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Is Osgood Hall worthy? <br>(And other NHL items)</br> Add to ...

As far as days in mid-July go, today was a pretty busy one for the NHL.

At noon, long-time Red Wings netminder Chris Osgood retired, leaving the league 10th on the all-time wins lists with 401 and starting a Hall of Fame debate that's going to last at least the next three years.

Then, at 3:30, the Devils revealed that Peter DeBoer was their new coach and the Lightning announced a five-year, $37.5-million contract for Steven Stamkos, locking the 21-year-old up through the 2015-16 season.

A few thoughts on each bit of news, before anything else happens today:

Is Osgood Hall worthy?

This has become the eternal question when it comes to Osgood, whose generally competent goaltending on loaded Detroit teams all these years have left him with a ton of wins and in the Hall of Fame debate even though many regarded him only slightly above average for much of his career.

Eight of the nine goaltenders ahead of Osgood on the all-time wins list are in or about to be in the Hall already, with Curtis Joseph the only maybe on the list.

Wins, however, are obviously a very team-driven stat, and in the metric that most point to as being the most important for a goaltender – save percentage – Osgood has posted only a .905 in his career, which is fairly average.

Playing for such strong defensive teams all those years, that's not a Hall of Fame number.

That said, Osgood, who will stay with the Wings as a goaltender development coach and scout, is well liked and has won three Stanley Cups. Hockey's Hall also isn't the most exclusive place in pro sports, with plenty of slightly above average players from great teams making the cut.

It could very well happen, although my sense is it may take a long time before he gets in.

Stamkos' new deal

The word was they were very close for quite some time, and it turned out the long rumoured number was right on the money.

Stamkos has finished fifth in scoring the past two seasons, so $7.5-million is more than reasonable, especially considering Eric Staal has an $8.25-million cap hit on a seven-year deal that started in 2009-10.

Stamkos will be tied next season for the seventh highest cap hit in the league with Marian Gaborik and Dany Heatley and will earn $8-million in each of the first four years of the contract and then only $5.5-million in the final season, which will bring him to unrestricted free agency at just 26 years of age.

Although that could change under the next collective bargaining agreement.

All things considered, it's a number the suddenly high-spending Lightning can live with, although it does continue a trend where players earn big, big money in only their second contract.

The new CBA has pushed unrestriced free agency so young that players like Stamkos, who were in the league at 18, can be free agents at 25, and buying off some of those years can be incredibly expensive. Before the lockout, players weren't UFAs until their 30s, which kept young players' salaries artificially low.

Now there are plenty 30-somethings still looking for contracts as the young RFAs cash in. It's quite a change.

DeBoer's a Devil

Peter DeBoer was let go earlier this year by the Florida Panthers after three playoff-less seasons, and it seemed for a while that he was in for some time out of the NHL spotlight.

Devils GM Lou Lamoriello thought otherwise, however, and named him New Jersey's next head coach in a bit of a surprise move.

"His teams have always been well-prepared and disciplined, while maximizing their effort each and every night,” Lamoriello said. “I am looking forward to working with him.”

For months the rumoured names ranged from Michel Therrien to Guy Carbonneau and Ken Hitchcock (with the suggestion that Jacques Lemaire may even return for one last season), but in the end, Lamoriello went with someone who has had exceptional success in the OHL but had little to work with during his time in Florida.

Longevity hasn't been a hallmark of being a Devils coach since the lockout. Since Pat Burns stepped down with health problems in 2005, this will be the eighth coaching change in six years.

Brent Sutter's two seasons make him the longest serving Devils coach since Burns did the same before the lockout. DeBoer becomes the 16th coach in franchise history, but the seventh since the lockout.

(Don't expect the Devils style to change much, however, as his Panthers teams were as stingy as any in the league.)

 

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