NHL News and Rumors – Monday July 13, 2009

Looks like Jiri Hudler is off to Russia

Blue Jackets wait for trade opportunities

Ducks and Canucks talked a Pronger deal?

Very few NHL goaltender openings remainLooks like Jiri Hudler is off to Russia


Jiri Hudler has been offered as much as $5 million per year — tax exempt — to play the next two seasons in Russia, which is why the Red Wings don’t believe he’ll return.

Hudler, 25, agreed this week to play for Moscow Dynamo of the Kontinental Hockey League, a Russia-based group that has gained considerable traction as a competitor to the NHL in recent years. But there’s a catch. Because Hudler filed for arbitration last weekend, he’ll remain the Wings’ property, and when or if he terminates his relationship with the KHL, he’ll have to honor the contract an arbitrator decides upon this summer.

“My understanding is it’s like the situation with Alexei Yashin, who left the Senators but when he came back, his contract with Ottawa held,” general manager Ken Holland said. “We know Jiri is going to have a contract with us, we’re going to ask for a two-year deal, and that’s going to hold for whenever he comes back. I’m operating under the assumption he’s gone for now. I talked to him yesterday, Mike Bab***** spoke to him. I had Dan Cleary call him, and Kris Draper called him. We’re under the impression he’s gone.”


Blue Jackets wait for trade opportunities


Free agency has slowed to a crawl in its second week, and a handful of NHL general managers are digging in for a game of chicken. On one side we have GMs who desperately need salary cap room. On the other side are clubs — like the Blue Jackets — who are looking for a certain type of player.

The Blue Jackets need help on defense. The San Jose Sharks need cap relief. They are perfect examples of what has become the second stage of free agency since the dawn of the NHL’s salary cap almost five years ago.

Earlier this offseason, Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson offered to trade forward Jason Chimera to the Sharks in exchange for defenseman Christian Ehrhoff.

Sharks GM Doug Wilson was not interested. Ehrhoff is a second-pair defenseman — maybe a first-pair guy in Columbus — and he can run a power play. Chimera has a rare combination of size and speed, but he’s seen as a “plus” third-line left winger.

It makes sense that Wilson said no. But he might be forced to soften his stance on such trade offers as training camp winds down.

NHL rules require that all clubs be at or below the $56.8 million salary cap limit by opening night, and that’s going to take some work for the Sharks.


Ducks and Canucks talked a Pronger deal?

Kevin Paul Dupont

A West Coast team (possibly the Canucks?) is rumored to have offered the Ducks a better deal for Pronger than the whopping package (Joffrey Lupul, Luca Sbisa, and two first-round picks) the Flyers gave up. If it was the Canucks, a like package would have included Ryan Kesler and Kevin Bieksa, possibly Alex Edler . . .


Very few NHL goaltender openings remain

Brian Costello

Did Martin Biron price himself out of a job in the NHL? Looks like it.

Eleven days into the free agent season and virtually every team has filled their starter and backup jobs for 2009-10.

So Biron may have to look for a job in Europe or the Kontinental League. Same with the other NHL proven UFA goalies Manny Fernandez, Manny Legace, Martin Gerber, Brent Johnson, Joey MacDonald, Curtis Sanford, Wade Dubielewicz and Kevin Weekes. That’s nine looking-for-work stoppers and a shrunken market.

Here are the new goaltender jobs this summer:

Boston has top prospect Tuukka Rask as backup. Chicago has Cristobal Huet as starter and top prospect Corey Crawford as backup. Colorado has Craig Anderson as starter and Peter Budaj is relegated to backup. Dallas has Alex Auld as backup. Detroit has prospect Jimmy Howard as backup. Edmonton has Nikolai Khabibulin as starter. Columbus has Mathieu Garon as backup. Florida has Scott Clemmensen as backup. New Jersey has prospect Jeff Frazee as backup. The Islanders have Dwayne Roloson as backup. Ottawa has Brian Elliott as backup. Philadelphia has Ray Emery as starter and Brian Boucher as backup. Phoenix has Jason LaBarbera as backup. Pittsburgh has John Curry as backup. San Jose has Thomas Greiss as backup. St. Louis has Ty Conklin as backup. Tampa Bay has Antero Niittymaki as backup. Toronto has Jonas Gustavsson as backup. Vancouver has Andrew Raycroft as backup.