...and will be on LTIR for the last three.
Welcome to another HJC Sunday post!
This post finds you in the relative calm after the storm of the July 1st free agency insanity. I must say, giving out six-seven year deals to players near or over thirty in an NHL landscape that is trending towards speed over size is troubling. The person I feel most sorry for is the GM who will have to step in and buy out these players after the GM that signed these deals is fired and no trade partner can be found.
Not all deals were bad, though. The Florida Panthers made some very reasonable deals, signing a potential successor to Roberto Luongo in James Reimer. Chicago was able to bank on their reputation yet again by signing Brian Campbell to a deal much under what he could have made elsewhere. Poile was able to sign Yannick Weber, so now the 40% of the Nashville fanbase with a Shea jersey will only need to change the number. (assuming reports of Yannick changing his number are true)
Just for fun, let's recap the best and worst deals of the day. I am excluding all re-signed players because that's boring. Chaos and change are fun. (all contract details researched on General Fanager)
1. David Backes (BOS)
Contract: 5 years/$6 million AAV, with NMC/Modified NTC
The Blues were wise to let Backes go if this was the contract they were competing against. Backes is already 32. He's coming off his worst statistical season since 2009. This roller coaster is already picking up steam on the big drop. When Backes is 37 and very much past the prime that is already past him, he'll still be getting paid $4 million a year, and have a modified no-trade clause. So, if this deal goes poorly for the Bruins, Backes's NMC/MNTC gives the Bruins little to no negotiating power. Further, because you have to protect players with NMCs/NTCs, the Bruins must include Backes in the 2017 expansion draft for Las Vegas. Ball, meet chain.
2. Andrew Ladd (NYI)
Contract: 7 years/$5.5 million AAV with NMC/Modified NTC
This is worse because they could have given this contract to a player who is just as good, younger, and familiar with their system. Kyle Okposo. Been scratching my head for days over this. Yes, I know he signed for $500,000 AAV less than Okposo, but Okposo is $500K a year better. He's 30, and coming off his worst statistical season since 2009. You can take the last few sentences from my take on the Backes contract, replacing "Backes" with "Ladd," and "Bruins" with "Islanders" and it would all still apply.
3. Milan Lucic (EDM)
Contract: 7 years/$6 million AAV with NMC/Modified NTC
He plays an abrasive style. Maybe that will complement Edmonton's skill players well. However, the money and term thrown out here is problematic. Physical players tend to break down sooner. This deal might look alright for about 3-4 years, then you have 3 or more years of a slow forward prone to discipline issues and baffling mental breakdowns. I think Milan can find a fit in Edmonton, but I think Edmonton would have been better off with 4-5 years, front-loaded. Like the Ladd deal above, Lucic can't be moved at all until the last two years of his deal, where he can somewhat control his fate via a list of 10 teams; giving Edmonton no power at the table when they inevitably will want to trade this contract for The Rebuild Pt. 8.
See a pattern here, folks? Giving out long-term contracts with no-trade/no-movement clauses to players on the edge of, or past, their prime is a bad idea.
1. James Reimer (FLA)
Contract: 5 years, $17 million AAV
With Florida having a good young corps of forwards, improved defense, and the World's Most Interesting Player, all the Panthers really needed was a legitimate goalie who could swap starts with the 37-year-old Roberto Luongo and eventually replace him. They did just that, locking up the best goalie on the free agent market to very reasonable term and money. That's how it's done.
2. Brian Campbell (CHI)
Contract: 1 year, $2 million
Yes, Brian's prior experience with Chicago makes this a less than fair comparison to other deals. The deal includes performance bonus incentives, so Campbell only gets the full amount if he satisfies all the criteria. Because there is no NMC/NTC here, it is a contract that is very easy to trade should Chicago need to move a player at the deadline. Chicago needed a puck-moving defenseman, and it got one at a bargain.
3. Mikkel Boedker (SJ)
Contract: 4 years, $4 million per year
Boedker may not have the flashiest statistics, but he does have one thing the Sharks visibly lacked against the Pittsburgh Penguins: speed. At 26, they are getting Boedker's prime years for less than what Detroit is paying for Frans Nielsen's 32-38 years. Right term. Right team. Right Price. Give San Jose credit for seeing a team weakness and trying to find a solution without blowing the team up.
I must say, the biggest "winner" (if I can be allowed to further wade into post-FA cliches) in this offseason so far may be the Florida Panthers. Hot off the momentum of a successful rebranding reveal, they have made a lot of smart moves to improve their defense and goaltending, bringing in Jason Demers, giving up a late pick for Keith Yandle, and signing the best goalie on the FA market. Then they locked up young players like burgeoning superstar defenseman Aaron Ekblad, and Vincent Trocheck. Also, one more year of Jaromir Jagr! Panthers fans have much to be excited about. This is a team you can't help but like.
But you know who the biggest winner is? You, because there is still more post! That's right, for the low, low price of just 3 easy payments of $19.95, you can read the rest!* We're just getting to the good part!
*Offer not valid in Arkansas, Greenland, The Vatican, or Papua New Guinea
Swiss Confederation 1816/2016 Concept - Jordan R.
Positives: As a history teacher, I absolutely love this series. It's one of those things where you wish you thought of it first. Maybe I'll have to do a 1616/2016 series...
Anyway, I love the striping pattern for both jerseys. I actually prefer the white jersey here, which is a rare thing. Typeface looks good. Execution is pretty good. Presentation is perfect for the series.
Negatives: Not much indication that this has roots in 1816 Switzerland, but I guess that goes to show how slow the rate of change is in Switzerland. The sleeve numbers are a bit large. Putting numbers on the front of the helmets would be a small detail that could make the concept look just that much more professional. Speaking of, away helmets should be white.
Overall: I'd love to see the Swiss wear that white jersey. (8.5/10)
Philadelphia Quakers Concept - Lucas D.
Positives: Not using much white on the dark jersey is appropriate considering their original (and only sweater. Curtailing the barberpole striping is the right way to go. Cutting the yoke at right angles looks better with the linear striping. No complaints with execution. Presentation looks good, too.
Negatives: I'm not sure about the numbers on the front. I can't decide if I like it because it makes the trail coming off the S seem functional, or if I don't like it because it's a block typeface set against a cursive script.
Overall: There's not much I would change here, if at all. Very solid work. (8.75/10) - Deserving of a nomination, but unfortunately a challenger appears...
Adirondack Thunder Concept - Jay S.
Positives: I really like the lightning bolt stripes. They give the team a distinctive, eye-catching aesthetic. Execution is good. Colors are balanced. Italicized numbers work well on the home and away. I prefer them to the numbers used on the third.
Negatives: I'm assuming that the alternate uses the gold because you associate that more with lightning bolts than red. However, I'm of the opinion that you don't change the color of your logos unless it's a one-time event jersey. Also with the third, "phantom yokes" need to go away.
Overall: I'd love to see this as a Lightning concept. As it is, not a bad look for the Adirondack Thunder. (8/10)
Atlanta Gladiators Concept - Jay S.
Positives: The angled striping on the arms of the home and away are interesting. I like the pattern. Execution is pretty good. Presentation is flexible with this background.
Negatives: The road jersey needs more black. Making the numbers black would help. Not every jersey has to have a yoke. It can become a crutch if you let it. The third really doesn't need one. The shoulders, side panels, and hem pattern are enough. Including a yoke with shoulder patches crosses the line into overkill. Also, it's a personal opinion, but that shade of sandy gold is bad. Trim is ok, but a primary jersey that color...no.
Overall: Home and away are okay, but the third is DOA. (7/10)
Florida Panthers Concept - Ryan C.
Positives: I was rather smitten with the Panthers new jerseys. Details always get me, and that set has them everywhere. This set still has much of that detail. The connections to the 101st Airborne Division (of which the Panthers owner, Vincent Viola, served) are downplayed in favor of the modernized leaping panther crest. The new Panthers logo still works as a shoulder patch, showing its versatility. The alternate logo (panther over Florida state flag) is used well on the equipment. Colors are balanced well. I really like the typeface used. The edged serifs complement the claws of the leaping cat well. I probably say this every time, but picking a good typeface is an underrated skill, ad Ryan has mastered it. Execution and presentation is top-notch. Ryan has done a lot to improve his presentation in just the past few months.
Negatives: It's odd. I love this. I also love the current Panthers set, but for very different reasons. I do miss some of the military symbolism.
Overall: That Ryan could make me question whether or not I like this more than the current Panthers set is a pretty big deal. (9/10) COTW nomination from me!
Ottawa Senators Concept - Ryan C.
Positives: Usually when people make a Senators concept, you see them increase the amount of gold trim, and use the side-facing Senator logo. Ryan goes a completely different direction, eliminating the gold entirely. It's a very classic, clean look, but doesn't come off as a re-hash of an old jersey. The primary logo is interesting. It fits the jerseys, with their lack of gold trim. I may need some assistance with finding the origin of it. I feel like I've seen it before, but I can't find it when I try to research its history. Typeface is an improvement, as Ottawa's is one of the league's worst in my opinion. No execution flaws, and as I said above, Ryan's presentation has been his biggest improvement since he won Concept of the Year for 2015.
Negatives: If you like the gold trim, or the laurel pattern, you may not find this concept satisfying.
Overall: This set has that concise, crisp, clean appearance that I love so much about the Minnesota Wild's current away jersey. It's a great look. (9/10)
There were several excellent concepts today, but I only have one Concept of the Week nomination to give. If you feel that some of the other concepts today deserve consideration, be sure to nominate them! Also, keep in mind that concepts that receive a third or fourth nomination are more likely to make it to voting.
Hey, you remember that time I helped you out big with the thing? Well, I'm calling in that favor you owe me. I need you to vote this week. And then I need you to help me move. You still got that truck right?
HJC Open entries (due Tuesday @ 5pm Eastern)
COTW June 24-30 vote (ends Friday @ noon Eastern)