Part of me wants to bitch about the Leafs not signing anyone so far since free agency began at 9am PST yesterday but I’ll bite my tongue. There’s another part of me that wants to laugh because there were some signings in the past twenty-four hours or so that didn’t make sense, even if the teams involved were trying to eat up cap space in order to reach the salary cap floor.
Here’s five free agent signings that were the worst, in no particular order:
- Ville Leino, Buffalo Sabres ($27 million, 6 years) – I get it. The new ownership of the Buffalo Sabres wants to prove to their fans they’re serious about contending for a Stanley Cup. The Christian Ehrhoff signing was a smart move, but $4.5 million a year for a guy who had a career-best 19 goal season? A guy who couldn’t crack the Detroit Red Wings lineup not too long ago? I don’t know why the Sabres spent more on this guy than they currently pay for a real, certified goal scorer like Derek Roy but hey, it’s not my team’s cap problem.
- Tomas Fleischmann, Florida Panthers ($18 million, 4 years) – Fleischmann has never been a point-a-game player at the NHL level and was out most of last season with an “upper body” injury. What makes an injury-prone forward with so-so defensive skills a $4.5 million player? Only a general manager who has a history of mismanaging a salary cap can answer that question.
- Ed Jovanovski, Florida Panthers ($16.5 million, 4 years) – What’s worse than a general manager overpaying for a player? Dale Tallon overpaying for THREE players. The second one to make this list is a guy who hasn’t been to an All-Star game in three seasons and is clearly on the decline. What makes this contract worse than the one given to Scottie Upshall is that it’s going to hurt for a long, long time. Jovanovski is 35 years old, which means his $4.25 million annual cap hit is going to be on the books until 2015 whether JovoCop makes it that far or not.
- James Wisniewski, Columbus Blue Jackets ($33 million, 6 years) – This punk had his first 10-goal season but he’s more noteworthy for making an obscene gesture to Sean Avery and delivering cheap shots to his old Chicago Blackhawks teammates. Yet general manager Scott Howson thought it was a great idea to ship a fifth-round draft pick to Montreal for Wiz’s exclusive negotiation rights on the eve of free agency and then pay $5.5 million a year for a second pairing defenseman. When a signing makes Mike Komisarek look like a bargain, you know it’s a bad deal.
- Brad Richards, New York Rangers ($58.5 million, 9 years) – We can always count on the New York Rangers to overpay players that are over 30 years of age and this contract will be on the books until Richards turns 40 and/or the team buys him out. He’s a great player but the fact is in 10 seasons he’s only been a point-a-game player in three of them. This is way too much money for a guy who’s on the wrong side of 30 and has had a recent concussion. What makes this contract bad is that it’s front loaded. Richards will make $50 million during the first five years, which makes salary cap maneuvering a little tricky – unless Wade Redden gets a new, very expensive teammate in Hartford.