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Signing goalies; Vesey's rights; Hockey Night's issues (Puck Daddy Countdown)

(Ed. Note: The column formerly known as the Puck Daddy Power Rankings. Ryan Lambert takes a look at some of the biggest issues and stories in the NHL, and counts them down.)

7. That Cam Ward contract

You gotta be out of your mind to think this ends any other way but badly for Carolina. The only thing I can imagine is that this is a goalie they will not be protecting in the expansion draft. Which, who cares, honestly?

The deal is bad. The goalie is bad. There's no real justification here, other than he's a nice guy who has been around a long time. One thing Ron Francis said after signing the deal is that the Hurricanes' D is getting better than it used to be, and Ward's numbers would likely improve as a result. Tough to buy that logic.

More likely, this is another example of NHL teams having no idea what to do with goaltenders, or how to evaluate them properly.

6. The Leafs

Speaking of which!

The idea that the Leafs overpaid for Frederik Andersen, which was a big issue many people had with the trade when it was first announced, is silly. They did not overpay for him. The likelihood that he exceeds the expected or actual value of the picks the Leafs surrendered is quite high.

The real problem with the deal is that they didn't necessarily need to make it, and that they dramatically overpaid on the contract, rather than the trade itself.

First and foremost let's get into the idea that Andersen constitutes any sort of notable upgrade over Jonathan Bernier. It's tough to see the argument. Bernier hasn't been that good for the last two seasons, to be sure, but playing behind a team as lousy as the Leafs have been is not going to make anyone look all that good. Meanwhile, Andersen has been a .918 goalie in his career, which is slightly above the league average, but hasn't exactly gotten a large enough body of work to say “this is what we can expect of him forever” and in fact has faced some of the weakest competition of most goalies in the league over that stretch. Moreover, when your coach is Bruce Boudreau, and not Randy Carlyle, you're gonna have a better time of things. That just stands to reason.

Don't see where five years is a good idea. Don't see where $5 million is a good idea. Maybe that's just what he was going to cost them. Again, the Leafs probably needed a goalie, but this is a big commitment to a guy with 120-something games of NHL experience. Some serious red flags pop up when you stop to think about things.

5. The Rangers

Let's get into a stretch where we talk about trading for a pending free agent's rights.

On Monday, the Rangers traded the rights to Keith Yandle to Florida for a sixth-round pick. Conventional wisdom out of Sunrise was that this is because the Panthers expect to lose Brian Campbell, and see Yandle as a suitable replacement. I'm not sure that's necessarily the case, but a guy who generates offense like Yandle can doesn't really come along every day.

The value for the Panthers here is that a sixth-round choice usually amounts to nothing. The chance to sign Yandle before anyone else gets a crack at negotiating is something that should help their D corps going forward. Of course, we've also heard that Yandle, who will be 30 in September, wants a max-term, big money deal should be more than a little worrisome. I wouldn't sign any defender until he's 37, let alone one whose biggest asset is likely to diminish in value over the next few years. (And besides, everything you've ever heard about Yandle is that he's going to sign with Boston, right?)

The ask from Yandle almost certainly played into the Rangers' decision to trade his rights. Nonetheless, this just isn't good asset management by the Rangers. Is it better to get, say, anything for a guy you don't intend to bring back? Sure. Is a sixth-round pick technically “anything?” Sure, but by the slimmest of margins. Could've been a seventh I guess.

The romance between Yandle and the Rangers was dead long before this trade, of course. We all knew that. So why not move him at the deadline and actually get something for him? They couldn't have thought that team was good enough to get deep into the playoffs, could they? If so, well, they've got bigger problems than bad asset management in this particular instance.

4. The Sabres

The move to trade for Jimmy Vesey's negotiating rights was a wise one.

Vesey is good friends with fellow Hobey Baker winner Jack Eichel. They share an agent. They played against each other in college. They play together in the summer. All that fun stuff. It might help. It might not. It's worth trying either way.

Tim Murray had the best explanation of this situation (because of course he did): The Sabres had four picks in the third round. The idea is that Vesey is a top-six forward right now. The odds that you get anything close to a Vesey-value return on the average third-rounder are vanishing. So you might as well gamble. This effectively costs the Sabres nothing.

But still, Vesey's going UFA on Aug. 15, according to his agents, and while Buffalo can make a great pitch, it might not matter.

The chance that this theoretically gets done, though, was enough to justify the trade.

3. The Coyotes

Finally in this vein, it seems the Coyotes had the best opportunity to improve themselves with a trade of this type, giving up No. 128 overall for a defenseman who finalized a five-year deal with them on Wednesday.

The Coyotes have a hole or three on defense, and while Goligoski isn't exactly a Norris candidate, he's certainly someone that could, at worst, shore up their second pairing considerably. The deal will give him north of $5 million a season. Certainly, his ask was significant enough that the Stars, who controlled his rights, were willing to take back a fairly low pick to not keep him.

2. Weird conclusions

This past season, the ratings were very down for Hockey Night in Canada. the NHL's premier television event each week. And executives at Sportsnet are looking for answers. They think they've found one in the strangest place imaginable.

I don't know how you watch HNIC this season and say, “You know who's the problem is the engaging younger guy who asks good questions.” There was a tidbit in one of the articles I read on this decision where executives asked George Stroumboulopoulos to tone down his look, with his “non-traditional” suits and so on. Which tells you plenty about the kinds of decision-making we're dealing with.

The overall problem with Hockey Night in Canada is the same one that keeps getting Don Cherry's contract extended: The idea that if a given thing wasn't what people or saw on the program 20 years ago, people don't want to hear or see it now. We're still dealing with problems related to women actually having a voice on the broadcast, so of course going back to Ron MacLean (who I like and everything, and is more indicative of a problem than a problem himself) is the solution these brain surgeons come up with.

Maybe get the loud guys who are wrong far more often than they're right off the show. Maybe now that numbers are down, try something new because you have a little room to play around, rather than hoping a return to the old method is going to work. I'm just spitballing.

Stroumboulopoulos isn't what we're used to seeing on hockey broadcasts. That's not a bad thing. Because lots of hockey broadcasts suck.

1. Anyone looking to sign Ilya Bryzgalov

To those who think signing a 35-year-old who posted an .847 save percentage in eight NHL games last season is a thing they should do: I wish you the best.

(Not ranked this week: The Wings.

I love love love love love the idea that Ken Holland doesn't really think he can move Pavel Datsyuk's cap hit. What team like an Arizona or New Jersey wouldn't want to take back that deal? You pay no actual money, but you get a lot more cushioning vis a vis the cap floor.

So here's the question for Holland: How badly do you want to trade that contract? Do you want to give up a pick, prospect, or package that would probably have to be at least as valuable as Teuvo Teravainen?

Actually, no. Here's the question for Holland: Given how bad Detroit was last year with Datsyuk on the shelf, how badly do you want this year to be the one in which the playoff streak finally gets snapped? Because that's the more likely outcome if you don't free up cap space and actually sign quality veterans to shore up what is now a massive hole in the lineup.

Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg is rumored to take a lot of pride in the playoff streak, with a “not on my watch” attitude toward seeing it come to an end. Does Ken Holland feel the same way?)

Ryan Lambert is a Puck Daddy columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here.



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