Thursday, July 1, 2010

So This is What it's Like to Have Stable Management

The first nine hours of NHL Christmas have passed us by. Much like on Santa's Day fans are sitting back, exhausted after enjoying their new acquisitions. Some fans got the sexy, pricey toy (Ottawa - Sergei Gonchar), some got nothing (Caps fans) and some got socks and books (Tampa Bay).

I'm cautiously optimistic about Steve Yzerman's first day in free agency. There are two moves that I love - Dan Ellis for 2 years and $3 million and trading Andrej Meszaros for more than a bag of pucks and a slap on the ass on the way out the door. (They actually got a 2nd round pick from Philly).

One move I like, but am a little uncomfortable about the price tag. Extending Marty St Louis for four more years almost guarantees he retires as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Paying him $22.5 million for those four years is interesting to say the least.

For the longest time, I would say up until two seasons ago, I was a big proponent of trading St Louis. I figured his value was at it's highest and his best days would be behind him. Now I'm not so sure.

While Vincent Lecavalier wears the "C", St. Louis has emerged as the leader in the locker room. When he vented at the end of the season and pondered his future, or lack of, with the team the fan base was thrown in a panic. If he had forced a trade, the Lightning might have netted a solid return, but the heart of the team would have been ripped out.

When I heard that Meszaros was being moved I sent a text to my buddy Link stating that it freed up cap space for a new Steven Stamkos contract. Little did I know that the money would instead be invested in St Louis. The good news is that the Bolts still have plenty of room under their self-imposed cap to sign Stamkos to a longer term deal.

Perhaps the best move Yzerman made today was to not get involved in the over bidding for defensemen such as Gonchar, Dan Hamhuis, Paul Martin and Anton Volchenkov. All of those blue liners signed multi-years deals for at least $4.5 million per year deals. In other words - the same type of deal they traded away to Philadelphia.

There are still a lot of holes to fill on the team most notably up front. Not re-signing Kurtis Foster could come back to haunt the Bolts as they don't currently have a big shot on the power play (something that spread the ice out and gave Stamkos a lot of space), but there are still many months until the first puck drops in anger. Plenty of time for Yzerman to continue his careful rebuilding of this organization.

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