NHL Free Agency: Three signings that will be looked back on with regret
Every summer we see a few of these: free agent signings where it becomes immediately apparent that they’re going to hurt the team in the long run.
Some teams sign out of desperation. General managers facing increasing pressures to win, be it from not making the playoffs in the previous outing or getting bounced early on if they did, go out and try to find players who will make their teams better in an attempt to prolong their own tenure.
Others feel the need to expedite a rebuild or perhaps are getting a nudge from the man sitting in the corner office with the nicest view in the house; owners who are greedy and impatient with the slow, methodical process it takes to build a long-term contender.
Whatever the case, some players get signed to seemingly egregious pacts that appear asinine to everyone else.
Here are potentially three of those that have been agreed upon so far this summer.
3. Brandon Tanev, Pittsburgh Penguins
It’s not necessarily the money here that is shocking -- it’s silly season in the NHL, of course.
No. It’s the term.
Six years (and $21 million) for a player who hits a lot of people and was propped up in a big way by his linemates seems excessive. Sure, Tanev can be an effective player when put in the right situation. He’s a pretty good penalty killer. But the running joke in Winnipeg was that you could take away Tanev’s stick and you’d probably wouldn’t see much drop off in his play.
Now, Tanev isn’t going to score 14 goals and assist on 15 others without his twig, but the sentiment is he wouldn’t have had as good a year as he did without guys like Adam Lowry and Andrew Copp carrying him in the offensive zone.
Tanev w/ Lowry, Copp – 58.27 CF%
Tanev w/ Lowry – 52.74 CF%
Tanev w/o Lowry, Copp – 38.08 CF%
Tanev w/o Lowry – 41.49 CF%
Tanev is an exciting player to watch. In of world where gas tanks empty and must be re-filled, he’s the self-recharging electric car that laughs at those with fuel caps. He’s an Energizer bunny who goes and goes and goes.
He’ll block shots and hit everything that moves (and sometimes things that don’t.) But if the right folks aren’t beside him, his effectiveness on the scoresheet (and the data ones, too) will be limited.
Six years is a long time.
[ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker]
2. Tyler Myers, Vancouver Canucks
At one point, this was looking much, much worse.
Some reports suggested that Canucks GM Jim Benning was ready to give Myers eight years and $56 million to wear the blue and green threads sporting a killer whale bursting out of the letter ‘C’.
That crisis was averted, but they still gave Myers five years and $6 million per season, at least going by the analytics, what appears to be a third-pairing defenseman with offensive upside and defensive deficiencies in his own zone. Myers is a defenseman, so that last bit is concerning, to say the least.
Myers is one of those buys at the deadline by a GM feeling the squeeze from upstairs and a squeeze from the fanbase who want a team back in the playoffs.
Again, people with an affinity for math and hockey have painted a not-very-good picture of Myers for that kind of money. A “defensively weak” defenseman is not something teams long for.
And the Canucks are in the middle of a rebuild, one where they already traded off a first-round pick for J.T. Miller and where they’re spending a lot of money to try and get good now even though they have big contracts to come, including this summer, where they have to figure out how to pay restricted free agent Brock Boeser more money than they have cap room at the moment.
1. Sergei Bobrovsky, Florida Panthers
The Panthers sometimes seem like the NHL’s version of a retirement home.
The accommodations are very nice, the weather is great and your breakfast is served by a man wearing a tuxedo. It’s all very wealthy and all very relaxing. And goalies seem to like it, good ones in years gone by that come to see out their playing days in the lap of luxury.
Ed Belfour, Tim Thomas, Roberto Luongo and now Bob, to name a few.
There’s no doubt that Vezina-winning, free agent goaltenders command a lot of money in free agency. So it was no surprise when Bobrovsky got $10 million per season for the next seven. He’s an effective goalie when he wants to be.
Big-name goalies coming close to restricted and/or unrestricted free agency jumped for joy when Dale Tallon signed this monster deal. So did Panthers fans. And they should. At the moment, they have a legitimate goaltender who should lead them to the playoffs.
But for how long?
Bob is 30. While goalies age well at times, Bob has played a lot of hockey over the past three years (and has a nice .922 save percentage to show for it). But will he be a $10 million goaltender in Year 3 of the deal? What about Year 5?
That’s a big chunk of change for a team that seems to have drafted well and will need cash for those players down the line.
Bob is a great goalie. His new contract, however, comes with an untraversed mountain of risk.