Thursday, July 2, 2009

Day Two of Free Agency...Give The Coyotes an "A"

Give the Coyotes an “A” for their latest free agent signing.

A as in Adrian Aucoin. This is more like what I had in mind for this off season. This is a good, potentially great signing.

Aucoin is a horse. He played 22 minutes a game this year for a very good Calgary team. He scored 10 goals in each of the last two seasons totaling 34 and 35 points. And even though he’s slowed down a little at age 35, he still is a strong skater and a steadying influence.

All of this on a very flexible one year contract for $2.25MM. Or said another way, $50,000 less than Jim Vandermeer. Still think that wasn’t part of the Jokinen deal and was made in March?

So what is going on as NHL free agency completes its’ second full day? Well for starters, star players still got star money. Gaborik for $7.5MM in New York. Havlat for $5MM in Minnesota. And Hossa for ever in Chicago.
But the second wave of free agent signings seems to be coming much more slowly. Only about half as many players signed on the second day this year compared to last year. And by my count, there are still over 30 players who made $2MM or more last year who have not yet signed new contracts.

Aucoin was squarely in that group. He made $4MM last year finishing off a 4 year contract he signed after the lockout with the Chicago Blackhawks. He took a big pay cut and a one year contract to get a seat at the table. Others will likely be in the same position.

It’s unlikely that a Robert Lang or Alex Kovalev will drop far enough to be in Don Maloney’s price bracket but some good offensive players who might are Ales Kotalik ($2.5MM last year), Maxim Afinogenov ($3.5MM), Mikael Samuelsson ($1.2MM) and Petr Sykora ($2.5MM). There’s also the possibility of a trade that brings a contracted player to the Coyotes.

Even with the signings of Aucoin, Vernon Fiddler, Jason LaBarbera and the acquisition of Jim Vandermeer, the Coyotes are still hovering around the salary cap floor. It appears there’s room for one more contract and that will almost certainly be a scorer.

Like much of the television advertising we see these days, prices have never been better. And better yet, operators are standing by. That’s great news when dollars are tight and your needs are great.

GMDM, Shop till they tell you to stop!

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