Only weeks after winning his second Stanley Cup with Chicago

Only weeks after winning his second Stanley Cup with Chicago

The NHL’s biggest deals never really happen on Canada Day

Chicago trades Saad. Vancouver trades Bieksa. Calgary signs Hamilton. All before Sportsnet or TSN can ready their cameras.

It’s a free agent frenzy in name only, almost always.

There have been a few exceptions in every market, where July 1 is actually the most important day of the year for that city’s NHL team – although that’s not a good thing, really, if triumphs on signing day trump anything you’ll do in the playoffs.

But the other reality is, everything that happens on the first day of free agency – or at the draft, or in the final hours before the trade deadline – is like a plate of Panda Express: it fills you up only to make you more hungry. It’s a cup of Tang to a glass of milk, like binge-watching something on Netflix instead of waiting till next week.

Good. You’ve signed this player… we all knew you’d sign that player, though. So, who else are you gonna sign? Oh, you got a draft pick back in March? I’d already forgotten about that… so, who else are you gonna sign?

The reality of course is that the most important deals are done around these deadlines, which have been created for the sake of broadcasters. And they serve the audience’s delicate relationship with the league and the sport – we have these dates because they’re understandable and straight-forward but, even though you’re not allowed to make a trade too late in the season and even though you’re not allowed to sign somebody between the Cup final and July 1, don’t think the wheels ever stop.

Read: The Top Unrestricted NHL Free Agents, via TSN (July 1, 2015)

Look at yesterday, as Chicago dealt Brandon Saad to Columbus and Vancouver shipped Kevin Bieksa to Anaheim and Calgary locked down Dougie Hamilton, all before Sportsnet could even ready its cameras and pin the mics to their ties. By positioning themselves for free agency, the Canucks and Blackhawks and Flames ended up dropping bigger deals as Canada Day crept up – not after it arrived.

If he was a free agent, Saad might have been the most-desired player on the market, a two-time Cup champion at just age 22, who’s shown – like Versteeg, Ladd, and Byfuglien before him – he can stand out on a team of stand-outs, that he can impress even next to Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.

Bieksa may be old, but the Canucks will miss what he gives them and their city every game and every day, and the Ducks have grabbed a fine veteran in their load-up for another run at the Cup. But the Canucks win this, as well – regardless of who or what they got in return. Vancouver cleared $4.6 million in cap space for next year, perhaps money they can use to re-sign Shawn Matthias or Brad Richardson, if they want.

Or they can spend on Cody Franson, which wouldn’t be too surprising and would be a jab back to Calgary’s haymaker with Hamilton.

Oh, right. Hamilton. There wasn’t a lot of time for the league or the anchors to adequately process his booting from Boston last Friday, with everyone at their drafting tables in Florida. All you heard was the ridiculing of Bruins GM Don Sweeney, whose moves were instantaneously and therefore prematurely declared awful. And so you might be liable to think the Calgary Flames haven’t done much this offseason, volume-wise – they didn’t have a first-rounder at the draft and they might not make a ripple in free agency, nevermind a splash. Just like it seems the Canucks have done dung-all so far this summer, because they had to sell Eddie Lack at a discount and still only picked twice in the first three rounds – but don’t forget, of course, that they’d already picked up Sven Baertschi at the trade deadline in exchange for the 53rd overall pick. And Baertschi, who was a 2011 first-rounder and the best junior hockey player in Canada in 2012, is a developed prospect worthy of a 50th selection… isn’t he?

But this is all so boring, isn’t it? And it’ll be boring today, when the announcements and the headlines come slowly and quickly at the same time – like opening too many presents too fast on Christmas morning, even though you’re trying to wait.

The more you open, the less you have to open.

So don’t believe it when you hear that this year’s free agent crop is below average or weak. It’s not really true – Ribeiro, Franson, Beleskey, Green, Frolik, Sekera, Williams, Vermette, Ehrhoff, both Brad and Mike Richards. There are plenty of good names there and plenty of good names out there elsewhere – and there are more that were apparently available, like Hamilton and Saad and Bieksa. And if you think it’s bland when teams swap players for draft picks in next year‘s first and second rounds, consider the Calgary Flames – they used that 53rd pick they got for Baertschi to swing the deal for Hamilton.

Nothing’s ever as boring or as exciting as we say it is. Because, to borrow from Khaleesi, those players above are just spokes on a wheel.

Are them and their careers actually boring, or are we just finally seeing the ruse for what it is?

Just Posted

City council deferred moving forward on a proposed development in Wildstone, requesting a meeting with the developer to get clarification on project details. Photo submitted.
Cranbrook city council debates proposed Wildstone development

Cranbrook city council held off on moving forward with a proposed apartment… Continue reading

Interior Health is reporting a COVID-19 exposure at Selkirk Secondary in Kimberley. Bulletin file.
COVID-19 case identified at Selkirk Secondary in Kimberley

Interior Health is conducting contact tracing

Cranbrook Arts will finally open the doors to their brand new gallery space on Friday, June 18th, 2021 at 4pm. To see what is behind these doors, be sure to check out the exhibit, Kootenay's Best, running until Labour Day weekend. (Cranbrook Arts file)
Cranbrook Arts’ inaugural exhibit, Kootenay’s Best, opens this Friday

The exhibit features over 50 Kootenay-based artists and will run until Labour Day Weekend

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League met for their AGM and announced a number of new initiatives, new awards and changes in their executive committee, as well as the starting date for the 2021-22 season. Paul Rodgers file.
KIJHL announces start dates for 2021-22 season

Season set to begin Oct. 1 with league still following all health guidelines

Calvin Dickson photo.
Severe thunderstorm watch in effect for East Kootenay

Conditions favourable for the development of thunderstorms, hail and heavy rain

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

A worker, at left, tends to a customer at a cosmetics shop amid the COVID-19 pandemic Thursday, May 20, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Half of cosmetics sold in Canada, U.S. contain toxic chemicals: study

Researchers tested more than 230 commonly used cosmetics and found that 56% of foundations and eye products, 48% of lip products and 47% of mascaras contained high levels of fluorine

White Rock’s Marine Drive has been converted to one-way traffic to allow more patio space for waterfront restaurants. (Peace Arch News)
Province promotes permanent pub patios in B.C. post-pandemic plan

More than 2,000 temporary expansions from COVID-19 rules

Lake City Secondary School Williams Lake campus students Ethan Reid, from left, Brenden Higgins, Ty Oviatt, Kaleb Alphonse, Nathan Kendrick and Landon Brink with RCMP officers Const. Nicoll and Const. Stancec. (Photo submitted)
RCMP thank 6 teens for helping prevent forest fire in Williams Lake

The students came across fire in a wooded area and used the water they had to try and extinguish the flames

There is an emergency shelter near the Golden Ears peaks. (Facebook/Special to The News)
Hiker fogged in on Golden Ears, spends 2 nights

Talon Helicopters, Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue bring him home Monday

Annamie Paul, leader of the Green Party of Canada, speaks at a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on June 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul facing no-confidence motion from party brass

move follows months of internal strife and the defection of MP Jenica Atwin to the Liberals

Tulips bloom in front of the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa, Thursday, May 10, 2018. Day two of a full week of scheduled hearings will be heard in Federal Court today on a case involving Indigenous children unnecessarily taken into foster care by what all parties call Canada’s “broken child welfare system.” THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
AFN slams Ottawa for ‘heartless’ legal challenge of First Nations child compensation

2019 decision awarded $40,000 to each Indigenous child removed before 2006

Ivy was thrown out of a moving vehicle in Kelowna. Her tail was severely injured and will be amputated. (BC SPCA)
Kitten thrown from moving vehicle, needs help: Kelowna SPCA

The seven-week-old kitten had severe tail and femur injuries

A health-care worker holds up a sign signalling she needs more COVID-19 vaccines at the ‘hockey hub’ mass vaccination facility at the CAA Centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Brampton, Ont., on Friday, June 4, 2021. This NHL-sized hockey rink is one of CanadaÕs largest vaccination centres. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
‘Vaxxed to the max’: Feds launch Ask an Expert campaign to encourage COVID shots

Survey shows that confidence in vaccines has risen this spring

Most Read