It’s July 1st. In a few brief hours, NHL Free Agency 2011 will begin. You probably know who the big prizes are, and you probably know who many of the teams are with open checkbooks today. Let’s take a look at a Free Agency spending guide that each General Manager should look at before making a plunge today.
Brian Burke – Today is actually Burke’s second favorite day of the year, right behind trade deadline day. It’s also the day that waffle sales tend to spike in much of eastern Canada.
Player to watch: Burke has obviously made some noise on the Brad Richards front, but he’s not American. Watch for Burke to pursue Chris Drury and Andy Greene.
Glen Sather – Unlike Burke, today is Sather’s favorite day of the year. Unfortunately for him, the league doesn’t believe his annual “I got too excited so I added an extra “0” to that guy’s contract” speech when he tries to cut players’ salaries.
Player to watch: Sather wants Brad Richards. I’d be curious to see where Richards would fall amongst Rangers greats such as Wade Redden, Chris Drury and Marian Gaborik.
Darcy Regier – Darcy has had the green light with the team’s checkbook already the off-season. Strangely, a book titled “How to Spend the Most Money on July 1st” was spotted on his desk. It was written by Glen Sather.
Player to watch: So far, Regier has brought in a defenseman whose name sounds like his and a former Canuck. Basically, it’s time to cash in big today.
Stan Bowman – Chicago has over $11 million of cap space, so they might quietly make a big move today, which will most likely end up in Pierre McGuire explaining why that player will get along with Brian Campbell.
Player to watch: The Hawks don’t have one primary target, but they could be involved with just about anyone.
Peter Chiarelli – Despite having an unlisted number, Peter is a bit upset that Mike Milbury found his number, since Milbury has left him dozens of messages of signings he wants to make today.
Player to watch: Although Tomas Kaberle wants to test the market, he might want to stay in Boston to avoid being overpaid, something players absolutely hate.
Kevin Cheveldayoff – Look for Winnipeg to sign a big name today as the first big move made with the team in Winnipeg. Look for that player to use his entire salary to find a jacket heavy enough for this winter.
Player to watch: Ed Jovanovski. One way or another, he probably figured he was going to Winnipeg this summer.
Dale Tallon – Tallon might have the biggest budget today. He needs to spend $22 million just to get to the cap floor today. Dale Tallon might have the most desired job in hockey. Well, at least for today.
Player to watch: Steven Stamkos and Brad Richards. Once he signs those two, he can throw a party for every Panthers fan with the money remaining.
Lou Lamoriello – While it’s never easy to figure out what Lou’s up to, Gary Bettman already promised to approve every contract Lou sends him today…barring it doesn’t include an NHL player.
Player to watch: Any retired player, because he might be coaching the Devils next year.
Ray Shero – Shero has some big decisions to make today, including Max Talbot and Mike Rupp. It’s a good thing studs like Craig Adams and Arron Asham are already re-signed.
Player to watch: Jaromir Jagr, because whenever he feels like it, he could deke by an opposing player better than Bobby Ryan.
Pierre Gauthier – The Habs could lose Roman Hamrlik and Andrei Markov, in addition to James Wisniewski, but they do still have Hal Gill.
Player to watch: Forget Jagr, it would be far more amusing to see Alex Kovalev back in Montreal, assuming he still remembers how to get there.
Ken Holland – All of a sudden, Ken Holland looks like the overspending general manager, but it’s okay because the Red Wings are invincible to bad contracts.
Player to watch: Any defenseman. They’ll look to replace Brian Rafalski, a smaller, undrafted free agent out of New Jersey. Hey, we have one of those this summer!
Paul Holmgren – I can’t imagine what Holmgren has left to do other than trading Claude Giroux, James van Riemsdyk and Scott Hartnell for draft picks.
Player to watch: Ville Leino and Simon Gagne. Both need to be re-signed by the Flyers.
Garth Snow – Today is the first day that Alexei Yashin is just a distant memory. The Islanders must celebrate by wasting their money on another player.
Player to watch: Tomas Vokoun. He’s reportedly looking for a 15-year contract. Perfect.
Mike Gillis – Vancouver lost Christian Ehrhoff got a 10-year deal with Buffalo, and Gillis also faces losing Sami Salo and Chris Higgins to free agency.
Player to watch: Tomas Kaberle. If Gillis signed Kaberle and he turned out to be a bust, Canuck fans could say he had “Ballard-syndrome.”
Steve Yzerman – Sean Bergenheim and Simon Gagne highlight Yzerman’s priorities today during free agency, as the media has kindly reminded him that no other impact player needs a new contract.
Player to watch: Steven Stamkos. You’d never know it, but Stamkos is a restricted free agent.
Dean Lombardi – The LA Kings will continue to try to sign a big name, high-scoring forward. They will likely continue to fail once Sather signs Brad Richards.
Player to watch: Drew Doughty, as he could quietly be the player that slips away if Lombardi isn’t careful.