Friday, June 29, 2007

Your Peerless Prognostos...where WILL they go??

Kevin Allen of USA Today lays out the free agency terrain as we get ready for the great land rush that begins noon Sunday...but where will they end up? Ah, that's where The Peerless comes in....

Looking at Allen's list, which is as good a place as any to start, let's look at the top-20:

1. Chris Drury – Los Angeles. San Jose was the early betting favorite, but Los Angeles looks to be stepping up late to make a splash. This would qualify as a splash.

2. Scott Gomez – New York Rangers. At least it has the advantage of saving on moving charges.

3. Ryan Smyth – New York Islanders. The Peerless suspects this one will have some suspense attached to might be a couple of days. But given that the Islanders are stubbornly hanging onto negotiating rights, in the end Smyth stays on the Island.

4. Daniel Briere – Philadelphia. This one qualifies as falling into the lap of the Flyers. There are intermittent stories of the Sabres' indifference to making a top offer.

5. Sheldon Souray – Los Angeles. Hey, they could use some offense from the blue line (he’s not being signed for being a stopper), they have money.

6. Peter Forsberg – retires. Even though the recent surgery on his nettlesome foot was characterized as “minor,” it’s the straw that broke the skater’s back.

7. Slava Kozlov – Detroit. He hates those toxic blue Thrasher uniforms.

8. Paul Kariya – Washington. The Capitals have some work to do to get to a $34.3 million floor. They have to spend money. Here is a chance. Nicklas Backstrom gets to center Alexander Semin and Paul Kariya to start the year. The other Alex asks, "hey, what about me; where's my center?"

9. Mathieu Schneider – Detroit. He’ll shop and shop and shop…and then he’ll think, “hey, Greektown is pretty cool.”

10. Michael Nylander – Chicago. After all the pre-opening chatter, this is a surprisingly hard one.

11. Brendan Shanahan – Rangers. There really is no other choice.

12. Brian Rafalski – New Jersey Devils. Losing him would be quite a blow – not a Scott Stevens blow, but a big one nonetheless.

13. Keith Tkachuk – St. Louis. They didn’t acquire his rights to let him walk.

14. Bill Guerin – Pittsburgh. They’re collecting wingers on the back side of their careers with the idea that somehow, that will fill the void on the wings.

15. Ladislav Nagy – New Jersey. Didn’t exactly endear himself to Stars fans; he’ll be a bargain.

16. Jason Blake – Minnesota. The Peerless just likes the idea of Blake in a red and green uniform….it’ll make him look like an elf at the North Pole.

17. Roman Hamrlik – I have no idea….The Peerless thought he retired.

18. Brad Stuart – Colorado. He’ll be on a stop over in Denver, and never leave….sort of the Viktor Navorski approach to free agency.

19. Scott Hannan – San Jose. Not all free agents change teams, no matter what rumors you read from Eklund.

20. Michal Handzus – St. Louis. Why? it a hunch.

…and for you Caps fans, no, Dainius Zubrus is not returning to Washington. Among the red, white, and blue clubs, he’ll end up in…Montreal.

The Overratedness (maybe) of Free Agents

Let me preface this with this qualifier...we are looking at a phenomenon that concerns itself with one year -- the year after a major free agency signing.

OK, there. Last year the top ten 2006 free agency signings (in terms of annual salary) earned approximately $48 million. Nine clubs were represented among the ten players (Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard being united in Boston). And here is the result . . .

-- of the nine clubs, four made the playoffs
-- of the nine clubs, six had a better record than the year before
-- of those six clubs with a better record, three still didn't make the playoffs

Free agency -- on the basis of this limited set of data and for the most lavishly compensated -- isn't a panacea, except for the players and their agents.