Free agency good for Pens, NHL
The first few days of NHL free agency were infinitely more entertaining than the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Penguins did just fine.
The New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers have gotten better -- in the Flyers' case, much better -- and that's good for the Penguins and for the league.
The Flyers and Rangers overspent and could face salary cap ramifications down the road.
First, the Penguins.
They needed a scoring winger and a defenseman. Paul Kariya and Scott Hannan would have been nice, but those two went for the ludicrous cost of $36 million over seven years.
Average combined salary -- $10.5 million.
Penguins general manager Ray Shero opted for sanity and still made some major upgrades. Petr Sykora and Darryl Sydor will make a total of $10 million over four years.
Average combined salary -- $5 million.
Think about it like this: Sykora replaced Michel Ouellet, and Sydor replaced Josef Melichar.
What's not to like about that?
Kariya only had two more goals than the 30-year-old Sykora last season and is two years older.
Sydor, 35, has won multiple Cups. He's lost a step, but he'll move the puck quickly and accurately.
Meanwhile, Shero signed potential No. 1 defenseman Ryan Whitney at the bargain rate of $24 million over six years and might have Crosby locked up long-term before the summer's out.
If that happens, the summer must be considered a smashing success.
Elsewhere in the suddenly rollicking Atlantic Division, the Flyers and Rangers are back to their free-spending ways.
Philly's been rebuilding since the end of its hideous regular season. Defensemen Kimmo Timonen and Jason Smith, forwards Scott Hartnell and Daniel Briere and goaltender Martin Biron, among others, have stepped aboard.
Three of those guys -- Timonen, Smith and Briere -- were captains on their former teams.
The Penguins will not go 8-0 against the Flyers again this season, but really, what fun was that•
A healthy, heated competition should make it more enjoyable for fans in both cities. It also gives the NHL a front-line rivalry and the Penguins a team to measure themselves against.
That said, the Flyers might come to regret signing Timonen and Hartnell to deals worth a combined 12 years and $63 million. And that was nothing compared to Briere, whose free-agent deal is worth $52 million over eight years.
Briere, who turns 30 in October, had a breakout season with 95 points, but there's no telling what might happen to his numbers now that he's been extricated from Buffalo's breakneck system.
Drury and Gomez also are candidates for the All-Overpaid Team.
Drury, 30, has never scored 70 points in a season. He signed with the Rangers for five years and $35.25 million.
Gomez has scored more than 70 points only once in his seven-year career. Yet the Rangers saw fit to lavish him with a seven-year, $51.5 million deal.
Even if they overspent, the Flyers and Rangers should be contenders.
For a league whose past three finals have pitted Tampa Bay-Calgary, Carolina-Edmonton and Anaheim-Ottawa, that can only be considered good news.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins notebook: Czech rookie Simon getting familiar with surroundings
- Timing drives former KHL star Plotnikov
- Crosby’s off-ice life hardly reflects that of a superstar
- Penguins notebook: Crosby most excited by Kessel’s footspeed
- Penguins break in new Cranberry training facility
- For Penguins’ Dupuis, resuming career a risky business
- Penguins defenseman Oleksy brings nasty streak, toughness
- Sestito ready to fight for job on Penguins