More Bang, Less Buck, No Criticism

John Madden holding the Stanely Cup (Al Bello/Getty Images)

Now that I have gotten my feelings on free agency out of my system, I’m ready to take a look at some of the bargain UFAs that may still be available. I mean, does it matter if I think Matthew Lombardi was a decent contract and second line center option while you say The Little Viking, Matty P. and/or Flash can handle the load, since we’ll both be cheering the Caps to a Cup anyway? Together. Like BFFs?

Speaking of BFFs, some of your favorite Caps filed for arbitration, and if history is any guide, all three will be in line for sizable raises over last year’s salary. Since there was virtually no FA signing during “The Frenzy”, I would say — that unless something crazy happens– all three will be on the Caps roster come opening night. It doesn’t make sense to let a talented player walk away for nothing and that’s what the Caps would have to do if they decided the arbitration awards were too high.

To me, a worse case scenario would be:

  • Flash, $2.5 million
  • Fehr, $2 million
  • Schultz, $3 million

Anything up to those amounts and I think the Caps will agree. Under this scenario, the Caps would have ~$5.3 million left for two (2) open roster slots (according to Capgeek).  With that said, here are three players I think could be available for a decent (read: “bargain”) price:

Frederick (Freddy) Meyer IV, D
Freddy Meyer (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

There could be debate as to whether he is ready to be a Top 4 Defenseman, and while he certainly wasn’t paid like one ($587,500 cap hit in 2010), his numbers suggest he could be a true bargain– perhaps even a budding shutdown blueliner.

Frederick Meyer IV started only 45.3% of the time in the offensive zone.  He had the worst teammate ranking (CorsiQoT = -5.787) on the NYI blueline.  He also faced decent opposition (CorsiQoc = .508) playing for the Isles. Those are some tough minutes on the ice. Despite playing in his own end, with weak teammates and against the better than average competition, he still had a positive shot ratio (Corsi=0.40) and was the only blueliner on NYI where his team had a better goal differential when he was on the ice (CorsiOn = 1.36). He also blocked 2.36 shots per 60 minutes on the ice.

As a 4th or 5th DMan, I think Meyer could be an excellent bargain.

Eric Belanger, C
Eric Belanger (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

Some of you may be familiar with him and be surprised he is on this list, but he knows the Caps system and is not a bad option at the pivot. No word on whether or not he would demand a better dental plan.

Despite starting only 46.3% of the time in the offensive zone he still managed to put up almost two points per 60 minutes of ice time – in line with all the other Washington centers whose name doesn’t rhyme with Pickless Mackstrom. Add to that the second best Corsi number (.48) on the Caps and for less than $2mil, I think he is a decent bargain.

John Madden, C
John Madden (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

At 37 years old anything outside of a one-year contract and this ceases to be a bargain, but with three Stanley Cups for two different teams he could be the experienced veteran who knows how to win the Caps need.

His starting a measly 37.1 % of the time in his own offensive zone could explain the lack of offensive production more than his age, but Washington wouldn’t need his offensive output. Instead, they could use a center who at 36 played against the second best competition with the worst teammates the Hawks had to offer their pivots on their way to a Stanley Cup.

After making $2,750,000 last year, we can’t be sure he would take less, but you don’t get to sign a 3-time Cup winner everyday.

  • Great short. I completely agree with Madden – he should be our #1 target and is just hair-brained enough to be one of GM GM’s late free agency “rabbit out of the hat” magic tricks. Here’s hoping for Knuble 2.0 in our 2nd line Center position (with regards to age, grit, and experience).

  • Great short. I completely agree. I was targeting Madden mid-way through the playoffs. The guy is like Knubes 2.0 with his grit, the way he uses his size, and determination. I sincerely hope that GM GM pulls off one of his late UFA “rabbit out of a hat” magic tricks for these guys. I wouldn’t hold out much hope though… I was at the front offices at Kettlers Iceplex on Monday and all the lights were off like a mug.

  • Whiter Mage

    Agree with Meyer completely. The guy’s quietly a good defenseman, and if GMGM had made a Jurcina for Meyer trade at the deadline, I wouldn’t have complained at all.

    With Belly and Madden, I like either if we’re running MP or Mackan at 2C and they’re ready. If not, I’m a little nervous about signing one of them to be the 2C. They’re both much better, in my opinion, in 3C roles.

  • Tim

    Belanger or Madden would be good at #3C (between Chimera and Fehr/Laich) but not at #2C. Both have the faceoff and defensive skills to be great #3C, but neither has the playmaking ability to be the #2C.

    With Meyer, can’t say I’ve noticed him enough to say.

  • sean

    This is all wishful thinking people and I don’t think GMGM is going to pay 2.75m for a guy as old as Madden. And Flash to make more than Brooksy? Fehr is better defensively, his TOI numbers are better offensively and he didn’t turn into a pylon during the playoffs. Resign Belanger, Fehr, Borque and trade Flash for a D-man.

  • CapsFan1975

    At least two RFA’s avoided arbitration (Fehr, Schultz). As it is, your worst case scenario on the salary front is close to be taking place. Fehr is at 2.2 M and Schultz is at 2.5 M.

    I think resigning Fehr and Schultz was a great idea and glad they got it done before arbitration was to happen.

    I doubt if Flash will get more than 2.5 M from the Caps.