Monday, June 30, 2008

Let The Impulse Buying Commence!

Well, the Tampa Bay Lightning just couldn't wait until July 1st to start signing free agents. After acquiring the negotiating rights to Ryan Malone and Gary Roberts over the weekend, they followed through and signed them both this morning. To his credit, Penguins GM Ray Shero just got the team a 2009 third-round draft pick in exchange for two players he was never going to bring back anyway. It's the little things...

So the Lightning are now on the hook for $31.5 million to Ryan Malone over the next 7 years. I'm sure this will be a heavily discussed topic this offseason, but you can put me in with the people who think this is too much money for Malone. If that is the kind of money it was going to take to keep Malone, then I think Shero made the right move in letting him walk, regardless of the other contracts he is dealing with. $4.5 million per season is too much to pay a guy who has as many 30-goal seasons in the NHL as I do (yes, that is none).

Tampa did do one thing right with the Malone contract though. By heavily front loading the deal, it will be easy to part ways with Malone in a couple years if necessary. With almost half of the total payout coming Malone's way in the next two seasons, it will be much easier for the Lightning to either trade, waive, or buyout Malone after the 2009-10 season if they need to. Of course if the salary cap continues to go up this contract might not look so bad by then. It is also nice to see that the whole "Sign with us and we'll give your dad a job" trick isn't just for college football any more.

All in all I am not going to totally hammer the Lightning for this signing. I think they did the best they could with the numbers involved and clearly the new owners are committed to turning this team around in a hurry. That being said, I am happy the Penguins are not the ones on the hook for Malone's new contract. I do like the Roberts signing for Tampa. He will be a good presence in their locker room and they were (again) smart with the way they structured the contract. I do think it is interesting that there is already talk of having to move Dan Boyle as a result of these contracts. Maybe Koules and Barrie should have looked over the financial paperwork a little more before whipping out the checkbook this off-season.

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