So of this year's Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA) signings so far (and as I write this it is Sunday July 3rd at 16:30 EDT) who do you think are the best signings/moves around the NHL so far (from the acquiring/gaining team's perspective)?
Color me surprised to write this but I'd say it's probably Capital's General Manager George McPhee's signing of 35 year old Czech goalie Tomas Vokoun to a one year $1.5M deal. A confluence of factors seem to have fortuitously come together to enable the Capitals and this world-class talent to come together with what can only be extolled as the most Salary Cap friendly deal around for a proven, durable net-minder with a career save percentage of 0.917 and GAA of 2.56 who has played a total of 120 games over the past two seasons and has delivered a GAA of 2.55 and a save percentage of 0.923 and 13 shutouts for a salary of just $1.5M. Vokoun must have a) wanted out of Florida to a team that he felt could go ... A-L-L ... THE - W-A-A-Y-Y as :Boomer" on ESPN says; b) wanted a short term deal so he could be a UFA again after next CBA is in place and he goes to negotiate the last contract of his NHL career; and c) believes the Capitals have the real potential to be the team that delivers him back to the playoffs so he can show everyone what he can do in the Playoffs - a place he has not been since leaving Nashville. The one year, $1.5M deal he signed is truly of note when compared to what Bryzgalov signing by Philadelphia (9 years $51M) or even the 1 year, $3M deal Dwayne Roloson signed with Tampa Bay, the three year deal that Semyon Varlamov just inked with Colorado or even the 2 year $3M deal that Jose Theodore signed back with the Florida club Vokoun is leaving behind.
A good second place deal to McPhee's signing of Vokoun is probably the LA Kings signing of Simon Gagne to a two year $7M deal after they "lost out" on the "Brad Richard's Sweepstakes" to the New York Rangers. Sure Gagne is no Richards but then I'd say the Kings need Richards a lot less than the Rangers and Gagne has proven over the past two seasons he know has and when to "raise his game." Even including his signing the Kings have an average of over $2.5M available for each of their remaining openings and I'd venture a guess they "aren't done yet" when it comes to improving their already formidable line-up.
For third place best moves in free agency I'd give a slight edge to San Jose on the re-signing of Devin Stetoguchi for 3 years at an average salary cap hit of $3M per year.
My fourth place good move goes to Vancouver on their re-signing of Kevin Bieksa for an average salary cap hit of $4.5M for 5 years, that's probably a year more term than I'd have wanted to give him but he was a total stud in this year's playoffs and that's got to be worth something.
Rounding out the top five "good" moves is Dallas' signing of Michael Ryder to a two year $7M deal.
For teams I'd have to think about it some but I've liked all of Caps GMGM's moves so far and not just because I'm a Capitals fan. I've been surprised at how inactive Toronto GM Brian Burke has been this off-season and I think despite giving Brad Richards a big payday these latest moves by the NY Rangers might well work out for them. However i haven't really gone team by team to analyze who I think the "winners" and who I think are the "losers" this off season to date. Also while I wouldn't have given Ilya Bryzgalov the contract he got from the Flyers the last time teams didn't want to pay him and he moved from LA to Phoenix, he proved he could deliver, so I wouldn't make a judgement on that deal until next June. I will say this, as a Caps fan, all these moves by "my team" has gotten my head back "into the game" and that's something I didn't expect to have happen until Rookie Camp opened.
Back to Woman's Beach Volleyball - hey don't laugh, it is an Olympic Sport and well .... you know ... exciting to watch.