Category Archives: HTR Feature Article
Rather than throw Monopoly money at marginal players — e.g., Jason Garrison — the Rangers might revisit a deal for the Coyotes’ Keith Yandle if the price becomes right as the summer evolves.
Ryan Suter, who will be the object of much affection, plays the wrong side; The Rangers believe they’re strong on the left lining up with Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal and Michael Del Zotto.
Brandon Prust is all but gone, the valuable support player apparently in line for a contract under which he might earn at least $2.5 million per for three or four years.
Prust may give the Blueshirts a right to match, but it’s extremely unlikely the Rangers would commit that kind of money to a winger who gets less than 12 minutes of ice a game, no matter his intangibles.
Instead, the Blueshirts are likely to at least investigate the possibility of signing Jordin Tootoo, the 29-year-old, eight-season Predators veteran with the checkered history who could play a role similar to Prust.
Sather is likely to check in on Shane Doan, but it is believed the long-time Phoenix captain would prefer to remain out west even if he does not re-up with the Coyotes. The GM probably will check with Alex Semin of the Capitals, Jiri Hudler of the Red Wings, Brad Boyes of the Sabres and Ray Whitney of the Coyotes, but is unlikely to offer lucrative multi-year deals to entice any of them.
Parise would be different. Parise is different.
Indeed, on this day, Parise is unique.
The Edmonton Oilers have agreed to terms with Justin Schultz. More details to come.
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) June 30, 2012
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.
With the salary cap at $70.2 million for the time being, Bowman has more than $8 million at his disposal. The Hawks also have been dangling defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, so more cap room may become available.
Here’s a look at free agency:
Notable unrestricted free agents
Zach Parise (Devils), Shane Doan (Coyotes), Olli Jokinen (Flames), Dustin Penner (Kings), P.A, Parenteau (Islanders), Jaromir Jagr (Flyers)
There are plenty of big names out there — even more so, considering the Blue Jackets’ Rick Nash and the Ducks’ Bobby Ryan are available via trades — but the Hawks have to fix their holes at center. Their lack of depth up the middle has hurt matchups and been exposed far too much.
It’s not just on the second line, either. They simply need more legitimate centermen – not wings capable of handling the middle — who are solid in the faceoff circle but can competently handle all the responsibilities associated with the position. The Hawks had depth in the middle when they won the Stanley Cup in 2010, just as the Kings did this past season.
There are plenty of playmaking wings available. Parise is coveted by everyone, and Doan could provide an aggressive edge and some veteran savvy. Both should be pitched.
Ryan Suter (Predators), Matt Carle (Flyers), Jason Garrison (Panthers)
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.
Everyone knows the Vancouver Canucks have as good a chance as any team to secure the most sought-after free agent since Cindy Crawford, that being one Justin Schultz, to whom they made their pitch in Toronto on Wednesday.
Whether or not they land the fellow whose parents apparently own season tickets to Canuck games will have an effect on which players they pursue when the July 1 green flag falls on unrestricted players.
If Schultz is not in the fold, they might go looking hard for somebody somewhat like him named Jason Garrison, a defenceman with the Florida Panthers with some considerable offensive abilities who hails from White Rock and might consider giving Vancouver a small hometown discount.
But will it be a sufficient discount to have it make sense for the Canucks, who hope to get Sami Salo back for at least one more year, and maybe more, and already have another young right-handed shot in Chris Tanev in the fold?
New Jersey Devils veteran goaltender Martin Brodeur could be wearing a new uniform when the puck is dropped for the 2012-2013 season.
Brodeur, an unrestricted free agent on Sunday, has hired player agent Pat Brisson to represent him and might be ready to test his value on the open market.
The 40-year-old netminder has had limited conversation with the Devils on a new deal and though he could still re-sign with the only NHL team he’s played for, his new agent says he will entertain offers from other teams if an agreement is not reached at the beginning of the free agent period.
“He will be testing free agency if a deal is not in place by Sunday,” Brisson told TSN on Friday.
Source tells me it’s official: Olli Jokinen’s days with the Flames are over and he will head to free agency July 1.
— Eric Francis (@EricFrancis) June 28, 2012
While Vancouver Canucks starter-to-be Cory Schneider says he’ll take his time to sign a new deal, the team probably wants to get that whole Roberto Luongo mess cleaned up sooner rather than later. Darren Dreger provides the latest update on that front: the Florida Panthers remain the “frontrunner.” The Toronto Maple Leafs, meanwhile, appear to be lagging behind.
Bob McKenzie paraphrases Dreger as such:
Insider Trading hilites: @DarrenDreger says dialogue continues between FLA and VAN on Luongo. Not so much TOR and VAN. FLA frontrunner.
Plenty has been made of the Panthers’ interest in bringing back Luongo; it’s even clear that the team’s ownership seems OK with his lengthy, risky contract. It appears that Luongo wants to go back to Florida, too, as a report surfaced that he wouldn’t accept a swap to two other interested parties in Toronto and the Chicago Blackhawks.
If Brian Burke is to be believed, don’t expect the Toronto Maple Leafs to be big players in the free agent market this summer.
Speaking at the P.E.I. Special Olympics Festival Luncheon on Wednesday, Burke discussed his plans heading into free agency beginning July 1.
“With the salary cap and the new collective bargaining agreement that’s coming up, I don’t know what our plans are for filling out our roster,” Burke said. “Free agency starts on July 1, it’s a really thin group.
“Teams are locking all these quality players up now, so the group that is getting to the market is thin, it’s shallow. There are really two high-end players and that’s about it, (Nashville defenceman) Ryan Suter and (New Jersey forward) Zach Parise.
Although Suter or Parise would provide the Leafs with an immediate infusion of star power, it seems unlikely either will be wearing the Blue and White next season.
“I don’t think we are going to be in on either one of them,” Burke said.
And despite missing the playoffs each season since being named GM of the Leafs in 2008, Burke said he isn’t ready to abandon his long-term plan for short-term success — even if it costs him his job.
“People say if you don’t make the playoffs you are gone,” said Burke. “That’s fine. I am not going to do anything short term to make the playoffs and keep my job.
Edmonton Oilers fourth on the list in the Justin Schultz sweepstakes, says Oilers insider Bob Stauffer
This just in from Bob Stauffer of Oilers Now on Twitter: “Personally I think the Oilers sit 4th in pursuit of Schultz. Vancouver leads the way imo (home-field advantage). Leafs and Rangers 2nd and 3rd respectively because players recruit players. Gardiner in T.O., and Stepan and McDonagh with NYR.”
So what’s the big deal? Stauffer is just another media guy, right? And didn’t he predict the Oilers would take Ryan Murray?
True, but Stauffer works for the team itself as the colour man on radio broadcasts, and when it comes to having sources inside the Oilers, he is right up there with two Hall of Famers, Terry Jones of the Sun and Jim Matheson of the Journal.
If Stauffer is saying the Oilers are behind some other teams, I’m buying that, even as TSN’s Bob McKenzie and ESPN’s Pierre Lebrun have mentioned Edmonton as as a likley Schultz destination.
The fact is reporters and bloggers from across North America are all speculating on where Schultz will go, and fans from Philadelphia to Ottawa, from Vancouver to Toronto, have their hopes up.
There’s going to plenty of disappointment when the kid does pick a city, but such is the life of the hockey fan.
P.S. In previous tweets, Stauffer had more to say on Schultz: “As for Justin Schultz I did bump into to Newport’s Don Meehan and Craig Oster at the draft. They are well aware of the opportunity in EDM.
“If Schultz does sign with say the Rangers or the Leafs who have defence depth, obviously there may be a trade option for Oilers.”
With new owner, TG saying “we will be in there on any player” (ref: free agency), what is your opinion as to the financial commitment he is willing to make?….Knowing the Stars are not on the “wish list” for any elite player, Is Tom willing “to pay big” to at least “jump start” fan enthusiasm/attendance???..I realize this post requires a subjective opinion, but I greatly respect your thoughts.
Mike Heika: I think they would do it for Parise but not for Suter. That’s my subjective opinion. They would take a risk and overpay for Parise, but I don’t think they would do it for Suter. They would have to get him at the right price.
Which of the Stars draft picks from the past 4 years do you see being pretty near NHL ready next season?
Mike Heika: They aren’t draft picks, but Dillon and Fraser are ready. They’re not going to be perfect, but you live with warts. That’s what happened with Stepan in New York or Craig Smith in Nashville. That’s what LA and SJ have been doing.
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.
The Edmonton Oilers are expected to introduce Ralph Krueger as their new head coach at a press conference scheduled for Wednesday.
The 52-year-old Krueger has been the Oilers’ associate coach the past two seasons and would become the 10th head coach in Oilers history.
Prior to being hired by the Oilers on July 30, 2010, Krueger had been a scouting consultant for the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Winnipeg native was also the coach of the Swiss men’s national ice hockey team for more than a decade, including coaching the team at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
It’s almost always “Show me the money” when a player hits the marketplace as an unrestricted free agent (UFA), but the Edmonton Oilers will try to sell Justin Schultz on how much he’s going to play, not how much they’ll pay.
The University of Wisconsin defenceman, who turns 22 on July 6, is the most-talked about item on the Oilers’ shopping list ahead of the July 1 free-agent date.
Schultz’s agent, Wade Arnott (Jason’s brother), will begin hearing pitches from suitors on Wednesday morning at his Newport Sports offices outside Toronto. Schultz will be in attendance.
The defenceman was drafted in the second round by the Anaheim Ducks in 2008, but didn’t want to play there. He used a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) loophole to become an UFA — college players can hit the open market after four years.
Schultz played one season of junior A in the British Columbia Hockey League prior to going to college for three years. For some reason that he’s keeping to himself, the puck-moving D-man doesn’t want to play for the team that drafted him.
The old interweb is alive with reports that Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo has refused to waive his no-trade clause to any place other than his old team, the Florida Panthers.
While it’s certainly true Luongo would look kindly on a return to South Florida, and Canucks GM Mike Gillis most certainly knows that, it’s far too early in the process to suggest he won’t go here or there, with here or there obviously including the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Luongo is a pragmatic, intelligent man. He knows if he wants out of Vancouver, and that’s certainly his preference, he can’t close the door on too many places because, right now anyway, there aren’t too many places that want or can afford him and his contract.
Florida and Toronto appear to have the greatest interest in Luongo, but not so great that either team is at this point willing to meet what they say is a steep asking price from Vancouver.
Florida won’t give up a blue-chip prospect and their offer most certainly includes a contract they’d like to get rid of.
The Leafs just think the current asking price is exorbinant and do not consider themselves to be in the mix until it’s lowered.
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.
How highly did the Blue Jackets value defenseman Ryan Murray before taking him with the No. 2 overall pick in Friday’s first round of the NHL Draft? Enough to turn down an eye-opening offer from the New York Islanders, who, according to numerous NHL sources, offered all of their picks — one in each round — for the right to move up from No. 4 to No. 2 for Murray.
That’s right, for the Jackets’ No. 2 pick, the Islanders offered pick Nos. 4, 34, 65, 103, 125, 155 and 185. The bounty would have given the Jackets the following picks: 4, 31, 34, 62, 65, 95, 103, 125, 152, 155, 182 and 185. And if that weren’t enough, the Jackets could have had the Kings’ No. 30 if they wanted it.
Next week’s development camp would have required two sheets of ice.
Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson offered a “no comment” when reached by The Dispatch late Sunday. After Friday’s first round, he did mention a “very attractive” trade offer the Blue Jackets declined before selection Murray, a precocious prospect whom many think could play in the NHL this season.
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.