Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Overall Thoughts on Tucker/Raycroft

It's still possible that the Avalanche are going to sign one of the remaining free agents but it's likely that Francois Giguere is content with the roster he has assembled. Compared to the signings of Smyth and Hannan in 2007, 2008 didn't have the same kick.

Darcy Tucker
2 Years, 4.5 Million

After losing Andrew Brunette for a mere 2.33 million a season, the Avs went out and signed Tucker for a similar price. Brunette brought some grit and leadership and Tucker shares similar qualities. He's two years removed from a 28-goal season with the Maple Leafs and despite mediocre numbers last season, remained a fan favorite in Toronto.

Here's what you're getting with this guy:

The Avalanche have become a soft team these past few seasons and with the signings of Parker, Ledin, and now Tucker, it's clear that Giguere wants to make them a team that somewhat resembles the 2007 Anaheim Ducks.

Was it a good signing? Maybe. I would have preferred to keep Brunette for a similar price. Tucker has made enemies in this league and team chemistry can't be overlooked. If he can keep the stupid penalties to a minimum, he'll win over the hearts of Avalanche fans.

Andrew Raycroft
1 Year, 800,000

First Thought: Crap
Second Thought: 800,000? That's all?
Third Thought: Meh, he's still a guy who hasn't put together a decent season in years.

But seriously, I don't think that much. I've followed Raycroft since the beginning of his career and it has been a pretty painful road. Winning the Calder Trophy in 2004, Raycroft won 29 games with a 2.05 GAA and a .926 save percentage with the Bruins. However, a mixture of injuries and a "loss-of-mojo" kept Raycroft from ever solidifying his place in Boston. After a disasterous 2005-2006 season, Raycroft signed in Toronto. In 72 games, Raycroft posted 37 wins, a 2.99 GAA, and a .894 savc percentage. Last season, of course, Raycroft appeared in just 19 games and went 2-9 on a mediocre Leafs team.

So what are we to expect? The truth is, the guy is an 800,000 backup. I'm not sold on Peter Budaj and it's always been my opinion that the backup should be able to win you games, not just fill in on the starter's off-night. I wish the Avs had opted for Ty Conklin. He was signed by the Red Wings for a mere 750,000. Instead, they stuck us with another long-term project with a short-term contract.

Raycroft will be gone next season.

In the end, free agency comes down to one question.

Did the Avalanche improve?

Money aside, the lost Finger, Sauer, Brunette, and Theodore.

They replaced those players with Ledin, Tucker, and Raycroft.

It's hard to say on July 2nd whether or not this team will be any better than the roller coaster that was last year's squad. Without Finger and Sauer, the defensive core is still solid and barring injury issues, should be as good and probably better than last year's unit. Offensively, the Avs are going to miss Brunette and it will be up to Wolski and Svatos to finally step up their game. In goal, things are still as unsure as they were when Patrick Roy announced his retirement. You don't have to be a scientist to figure out that all of the recent champions have had great goaltenders leading the way. I really don't belive Budaj is that guy.

Overall, not the most exciting signings in Avalanche history, but certainly two of the most interesting. - Best Sports Blogs, Sports Blogger Rankings

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