• Vintage Hockey League

S13-Where do they Go? (®)


There has been lots of talk about how free agency has been terrible over the last number of years. Last year that was defiantly true, but this year there is a decent crop of players available that will aid VHL squads. On top of that there a is a large number of guys up there in age that will contemplate coming back for a couple more seasons to take a run. One or two of them will probably beat the odds and decide to hold off the golf for a couple seasons.

Last year had two of three people that really had any worth to a VHL squad. This year that number should be in the low teens. There is an elite centreman that is looking for his last contract before hanging them up. After that there is one of the better goalies in the game in Martin Brodeur who failed to sign in Milwaukee after being traded for at the deadline. Then there is a long list of great filler defenders with various skill sets. Now everyone is in need of a defender in the VHL aren’t they. The list also contains the annual former Penguin overage goaltender to the list in Cechmanek. Let’s take a quick look at the players and where they could end up.

Forward Vincent Damphousse

This year’s best forward is miles ahead of last year’s. Vincent is in the upper echelon of forwards in the league and will instantly make any team that gets him better. He will be more than likely commanding a salary north of nine million a season. There are going to be a number of teams that have the cap space to make a run at him but about half the teams in the league will be out (or at least have to sell off things to get under the cap). Most players of this caliber end up going to teams that are on the bottom end of the standings.

Where will he go? Washington This will be the second time that I predict that the top forward will end up in Washington. Why that is? Because GM Hill has struck out in free agency (not just on top guys) since joining the league. I can’t see it happening for a third straight year.

Goalie Martin Brodour

After winning 40 games in his first season in the league and winning the Cup Martin Brodeur never has played the same since. He is a great goaltender and like most they are assholes. Some years they are great and others they don’t remember that the job is to keep the puck out of the net. He has the skill set and would benefit greatly from having a great team infront of him. I could defiantly see him going to a team that is a perennial contender.

Where will he go? Hartford Dustin has one of the highest priced goalies in the league and this would be a cheap signing based on what Belfour was making. He could make a seamless transition from one franchise goalie to another, all while buying time to develop a future No. 1 guy.

Goalie Roman Cechmanek

Like a lot of other goalies in the league he has all the right skills in all the right places. He is a little older for a guys that has only been in the league for three seasons, but could defiantly be a No. 1 somewhere. There is a couple contenders that could defiantly be in the market for a guy his caliber.

Where will he go? Tampa Bay Cuz who doesn’t need 5 VHL caliber starters.

Forward Martin St-Louis

He might not be the highest OV guy remaining but his age and PO make him a very valuable target. He could defiantly use a couple years in the AHL to use that PO to develop him into a everyday VHL player. He doesn’t have elite level skills yet but could make the second half of his career very useful to a team that he plays for.

Where will he go? Pittsburgh This year’s Valeri Bure. A guy that should be better and will get that way by playing for the Lumberjacks for the next couple years. I don’t want it to happen but wouldn’t be surprised if it did.

Forward Joe Murphy

I’ll finish up the forwards before a run of defenders. Murphy is not an elite forward by any stretch of the imagination but he is more than a serviceable 2nd or 3rd liner. He has a decent offensive numbers and scoring is pretty good. He could be a big help to a team that lacks forward depth. He also has the ability to play all three forward positions which adds to his value. He could be had for a reasonable salary.

Where will he go? Chicago The Blackhawks had a great season and Murphy will be back to continue the trend. They are losing a number of top players to retirement (more than likely) and retaining Murphy would help fill the voids left.

Defender Eric Cairns

He went over to the Sharks as part of the Claude Lemieux trade and failed to resign in Northern Cali. He is an undisciplined player but plays a tough game. He plays well in his own end and likes to take the body. He would be very useful in most team’s lineups. Where he lands on the depth chart would be another story.

Where will he go? Boston He just seems like a Boston type player. Plus Boston has a younger defense corps.

Defender Geoff Smith

Ahhh. A player that I traded for and couldn’t get back in the fold. I really liked him for his decent offensive skills, great play in his own end and lack of penalty minutes. He should be on everyone’s shopping list for this free agency period. He should be a little cheaper than most at this talent level.

Where will he go? Vancouver. Hell I’ll call my own number here. I want him back and am willing to pay to have him back.

Defender Michal Sykora

He scored 57 points last season, which was a career high, and just in time to hit the market. He will provide a steady presence on a blueline and take a couple penalties. Perfect guy for a 3rd defenfsive pairing on most teams.

Where will he go? San Jose. After taking the biggest hit this season for walking free agents the new GM in town will catch a break. Sykora will play meaningful minutes there.

There are a decent amount of depth players left available, but not a lot of team altering talent. I’ll stop here, and let’s have a great offseason when the Finals are done. On Sunday…at least in the AHL…with the Calder going to the East Coast instead of West.

WC: 1145