The free agent frenzy began at 12:01 with Jamaal Meyers signing with the Blackhawks for one year, and it hasn’t slowed down yet. Before noon, the Penguins announced that they had broken off negotiating with Jaromir Jagr, and instantly turned their attention to resigning Tyler Kennedy. Kennedy’s new deal was announced shortly after noon and is for 2 years at $2 million per.
Not too long after the Penguins announced they were out with Jagr, the Red Wings did the same thing which sure made it seem like Jagr and his agent, former NHLer, Peter Svoboda were just playing teams against each other to drive up Jagr’s price. Well, it must have worked as shortly after 1:00, it was announced that Jagr had signed a one year $3.3 million deal which was way more than either Pittsburgh or Detroit had offered. It just goes to show you that whenever someone says, “It’s not about the money”, it most certainly always is about the money.
In the long run, I believe the Pens got the better deal here. Kennedy will pay many more dividends over two years than Jagr would have over 3/4 of a season which about all the Flyers will get out of his 40 year old frame. He hasn’t played the equivalent of a full NHL season in over 3 years, and he was never known for keeping himself in the best shape. I, for one, believe he got fat playing in the less talented KHL where his skills were still superior to most of the talent in that league, but in the NHL, he’s just going to be a slow, old guy living off his past reputation. Kennedy, on the other hand, is just starting to blossom, and to score 20+ goals as a third liner shows the kind of talent this kid has. My guess is he will still be manning the third line next year unless injuries give him a boost up the ladder. I see the lines as Kunitz-Crosby-Neal/Sullivan-Malkin-Jeffrey/Cooke-Staal-Kennedy/Tangradi-Letestu-Dupuis.
The defections continued as the afternoon went on as first the Pens waved good-bye to Game 7, Stanley Cup hero, Max Talbot who signed an unbelievable 5 year deal for $1.8 million per year with, of all teams, the hated Flyers. Talbot, who turned down a three year offer from the Penguins in the middle of June, was able to coax an additional two years out of Philadelphia at about $200,000 less per year than the Penguins were offering. I guess he’ll be giving Penguins fans the Shhhhh sign for the next five years now. Lucky for him though that the Flyers opted not to resign his former sparring partner, Dan Carcillo, or that would have mde his arrival in Philly quite interesting.
Talbot’s leaving was quickly followed by the departure of Mike Rupp to the New York Rangers with whom he signed a deal for 3 years at $1.5 million per year. Rupp was a nice. steady player for the Penguins who could throw his weight around when necessary, but he became kind of obsolete when the Penguins resigned Kenney, Dupuis and Asham. The Penguins as well as most of their fan base are hoping that Eric Tangradi eventually replaces the bulk that they lose with Rupp, but that he’ll be a little more offensively proficient than Rupp was.
The Penguins biggest signing came later in the afternoon with the announcement that they had signed former Nashville Predator winger, Steve Sullivan. Sullivan, a one time dominating power forward has amassed 682 points in 890 career regular season games. He has been plagued by back problems over the past couple of seasons including missing the entire 2007/2008 season, but he came back strong for the second half of ’09/10. He only played 44 games this past season putting up 22 points and then three more in the playoffs. Supposedly the back problems are behind him, and if they are, the Penguins made a great deal in in locking him up for only $1.5 million. If it turns out that the back problems recur, he’s only signed for one year. I can really see him lining up on the second line with Malkin and Staal giving the Pens possibly the best second line they’ve had since Lang/Kovalev/Straka