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Double OT: Free agent frenzy spirals into madness

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Apparently it is going to take more than a salary cap to stop the insanity.

The cap, after all, was supposed to be a mechanism that prevented NHL GMs from shooting themselves in the foot. Cost us a whole year of hockey to get the damn thing implemented.

Well, there are a number of GMs limping today from self-inflicted wounds and hockey – off the ice, at least – appears to be in critical condition.

Brian Campbell falls flat in this season’s playoffs, yet signs for $57 million for eight years with Chicago. Are there two Brian Campbells?

Campbell may have won the lottery, but he might want to check in with Bryan McCabe to see how miserable life can be when you sign a deal you can’t possibly live up to. Campbell scored eight goals and 62 points for Buffalo and San Jose this season. Do the Blackhawks think now he’ll score 20 goals and 80 points just because he’s earning more money? It doesn’t work like that.

Wade Redden’s game has fallen off the face of the earth, yet the New York Rangers somehow deem him to be worth $39 million over the next six years. The Senators were this close to being Stanley Cup champions two years ago and were only too happy to get rid of him. You do the math.

Jeff Finger, who has played a grand total of 94 NHL games and was a healthy scratch for five of Colorado’s 10 playoff games signs with Toronto for four years and will be paid $14 million. I thought Cliff Fletcher was doing a decent job for a guy the Leafs don’t really want to run their team, but after this move, I wouldn’t trust him with the key to the executive bathroom.

I bet if you put Finger in a lineup a week ago and asked Fletcher to pick him out, he wouldn’t be able to do it.

Michael Ryder was a healthy scratch for eight of Montreal’s 12 playoff games and yet the Boston Bruins hand him $12 million over three years. It is not clear at this point if Ryder can still play in the league.

Brad Stuart was passed around the NHL like a hot potato the past few seasons, yet the Detroit Red Wings think he’s worth $15 million for the next four seasons. Granted he played well for them, but at $3.75 million a year, surely they could have found somebody equally as good for cheaper.

The funny thing is, the dumbest offer of all – $20 million to Mats Sundin to skate two seasons with the Vancouver Canucks – wasn’t even accepted. Sundin is the most overrated player in the NHL, a player who hit the 100-point plateau just once in his career. Some claim he is a great leader, yet his last team, the Leafs, missed the playoffs the past three years. Not entirely his fault, but there were disruptive forces inside the Toronto dressing room that Sundin failed to quell.

This year’s class of unrestricted free agents was not a good one, chock full of second tier players who will now be paid first tier money and will be expected to perform like front-liners. Good luck to them.

My guess is by midway through next season, there are going to be a lot of disappointed teams and fans.

Mike Brophy, the co-author of the book Walking with Legends, is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor on His blog appears Mondays and his column, Double OT, appears Wednesday.

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