I've been thinking of a new way to knee-jerk react to a trade or signing. The opposing fanbase's view. This probably only works with known entities (prospects and lesser-known players are an iffier proposition).
I remember when we traded for Craig Rivet. It seemed like a decent trade, but MTL fans mocked the fact that we made him captain. I remember clearly thinking that they were too far removed from his career to judge, but in the end Rivet was shown to not even be a good captain, was often a healthy scratch and was eventually given up for nothing.
If you look at the guys we've liked who've been traded, our assessments have been accurate: Kotalik(good riddance, gonna miss the shootout wins), Campbell (the money was stupid, but he's a damn fine player), Paille (no room for him here, but he's a fine 3-4th liner), Novotny (lol), Biron (Love the personality, best backup in the league).
Our record isn't perfect: Briere/Drury/Tim Kennedy being prime examples. We had the Briere/Drury equation flipped. Briere we thought would be injured often due to his size, but would be productive when healthy. We were half-right. Drury...it's hard to pinpoint what went wrong, but injuries and lack of production were a bit of a surprise. Tim Kennedy can be explained away by acknowledging that we had a blind-spot for the local kid.
I'm sure I've got some confirmation bias going on here, and I'm interested to see how this works out now that I'm keeping an eye on it. You may have noticed I'm focused on post-lockout. That's mostly because fan-bases (including our own) weren't as easily tracked before the arrival of Twitter and the post-lockout-era explosion of NHL presence online.
There are also some flaws in this system. Opinions on prospect/low-tier players are not as well formed as those of NHL regulars. Our opinions on Butler and Byron aren't fully fleshed out. Phoenix's fan base was probably glad to get anything for a slow-developing Briere.
This year will be very interesting as the fan bases of Vancouver, Philly, and Calgary all seemed to think very highly of the additions that the Sabres made this summer. The only issue they seem to have is the money paid out for Erhoff and Leino. As we've seen with guys like Briere and Campbell, that criticism can be put to be quickly through performance (though in Briere's case, it took a year). Let's just hope those fan-bases are more right than we were about Drury.
I'll be keeping a close eye on Connolly this year. Our opinion on him as a fan base seems to be that he needs a change of scenery, and even then won't be able to stay healthy. Given 82 games, I think 55-60 points is what the Leafs are paying him for. However, I think we all know that 60 games and 35-40 points is much more likely.
Another player to watch is Jagr, the vitriol out of Pittsburgh may be sour grapes, but a radio host called him a "selfish captain who only cares about himself" this morning.