Category Archives: Free Agents
Alex Kovalev is getting another shot at the National Hockey League.
Miami Herald writer George Richards tweeted Tuesday that the former NHL veteran is in Pompano, Florida with the Panthers and will attend their training camp when it gets under way.
Next summer’s crop looks even weaker, with few candidates available who can reasonably step in and play top-four minutes. The best of the bunch from a long-term Oilers perspective is likely this group of four:
Alexander Edler. The offensive defenceman hit career highs last year in goals (11) assists (38) points (49) and shots (228). The Canucks leaned on Edler heavily in an offensive role to make up for the departure of Christian Ehrhoff – he got power play time, tons of offensive starts and typically managed to duck the toughest assignments (which went to the Hamhuis/Bieksa pairing). Despitep laying those sorts of minutes for the powerhouse Canucks, Edler finished with a disappointing plus/minus (even) and struggled mightily in the post-season. Still, as a 6’3”, 27-year old offensive defenceman playing top-four minutes on a contender, he’s going to get paid.
Rob Scuderi. The no-nonsense defensive defender was overshadowed by regular partner Drew Doughty’s transcendent play en route to Los Angeles’ Stanley cup victory, but even so he logged heavy minutes on the Kings’ blue line and offers major value to any team as a shutdown defender. At 34, he’s in the tail end of his career yet is still young compared to much of 2013’s free agent class.
Ian White. Last summer, the Detroit Red Wings paid him less than $3 million/season on a two-year deal. He’s likely to get both more money and term this time around. The 29-year old White found success in a top-pairing role in Detroit (he actually led the Red Wings blue line in time on ice at even-strength last year). Now, he’ll need to prove he can be successful without Lidstrom – a partner who seemed to help him significantly last year.
Jordan Leopold. A regular member of the Buffalo Sabres’ top four last season, Leopold’s the sort of cheaper option some team will be forced to settle for next summer. The 32-year old isn’t a high-end offensive option but is capable in both zones and with or without the puck.
Alex Kovalev, who turns 40 in February, aims to return to the NHL and says he has a couple of tryout offers.
The Russian spent last season in the KHL with Atlant Mytischi but played only 22 games because of injuries. Once an offensive star in the NHL, Kovalev managed only one goal and five assists.
The winger was in Switzerland this week training with the Servette Geneva team. Kovalev said he plans to go to the U.S. to work out but did not identify the teams offering tryouts.
Kovalev has 428 goals and 596 assists in 1,302 regular-season games with the New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators. He had 16 goals and 18 assists in 74 games with Ottawa and Pittsburgh in 2010-11, his most recent season in the NHL.
The San Jose Sharks are among the favorites to land the services of free agent forward Shane Doan, a source has told CSNCalifornia.com.
Doan, who will turn 36 in October, is the top unrestricted NHL free agent still available.
According to the source, the Sharks, who are generally very tight-lipped about personnel decisions, have flown “under the radar” in their pursuit of Doan.
Doan reportedly met with the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday, and has also drawn interest from the New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres. His preference is to remain in Phoenix, but the uncertain ownership situation there has led to him exploring other options.
There are reports that Doan is seeking a four-year contract worth $30 million, averaging out to a $7.5 million cap hit. According to CapGeek.com, San Jose has approximately $5.57 million in cap space.
A person with knowledge of the decision says the Philadelphia Flyers have signed Nashville star defenceman Shea Weber to a 14-year offer sheet worth more than $100 million.
The Sports Network in Canada first reported the offer.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on Thursday on condition of anonymity because the Flyers hadn’t announced the offer.
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren confirmed early Thursday that the Flyers did sign Weber to an offer sheet. He gave no further details. The Predators issued a statement late Thursday morning confirming they had received the Flyers’ offer sheet, which gives the team seven days to make a decision on matching the deal or letting the defenceman go.
“We have stated previously that, should a team enter into an offer sheet with Shea, our intention would be to match and retain Shea,” Predators general manager David Poile said. “Our ownership has provided us with the necessary resources to build a Stanley Cup-winning team. Due to the complexity of the offer sheet, we will take the appropriate time to review and evaluate it, and all of its ramifications, in order to make the best decision for the Predators in both the short and long-term.”
It may not have been the big fish Canucks fans were hoping for, but you can bet pumping a 140-pound tuna to the surface in Panama was memorable for a vacationing GM Mike Gillis.
Those tuna are renowned fighters and that was a huge fish. It’s not easy.
Much like trying to land Shane Doan.
The Canucks are in on the Doan sweepstakes, having offered the power forward a competitive multi-year contract that is at least three years in length.
How competitive? Well, it’s relative, but teams aren’t in on Doan if they’re offering one- and two-year deals.
The Canucks offer probably is not near the four-year, $30 million monster an Eastern Conference team reportedly tabled.
But that offer did have a ring of absurdity to it. You could see it coming from the Magical Man who lives in Happy-Land on Lollipop Lane.
Whether it’d be enough to sway Doan remains to be seen. But, remember, this is a player who has dedicated his entire career to the Phoenix Coyotes organization. Could that same player be lured to a situation that doesn’t fit his criteria just because it’s the largest financial windfall?
First and foremost among Doan’s criteria is to stay in Phoenix.
He wouldn’t be rounding into late July without a contract otherwise. And his return to Phoenix became more likely Monday when Glendale formally rejected the petition which was seeking a referendum on the Coyotes lease agreement.
Goal scoring in the NHL is down, the thin free agent market is depleted of top offensive talent, and the trade market seems frozen, so one name in particular stands out: unrestricted free agent Alexander Semin. Theoretically at least, he could be the solution to some team’s scoring woes, but there he sits by the phone, waiting for his agent Marc Gandler to tell him which club wants to sign a supremely talented 28-year-old who has put up seasons of 38, 34 and 40 goals during his NHL career. His numbers are comparable to Zach Parise’s, but no one is throwing a 13-year contract worth $98 million at Semin. Not even close.
Semin is coming off a $6.7 million one-year deal after another one-year contract worth $6 million. You’d think he’s set up for something with a longer term, but no NHL team, apparently, wants to give that to him. And it’s quite doubtful that anyone wants to pay him close to what he had been making with the Washington Capitals.
Oh, there have been reports that CSKA, the legendary Red Army team of the KHL, has offered Semin $10 million a year for three years. But not everyone believes it, even in Russia where Andrew Matsegora wrote on Thursday for AllHockey.ru that, “Frankly, the truth of this assertion is doubtful.” Semin/Gandler and teams in the KHL may be talking, Matsegora contends, but not about that kind of money. Their discussions may help create a better marketplace for Semin, but won’t bring him those sorts of riches.
The Maple Leafs are among a dozen teams that have made exploratory calls to Shane Doan, captain of the Phoenix Coyotes, who opened himself up Monday to the idea of leaving the only NHL franchise he’s ever played for just as it was facing another threat to its existence.
A source confirmed to the Star the team made serious overtures to Doan’s agent, Terry Bross.
Chicago, Detroit and Vancouver are thought to be the frontrunners for Doan’s services. Others known to have made a pitch are St. Louis, Montreal, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, the New York Rangers, Winnipeg and Los Angeles.
Teams that missed out on Zach Parise see the 35-year-old Doan, a power forward, as the next best option. Many of the same teams are also interested in trading for Columbus winger Rick Nash and Anaheim winger Bobby Ryan.
Doan became an unrestricted free agent July 1 but told teams he wanted to see how events that affect the future of the Coyotes unfolded this week in Glendale before making a decision on his playing career.
“We don’t want to create a false expectation he will leave until it’s a real possibility,” Bross told the FAN590 radio station. “Shane’s first desire is to finish what he started in Phoenix and stay with the franchise and finish his career where he started it.”
If his trading is complete with the acquisition of the veteran defensive defenceman he promised, Bryan Murray still has at least one move he must make before the start of the NHL season.
He needs to spend almost $5 million to get to the salary cap floor, and here’s a way he might be able to do so plus answer his need for offence at the same time:
Make Alexander Semin an offer.
Semin, the enigmatic Russian, who was still available on Day 6 of free agency, might even cost a little more, as he picked up $6.7 million from the Washington Capitals last season. So dangle a similar number in his face. Don’t waver on the term, though. One year. If another team is willing to give him something longer, walk away.
Ya, ya, I know the knock on Semin. He’s a dog. Earlier this week, TSN’s Marc Crawford called him a “complete loser” with “no character.” Pierre McGuire said he’s the “ultimate coach killer” and “not a good guy to have around your group unless you have unbelievably strong leadership.”
So Chris Neil would keep him in line. Chris Phillips and Jason Spezza would explain to him how things are done in Ottawa. And Semin, a 28-year-old with one of the best wrist shots in the NHL, might actually respond to the vicious rip-jobs done by analysts.
If he has any type of gumption, any pride at all, he’ll shove those words right down the throats of Crawford and McGuire. The 13th player selected in the 2002 draft will play like he did three seasons ago, when he had 40 goals and 44 assists, along with a plus-36 rating, in just 73 games.
It’s worth a shot.
Of course, free agent Shane Doan would be a more desirable catch, which is why a number of others teams are trying to land the Phoenix captain. From what we are led to believe, only the New Jersey Devils and Detroit Red Wings have expressed any real interest in Semin.
Now that prized free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter have settled on a destination, both choosing to join the Minnesota Wild, trade talks are expected to intensify as NHL teams search for other ways to fill out their rosters.
And with a hearty collection of defensemen in their possession, an active trade market is just what the Coyotes want.
“There were so many teams pursuing those two players and where they go,” General Manager Don Maloney said. “Really, there are not a lot of people left on the board. … Discussions will pick up. Whether we see movement in the next two or three days or in weeks and months, I really can’t say.”
The Coyotes have started to turn their attention to the trade option. Six defensemen will crack the opening-night lineup, and aside from the four returning starters and the recently acquired Zbynek Michalek, another six will challenge for a spot.
The signings of forwards David Moss and Steve Sullivan weren’t blockbuster acquisitions, but the Coyotes were successful in nabbing the players they realistically had targeted.
“We did have discussion on a couple other wingers that had some skill, but we didn’t like the term or dollars,” Maloney said. “One or the other we really didn’t like. I know it’s hard for our fans to understand, but we just need to continue to stay patient. We do have very good financial flexibility.
“At some point between now and when the puck drops next season, we’ll find another good player to help us.”
#RedWings initial offer to D Ryan Suter was $80M 13 years, now up to $90 M. Team wants to keep cap # reasonable – preferably under $7 M.
Meanwhile, Parise is expected to decide today where he’ll spend his next dozen-or-so seasons. His agent told The Post the Devils remain among a “small, select group” of teams still in the Parise Derby.
Parise is believed set to receive some $100 million for 8-13 years. The financially-troubled Devils remain in contention despite their financial troubles, and the difficulty they may have matching two $12 million signing bonuses.
The Flyers, Red Wings, Wild and Penguins are believed to be among the “small, select group,” of remaining Parise suitors. Devils GM Lou Lamoriello negotiated long and hard with Parise Saturday night and yesterday, making what was called “a competitive offer.”
Besides the financial considerations, Parise is believed to put primary weight on his evaluation of a team’s chances of winning a Stanley Cup. The Devils’ financial plight itself weighs against them, since it suggests that the team might have trouble adding more stars.
Other Devils unrestricteds, Bryce Salvador, Petr Sykora and Johan Hedberg, remained unsigned into last night, while Alexei Ponikarovsky went to Winnipeg.
Brodeur personally negotiated with Lamoriello before turning to free agency, and sources suggest the Devils’ initial offer was well below Brodeur’s salary of $5.2 million last season, and may have helped prompt his decision to test the open market.
Sources say FLyers’ gave Suter and Parise each a 10-year offer … guess the $$$
— Tim Panaccio (@tpanotchCSN) July 1, 2012
Top-six forwards are in seriously short supply on the UFA market, so don’t be surprised if the Flames don’t land somebody that way via free agency. A trade is more likely.
But, if the Flames look to the free-agent pool, Jaromir Jagr’s name has been bandied about, in part to skate alongside his former KHL linemate Roman Cervenka.
Jiri Hudler certainly would be an interesting departure from the normal Flames acquisition, as would Alex Semin. Shane Doan has close ties in the sense he’s good friends with Jarome Iginla and — as the critics would love to point out — not the kind of player the Flames mostly need, read: Younger.
Brad Boyes is a realistic candidate in the sense he can play centre or wing, just turned 30, and shouldn’t be commanding too much after netting just eight goals and 23 points.
As for the gritty, bottom-six forward, there are potential candidates.
Two-time Flames winger Brandon Prust showed everybody he was more than just a scrapper during his time with the New York Rangers, but may be looking for more coin than the Flames would like to dish out.
Jordin Tootoo is going to receive his share of attention, but would fit the bill. Zenon Konopka can scrap and wins all kinds of faceoffs.
What’s becoming more expected is the fallout from the free-agent frenzy.
Jay Bouwmeester has been the subject of trade rumours since before the draft and the Flames could be hoping teams which miss out on the free-agent defencemen up for bids — notably Suter, Garrison and Carle — will see Bouwmeester as a very good consolation prize.
A pie-in-the-sky dream would also include somebody taking on Anton Babchuk and his $2.5 million contract.
A year ago, the Flames surprising took a solid run at reeling in Brad Richards.
We’re not sure they’ll do anything that exciting this time around. But don’t expect it to be quiet enough to completely ignore the excitement of July 1
The Stars have informed the five unrestricted free agents who finished the season on the NHL roster that they won’t be offering them new contracts before July 1, and will thus allow all of them to test the market.
Sheldon Souray, Adam Burish, Radek Dvorak, Jake Dowell and Toby Petersen will join a large group of unrestricted free agents, and each could have NHL value. In fact, Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk said he’s not closing the door on one or more possibly returning. He said all sides need to check the environment and see where they are before proceeding.
Souray might be the most desirable player. The big defenseman is a three-time All-Star Game participant and was available as a free agent last summer only because he had fallen out of favor with the Edmonton Oilers and spent the 2010-11 season in the minors. Dallas signed him to a one-year deal at $1.65 million and was ecstatic with his performance. Souray played in 64 games and averaged 20:27 in time on ice. he had 21points (6G, 15A) and was plus-11.
That performance has many believing Souray, who will turn 36 on July 13, can get a contract in the neighborhood of $3 million a year and might be able to get a two-year deal.
The Stars will likely look for a younger option on defense. If they don’t find one, and if Souray still is on the market, the two sides could talk again.
Dallas also had some interest in re-signing Dowell. The versatile forward is 27 and offers grit on the third or fourth line. He averaged 7:37 in ice time last season in 52 games and had 7 points (2G, 5A). He made $800,000.
However, with the acquisition of center Cody Eakin in the Mike Ribeiro trade, the decision to send a qualifying offer to center Tom Wandell, and the push of young forwards who would like to grab a spot in the NHL, the Stars decided to move on without Dowell.
Burish was one of the Stars’ more popular players. The 29-year-old center played 65 games last season and had 19 points (6G, 13A) while averaging 12:47 in ice time. he was plus-6 and made $1.3 million. He’s the type of player who could draw a lot of interest in free agency, so he could be signed quickly.
Whitney signed with the Coyotes as a free agent, so he knows the drill. He’d like to stay there, but like Doan, is wondering about the ownership situation. Is the team going to stay in Phoenix or suddenly load up for Quebec City? Whitney is a good friend of Steve Yzerman in Tampa and there are teams like the Boston Bruins, Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks who could certainly use a 77-point guy. All things considered, he’d like to stay in the desert, with Carolina a second choice because he won a Stanley Cup there and has a home there, but the Hurricanes probably don’t have the money for him.
“I’ve always said if Phoenix matches any offer, I’ll stay there. Obviously, we have a home in Carolina, but with the trade they made for (Jordan) Staal and the money they’re going to give up … I’m not looking for them,” said Whitney, who is in the catbird’s seat. “There seems to be a shortage of scoring now.”
Dallas will certainly make a play for Doan because Stars owner Tom Gaglardi is the money behind the junior Kamloops Blazers and Doan is an investor along with Jarome Iginla and Mark Recchi.
“There is that connection, but I think Shane will stay in Phoenix. It would be hard for me to see him leave. He’s kind of embedded there. My two years there haven’t embedded me like Shane,” said Whitney, laughing.
Brodeur, Whitney and Jaromir Jagr are all 40-year-old free agents. You wouldn’t think there would be a large market for players of that age, but it’s not like it used to be when 30 was old.
There have only been six offer sheets signed under this CBA, with the last one coming in 2010 when the San Jose Sharks took aim at the Chicago Blackhawks when they gave defenceman Niklas Hjalmarsson a four-year, $14-million deal that was ultimately matched.
That salary bump, however, eventually helped force the Blackhawks to walk away from netminder Antti Niemi, who then went and signed with San Jose.
So it can be a pretty effective tool to wreak havoc on a rival’s cap situation.
Two potential targets this off-season could be young goaltenders: Cory Schneider of the Vancouver Canucks and Tuukka Rask of the Boston Bruins.
If teams lose players via an offer sheet, they are compensated by draft picks based on how high the salary of the deal is. This is a moving target – the values increase every year based on the NHL’s average salary.
Brian Burke returns from the NHL draft with a power forward he covets in James van Riemsdyk, six picks including first-rounder Morgan Rielly and perhaps a different view of the free-agent landscape.
In April, the Toronto Maple Leafs general manager said he would address the team’s positional trades “the old fashioned way” through trades, not free agency.
But that could change Monday when U.S. collegiate defenceman Justin Schultz, a player Burke drafted in the second round in 2008 while GM of the Anaheim Ducks, becomes an unrestricted free agent.
Schultz, 21, and his representative, Newport Sports Management in Toronto, found a loophole in the soon-to-be-expired collective bargaining agreement that allows the player to test free agency because he played an extra year of major junior hockey in British Columbia Hockey League before attending the University of Wisconsin.
Schultz is considered an elite offensive defenceman who many observers believe could step into the NHL next season as a top-four blue-liner. He reportedly will be in Toronto on Tuesday and can begin to field offers Wednesday.
“The competition for Schultz will be every bit as intense as the competition for [unrestricted free agents Ryan] Suter and [Zach] Parise,” former NHL forward-turned broadcaster Ray Ferraro told a Canadian sports radio station recently.
Schultz is a six-foot-two, 185-pound right-handed shooting defenceman fresh off a strong season with the U. of Wisconsin Badgers in which he scored 16 goals and 44 points in 37 games.
The first act of the Wild’s summer is over. They made seven selections in the NHL draft over the weekend, taking Matt Dumba with the seventh overall pick and adding a 17-year-old defenseman whose high-wire style of play could make him a fan favorite.
But the most interesting act of the Wild’s summer is just about to begin.
It will start on Sunday, July 1, when a crowded field of suitors can officially begin chasing New Jersey Devils forward Zach Parise and Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Suter — the two biggest prizes on the free-agent market and two players who could do nothing less than change the Wild’s future should they wind up in St. Paul.
Making that happen would require a convincing sales pitch, a little luck and lots and lots of cash. The Wild have the third one. They’ll soon see if they have the first two.
“You can’t control what happens on July 1,” general manager Chuck Fletcher said Sunday. “You can have your list. You can have your game plan. You can do a great job with presenting your situation. But the players have earned the right on July 1 to choose where they want to go.”
The question in light of Rangers general manager Glen Sather’s declaration yesterday that the Blueshirts intend to be “as aggressive as possible” in the free agent market essentially can be distilled to this:
Do the Blueshirts necessarily believe Devils captain Zach Parise meant what he said on his team’s breakup day — less than 48 hours after losing in the Cup finals to the Kings — when the impending free agent three times renounced interest in crossing the Hudson, once using the words, “No way”?
Stymied thus far in his attempts to acquire the offensive force the Rangers likely need in order to take the next step following their so-near-and-yet-so-far 2011-12, Sather indicated his team would dive into the free agent pool that isn’t all that deep.
“The closer to the top you are, you have to be a little more aggressive if you want to get better,” the GM said. “If you trade, you have to give away assets, but in free agency you’re just giving away money and [taking] the chance the cap might shrink.
“I think we’re going to try to be as aggressive as possible in the free agent market.”
The Blueshirts appear to have approximately $20 million available in summer cap space, some of which would be devoted to re-signing restricted free agent Michael Del Zotto and impending unrestricted free agent goaltender Martin Biron.
Parise is the lone elite forward coming up on unrestricted free agency, and the Devils have vowed to attempt to sign him before the market opens on July 1. The Penguins, who cleared cap space by dealing Jordan Staal and Zbynek Michalek, are expected to make a strong bid, as are the Red Wings, Wild and several other clubs.
Alexander Semin is perhaps the most skilled sniper on the market but it’s difficult to imagine the Rangers engaging in the type of long-term deal the impending Capitals free agent is believed to be seeking.