Top 10 Steals of 2011
With only 2 days left in 2011 I'm gonna share my 10 steals of the year.
10. Phoenix signs Mike Smith to a 2 year 4 million dollar contract.
Mike Smith has brought his career back to life in the desert. Before he recently went down with an injury smith was 15-10 with a 2.52 GAA and a .920 save %. This might be a prime example of the Dave Tippett system helping out goaltenders. Bryzgalov could be a benefactor of that same system. Nonetheless Smith has played well for the Yotes who continue to compete with uncertainty surrounding the teams future in Phoenix. Hopefully this year if they make the playoffs they won't draw the Wings in the first round.
9. Tomas Vokoun Signs with the Washington Capitals for one year 1.5 million dollars.
The Capitals had at the time one of the best moves of the offseason. They have been plagued by poor goaltending in the playoffs for years. The Caps thought they found their answer in Vokoun this offseason. Vokoun has played at an elite level his entire career and was signed at an absolute bargain. However so far in Washington he has struggled. It will be interesting to see if Vokoun and the Caps can turn it around in 2012. This should be a top 3 steal, but with the way both Vokoun and the Caps are playing I moved it to 9th.
8. Dallas Signs Sheldon Souray to a one year 1.65 million dollar contract.
After signing a 5 year 27 million dollar deal in Edmonton, Souray became a joke in Oil country. He was passed through waivers numerous times going unclaimed. Souray would finish out his contract playing for the Hershey Bears of the AHL. However this season the Stars decided to take a flier Souray this year and they have not been let down. Souray led all Stars defenseman with in points with 16 (4g 12a) in 34 games and is a +9. However earlier this week Souray suffered a sprained ankle and will miss a few weeks. This has a been a great story so far this season and I hope Souray comes back to continue his strong play.
7. Flyers Trade Jeff Carter to Columbus for Jakub Voracek and a 1st round pick (Sean Couturier).
This is debatable, but I think an absolute steal in my book. Carter was an excellent goal scorer in his time with Philly however was a problem in the locker room. After signing a huge 11 year contract the Flyers got out of the deal as quickly as they could in the offseason. Couturier has 11 points in 32 games this season for the Flyers in his rookie year. He is also a +10 and is playing huge minutes on the PK for Philly. Voracek has 23 points in 36 games for the Flyers this year and is also contributing in the scoring gap that was left by Carter. Carter on the other hand in Columbus has 16 points in 26 games for the Jackets and is a -7. Columbus sits in last place in the NHL and already there has been rumblings of Carter wanting out of Columbus. Nash and Carter have not yet had the consistent play that Columbus hoped for when acquiring Carter. Couturier is going to be a stud center for Philly in the coming years and Voracek is a good compliment player. Carter might not last more than a season or two in Columbus.
6. Florida acquires Brian Campbell from Chicago for Rostislav Olesz.
Campbell was a disappointment with the Hawks and his 7.14 million dollar cap hit was insane. He was at best the # 4 or 5 defenseman in Chicago. The Hawks did a good job dumping off his contract, however Campbell has been fantastic for the 1st place Panthers so far this season. Campbell and Jovanowski have brought some stability to the Panthers defense core. In 37 games for Florida Campbell has 30 points and is a +5, he is having an all-star season for the Panthers. Olesz has been a disappointment in Chicago so far. The goal of this trade for the Hawks was to dump money, but what they got in return has reduced to nothing. Olesz has played 6 games with the Hawks this season and has 0 points.
5. Brian Elliott Signs a one year 600k dollar contract with the Blues. Blues hire Ken Hitchcock.
Elliott like Smith has saved his career in St. Louis. He wore out his welcome in Ottawa and was a train wreck in Colorado. He has found a home in St. Louis, with new bench boss Ken Hitchcock in charge. The Blues are on a tear lately with their new coach. Elliott is 14-4 with a 1.63 GAA and a .940 save%. It's good for the NHL to see the Blues on the rise again, a once very huge hockey city.
4. Dallas acquires Eric Nystrom from Minnesota for future considerations.
Basically traded for a bag of pucks Nystrom has been a pleasent surprise for the Stars this season. He has 12 goals and 2 assits in 31 games including a few highlight reel goals. He has helped out in the scoring department an area the Stars sometimes struggle in. The Stars started off strong, but have fallen off as of late. Hopefully Dallas can get back going again to bring back a stale Dallas hockey market.
3. Philly signs Jaromir Jagr to a 1 year 3.3 million dollar contract.
I'll admit when I saw this on July 1 I laughed at the Flyers. How could they bring this guy in after they just rid their team of two locker room problems in Carter and Richards. Now this guy is going to be worse. Well insert foot into mouth here. Jagr has been nothing but fantastic for the Flyers. He is playing hard and producing. He reportdly had contract offers from Pittsburgh, Montreal, and Detroit. He choose the Flyers in hope of winning his 3rd Stanley Cup so he could go out on top. Jagr has 31 points in 32 games for Philly. Coming up on the age of 40 Jagr shows no signs of slowing down. Tip of the cap here to the Flyers on an excellent move.
2. Toronto Acquire Joffrey Lupul, Jeff Gardiner and a conditional 4th for Francois Beauchemin from Anaheim.
Brian Burke did it again. He has made some debateable trades and signings in his past (Kessel Trade, Komisarek, Finger). He however has two absolute robberies under his belt in Toronto. The first was the Flames trade for Phaneuf and Keith Aulie and this trade with the Ducks was the second. Gardiner has the potential to a solid 3rd or 4th D-man for the Leafs. Lupul has excelled in his time in Toronto. He instantly again found his scoring touch, since joining the Leafs he has 58 points in 65 games. He has meshed well with Phil Kessel and both are having outstanding seasons so far. Those two are a prime reason why the Leafs are still holding onto a playoff spot at the moment. We will see if they both can keep it up as the season goes on.
1. Panthers sign Jose Theodore to a 2 years 3 million dollar contract.
The Panthers made an absolute roster overhaul in the offseason. They brought in a lot of talent, but experts still thought with Theodore has the # 1 goalie the Panthers would still struggle. Well Theodore and the Panthers have been solid so far this season. They sit in 1st in the SE Division with 45 points a 7 point lead on 2nd place Washington. Theodore is 14-8-4 with a 2.46 GAA and a .918 save %. It will be curious to see if Jose "three or more" can rid his nickname this season and if they Panthers can stay on top of the Southeast.