Confusing July 1 signings

One can only imagine the negotiating that took place between Toronto GM Cliff Fletcher and the agent for marquee defenseman Jeff Finger.

Was the $14 million for four years the first offer Fletcher made? If so, Fletcher should have his head examined. If not, does that mean the Finger camp rejected earlier offers of, say, $8 million for four years, $10 million for four years or $12 million for four years? If so, they should have their heads examined.

Finger may turn out to be a quality defenseman for the Leafs, but at 28 he’s still largely unproven in the NHL and asking for or expecting any more than $2- or even $1-million annually was a cool, calculated risk that turned up aces. Finger went from journeyman to marquee signing with one signature.

Here are some other July 1 signings that have us confused:

10. Cristobal Huet. Another $5.625 million for a goalie when Chicago already has Nikolai Khabibulin. And Huet is not even among the league’s top 10 or 15 keepers.

9. Brad Stuart. He’s decent, but his $3.75 million per year from the Red Wings puts him in Jeff Finger’s stratosphere.

8. Mike Commodore. He’s a solid enough support guy for the third defensive unit, but $3.75 million from Columbus?

READ ALSO:  Say What?!? - April 16

7. Wade Redden. There once was a time he was among the league’s best defenders, but $6.5 million a year from the Rangers won’t take five years off his decline.

6. Niklas Hagman. Like Jason Blake the year before, the Leafs love to overpay ($3 million) for players after an aberration season. Averaged less than 11 goals per season in his first five, then 27 this year.

5. Brian Campbell. More than $7 million annually from Chicago suggests he should become a Norris candidate.

4. Bryce Salvador. Devils will be paying him almost $3 million annually to fill out the blueline corps.

3. Ty Conklin.
A monster comeback season (.923 save percentage) only got him $750,000 in Detroit? That’s a terrific bargain.

2. Michael Ryder. A miserable season gets you a million-dollar raise in Boston.

1. Jeff Finger. If he’s not truly a late bloomer, Fletcher will be a monumental laughingstock.

The Top 10 appears Wednesdays only on

If you enjoy this feature, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine for the exclusive countdown, Starting From 10, and other great features from the world of hockey.