Monday news and views as we come close to almost entering the dog days of summer:
NEWS: One week into free agency, Jiri Hudler and P-A Parenteau find themselves worth $4 million a year, Brandon Prust gets a $10-million contract and defensemen such as Dennis Wideman and Matt Carle are suddenly worth more than $5 million a year on long-term contracts.
VIEW: Starting with the deals for Zach Parise and Ryan Suter right down to three years at $3.7 million per for Sheldon Souray, there has been some downright ridiculous money spent over the past eight days. But that’s really nothing new. Every year teams in the NHL blow their financial brains out to overpay roster players that don’t require them to give up any assets. It has always been thus and regardless of when the next collective bargaining agreement is in place in the future, it will continue to be the case.
In the humble opinion of this corner, the Parise and Suter contracts actually aren’t that bad. When you look at the talent level, competitive instincts and upside that both Parise and Suter have, if I’m a GM I’d be far more willing to overspend on guys of that ilk both in money and term than a lot of the other deals out there.
And it’s not just the big deals that continue to boggle the mind. There are plenty of smaller ones that don’t make much sense, either.
Let’s start with defenseman Matt Carkner getting $1.5 million a year on a three-year deal with the New York Islanders, a team that gave a raise north of 100 percent for a declining asset. At age 31, Carkner has played only three seasons in the NHL and his games played have gone from 81 to 50 to 29. Moreover, his average ice time has declined from 16:54 to 14:53 to 11:54. His penalty kill time per game has also dipped, going from 2:16 to 1:59 to 0:53.
And how about enforcer Brian McGrattan, a player the Nashville Predators re-signed on a one-year deal worth $600,000? The only problem with that deal is it’s one-way, meaning he makes the same money in the minors as he would in the NHL. It boggles the mind why the cash-challenged Predators would commit one-way money to a player who played 30 games last year, none the previous year and has averaged only 30 NHL games a season throughout his career.
NEWS: Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson says he refuses to accept anything less than “market value” for disgruntled captain Rick Nash.
VIEW: That’s all well and good, but that same market is basically dictating Nash is not worth the combination of what Howson is asking, plus the pillaging of roster players and prospects Howson insists it will require to get him. That’s essentially why Nash has yet to be traded as we approach the middle of July, with likelihood for a deal anytime soon looking rather slim. Don’t be surprised if the Blue Jackets get much less for Nash than they thought, particularly since Nash continues to be picky about what teams he’ll join.
NEWS: Teams looking for help on defense continue to cast an eye toward Jay Bouwmeester of the Calgary Flames.
VIEW: Good luck with that, eh? Yes, Bouwmeester eats up 26 minutes a game, but when was the last time you watched him play and said to yourself, “Wow, Bouwmeester was a beast out there tonight.”
The reality is there are few players, if any, in the NHL whose talent level is more out of sync with his impact on the game than Bouwmeester. Come to think of it, Nash often gives Bouwmeester a pretty good run in that department. Kind of makes you wonder why teams were falling over themselves to get them in the 2002 draft.
NEWS: Shane Doan appears to be on the verge of leaving the only NHL franchise he has ever known as his July 9 deadline passes and the Phoenix Coyotes are no closer to solving their ownership mess.
VIEW: Something tells me this is as much about the Coyotes not wanting to pay Doan $4.5 million a year on a long-term deal as it is about the future of the Coyotes.
NEWS: The Detroit Red Wings hire future Hall of Famer Nicklas Lidstrom as a scout.
VIEW: If Lidstrom learns half of what Red Wings current European head scout Hakan Andersson knows about identifying talent, he might turn out to be almost as good a scout as he was a defenseman.
NEWS: The NHL and NHL Players’ Association have met two times since opening collective bargaining agreement talks in late June and have more meetings scheduled for this week.
VIEW: These two sides can have all the cordial meetings they want, but don’t be surprised if we don’t see any NHL hockey until January.
Ken Campbell is the senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com with his column. To read more from Ken and THN’s other stable of experts, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.