We’re just a few days into free agency and there has been no shortage of signings general managers will undoubtedly regret as time passes. In no particular order, let’s take a closer look at five that stand out.
Dan Girardi – Tampa Bay Lightning – Two years, $3 million per
Today’s NHL is all about skating, moving the puck, and transitioning from defense to offense as quickly as possible. Girardi excels in zero of those things.
He’s lost a step with age, he isn’t good breaking out of the zone, and he will bring little to nothing to the table in terms of offense.
Girardi is regarded as a defensive defenseman whose specialty is, well, defense but he’s no longer remotely effective.
He routinely spends shifts chasing play in the defensive zone and, over the last three years, he’s 190th among 191 eligible defensemen in suppressing shots at 5v5.
Only Rasmus Ristolainen, who spent a couple seasons playing huge minutes for a tanking team, has been on the ice for more shot attempts against on a per 60-minute basis.
Everyone who played or coached Girardi speaks glowingly about his work ethic and leadership but, at this point, that’s about all he brings to the table.
Karl Alzner – Montreal Canadiens – Five years, $4.625 million per
Alzner is pretty good defensively but I think his perceived value far outweighs his on-ice value. His underlying numbers are not good — the Capitals controlled a larger percentage of the shot attempts and goals without him on the ice — and his offensive totals leave a lot to be desired, especially considering the Capitals are annually among the best offensive teams in the league.
He’ll help out on the penalty kill, and can chew up some tough minutes without getting caved in, but I don’t think that’s worth a ~$23 million commitment.
Alzner isn’t a good skater, and defensive defensemen don’t tend to age well (see Dan Girardi), so I think the Canadiens are going to really regret this contract sooner than later.
Dmitry Kulikov – Winnipeg Jets – Three years, $4.33 million per
How Kulikov landed a $13 million contract, and a modified no-trade clause(!), after the season he just had is beyond me.
It says a lot that the Buffalo Sabres, who undoubtedly had one of the worst defense corps in the league last season, traded assets for Kulikov and happily let him walk away for nothing just a year later.
The Sabres brought him in thinking he could be part of the solution and, quite frankly, he was a big part of the problem.
As bad as Kulikov’s underlying numbers were, his counting numbers may have been worse. He tallied just five points in 47 contests despite averaging almost 22 minutes on a nightly basis.
Injuries hampered his season, no doubt, but there are red flags everywhere you look. This is a high-risk signing with little potential to pay off.
Ondrej Pavelec – New York Rangers – One year, $1.3 million
The Rangers went from having one of the best backups in the league (Antti Raanta) to the worst in short order.
Pavelec made his NHL debut in 2007-08 and has posted a below average save percentage in all but one season since.
The Jets continued to let him have the net, anyway, until last year when they finally decided to (mostly) cut the cord despite the team’s goaltending woes.
Henrik Lundqvist is getting up there in age and finally starting to slow down a little bit. Having a capable backup behind him is more important than ever and there is plenty of data to suggest Pavelec isn’t that.
Michael Stone – Calgary Flames – Three years, $3.5 million per
Stone is another guy whose perceived value outweighs his on-ice value.
He’s by no means a burner and, generally, teammates fare better in possession and on the scoreboard when they aren’t playing with Stone.
Besides the 2015-16 season, he hasn’t been able to contribute much offensively, either.
Despite that, the Flames gave Stone a three-year contract worth $3.5 million per.
Spending that kind of money on a depth defenseman is not a good idea. Spending that kind of money on a depth defenseman when there are NHL ready prospects waiting in the wings (like Rasmus Andersson) is an even worse idea.
I mean, it’s entirely possible the Flames gave $10.5 million to a guy who will end up playing his off-side on the third pairing (should Andersson make the team and Stone be forced to shift over). That doesn’t seem like a good investment.
Written by Todd Cordell (@ToddCordell)