Around the NHL: Rangers Ink Girardi, Sharks Poach Hjalmarsson

Let’s start off with the Ranger-related news, and that is Glen Sather signing defenseman Dan Girardi to a four-year deal at roughly $3.3 million per season. At first glance it looks like an overpayment (personally I would have given him no more than $3.000, preferably around $2.500) but because they locked him up long-term, including his first chance at unrestricted free agency, that costs a bit more money.

Fans are now anxiously awaiting for Marc Staal to be signed, and the current figure that is being thrown about is a six-year deal at $4.5 million per. This would be a bargain for the Rangers in locking up their cornerstone defenseman long-term. If Girardi and Staal can be brought back for under $8 million, call it a successful summer.

On the western front, the San Jose Sharks today poached restricted free agent defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson from the Chicago Blackhawks, by signing him to an offer-sheet of four years at a total of $14 million. This is what is wrong with free agency, and it is almost reminiscent of Kevin Lowe’s signing of Dustin Penner three years ago.

To me, this is a puzzling move. Hjalmarsson was a steady defenseman for the Blackhawks last season, and won a Stanley Cup, but is he really worth $3.5 million a season? All that for a defenseman who scored only 17 points last season? That was also only his first full year in the NHL, and he has a mere 111 games of NHL experience.

This makes the Girardi signing look even more like a bargain, because he has at least had a 28 point season, and has actually scored 10 goals in a single season, as well as 280 games of experience. He also has not missed a game in the four years he has been with the Rangers.

Meanwhile, Ilya Kovalchuk is still on the prowl, after having broken and reignited talks with the Los Angeles Kings several times. Other than them, there really is no word of any team having a heavy interest in him. Will the Devils dismantle their team to afford him? Will the Rangers swoop in and grab the star? Or Does Kovalchuk end up fleeing to the KHL?

There are a lot of questions that we will hopefully find the answer to soon. Maybe he’ll even get his own special on Versus to announce his decision. Oh no, I shouldn’t give him any ideas!


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