Today is July 1st, which means one thing in the hockey world: money will be spent – a lot of it.
The ‘Silly Season’ has already started out with a bang this week, most notably with yesterday’s monster contract (10 years, $40M) given to Christian Ehrhoff by the Buffalo Sabres. If past years are any indication, the party has just begun.
Here’s a list of bad contracts that have been dished out in recent free agent frenzies that had/have some people scratching their heads:
It will be interesting to see what Rangers GM Glen Sather has up his sleeve this time around. As you can see in the graph, he’s not exactly an expert at spending money wisely. Between Drury, Gomez and Redden – all signed in 2007 or 2008 – Sather spent over $125 million in contract dollars. None of the three are even playing for the Rangers anymore! Not to mention the five-year mega-deal he gave Marian Gaborik in 2009.
The free agent frenzy has always brought out the best and worst of general managers (more of the latter).
It’s a time when everything happens so fast that some teams sign free agents out of impulse, reacting to what other clubs are doing. Or some big-market clubs have a lot of cap space and just decide to waste that money. Gomez and Drury were signed on the same day; so were Michael Cammalleri and Brian Gionta (not shown in the graph) by Montreal in 2009.
Results of the frenzy in the past are also proof that championships aren’t won by spending infinite amounts of cash.
Though the Blackhawks dished out a lot of dough to Campbell, Huet and Hossa, the core of their 2010 Cup-winning team was mainly built through the draft. The same can be said for Pittsburgh in 2009. Even Boston didn’t exactly do on a spending spree; they strategically and methodically put together their team through free agency, trades and the draft.
There’s a theory out there that tickets are sold on July 1 (or ‘Christmas in July’ as some people call it), but Stanley Cups are won at the draft. In most ways, I agree with that. You can bring in solid contributing pieces during free agency, but the foundation is laid at the draft. Luckily for Rangers fans, Sather has started to take notes after bad investments in Drury, Gomez and Redden.
As always, millions of dollars will be spent during this year’s frenzy. Defensemen Tomas Kaberle and James Wisniewski are expected to make upwards of $5 million. Brad Richards’ new deal just might eclipse $8 million a year (hey, it’s July 1!). That’s on the heels of Ehrhoff’s outrageous 10-year, $40 million contract.
They don’t call it the ‘Silly Season’ for nothing.
Photos credit: Getty Images