2010 NHL Free Agent Review, Part II: Best of Worst of the East
On Tuesday, we graded all of the major free agents signings of 2010 in the Western Conference. The teams in the Eastern Conference snapped up so many, we couldn't possibly get to all of them. Instead, we present the best five and the worst five signings of the summer in the East. To give you an idea of the lack of high quality, they were more than three dozen unrestricted free agent signings in the East -- and we stretched to declare five as very important.
Clarke MacArthur, Toronto -- One year, $1.1 million: In what looks like another dark season for the Maple Leafs -- as in, no postseason again -- McArthur has been a bright light. When the Sabres walked away from MacArthur's arbitration award of $2.4 million, Brian Burke pounced. For half the league's average salary, MacArthur is Toronto's leading scorer.
Paul Martin, Pittsburgh -- Five years, $25 million: The Penguins paid the steep price of $5 million per year, but GM Ray Shero's bet that Martin would be a calming influence on the blue line has paid off. At age 29, Martin will be in Pittsburgh for the prime of his career.
Jordan Leopold, Buffalo -- Three years, $9 million: Leopold is No. 20 on this year's scoring list for defensemen. A member of four teams over three seasons before getting security from the Sabres, Leopold has embraced all the responsibility put on his plate by Lindy Ruff.
Brett Clark, Tampa Bay -- Two years, $3.2 million: Steve Yzerman gave Pavel Kubina twice as much per year, but the former member of the Avalanche has been the better defenseman. He has five power play goals from the point.
Sean Bergenheim, Tampa Bay -- One year, $700,000: Yzerman gave $2.2 million for two years to Dominic Moore, but the former Islanders first round pick has been the better grinder. Bergenheim has been so effective, coach Guy Boucher has sometimes put him on a line with Vincent Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis.
Ilya Kovalchuk, New Jersey -- 15 years, $100 million: When you're committed to a player for 15 years, it's not the end of the world that the Kovalchuk signing looks like the summer's worst deal just a half-season into the contract. It will be catastrophic, however, if his sub-par play continues beyond this year.
Sergei Gonchar, Ottawa -- Three years, $16.5 million: It's only three months into GM Bryan Murray's commitment to the 36-year-old defenseman, but the early signs are not good. The puck-moving defenseman has just five goals and is -20.
Henrik Tallinder, New Jersey -- Four years, $13.5 million: Of course, just about every unrestricted free agent signed in the first week of July is over-paid, but the mediocre former Sabres defenseman was way overpaid. As he tries to solve his salary cap problems, this is one long-term deal Lou Lamoriello will not get relief from.
Colby Armstrong, Toronto -- Three years, $9 million: Armstrong's career highs are 22 goals and 40 points -- his average is closer to 15 goals and 30 points -- and yet he got second-line money from the Maple Leafs.
Alexander Frolov, Rangers -- One year, $3 million: Frolov was coming off descending offensive seasons of 71, 67, 59 and 51 points with the Kings. At 7-9-16 after 40 games, he'll be lucky if he cracks 40 points.