First it was the Detroit Red Wings of the early and mid-2000s. Then, several years ago, when Chicago was still Capital-C Chicago and there was plenty of under-30 talent to go around, it seemed like you could always count on Stan Bowman to reel in one or two players a summer on extremely favourable terms.
Whether it was by trade or via free agency, there was always someone who met his team’s unique problem that summer, coming in on the cheap and ensuring the dynasty would roll for at least another year. That is, right up until that stopped happening. The big names here were guys like Brian Campbell, who went back to Chicago after a years-long, semi-self-imposed exile in Florida, or Brad Richards, who got picked up off the discard pile and looked like a really good No. 2 centre for a year.
Then there were the multiple reunions with former mainstays (Patrick Sharp, for instance) who cashed in elsewhere and ended up going back for a year here and there to lend a hand at a low price.
The seat of such bargaining power seems to have shifted as Chicago’s strength faded. Now it seems to reside in Tampa, where the Lightning have made two low-cost, shrewd pickups that give them exactly what they were missing.
Patrick Maroon signed a one-year deal with the Lightning this weekend for just $900,000 — well below what should have been market value. There, he will undoubtedly provide some size, muscle and all that in a third-line role. And because of the strength of the roster, they will likely also afford him ample opportunity to improve on the 10 goals and 28 points he put up last season. At the very least, it seems like Adam Erne was more than replaced for a lower price than Detroit ended up giving him. You have to think there’s a strong possibility Tampa gets more for less from Maroon than Detroit gets out of Erne.
You can apply that same logic to the Kevin Shattenkirk deal from earlier this summer. Sure, things didn’t work out on Broadway and he didn’t end up being worth the money, but for $1.75 million against the cap, you’re far more likely to get value on that deal, especially if you put him in a position to succeed. The Rangers couldn’t — for a lot of reasons, not the least of which were PR-related — so they had to move on. The Bolts have plenty of options to do just that, and even if he’s a third-pairing guy and that’s it, well, there are far more expensive third-pairing guys in the league.
Simply because of who’s already locked in with that team, Julien BriseBois will spend the next few years (at least) in a position where he can be very selective about reclamation projects, and often get more value with that player than any other team would have. And much like Bowman got to take credit for simply being the guy who picked up the phone and expressed interest in these kinds of players before, so too will BriseBois continue to make a lot of hay with these acquisitions.
Inheriting a roster loaded with world-beating talent isn’t particularly difficult, and these kinds of signings will help keep the job easy. At least, that is, until it comes time to start making hard decisions around those middle-of-the-lineup options like Palat, Killorn, and Johnson. And even then, your own players will be more willing to take hometown discounts (see also: Stamkos), while veterans from outside the organization will be happy to do the same just to play with all that talent.
Anaheim Ducks: All I’m saying is, this should be 31 teams and it should be Summer League. Why have like four of these smaller tournaments with five or six teams each when you could have one and make it an event? Make it U-23 or something. Pretty easy.
Arizona Coyotes: Asking who the real Clayton Keller is — the 65-point rookie or 47-point sophomore who was considerably worse — really matters for the Coyotes going forward.
Boston Bruins: Bruce Cassidy just seems like a nice guy. Prettttttty good coach, too. I was skeptical when he replaced Claude Julien but man, what a great job he’s done.
Buffalo Sabres: I honestly don’t think Casey Mittelstadt was as bad as everyone acted like he was last season. Not to say he was good or anything, but this is a classic case where a guy got hyped to the moon and then didn’t live up to the hype that should have never been put on him in the first place. He’s not even 21 and it’s not like he was this incredible player in his one year of college. I think he’ll be a fine NHLer, and everyone else will think that’s a huge disappointment.
Calgary Flames: Yes, on its surface, PTOing Andrew MacDonald to cover for the loss of Juuso Valimaki is like, “Ah jeez,” but if you put MacDonald in Valimaki’s role on a third pair, my guess is he’d be as good or better for you.
Carolina Hurricanes: I think every team in the league south of Philadelphia (and some north of it) are legally required to be constantly going through some sort of protracted issue with their home rink.
Chicago: This is Casey Mittelstadt thinking on Alex Nylander. Not even good in the AHL last season, so why set him up to be a “disappointment” if he doesn’t make the big club on a team with more forward depth? Good lord.
Colorado Avalanche: Yeah, when you had exactly one line that could score last year, it’s probably good to have competition lower on the depth chart all of a sudden. Just my thoughts.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Well jeez, what’s Kekalainen going to say? “Our prospect pool is one of the worst in the NHL and all those trades I made last year were only to save my job.” Of course the only reasonable thing for him to say was, “We have a lot of faith in these kids, none of whom anyone has ever heard of.” C’mon.
Dallas Stars: It certainly wouldn’t be surprising to see Andrew Cogliano pop in five or six more goals than he did last year, mainly because he shot under six per cent. But I mean, don’t go around expecting offence from Andrew Cogliano, either.
Detroit Red Wings: I feel like I’m gonna say this a lot with all the fringe guys on the Detroit roster, but if Madison Bowey is competing for a spot on the defence, that defence is not good.
Edmonton Oilers: No first-line right wing, no second-line left wing, no third-line centre. Yup, things are going great. Lots of reason for optimism.
Florida Panthers: This kind of attitude isn’t a great one to put out there when the absolute best you can hope for in your division is almost certainly “finishing fourth.”
Los Angeles Kings: Just because a guy is relatively young doesn’t mean he’s got a ton of room to grow offensively. Adrian Kempe is a third-line guy you don’t hate subbing into the second line when needed, tops. That’s fine to be.
Minnesota Wild: What would be the point of trying to keep a (very good) soon-to-be-30-year-old defenceman on this team long-term?
Montreal Canadiens: Haha, I bet.
Nashville Predators: Hold on, Martin Erat is still third all-time in Predators goals? Yeesh.
New Jersey Devils: I think the nicest thing you could say for these 1-for-1 Taylor Hall proposals is they get progressively less insane as the list goes on, but less insane than “a billion per cent insane” is still absolutely bonkers.
New York Islanders: I think Derick Brassard could have a minor bounce-back, especially compared to the price, but a lot of people in the industry say he’s done.
New York Rangers: The Rangers might have a third jersey next season? Okay, sure.
Ottawa Senators: When trading for Anthony Duclair — on whom four different teams have given up before his 24th birthday — is one of your top five trades…. Hoo boy.
Philadelphia Flyers: What I would say here is, “don’t bet on it.”
Pittsburgh Penguins: Apparently the Pens kicked the tires on Jesse Puljujarvi earlier this summer. Edmonton wanted Bryan Rust for him so Rutherford passed. Hmm.
San Jose Sharks: I’ve said this before but the Sharks were one of the best teams in the league last year with the worst goaltending imaginable. If Martin Jones is even average, look out.
St. Louis Blues: Man, if you can get Brayden Schenn for just $6 million per over six years...
Tampa Bay Lightning: Still nothing on Brayden Point, and it’s fun to just get this kind of non-update every single week until mid-September.
Toronto Maple Leafs: If Ben Harpur really wanted to help the Leafs blue line he would clock back out again.
Vancouver Canucks: Yeah I can’t imagine why no one wanted to trade for Loui Eriksson.
Vegas Golden Knights: I’m really liking the prospects of a big improvement from Max Pacioretty, especially if he gets to play with Mark Stone. Man, I just realized the Knights’ RW depth is Stone, Smith, Tuch. Think you’d struggle to find a better top-three right wings in the league.
Washington Capitals: To call any NHL player testing positive for cocaine use — let alone one who was just on video with a bunch of coke in the room — “shocking” is… bizarre.
Winnipeg Jets: My advice to the Jets is: Don’t do this.
Gold Star Award
Extremely funny that they’re still doing this. I hope it goes on forever.
Minus of the Weekend
I don’t want to wait until the All-Star break to hear the new Seattle team’s name. Very bad to do that. Just say it now. Who cares? People are gonna buy the shirts regardless!
Perfect HFBoards Trade Proposal of the Week
User “Yzerplan” might need to do better than this.
To Tampa - puljujarvi
To Edmonton - 2020 2nd, 2020 4th
That is a rare photo of Sean Connery signed by Roger Moore. It is worth $150.
Ryan Lambert is a Yahoo! Sports hockey columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here.
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