Jagr’s highest times. But even I understand the magnitude of he and agent Petr Svoboda’s playing with everyone and then heading to Philadelphia. I have to commend Pittsburgh and Detroit from pulling out of the Jagr derby for fear of entering into a bidding warm. Is Jagr greedy for going for over $2 million? I don’t know. But he’s doing business. And he has a sense of his worth. Is another Stanley Cup important? Is nostalgia? What drives him? It will be interesting to see how things pan out in Philadelphia, but this is surely not what most expected.

Varlamov to Avs for first and second round picks?

Yeah, what?

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