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.