Dutchie's reasonably priced and can produce - this is the kind of guy ATL & STL should look at.
After the absurd Ilya Kovalchuk deal today, I decided to take a step back and look at the teams that I follow and how they're handling UFAs. If the Devils need to buy out Kovalchuk, he'll be on the books until 2044 (thanks to perspective giver Ryan Classic). I'll be 63. Kings fans are breathing a sigh of relief that they didn't work a deal like that out, and Thrashers fans are actually happy with Don Waddell (!) for not stooping to circumventing the CBA like that. The league has five days to void the thing and it starts from scratch - if the Chris Pronger contract and the Marian Hossa contract raised eyebrows, this one should be able to make even Joe Biden's botoxed face move.
Not like it will - Gary Bettman's seen enough episodes of The Sopranos and Jersey Shore to know that you don't mess with people from there, neither about the Kovy deal nor the fact that all of Jay Grossman's clients are now 10 feet from their agent.
Anyway, as Blues fans bemoan the fact that their GM seems to be done with free agents, and Thrashers fans wonder if anyone else'll be brought in or if rookies'll get a chance to show off, fans of both teams should take a moment and be thankful. This summer's gone two ways: players are pulling below market value or teams are locking up players at seriously questionable terms (Mikko Koivu and Derek Boogaard, anyone?). Kovalchuk's signing might open the floodgates for free agents, and maybe the Blues and Thrashers'll pick up a few from teams that still need to dump salary, like Philly and New Jersey. Neither team is in a position to pay top dollar for these guys thanks to ownership issues. Just because they have cap space does not mean that it has to be used.
That is not saying that neither team'd benefit from a good scoring winger a la Lee Stempniak or Alexander Frolov (not saying I'm a proponent of him, just throwing his name out there), but are these needs that can be filled from within, or will the players that the teams need be willing to not cash in?
The Blues and Thrashers are better off for not throwing money at players who will not contribute. Thrashers fans were upset when Brian Campbell decided to sign with Chicago. Now that very same contract is being partially blamed for the Blackhawks' cap crunch. Do the Blues really want to spend $6 million on another winger only to have him be plagued by under-performance and injury?
Fans can pitch a fit about the teams not spending any money, but with something as unpredictable as hockey players, sometimes you don't get what you paid for. Filling your team's needs is not a monetary thing, it's a personnel issue. That great superstar signing of this season can turn into an albatross around your team's neck the next.