Archive for the ‘Free Agency’ Category

In this roundtable, Realdeal, Cujo and Joey discuss many topics on the NHL’s offseason.

RD: So who did the best this offseason?

Cujo: I would say the CBJ but that would be very homerish of me.

Joey: I like what CBJ did, Jeff Carter and James Wisniewski fit two points of weakness.

Cujo: They got the #1 center they have always wanted, that was the biggest piece it has taken 11 years to get.

RD: They also got the top pair d-man they desperately needed.

Cujo: But you cannot rule out what LA has done this offseason.

RD: They got that #2 center that they needed, even if they gave up the best prospect in hockey.

Joey: Washington had a solid offseason. Beyond just additions but the picks they got for Seymon Varlamov were huge.

RD: I really like Washington’s moves; they got some sandpaper.

Cujo: And Tomas Vokoun cannot forget him, a solid net minder.

Joey: Yeah when I heard Vokoun signed in Washington I hung my head and said ‘oh crap’.

RD: I think people are sleeping on the effect Joel Ward and Troy Brouwer will bring.

Joey: I really think Brouwer was a good pick up, I am a little on the fence on Ward just wondering if he is riding off a playoff showing.

RD: He’s overpaid but he’ll be a solid 2nd/3rd line producer.

Joey: Speaking of overpaid is Brooks Laich worth all that money? I think time will tell on that one.

Cujo: You’ve got to pay for potential, but he nearly had his 3rd straight 50 point season. He missed it by 2 points.

RD: Is he going to get much better? I think 50-55 points is what we’re looking at.

RD: So who’s a team whose moves were puzzling or needed to do more? I’m kind of curious to see how San Jose’s plan works out.

Cujo: I think San Jose thinks they have most of the pieces they need to make a big run at the Cup.

Joey: Buffalo giving 10 years to Christian Ehrhoff, someone who has never played a game in Buffalo?


More tidbits from around the NHL and the world of hockey:

Chris Drury (Photo: Getty Images)

– Chris Drury, unable to find a new team, called it a career on Friday. Drury played 892 games in 12 NHL seasons with 4 teams (Colorado, Calgary, Buffalo, New York). He finished with 615 career points (255 goals, 360 assists) He also played internationally in 3 Olympics, 3 IIHF championship tournaments, and 1 World Cup Of Hockey. He earned 2 silver medals in the Olympics, and one bronze in IIHF competition.

– The once highly touted Fabian Brunnström has earned a tryout with The Detroit Redwings. It will be interesting to see if he can finally show some of what was expected when he came to the NHL, or if this will be his last stop.


Here are some tidbits from around the NHL

Kris Draper (PHOTO: Getty Images)

– Kris Draper announced his retirement from the NHL. He is a 4 time Stanley Cup winner (1997, 1998, 2002, 2008. All with Detroit), as well as a 2004 Frank J. Selke Trophy winner. He totaled 364 points in his 19 year NHL career that spanned 1157 games. Also has 2 world junior gold, 1 world cup gold, 1 world championship gold and silver to his name with Team Canada. Congrats to him on a great career, and all the best to him in retirement!

– Nikolai Khabibulin is heading to the slammer after deciding to not appeal his 2010 DUI conviction. The lesson, being on injured reserve for a sore back, not the time to get wasted. On the bright side, 15 days is plenty of time  for him to start a prison yoga gang.

– Penguins signed Right Winger Jason Williams. A very good, underrated signing. He seems to always pop up when you need a goal, just don’t count on him all the time. He’s like Alex Kovalev…. without the huge price tag, stickhandling ability, and attitude.   (more…)

Enough with it. End the drama.

Is there a chance Stamkos doesn’t play for the Lightning next year? Surely, but it’s pretty small.  GM Steve Yzerman is trying to do everything in his power to keep Stamkos in Tampa.  Stamkos is the team’s biggest marketing tool, and the future of the franchise.  Trading (or letting Stamkos go) would be Stevie Y’s last resort, but there’s no rush at the moment.

Are teams like the Flyers, Maple Leafs, among other teams,  interested in adding Stamkos? Of course.  He’s one of the best players in the league, everyone’s going to have interest.  How much interest and whether they are willing to part with some pieces is a different story.

A lot of these types of rumors are started because the NHL offseason has hit a dead spot.  Everyone’s bored.  Fans are playing NHL11 and seeing how different players look in different uniforms.  Media members have written stories about “no new news” with the Stamkos negotiations and then fans begin speculating (despite the insistence of “no new news”).  Rumors start, such as that Stamkos “doesn’t want to play in Tampa”, even though no credible reports have said this.  Also, it has been denied over and over.  Yet the rumors persist.

So what do Lightning fans think?   (more…)

Looking at some of the still available unrestricted free agents that could help a team this year.

Alex Kovalev (PHOTO: Getty Images)


Brendan Morrison, Center (UPDATE:  Re-Signed with Calgary 7/15/11)

Cory Stillman, Left Wing: 39 points split between Florida and Carolina last year, would be a good addition to anyone looking for powerplay help (12 of 39 points came on the man advantage).

Sergei Samsonov, Left Wing: 40 points last year, still capable of producing offensively. But he’s only for a team that could put him on a line with a decent centerman.  If the team can provide that, he could be a nice addition.

John Madden, Center: If you need a depth center who’s willing to grind it out, he’s your man.  25 points with Minnesota last year despite a -9 +/- rating.

Vinny Prospal, Center: Despite a knee injury last year, still managed 29 points with The Rangers. Another option for those seeking powerplay help (10/29 pts came on the man advantage) and/or a veteran presence in the locker room who can contribute on and off the ice.

Alex Kovalev, Right Wing: Not quite what he used to be, but still worth a sign if  and only if the price is right. Managed 34 points between Ottawa and Pittsburgh last year.

Brent Sopel (PHOTO: Getty Images)


Steve Staios: A veteran who can still block a shot and contribute offensively every once in a while (10 pts in 39 games w/ Calgary last year), far from a top pairing guy, but could prove valuable depth wise.

Craig Rivet: Despite a knee injury and sitting out most of last year, well worth a pickup for the right price as a depth defenseman and nothing more.  A decent shot blocker.

Ruslan Salei: Very limited offensive abilities, but another good depth move for a final pairing.  3rd on the team in shot blocks last year with Detroit.

Brent Sopel: This defensive defenseman would be a good addition to any team.

Bryan Mccabe: He’s still got some gas left in the tank, 28 points split between Florida and New York last year. Would be a decent addition to a good powerplay, but he isn’t too shabby at even strength either.

Ray Emery (PHOTO: CBC)


Ray Emery: Coming back from a potentially career ending medical condition, Emery shined in Anaheim going 7-2-0 with a .926 save percentage and a 2.28 goals against average. Could be a valuable backup or 1B goalie.

Marty Turco: While last season didn’t go as well as he would have liked, he would still be a decent backup on any team, he’s  past being a #1 goalie.

Pascal Leclaire: A risky sign ( as he’s been known to injure himself picking up a pen to sign a contract) but Pascal still has the ability to be a goaltender in the NHL, just not sure if it is as a #1.

There hasn’t been much to cheer about in Columbus the past two seasons, hopes of change at last years trade deadline in acquiring Scottie Upshall and Sami Lepisto, hoping for a playoff push that never came, and instead ended in another early summer with plenty of holes to fill and questions to answer. Same old Jackets…..

Scott Howson on the hot seat had to do something, the team needed a change, and in what seemed to be another ho hum free agent season with little activity, turned into one of the most active, and exciting offseasons in franchise history.

Columbus said goodbye to Jakub Voracek and hello to Jeff Carter (PHOTOS:AP)

In a move that was pretty much denied by multiple beat writers, on June 23rd, The Columbus Blue Jackets traded Jakub Voracek and their 1st round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft to The Philadelphia Flyers for Jeff Carter. The position that has eluded The Blue Jackets for 10 years was finally filled, a number 1 center. Carter has, after all, scored 30+ goals and had 60+ points in his last three seasons.

And people have said “Carter and Nash on a line together won’t work” And these people see Carter as a shooter, the same as Nash, and you can almost see their point. However, when you look at it, both him and Nash have a pretty good record of assisting on goals as well as scoring them. And something that has also been mentioned, this move gives Columbus some breathing room offensively on the ice, instead of defenders focusing on Nash, they will have multiple targets to cover.

James Wisniewski brings his powerplay abilities to the team

On June 29th, The Blue Jackets made their 2nd big move, acquiring the negotiating rights to James Wisniewski from The Montreal Canadiens for a conditional 7th round pick.  On July 1st, he signed a 6 year, $44 million dollar contract with Columbus.  “Wiz” brings his offensive abilities to The Blue Jackets defense in hopes of turning on the scoring for The Blue Jackets powerplay. He will by all definition, be the powerplay quarterback for this team.

Some will say “The Blue Jackets really overpaid for a injury prone defenseman.” While there is some truth in there about the high salary, think about this for a minute, did anyone look at the slim defensive market? And was there anything better than him to add that satisfied the specific team needs? Or anyone remotely as interested as signing here as he was?  The answer is no. And yes, he has had some knee surgeries but, with any player you run the risk of injury, it is a gamble for any player in signing a big contract. But if you don’t take that risk, it’s a guarantee you can never reap the potential reward.

Mark Dekanich looks to take Steve Mason's #1 starting spot

And knowing Scott Howson, Columbus fans can always expect that “Who is that?” signing in the offseason, and that award easily goes to the new backup goaltender Mark Dekanich. Signed to a 1 year deal July 1st, Dekanich has only seen 1 NHL game. This signing seems like a sign that it is Steve Mason’s year to rise or fall with real competition on his tail. Dekanich has shined at the AHL level with Milwaukee, going 65-38-11 his last 3 seasons.

“Is going with an inexperienced backup a good idea?” This has to easily be the biggest gamble of the team. But if Dekanich comes into camp with the mindset of “That #1 spot is mine” and he competes hard, that can only mean good things for him, and Mason. Mason will be pushed harder, as will Dekanich, and we will find out who we can really rely on behind the new look team. The goaltending battle in Columbus should be interesting to watch this season, definitely something for any CBJ fan to keep an eye on.

Fans wanted change, Scott Howson delivered this offseason.

 Scott Howson knew this team needed a change, and he went out, knowing what he had to do, and he did it. For the first time since making their first playoff appearance, there is a real buzz about The Columbus Blue Jackets in town, and it is all thanks to him. They have the pieces they have longed for, the puzzle is nearing completion. It is clear The Blue Jackets have sounded their cannons to the rest of the NHL letting them know, this isn’t the same old Jackets.

Some quick hits from the first two days of free agency:

-The Brad Richards saga is finally over, as he chose to sign with the New York Rangers for 9 years (and $60 million).  According to reports, he turned down more money from other teams (Calgary, Los Angeles and Toronto).  The Rangers have themselves a big money center to play with Marian Gaborik now.  They also added tough guy Mike Rupp from the rival Penguins.

-Speaking of the Maple Leafs, they added Tim Connolly for two years.  Connolly has averaged .83 points per game since the lockout, but has only played in 302 games in that time.  When healthy, he can form a nice duo with Phil Kessel, but how many games he plays is the question.

-Not going to go into much about the Flyers, who were very active on Day 1, as this post sums it up pretty well.

-The Panthers were also very active, adding over $31 million in salary for 2011-12 in the since the draft.  This includes over $21 million to 6 players in free agency the last two days.  They aren’t done yet, as the team is still $1 million under the salary cap floor. (more…)

While few knew what the Flyers were going to do coming into July 1st’s free agent frenzy, Paul Holmgren had a plan. The rumors that were going around had Jaromir Jagr signing with Pittsburgh or Detroit, but both teams dropped out of the bidding this morning, leaving the Jagr Sweepstakes open for business.

With the biggest shocker of the day, Holmgren signed Jagr for $3.3 million, stunning the hockey world. The 39 year old future Hall of Famer has a career 1599 points in 1273 NHL games. He’s spent the last three years playing with Avangard Omsk of the KHL. The 1999 Hart Trophy winner has played for Pittsburgh, Washington and the Rangers in 17 NHL seasons. He’s 12th all time in goals (646) and 9th in points.

Speaking of former Penguins, the team also added C Max Talbot for 5 years, $9 million. Talbot had 21 points last year in 82 games with Pittsburgh, who he has played for the last six years. In an interview with TSN, he said, “I think it is [treason to go from Pittsburgh to Philly], but it’s the right thing to do.” He also added that players have told him “how great it is to play [in Philly]” and it’s a “great chance to win, with a great fit for me.” Talbot also said he believes in the changes the team has made over the last couple weeks. He should help the Flyers’ penalty kill, which took a few hits when the team traded both Mike Richards and Darroll Powe. The team views him as a replacement of Ian Laperriere.

The Flyers weren’t done (more…)

In 2006, Ryan Kesler signed a 1 year, $1.9 million offer from the Flyers.  Then-GM Bob Clarke was crushed by the hockey world for violating a “gentleman’s agreement”, in which teams wouldn’t sign other team’s restricted free agents.  Fans were calling for their team to try and poach a young player from the Flyers.  People were wondering if the Canucks would match $1.9 million for a kid who only had 23 points in 82 games in a new, unknown, salary cap era.  (Hindsight would show it was a good move by Vancouver.)  It was the first offer sheet to an RFA in almost eight years (Carolina’s offer to Sergei Fedorov in 1998).  In 1997, Clarke also signed Tampa’s Chris Gratton to a 5 year, $16.5 million offer, with a $9 million signing bonus, fully knowing that Tampa did not have the finances to match that type of offer.

As years passed, more players have been tendered offer sheets.   There have been six players to sign offer sheets since the lockout, with only one (Dustin Penner) changing teams.  Yet, people still believe signing Restricted Free Agents is an unwritten no-no.  The rule has been in place for over 25 years (with changing compensation), and if it is so unpopular, it would have been repealed by now.

So why is this relevant today?   (more…)

One of the more intriguing aspects of the Penguins offseason is what will happen with Tyler Kennedy. After the Penguins lost both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to long term injuries, it became time for the remaining players to pick up their pace. Tyler Kennedy was one of those that improved his game finishing the season with career bests in goals (21), assists (24), and points (45).  After the last game that Crosby played on January 5th against the Lightning, Kennedy had 15 goals and 12 assists.

So the offseason question becomes, has Tyler Kennedy played himself out of Pittsburgh? Kennedy earned his promotion to the big club early on in the 2007-08 season and played well enough from the get go that it turned struggling Mark Recchi expendable.  Kennedy’s first season in the NHL had a bit of a derailing with a bout with Mono and had a hard time scoring the remainder of the season. Since then, he has played well on a very cohesive third line with Matt Cooke and Jordan Staal with the occasional top-6 duties sprinkled in.

TK’s cap hit for the past two seasons was $725,000 and with GM Ray Shero’s penchant for not overpaying (for both term in addition to salary) for role players, it can shape up to be either a contentious negotiation or one that’s pretty much non-existent. Despite being an RFA, I don’t forsee the Penguins extending a Qualifying Offer as Kennedy won’t be taking that raise and that it may not be worth the retaining of Kennedy’s rights as a potential compensation package wouldnt be much more than one may trade his rights for if it came down to that.  In addition to the potential of the Penguins walking away from any arbitration award that would be favorable to Kennedy.

Early indications are that the Kennedy and Penguins camps are far apart with word that Kennedy may be looking at upwards of $2 million per year. Which isn’t terribly outlandish for a 45 point a year player, however, that is typically not Kennedy’s role. And with the Penguins top-6 shaping up to be Neal-Crosby-Kunitz-Malkin-Staal-and a sixth to be named later, depending on potential UFA (Vrbata or Kobasew perhaps??) or organizational options (Dupuis or Tangradi) available can keep Kennedy in a third line role with the Penguins. Even if you double his salary to the $1.4 million range, I wouldn’t forsee Kennedy agreeing to that. Early indications are the Penguins internal UFA priorities have begun around Dupuis and Mike Rupp.

The iron is hot and I am sure Kennedy will like to strike while he has his opportunity, and he has earned it as well. I don’t think anyone could have predicted that his stretch from January to April would occur and could have possibly ended his career in Pittsburgh.