Happy Birthday Canada! Two minutes for lookin’ so good. I’m sure our fathers of confederation are looking down on us, proud at all we’ve accomplished. I’m also sure they’d like to punch our politicians in the face for trying to tax citizens back to the stone age. And I’m sure they never reckoned one of their citizens, Dany Heatley, would one day earn 10 million dollars for one year of playing hockey in the nation’s capital.
“Pardon me?” says John A. McDonald before he does a triple salchow in his grave. Our first Prime Minster enjoyed a tidy salary of 5000 dollars in 1867.
The Senators addressed one of their many needs – a backup for Martin Gerber. The Sens signed Alex Auld to a 2 year deal worth 2 million dollars, ensuring that, if nothing else, the Sens have the baldest goaltending duo in the league.
The 27 year old Auld played his junior hockey in North Bay, a former teammate of Chris Neil. He’s only appeared in 140 NHL games, with stops in Vancouver, Florida and Boston. He’s only been a starter one year in his career, an unplanned opportunity after Dan Cloutier blew out his knee in 2005-2006. Auld was decent, going 33-26-6 with a 2.94 goals against average and a save percentage of .902.
Last season with Boston, in the same backup role he’ll have here, Auld was 9-7-5 with a 2.32 GAA and .919 SV%. If he can replicate that this year, and there’s no reason to think he can’t, this will be a fine, very sane signing by Bryan Murray.
Wade Redden is leaving the only NHL home he’s ever known. Actually, he’s been a Senator so long he actually once called the Civic Centre his NHL home. It’s the end of an era. Unfortunately, Wade limped to the end of this era. Yesterday the Rangers signed him to a six year deal worth 6.5 million dollar a season. I have to assume Glen Sather’s satellite dish wasn’t able to tune in Ottawa games this year.
Redden is a great community guy. For that he deserves a lot of credit. And he played some good hockey here. But he is no longer among the NHL’s elite defencemen. Not even close. 6.5M is too much for a one year deal. But six years?!! At 31, Redden already plays like his body is ready to quit. Just wait until he’s 37 in the last year of that deal.
The Sens have made two bad decisions in as many years on the blueline. It was almost exactly two years ago the Sens chose not to give Zdeno Chara what he got from Boston. Chara’s agent was a jerk leading up to free agent season, insisting he wanted to test the open market. But it’s clear now the play should have been to allow Redden to walk and make Chara the league’s best paid defenceman.
A season later, the Sens acquired Mike Commodore and Cory Stillman near the trade deadline. Both were temps and in no way difference makers. They both signed elsewhere yesterday. Of course, Joe Corvo and Patrick Eaves were both surrendered in that deal. Corvo still has 2 years left on his deal at 2.7M a season. No one will mistake Corvo for a Norris candidate but the Sens would probably have to pay more than 4M to get a guy like Corvo now.
Remember, we live in a world where Jeff Finger is worth 3.5M for each of the next 4 years (I expect the Leafs will try and buy Finger out next month).
My point is, the Sens could still have Chara and Corvo in their top six. Instead, their top six looks like this: Chris Phillips, Anton Volchenkov, Brian Lee, Christoph Schubert, Matt Carkner and Lawrence Nycolat.
They only have 11 forwards signed too. Alfredsson, Heatley, Spezza, Fisher, Neil, Kelly are all sure things. Then you have the lesser lights in McAmmond, Foligno, Bass, Nikulin and Zubov.
Anybody else worried about this roster? Where’s the offence beyond the big three? Who’s anchoring the power play? Have they addressed the club’s terrible defensive zone coverage? Is the goaltending going to be any good?
I’m going to the Church of Alfie this Sunday to pray for the health of the big three. If any one of them go down, the Sens will be in a dogfight just to make the playoffs. That may be true even if they do stay healthy.
Yesterday, on our nation’s birthday, many more Canadians got very, very rich with the start of the unrestricted free agency season. And some of they aren’t even very good hockey players. Gary? Remind me again why we wiped out an entire NHL season? Oh yes. Cost certainty. As in, it’s now a certainty your player salary costs for mediocrity will be insane.
Go ahead and be furious as you peruse the day’s more bizarre signings.
Boston signs forward Michael Ryder to a 3-year deal worth $12 million.
New York Rangers sign UFA defenceman Wade Redden to a six-year contract worth $39 million.
Toronto Maple Leafs sign UFA forward Niklas Hagman to a four-year contract worth $12 million.
Columbus signs UFA defenceman Mike Commodore to a 5 year deal worth $18.75-million.
Florida signs UFA forward Cory Stillman to a 3 year deal worth $10.6-million.
Toronto signs UFA defenceman Jeff Finger to a 4 year deal worth $3.5-million a season.
Tampa Bay signs UFA forward Radim Vrbata to a $9-million, three-year contract.