Well, tomorrow the free agents start signing, providing NHL fandom with some real shock and hope for the future. Players you hated yesterday might suddenly find their way to your home ice, and your fan favorite might become your worst nightmare.
I've never been the best at speculating "what ifs"; I'm more of a guy who reacts with "what the fs" instead. However, if I could sign one guy for the Ducks tomorrow morning (considering salary, of course), it would be mid-coveted defenseman Rob Blake.
Blake, I should note, was a big part of my NHL 94 conversion to hockey, as I played as the LA Kings, and only one other time did my NHL 94-Mighty Ducks stars align, when Tomas Sandstrom decided to grace Anaheim's second line.
I know Blake is somewhat past his prime, and still not 'cheap' or anything, and there are better blueliners out there (but quickly diminishing), but once the possibility was mentioned, I liked it quite a bit.
- For one, we are in a pretty salary-friendly situation, with so many inexpensive kids promising to take so much ice time. Blake's $4 - $5 million would be quite manageable in our current salary structure.
- Secondly, I think Blake is a guy who ages gracefully rather than drops suddenly, a la Al MacInnis, who let solid positional play and his booming shot keep him in the league well past his 'shelf life'.
- Thirdly, our team needs and what Blake offers seems to be quite a nice fit. I think the Ducks need a PP quarterback that is better than Scott Niedermayer. While Scotty is a smart puck rusher, I drop my jaw the odd times when he decides to shoot the puck. I think the 'one-shooter' PP strategy the Ducks employed made defenders' lives much easier than it should have been, and allowing Blake to take over the blueline PP responsibilities makes the team a lot stronger right away.
At any rate, Blake probably signs with the Kings and ruins my month of July, but I guess a guy can wish.
Side note #1: If salary and profitability were not concerns, I would love to sign the A-Line trio (Patrik Elias, Jason Arnott, and Petr Sykora). How odd that what I considered to be the best line in hockey a half-decade ago are all UFAs at the same time. Ah, fantasy.
Side note #2: I guess reading around that other teams somewhat expect us to be dealing J.S. Giguere. Quite honestly, I'm not on either side of this fence. He's not saving us like in 2003 or particularly costing us that much in our current cap flexibility. I'll give Burke the call on this one.