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The World According To Laura by Laura Kenney is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Two Days of NHL Free Agency

Every year I get in a comfy chair and wait for free agency hoping for the Habs to sign the big one - always hoping hardly ever get anything fabulous - last year the big signing was Alex Auld - really.  The year before the team was redesigned on the front end during free agency, as the former crop seemed uninspired. Out with the old and in with the new.

There was a lot of promise for this year to redesign the back end much like the front one was two summers ago. During the year however there were many devastating injuries on the defence, necessitating a procurement of more defencemen to finish the year. The Habs had so many on contract at the end of the season the question became not who would they get from other clubs but who would be kept. The decision was made too sign oft-injured Andrei Markov - an elite d-man when healthy, Yemelin - a large prospect from Russia who by all accounts plays with a mean streak, Hal Gill - a big bodied, capable but slow defenceman, Yannick Weber- a smaller sized quick guy with a wicked shot. These guys are to complement the young stud PK Subban, and the way past his prime, Spacek. The other defenceman who is still RFA and is expected to sign is Josh Gorges - a hard worker and shut down defensive specialist. These are the guys who were picked over such notables as James Wisniewsky, Brent Sopel and the fabulous Roman Hamrlik. Those three who were not signed are fabulous defencemen who will do extremely well with their new teams, I am certain. There is always some risk in choosing not to re-sign players but the quality in this case when you think about it is astounding. Hopefully history will show the choices were good ones.

The first day of free agency in habsland brought a big winger with a penchant for coming up huge in big games and leaving it all on the ice, Erik Cole. His contract is a little hefty but not outrageous and if he continues not to take a shift off and leaves it all on the ice he will be a hero. You see, in Montreal, to be a hero one has to leave it all on the ice hence the love affair Montrealers have with players such as Darche, White, Nilan and the like. But to be one with a scoring touch wow you get vaulted into the stratosphere - Saku Koivu.

One of the questions going into free agency was who in the heck would back up Carey Price. Last season was Alex Auld - capable but did not play enough to keep sharp despite being 6-2 at times he did not look solid. The Habs signed a capable backup in Peter Budaj from Colorado. I think it is a good signing because he will be better with the full-time goalie coach Pierre Groulx. Hopefully they get together sooner rather than later. He is signed for two years.

Day two brought nothing new to the habs and I believe they are not totally done tinkering with the lineup. I am hoping they will bring some more real grit and sandpaper to the lineup in a Konopka from the Islanders.

In my opinion the team that did the best improvements so far include Buffalo, Florida and Washington. Oh to be a hockey fan in Washington this season - hang on it will be fun.


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