The Maven's Haven

  • Sunday, July 01, 2012

    Rangers, Islanders Get Good Start at Free Agent Line; Devils Still Playing Waiting Game

    It's called (TFAF) -- The Free Agent Frenzy; that mad scramble for NHL players that started on Sunday at Noon, and when and where it will stop, nobody knows.


    More to the point, as the clock heads toward Midnight, TFAF could be re-branded, TPP as in The Parise Pandemonium.


    Based on offers reportedly coming in from such points as Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Detroit -- just to name a few -- the former (maybe still present, but doubtful) Devils captain could wind up being the wealthiest forward this side of Sidney (The Not So Kidney) Crosby.


    And while Parise mulls over the moolah, The Maven can ascertain that both the Rangers and Islanders already have made some key moves without breaking the bank.


    RANGERS:


    The Blueshirts replaced Brandon Prust with Arron Asham and -- this may come as a surprise to some -- Glen Sather comes out on top. For starters, there's no way that Prust is worth the four-year deal at a reported $10 million he'll be getting from Montreal. Plus, the more experienced Asham is, when all's said and done, a better fighter and can kill penalties as well as Prust. Add to that, the fact that Asham plays a smarter game. As if more toughness was needed Slats also signed Micheal Haley -- I call him The Poor Man's Prust -- who impressed as a fighter-with-some-talent in his stints on the Island. John Tortorella will be tickled with both signings.


    ISLANDERS:


    The Nassaumen landed Brad Boyes who'll enable Isles fans to quickly forget that P.A. Parenteau has gone west to Colorado. A first round pick -- 24th overall by Toronto in the 2000 Entry Draft -- the 30-year-old Boyes still has the goods. His dossier includes successive 43 and 33-goal seasons with St. Louis (2007-2008 and 2008-2009) and Brad appears at the peak of his playing career. Parenteau did well but Boyes will do better.


    On the physical side, GM Garth Snow -- without fear of much argument -- can claim that he landed the league's best fighter in Matt Carkner who can take a regular turn on defense and double up front if necessary. Add to the Carkner collection, Eric Boulton whose battle-level has been high since breaking in with Buffalo a dozen years ago.


    DEVILS:


    As for the Devs, its high command led by Lou Lamoriello remains in a period of watchful waiting while Parise, Inc. peruse Zach's $$$$$$ possibilities.


    Although he has obtained considerably less attention, Bryce Salvador's raises yet another question for New Jersey's general staff. I say that Salvador's future will heavily impinge on the New Jersey defense. Apparently still considering a return to Newark, the burly backliner has been sought in several NHL precincts and for good reason.


    No matter how you shake it, the 36-year-old was the best all-round Devils defenseman during the Final playoff run and valiantly -- not to mention valuably -- skated in all 82 games after a 2010-2011 campaign during which he was sidelined with injury.


    The way The Maven sees it, Salvador's loss would in some ways be more painful to team chemistry than a Parise departure.


    Also waving good-bye to Prudential Center is Alexei Ponikarovsky who was signed by Winnipeg. One of the post-game-always-available good guys, the large Russian will be remembered for a couple of HUGE sudden death plays including his involvement in the Adam Henrique overtime winner that torpedoed the Rangers in Game Six.


    How well Big Alex can be replaced will depend in large part on Lou's youth movement but the insiders' view -- somewhat debatable --  is that the 32-year-old Ponikarovsky's best seasons are behind him.


    The Mulberry Street Melodrama also features the future of Martin Brodeur who -- with agent Pat Brisson -- has to decide whether he wants to end his goaltending career in a burgh other than Newark. Whatever the decision, Lamoriello also must find an adequate second goalie and that still could be Moose Hedberg; now a free agent.


    Brodeur's ex-buddy, Scott Clemmensen, who had been a potential candidate, took himself out of the mix by re-signing with Florida.


    As for Parise and Brodeur? You tell me; their agents aren't. At least not at this hour!


    This much is certain, Zach will have less trouble lending a pal ten bucks in the future than in his past!


    AROUND THE NHL:


    On other fronts, both Dallas and Florida did well. Ray Whitney still has the goods -- I'm a bit surprised he exited Phoenix -- and will help the Stars offense. Filip Kuba is yet another wise acquisition by Panthers GM Dale Tallon.

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