I want to wait a couple days to assess the Avs free agent signings. The main reason behind this is because there are still a significant number of quality free agents out on the market and the Avs could very well sign one of them, which could change my entire perspective on this off season. But I want to take a look at how the former Avs did (from a player/agent point of view)...
Jose Theodore: Did Theo owe the Avs a hometown discount (they offered him 2-years ~$7M according to Dater)? The Avs did pay him $6M/season when he was playing awfully for most of the last three years. And they rehabbed him and gave him every opportunity to re-invent himself. So there should be some commendation there and Theo probably should have taken some sort of home-town discount especially since the Avs kept him when he was radioactive after last season. On the flip side, As I detailed last offseason the Avs couldn't afford to jettison Theo because it would have cost them more to buy him out and replace him than to just keep him. Keeping Theo around last season helped Theo's career tremendously, but it certainly wasn't any act of charity on the Avs part. It was mutually beneficial and Theo is smart enough to figure this out (or his agent reads this blog). The Avs had every right to want a small hometown discount, but that discount should fall within the market value.
Goalies that fall in the range the Avs offered Theo ($3.5M/year) are Martin Gerber, Dwayne Roloson, and Marty Biron. Theo's better than all three of those guys. In the $4M-$4.5M/season range are Vesa Toskala, Iyla Bryzgolav, Manny Fernandez and Rick DiPietro and I think Theo falls in that class somewhere. I think the Avs should have been looking for a hometown discount of about $4M/season so If the Avs are "miffed" they should be with themselves for underestimating the market. Jose, surprisingly, went to the Washington Capitals, who could not come to an agreement with Cristobal Huet hence the surprising part, with a 2-year $9M deal. To be honest I think he could have made more considering he and Huet were the only decent on the market. Huet is a year older than Theo, doesn't have the same pedigree and signed a deal worth $5.6M/year for more years. Did the disastrous Red Wings series really cost Theo that much? It appears it may have (lesson don't play when sick).
Theo's agent did okay and got Theo a deal that coincides with his ability and recent level of play. I expected Theo to make more with the abysmal goalie class though, and the comparable Huet showed that he could have made more. B-
Andrew Brunette: The Avs wanted to go in a different direction. If he couldn't play in Colorado, Brunette obviously wanted to go back to Minnesota and his contract with the Wild (3-years for $7M) reflects that. He could have gotten more money (I think an apt comparison would be Cory Stillman who got a 3-year $10.6M deal), but money was obviously a small factor for Bruno.
Bruno knew what he wanted and he got it. A little under market value, but being happy is more important than being rich. A-
Jeff Finger The Avs tried hard to re-sign Finger, but after the first day of free agency it's easy to see why they weren't able to. He was due an unexpected pay-day, to the tune of 4-year $3.5M/year. That may be the day's most shocking contract.
Finger's agent played the market perfectly. If you look at Toronto's defense Finger will fit in perfectly because he is exactly what they need: A physical presence who can play pretty solid positional defense and block shots. Finger's agent also deserves commendation for seeking out a team willing to spend money and milking it for all it's worth.
Despite being a great fit for the Leafs, Finger was overpaid (again nice job by Finger's agent). Finger is 28 and only a vet of a season and a half. He's a good defenseman, possibly top 4, but not a top-2 guy. The Leafs gave him top 2-3 money. One regret Finger may ultimately have is that the expectations that come with that hefty contract in Toronto may make life miserable. The media scrutiny surrounding Toronto might not be worth it, and the Leafs management has recently been throwing their players (like Sundin) under the bus in order to cover their incompetence.
But that's picking nits... Finger played the market perfectly, maximized his salary and went to a team where he will contribute significantly. A
Kurt Sauer: I can only imagine Sauer's agent seeing Finger's contract (after signing Sauer with Phoenix) and immediately turning his phone off and blocking Sauer's angry calls. Sauer will go down as the biggest bargain of the Free Agency season. He got a 4-year deal for $1.75M/year, which is well below what he should have gotten (especially considering his work on Gaborik in the playoffs,combined with his age and the solid season he had last year).
In his agents defense Sauer went to a team where he fits in really well, without the pressure associated with a crazy market like Toronto. He may now be the best pure defenseman on the team in Phoenix. And since it's in Phoenix he will have no pressure on him. He also gets to play in front of stud goalie Ilya Bryzgolav, so he should be happy
Still it's his agent's job to get him paid (especially at 26 years old) and he left a lot of money on the table. C-