Category Archives: Free Agents
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.
Rangers, Flyers have Nash, Ryan on radars
Phoenix Coyotes may look to move pick in NHL Draft
Staal rejects Penguins’ 10-year offer
Yandle in play
The salary’s not the thing for enlightened GMs
Signs point to Krueger as Oilers head coach
Tallon Says Panthers Have Made Offer; Will He Sign?
CANADIENS FILE FOR SALARY ARBITRATION WITH PRICE
Penguins general manager Shero: I’m not trading Staal
P.A. DONE IN NY?
Parise not tipping hand as free agency nears
SIEGEL: BURKE INTENDS TO USE FIFTH PICK; TRADE NOT IMMINENT
Penguins’ Shero not listening to Staal offers
Backstrom going nowhere
Wings will be ‘aggressive’ in pursuit of Justin Schultz
Ducks expect Parros to test free agency
SIEGEL: BURKE INTENDS TO USE FIFTH PICK; TRADE NOT IMMINENT
Count Jaromir Jagr among the names that will be available on the open market on July 1.
TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger reported via Twitter on Monday that while the 40-year-old winger enjoyed his stint with the Phildelphia Flyers last season, he plans on testing free agency.
Jagr, who scored 19 goals and 54 points in 73 games last season, played the previous three years in Russia and helped lead the Penguins to two Stanley Cup titles in the 1990s. He also played for the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals.
A Czech native, Jagr won an Olympic gold medal in 1998 and a bronze in 2006. He also won two Ice Hockey World Championships in 2005 and 2010.
He made $3.3 million last season with the Flyers.
As an unrestricted free agent come July 1, would Kovalev seriously consider a return to the NHL? And if so, would he have a jersey preference?
“Hopefully, I’ll find an NHL team,” he said. “The preference is always going to be a team I’ve played on (Canadiens, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators) because you know the environment.
“And I’d definitely like to come back to Montreal. They’re all about the young guys, but I can help in all different ways. And I can still play. I have a lot of energy.
“I always think about having left Montreal,” he said of signing a two-year, $10-million UFA contract with Ottawa in July 2009, having played four-plus seasons with the Canadiens.
“You make a mistake in life and you learn from it. I would make a different move if I could have that back.”
That summer, depending on your source, Kovalev agent Scott Greenspun failed to contact the Canadiens before then-GM Bob Gainey began his dramatic rebuilding, or Gainey was so vague about deadlines for the two sides to speak that a phone never rang before he moved.
A free-agent flood poured into Montreal and Kovalev soon was washed down the highway towards Ottawa, leaving a big piece of his heart in Montreal.
Kovy lifted you out of your seat with excitement some nights – ask those who held a spirited rally outside the Bell Centre before he signed with the Senators – and sent you home maddeningly frustrated by his ghostly apparition on others.
But he was never, ever dull, something that’s not changed in the two years he’s been gone. And Kovalev still gets a kick out of being recognized in Montreal, toying with those who think they’ve spotted him as they trail him down the street, their calls to him ignored – just for awhile.
If need be, the Wild would be willing to offer presumptive New Jersey Devils free agent Zach Parise from Minneapolis a 13-year guaranteed contract.
Alexander Radulov is believed on his way back to the KHL in light of an offer from Sergei Fedorov’s CSKA club that considering tax implications, we’re told, would make him the world’s highest-paid hockey player.
The regret regarding the Stanley Cup Finals is Ilya Kovalchuk’s back injury deprived the Devils of the club’s most singular, dynamic weapon against the Kings. It’s not as if the Devils are unique in dealing with a significant injury to a significant player. The Canucks had to deal with issues that eliminated Ryan Kesler as a factor in the 2011 defeat to the Bruins.
It’s just unfortunate that, if for nothing else but the sake of entertainment value, the most explosive and compelling player on either side was so diminished.
Rangers’ prospect Jesper Fast will be attending the club’s development camp following the Entry Draft, but the 20-year-old winger is contractually committed to playing the 2012-13 season for HV-71 of the Swedish Elite League.
Penner said Thursday that he wants to re-sign with the Los Angeles Kings and indicated he would take less money to do so. Penner is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
Penner said of the chances of returning to the Stanley Cup champions, “I’d say they’re pretty good. I want to be back.” Asked if he would settle for something different in regards to his salary, he said yes.
Penner had a salary cap hit of $4.25 million this past season. He came to the Kings from the Edmonton Oilers in a 2011 trade deadline deal for a first-round pick in 2011, prospect Colten Teubertand a conditional second- or third-round pick in 2012.
Penner was not only quiet for most of this regular season, he had knee and hand injuries and a back injury and was a healthy scratch as recently as February. His play drew sharp criticism from new coach Darryl Sutter.
But Penner awakened during the Kings’ run through the Stanley Cup Playoffs and was promoted to the second line with Mike Richards and Jeff Carter at the end of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Vancouver Canucks. He had seven goals and 10 assists in 65 regular-season games but finished with 11 points in 20 playoff games, including the series-clinching goal against the Phoenix Coyotes in the conference finals.
Zach Parise declined to discuss his future on Monday night after the New Jersey Devils’ season came to an end with a Game 6 loss to the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup Finals, but the expectation remains that the Minnesota Wild will make a very strong push to sign the unrestricted free agent.
Former North Stars president and general manager Lou Nanne confirmed as much on Tuesday during his weekly appearance on “Reusse and Mackey” on 1500 ESPN. Nanne said that after talking to Wild owner Craig Leipold last week he believes, “the Wild are going to throw the kitchen sink” at the winger in order to land him.
Nanne said he thinks the fact the financially strapped Devils lost in the Cup finals make it less likely that Parise will stick with that organization. Parise has spent his seven-year NHL career with New Jersey and served as the team’s captain.
“I was under the belief that he would have to win the Cup to come to Minnesota until I talked to Craig Leipold last week,” Nanne said. “I’ve gotta tell you, the Wild are going to throw the kitchen sink at him. I think there’s a good chance he ends up in Minnesota, because I don’t see anybody in the National Hockey League willing to give as much to Parise as the Wild are going to be willing to give. So I would not be surprised if Zach Parise came home.”
Nanne went on to say that the Wild will pursue Parise and Nashville defenseman Ryan Suter, who also will be a free agent on July 1.
“They’re going to do everything in their power to get them,” Nanne said. “And I would not be surprised if they got them. I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t get them. But I have to tell you, if they don’t get them it’s going to be confusing to me — especially Parise, because I really believe the Wild will pay more than anybody else for him.”
The Red Wings, Rangers and Penguins also have been mentioned as potential landing spots for Parise, whose father J.P. played with the North Stars.
Up next for the Los Angeles Kings: First, a parade. Then, the pursuit of free agent Zach Parise come July 1.
These Kings have no intention of winning just one Stanley Cup. They want more. And they are not in any kind of salary cap conundrum, the way past winners have found themselves . They won’t have to dish off quality players – or any players really – the way the Chicago Blackhawks did after winning two years ago.
And while they won’t say so because they can’t legally say so, the captain of the New Jersey Devils is No. 1 on their off-season shopping list.
They want Parise, as do many teams, and they want him badly.
Parise fits perfectly into the Kings’ ultra-competitive philosophy, led by general manager Dean Lombardi and his able assistant, Ron Hextall. What they determined on their way to the Stanley Cup was what so many have known already. But until you witness it up close, experience it with your players – that fine line between success and failure often comes down to little more than effort.
And it’s not just effort. It’s a willingness to compete at a level beyond the norm. That willingness, when combined with superb goaltending by Jonathan Quick, terrific team altering leadership from coach Darryl Sutter, and all-world play from defenceman Drew Doughty, is why the Kings came out of the eighth seed and won 16 playoff games, losing just four, and now have an entire summer to celebrate.
In the post-game hysteria, Hextall, who was once the ultimate competitor himself, approached defenceman Rob Scuderi in the all the noise and spray of the Kings dressing room. He saw Scuderi, with a broken nose, a cut on his lip, a cut on his chin, is face looking like a work of abstract art, all from the game and series changing hit by Steve Bernier of the Devils and had to tell him rather loudly. “You’re the reason why we won the Stanley Cup.”
Zach Parise interrupted the question as soon as he heard the words “future” and “now that it’s over.”
He is 18 days from becoming the biggest free agent in the NHL, but in the aftermath of the Devils’ 6-1 season-ending loss to the Kings Monday night, he wasn’t about to address it.
“I’m not going to talk about that,” the Devils captain said. “I’m not going to talk about that.”
But his future Hall of Fame teammate — another free agent — said Monday night that the team needed to move quickly to lock up their captain before he ended up in another uniform.
“I think Zach is a big thing that the organization has to take care of first, there’s no doubt about that,” Martin Brodeur said.
“They need to try to lock him in and lure him into staying.
“He’s a franchise player. He’s a guy fans love, and as a captain, he’s a great leader. He did a great job in his first year as a captain to bring a team that was counted out early in the season to what we almost accomplished. It was pretty impressive.”
Will the Devils be able to keep him? The only thing they know for sure is that they’ll have plenty of competition. Detroit, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, and yes, the hated Rangers, are all believed to be in the market for the perennial 30-goal scorer.
As I wrote a few weeks ago, Oilers will offer Smyth a one-year deal with bonuses. Unlikely to get a two-year pact. Tambellini said as much.
The clock is not only ticking on the Devils’ season, but on Zach Parise’s career in New Jersey, for when the puck is dropped tonight for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals, it will start the countdown at T-minus-60 on the captain’s impending unrestricted free agency
This all but certainly will be the final summer in which, a) players will be allowed to sign front-loaded contracts with huge signing bonuses that this year will also serve as lockout-protection; and b) players will be permitted to sign contracts without term limits.
Indeed, Parise can expect offers modeled after the nine-year, $60 million contract Brad Richards signed last summer with the Rangers, under which the center is receiving $24 million the first two years, including a $10 million signing bonus last July and an $8 million signing bonus due next month.
Parise, who will turn 28 next month, could attract offers of up to 12 years. He will certainly receive front-loaded, bonus-laden offers from the Rangers and Red Wings, who have millions to spend and the inclination to do so.
The Wild will be in, though Parise might want to think more than twice about going home to join a team in which he would be the best player by leaps and bounds.
The Sharks could be in. The Maple Leafs will be, though current general manager Brian Burke doesn’t believe in front-loaded deals. The Bruins could become a serious contender. There will be others.
Given the financial realities in New Jersey, it’s almost impossible to conjure the scenario in which ownership could cut Parise a $10 million check on July 2. And again, that’s even assuming Parise’s first choice is to remain a Devil.
Holland is eyeing Nashville’s Ryan Suter if the Predators can’t sign him. Holland has said with respect to the prize free agents (Zach Parise is in the same boat), he would be willing to trade for their negotiating rights, usually a window of a few days around the draft and before July 1 when they hit the marketplace for one and all.
“I’ve never done it and it would depend on what the price is, but I’m not opposed to anything,” said Holland, who knows the Philadelphia Flyers have made a history of trading for negotiating rights of UFAs such as Scott Hartnell, Kimmo Timonen and the Predators’ Dan Hamhuis. They signed the first two, and couldn’t work out a deal for Hamhuis in 2010. They dealt his rights to the Pittsburgh Penguins six days later.
The salary cap is going up to $70.3 million from $64 million as of July 1, but only until a new collective bargaining agreement comes in, when the cap will likely drop substantially because the owners don’t want to give the players 57 per cent of the league revenue, more like a 50-50 split. The Red Wings, like most teams, are likely operating under the old model, so they won’t be spending fools. But they would love Suter; they’ve played against the Predators constantly in the playoffs. Parise, they envision, could play with Datsyuk.
For now, they have Niklas Kronwall, Ian White, Kyle Quincey, Brendan Smith and Jakub Kindl as their top five on defence, with two huge holes. Holland knows he’ll have to get somebody to replace Stuart too, but he doesn’t have a lot to trade.