Saturday, July 2, 2011

Free Agency Odds & Ends: Day 1

Admittedly, Scott Howson's bold gamble in trading for and then signing James Wisniewski pretty much upstaged everything else Columbus did (and probably upstaged what a bunch of other teams did, too). However, the Jackets still had a couple holes to fill, even if they are largely moves made for depth purposes.

Now, of course, the big eyebrow-raiser from Free Agency Day 1 would the signings of Mark Dekanich (get the correct pronunciation here from the man himself, since it has been a topic of debate) and Curtis Sanford. Sanford's is a two-way contract, while Dekanich will back up Steve Mason, per the team's release. Obviously, the fact that Dekanich has not played much in the NHL is a concern for some. Yes, the goalie crop was thin. However, Dekanich's performance in the minors has been decent, at least statistically.

Is it a risk? Certainly. Then again, Ian Clark could build Mason and Dekanich into one hell of a goaltending tandem, too. We'll see. It's the new, risk-taking Scott Howson. Trust him.

Well, with the additions came a few notable subtractions.

Jan Hejda signed a four-year deal with Colorado. The Jackets didn't want to commit to a fourth year. I won't kid you, it's a bummer. Although he wasn't always great, he was a contributor, a solid guy with size who put in good minutes. I would have been nice to keep him, but that's the hockey business.

The Jackets went looking for a backup goaltender in the first place because Mathieu Garon signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Garon is a capable backup, who had a horrible year last year. I think he'll do okay, and provide occasional relief as Dwayne Roloson tries to repeat his terrific season at the age of 41 (actually, 42 in October).

Scottie Upshall is headed to Florida. Apparently he missed the memo that the Panthers had just signed Jose Theodore. Uh, yeah. Good luck with that one, pal. Still, maybe $3.5 million a year will make the futility hurt less.

Finally... and let me just put this out there: I honestly don't think the Mike Commodore problems of last year will necessarily come back to bite the Jackets' asses. Really like him, but letting him go was the right thing to do for both sides.

However... if Mike Commodore suddenly "finds his game" with the Detroit Red Wings, I'm going to be really pissed.

Wrandom Wristers

  • I was not surprised to see the Bolts part with Mike Smith. He can (and did) get good money elsewhere (in Phoenix)... and is getting a starting job, too. His regular season was good, putting up a 13-6-1 record in 22 starts, but man, those appearances he made in the Eastern Conference Final against the Bruins were amazing. Zero goals allowed against the Bruins in two relief situations -- the near comeback 6-5 loss in Game 2 and the 5-3 comeback win in Game 4 -- before he lost in his Game 5 start.
  • "Jagr Watch" ended... oddly. I'm sure he's going to be really popular with Pens fans now, since he has signed with the Philadelphia Flyers. So much for any plans for a statue outside the CONSOL Center.
  • Guess Brad Richards is a done deal for the New York Rangers. Good for him. I personally think it will be the same-old, same-old for the Blueshirts, who tend to target the high-priced free agents, but do a crappy job of finding chemistry and building the team into a consistent winner. But who knows... maybe this is the one. I'm just stoked he's not going to Detroit.
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