In part 1 of our NHL Free Agency Recap, we discussed some of the absurd contracts handed out over the weekend. Today we are going to focus on some of the smaller, but still notable signings.
Mike Rupp (F) to the Rangers for three years, $1.5 million cap hit
In my post “Perhaps the Rangers Greatest Need Of All,” I said that the Rangers should sign another enforcer to help alleviate some of the workload (aka fighting) from Brandon Prust. My number one candidate for this honorable role was Zenon Konopka, who can play protector as well as win faceoffs. Well, we didn’t get ZK, but a glance at Rupp’s stats, and he clearly can fulfill both roles.
The last two seasons, on average, Rupp put up almost 20 points, had about 12 fights, and won 50.6% of his faceoffs. He also scored the Cup clinching goal for the New Jersey Devils in 2003, so he should be a good locker room voice in the postseason.
My one worry with Rupp is he’s known for taking bad penalties, which is a trait the late Boogaard never acquired. Hopefully his likely linemates, Prust and Boyle, will instill some selflessness in him.
Tomas Vokoun (G) to the Capitals for 1 year, $1.5 million cap hit
The Achilles heel for the Capitals has long been defense and goaltending. Their defense should prove better with age, but now with Vokoun manning the pipes, the Capitals will be a force to be reckoned with.
Vokoun is a top 5 goalie, who has never really gotten much credit or fame outside of hardcore hockey fans, thanks to playing in Miami and Nashville. Over the past 5 seasons he has put up a .920 save percentage or higher four times. That’s pretty impressive considering the atrocious teams that were playing in front of him all of those years.
Vokoun could have signed for more elsewhere, but obviously he left cash on the table for a chance to win a Stanley Cup. A classy and equally rare move…
Jose Theodore (G) to the Panthers for 2 years, $1.5 million cap hit
I’d rather have Vokoun.
Matt Gilroy (D) to Tampa Bay for 1 year, $1 million cap hit
Another transaction that slipped through the cracks, Matt Gilroy parted ways with the Rangers to play with a pretty impressive blueline down in Tampa. Gilroy, who will turn 27 this summer, will be a good defensemen one day. Unfortunately it won’t happen under the lights of Broadway.
In some ways Gilroy had similar faults and potential as Del Zotto, but being 27 with only 2 years of NHL experience, clearly hurt the Bellmore native’s chances at succeeding in Broadway Blue.
Erik Cole (F) to the Canadiens for 4 years, $4.5 million cap hit
It’s hard to know whether Montreal got a 26 goal scorer, or an 18 goal scorer. Over the next four years, they’ll likely have both.
Steve Sullivan (F) to the Penguins for 1 year, $1.5 million cap hit
You want to talk about small players who succeeded in the NHL? Sully is the original gangster in that regard. At 5’8 161 lbs, Sully has been skating through the reaches of defensemen twice his size since ’96, when he broke in with the Devils.
At 36, it’s hard to know how much Sully has left in his little tank, but when healthy he’s a legit threat at 50 points. If the Pens get that out of him for $1.5 million, this could be best contract of the summer not named Vokoun.
Ilya Bryzgalov (G) to the Flyers for 9 years, $5.6 million cap hit
That Vokoun contract just makes this deal look silly.
Alright folks, I’m off to savor some Scotch in seersucker. Have a great 4th!