NHL Free Agency Winners and Losers

There's no question that yesterday's signings were anything but unexciting. If there were any signings that weren't eye openers, then you must have been watching the World Cup. In order to analyze some of the key signings from July 1, it's important to pick out the winners and the losers. Essentially which teams made the best decisions and which made the worst signing decisions. 

The Washington Capitals are the team that probably made some of the worst decisions. First they go onto sign defenseman, Brooks Orpik, to a seven year, $27.5 million contract. Taking a look at Orpik's career numbers since 2002; 13 goals, 119 assists, a plus/minus rating of 32, and a total of 734 penalties in minutes; all while playing in 703 games. In this case, numbers don't lie. Obviously Orpik isn't work the $27.5 million that the Caps have agreed to pay him over seven years. Granted he is a "veteran" defender and knows the game pretty well but when you look at the other possibilities that Washington could have done it's clear that there are other candidates. Not only is Orpik reaping benefits from Washington, his old teammate in Pittsburgh, defender, Matt Niskanen also signed a huge deal with Washington that involves seven years and $40.25 million. Niskanen does in fact have better numbers that Orpik, in 491 games he recorded 35 goals, 132 assists, a plus/minus rating of 39, and a total of 266 penalties in minutes. Yes, Niskanen does put up some pretty flashy numbers for a defender but a $40.25 million, seven-year contract is pretty steep; for either player. Granted, Washington does need defenders but to sign them for seven years is pretty outrageous. 

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The Edmonton Oilers have been struggling ever since Gretzky was traded to Los Angeles. Even though they may think that they got a big break with the signing of Beniot Pouliot and Mark Fayne, the thing is, they didn't. They go onto sign Pouliot to a five-year $20 million contract. Pouliot does have some decent numbers and did help the Rangers get to the Cup Final; the thing about Pouliot, he can't seem to stay on a team. He's always moving from team to team. In his earlier years he would play a few games in the NHL then get sent down to the AHL. He does have decent numbers, 76 goals and 84 assist all in 371 games. This may look promising to a team who is looking to get a big break early, but in reality, Pouliot is going to be passed over and be with a new team before his Edmonton contract expires. As for Fayne, Edmonton signed him to a four-year, $14 million contract. Quite a bit for a defender who is only good for an occasional decent pass. 

Chuck Fletcher knows what he's doing in Minnesota especially after signing the University of Minnesota alum, Thomas Vanek. Vanek has moved around quite a bit in the past season, however I feel like he's found his calling with the Minnesota Wild. Not only is Vanek going to be playing with some old teammates, he will also contribute tremendously to the Minnesota style of play. During his 663 game career, Vanek has recorded 277 goals, 279 assists, and a plus/minus rating of 41.

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The St. Louis Blues might as well change their name to the United States Olympic Hockey Team. They landed one of the top free agents, Paul Stastny. Stastny will be a great fit in St. Louis, not only because he played with some of the guys back in Sochi, but because of his numbers. Stastny is great at what he does, and that's finding ways for his teammates to score goals. Last season Paul recorded 25 goals, 35 assists, and a plus/minus rating of 9. Not to mention, he will be playing in front of his hometown fans. This will be a huge mental boost for Stastny which may even push his game to a whole new level.