More NHL Free Agency Talk by Joe Francis – Jaromir Jagr a Hab? July 9, 2013

Joe Francis
Joe Francis

CFN – Today we are going to take a look at some of the final free agents who could make a difference for your team.

Tim Thomas. I know this guy is unlikely to land a gig but I can’t help but wonder.  Known more lately as a political bull in the proverbial china shop. Primarily with his refusal to meet US President Barrack Obama after winning the cup. Made into a big deal by hockey media it spelled the beginning of events that would eventually lead Thomas to take a year off from hockey. His rights were traded to the Islanders though continued his hiatus..

Well Tim is a free agent and has stated he may make a return(However, whether or not there are suitors may dictate that). His presence in the market brings a sense of intrigue. He’s healthy, He has won a Stanley Cup, He was huge for the Bruins for years. His veteran leadership could go a long way for a team like Edmonton who have struggled defensively and between the pipes.

The problem with Tim Thomas is he’s been out of hockey for a while now and the NHL is not a place where you can take time off and come back the same player. Will this keep him from getting any offers? More than likely at this point as many teams are not willing to gamble and still fear his political views will draw unnecessary attention to their club.
Where does he land? Nowhere. I want to say he lands a gig but he’s a risky pick up. I do believe he could be a sleeper on a cheap contract but where that is may not be answered

Jaromir Jagr. The man, the myth, the legend. Jagr is still playing hockey and much like Teemu Selanne you have to wonder what keeps these guys going after 20+ years? Jagr has been doing a tour of the league it seems as he’s played for the Dallas Stars, The Boston Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers since returning from the KHL. This trend is likely to continue as the Montreal Canadiens and the 41 year old Jagr appear to be in talks on a deal thats nearly happened twice before. In separate years Jagr spoke with Montreal management and both times signed elsewhere (Flyers, Stars). It looks like things will be different this time and still somewhat new General Manager Marc Bergevin will be able to hash out a deal that would reunite Jagr with former teammate Daniel Briere who signed in Montreal after a buyout by the Flyers.

Where does he land? Montreal is somewhere he’s wanted to play for a while and the talk is out there so this one wont come as a surprise.

Mikhail Grabovski. His time with the Toronto Maple Leafs came to a screeching halt on July 4th(The day before his wedding, ouch) when the final four years of a five year contract were bought out. Grabovski went down swinging with a profanity filled tirade aimed at head coach Randy Carlyle which included criticism of the way he was used in the lockout shortened season and playoffs. He signed the $27.5 million dollar deal under former GM Brian Burke as a reward for a breakout year and Grabovski interestingly was quoted after the extension as saying “If you play well, it doesn’t matter who your coach is”. I wonder how he would respond if he were reminded of this statement now?

Grabovski brings a some nice offensive tools including great wheels(great skating/speed) and a good accurate shot. His biggest criticism would be lazy play at times. He is a talented player who can produce in a lot of roles but is most suitable as a second line center.  In a game against Boston a couple seasons ago he battled through an ugly hit from Zdeno Chara and a few shifts later broke in behind the defence and scored so there is no question he is durable and has heart.
Where does he end up? I’m going to take a swing and say Winnipeg. A lot of ex-Leafs go there and they just happen to have a newly opened roster spot thanks to Alex Burmistrov’s departure to the KHL.

Some other mentions are Damien Brunner who showed he has a knack for scoring. The question is where does he land and can he produce without Zetterberg?

Dustin Penner is sure to be on a few teams wish lists. The 6’4 forward known more for a pancake story than his scoring over the last couple seasons has two Stanley Cup rings(Anaheim, Los Angeles). He’s a big body and will find work but can he start putting up points more regularly?

Douglas Murray while not the fastest player provides some grit and good play in his own end. Just about every team in the league can use a good defender and Murray isn’t a gamble.

Ilya Bryzgalov needs a fresh start and a defence first team to pick him up. He’s proved that he was reliant on Dave Tippett’s system in Phoenix when he went to Philly and quickly got run out of town.  Decent goalie but doesn’t bring anything that most teams aren’t already getting from their goaltenders. Likely takes a backup gig to battle his way back up.

Mason Raymond has speed other players would kill for but unfortunately for him he’s never been able to bury it consistently. He’s a guy Vancouver fans had high hopes for but it looks like it’s time to move on.
The rest of the pool is mostly injury riddled and full of veterans whose main role will be to bring veteran leadership more than anything.
Jagr in a Montreal uniform? Could your team use a Thomas or Grabovski? Discuss below.

A die hard hockey fan whose first taste of hockey at age 4 was a combination of Sega’s NHL 94′ and the Cornwall Aces. Joe has been exposed to the sport for 20 years and it’s a bond that grows stronger every year. Joe can also be found at   To sponsor his column email

subscribe to cfn


  1. New Columbus GM Jarmo Kekäläinen landed a star player to replace Rick Nash. Nash who was traded to NY for Marion Gaborik seems to curse the teams he’s playing on in the NHL as the Rangers woes this year have been surprising. The Rangers are fighting just to make the play offs when many expected them to be leading the pack. Gaborik did not perform up to his standards with Nash on the club and his salary ended him with a one way ticket to Columbus where he scored his first night.

  2. Hi Bill. the Rangers gave up good depth players in order to acquire Rick Nash and in doing so put not only a lot of pressure on Nash but also the rest of the club to step up to a level that it can be argued they were not ready for. Anisimov, Dubinsky, Erixon and a 1st for the former Columbus captain.

    After realizing they made another error they lessened the blow by trading the oft injured Gaborik for young centerman Derek Brassard and a couple other pieces but it’s clear year after year the Rangers try to buy wins and chemistry holds them back and yet Glen Sather continues to make reckless moves trying to get ahead.

    I don’t blame Nash, can he be better? Yes. But as with free agency it doesn’t matter how much money you throw at a player it won’t make him any better, only richer. I do think the Rangers will bounce back under new coach Alain Vigneault and Rick Nash will be a key player going forward.

  3. Author

    I think Nash is highly overrated and may never win a cup. I’m not a huge fan of his….

  4. I like Nash. He’s played on a lot of bad rosters so with time I think he will adjust to not having to do it all. As for a cup the Rangers lack the depth to really make a push right now. I wouldn’t be surprised if Nash fails to win a cup. Look no further than Marleau and Thornton in San Jose. Individuals can only do so much while the rest comes from a team effort and good chemistry both of which are in question in New York.

Leave a Reply