I half-expected to come back from a brief vacation to the untamed, sans interwebs North to see a whole slew of Winnipeg activity, complete with a couple of minor free agent victories peppered in-between a few "filler" players. Instead, I saw a 4th-line, 3rd-pairing smorgasbord of bit parts, complete with knucklers like Tanner Glass and Rick Rypien along with our own Un-Incredibles like Derek Meech, Aaron Gagnon, Mark Flood, and Randy Jones. Initially, I was annoyed with what seemed like a lack of initiative by the Winnipeg management, but then I thought back to the offer Paul Holmgren made to Winnipeg for Mike Richards (1st rounder, Evander Kane, Alexander Burmistrov, arm, leg) and I realized that it all might be for the better.
There will be time a little bit later to look over the value of our additions, but for now it's worth noting that a lot of the free agents that we at Arctic Ice Hockey considered good targets for Winnipeg (Joel Ward, Jan Hejda, Michal Handzus, Scottie Upshall) went at or above market price, and some of the top free agents received Looney Tunes contracts (Christian Ehrhoff, Brad Richards, Ville Leino). We have enough of those problem contracts as is (Ron Hainsey, Gabe's favourite Dustin Byfuglien), so it wouldn't be a smart move to pile on. As we've stressed in previous articles, patience with this team will be key, and part of that patience will be realizing (as I have, and it wasn't easy) that a quick fix in this particular free agent crop could hurt as much as help our new franchise. That said, there are still a couple of our potential targets out there, including Scott Hannan and John Madden, and hopefully the price will be right and we will be players. Our major deficiency (defense) still hasn't been really addressed.