What NJ Devils UFA Signing from this Summer Do You Like the Least Now?

The first scrimmage of training camp took place today among the prospects and minor leaguers.  Camp is closed to the public, so please check with Tom Gulitti and Rich Chere throughout the day for updated news.  Here are Gulitti's and Chere's respective report on the game today.     If you're into Twitter, Gulitti is good about tweeting what goes on at camp, so follow him @TGfireandice.

Based on the two beat writer's reports, nothing groundbreaking happened in the 4-0 win by the White team. There were some (hopefully) minor injuries.  Nick Palmieri sat out with a knee sprain and Vladimir Zharkov had to ice his knee after blocking a Matt Corrente shot.  Zharkov says it's "OK," per Gulitti.  The veterans report for physicals tomorrow, they will hit the ice on Saturday, and so more news will occur then.

For the time being, I liked the response to yesterday's post on whether re-signing Ilya Kovalchuk was worth it.  So I want to ask another too-soon-to-really-know question: What UFA signing from the 2010 offseason do you like the least so far?  I'm focusing on UFA signings because user triumph44 made this intriguing comment:

the argument that i haven’t really seen is that lou has spent terribly since the lockout in free agency. he hasn’t even come close to making not-a-mistake. mcgillis, malakhov, mogilny, zubrus, rachunek, vishnevski, asham, rolston, salvador, and we can probably throw in hedberg and tallinder already. that’s not mentioning elias or pandolfo. kovalchuk, while a huge risk, keeps lou from making any more bad or short-sighted decisions with regard to free agency. we didn’t give up any vital pieces. we didn’t sacrifice the future. we even got rid of some people – tallinder is better than oduya.

I don't think triumph44 didn't list all of those players as an accident.   Nearly all of them except for Elias and Pandolfo were unrestricted free agent signings if I recall correctly.

The downside of signing unrestricted free agents is that a team may often have to over-pay to get the desired player, so much so that the player may not justify the deal.  This happens especially when the targeted player is at a thin position or is subjected to so many offers that the eventual "winner" has to make their own stand out.  Still, triumph44 raised a sobering point: some of the free agency deals Lou made in recent seasons really stunk.  We can quibble over the more minor ones, but there's no getting around the Brian Rolston contract, for example, as a glaring error. Especially now that the Devils absolutely have to get cap compliant by the beginning of the season.

Now, triumph44 already tabbed the contracts to then-UFAs Johan Hedberg and Henrik Tallinder to "probable" mistakes. In that sense, I want to know your opinion. What was the one UFA deal you like the least as of right now? Please vote in the poll below.  After the jump, I'll briefly go over the UFA signings with the New Jersey (not Albany or Trenton) Devils.

Anton Volchenkov - CapGeek: $25.5 million, 6 years with NTC - Cap Hit: $4.25 million/year - ILWT post on signing

The big hitter from the Ottawa Senators was the first "splash" by Lou in 2010.  Volchenkov is definitely a defensive defenseman, beloved for his shot blocks and checks.  His 2009-10 wasn't as magnificent as his 2008-09, where the shots against dropped like they did for Paul Martin when he was on the ice; but Volchenkov can definitely handle the best forwards in the NHL every night.  From a follow-up reaction that Kevin got from Ryan Classic, he's not flashy but he will leave it all on the ice. He'll have to do that to justify the cap hit.

Henrik Tallinder - CapGeek: $13.5 million, 4 years - Cap Hit: $3.375 million/year - ILWT post on signing

Tallinder comes from Buffalo to New Jersey with the unfortunate tag as Paul Martin's replacement. He shouldn't be judged that way, but on his own accomplishments. Tom got direct information on his play style from Andy Boron earlier this month, which is worth a full read if you haven't seen it yet.   He's steady, he's responsible in his own end, and he's not really offensive-minded.   Hopefully he'll be steady enough to avoid the ire from the fans a few years later, given how some react to Colin White now - despite how comparable White to his salaried peers.

Johan Hedberg - CapGeek: $1 million, 1 year with NTC - Cap Hit: $1.5 million - ILWT post on signing

Hedberg's cap hit is $1.5 million due to $500k of performance bonuses on his deal.   He's definitely a veteran, he's a hard worker, and he did quite well in Atlanta last season.  If the Devils are planning to use him for 15-20 games, then this would look better. If they don't, then this really makes little sense.

Ilya KovalchukCapGeek: $100 million, 15 years with NMC & NTC - Cap Hit: $6.67 million - ILWT post on signing

Well, you probably heard more than you ever would have wanted to hear about contracts, league approval, the CBA, arbitration, and internal league politics this summer.  But it was finally made official earlier this month.  Now, I've argued that Kovalchuk is worth the assets given up.  But I am asking here whether he will be worth the money and the money alone.  It's a fine cap hit for a player of his skills, but it's also a very long and expensive contract.  Such a deal has been scrutinized and examined so much before he has even hit the ice; but it must be asked: do you like this deal now that it's in the books?  Forget the assets, forget the eventual salary dumps, and focus on the contract for all of the players, including Kovalchuk.

Tim Sestito is not included since he signed a two-way deal; he may not even be a New Jersey Devil.  If he does, he's at the league minimum for a year anyway.

Incidentally, Johan Hedberg would be my vote if only for salary cap reasons.  There was a glut of goalies in the market, so the Devils could have picked up a backup for the league minimum.  A saving of a million dollars then would be huge now, since the Devils would then only need to dump $1.9 million (or one player) to become compliant after the Kovalchuk deal.  What's done is done though, and hopefully the other UFAs play well enough so that they don't need to be considered.  

In any case, vote in the poll, leave your further opinions in the comments (I hope I didn't miss anyone), and thanks for reading.

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