Trade Rumors and Free Agent News – June 28, 2010

1. Blockbuster trade buzzkill

2. Cox: Marc Savard talk risky business for Leafs

3. Nabokov, Flyers talking, but….

4. Jackets to seek center via free agency

5. Dater: Avalanche comes into free agency with money to burn

Blockbuster trade buzzkill

All talk, no action.

As the NHL draft wrapped up Saturday at the Staples Center, all the predictions of big deals with big names changing sweaters fell through for the umpteenth straight year.

The salary cap era has all but killed off the blockbuster trade.

“Guys still talk,” said a league executive. “It’s just every deal has make sense money-wise.”

It’s an issue no team can escape.

The names of stars like Boston’s Tim Thomas and Marc Savard floated around all weekend, but deals didn’t get done because teams are trying to figure out ways to pick up contracts while shedding them at the same time.

Toronto GM Brian Burke did everything he could to move defenceman Tomas Kaberle, but he didn’t get an offer he found acceptable, so the Leafs are going to hang on to Kaberle until someone ups the ante.

The Lightning need a goalie, but can’t afford to take on Thomas’ contract, so the Bolts will have to go in another direction.

Senators centre Jason Spezza was also in play, but he has five years and $33 million US left on his deal. And as Ottawa GM Bryan Murray knows, the market is pretty small for those kinds of contracts.

There was a time the draft was a beehive of activity. Now, it’s mostly become about moving the No. 119 pick for the No. 166 and No. 172 pick.

This is what happened last year when the draft was held at the Bell Centre in Montreal. Teams burned up the phone lines and then served up very little on the draft floor.

Blues president John Davidson said the best way to have success is to build from within, hang onto your players and then make trades or free-agent signings at the right time to put your team over the top.

“That’s what Chicago did. They drafted well and then they were able to sign Marian Hossa to help put themselves over the top to win the Stanley Cup,” Davidson said during a break in the “action” Saturday.

“You have to draft and develop your players. That’s the best way to have success. Once you draft those players, you just hope that you’re able to hang onto them all when they get good.”

So what trade fans have to hope for is that NHL GMs used draft weekend to set the table for deals later this week or in the summer after the free agency has settled out.

With such a thin free-agent market, the chatter was there would be plenty of trades.

Cox: Marc Savard talk risky business for Leafs

Herein lies the conundrum of being Big Blue.

That’s the kinda catchy term that Brian Burke likes to apply to the Maple Leafs, a reference to the wealth of the NHL’s Toronto franchise that should, in theory, give it power beyond the wildest dreams of many other NHL clubs even in the salary cap era.

What it means in general is that the Leafs can consider financial commitments other franchises can’t. Today, what it means is that Burke and his hockey department are seriously examining the possibility of acquiring Boston Bruins centre Marc Savard and his mammoth contract, something franchises like Nashville, Florida, Buffalo and Phoenix would never have to bother spending even a moment considering.

Savard’s a very good player, a point-per-game pivot albeit one with warts, like a history of concussions and a background as a fellow a coach might not always enjoy having on the roster.

His contract is — excuse the expression, commissioner — coyote ugly, a seven-year deal that comes with a salary of $7 million in each of the next two years, with an annual salary cap hit of $4 million (all figures U.S.). The B’s gave him that deal a year ago when they loved him and before he’d been cold-*****ed by Matt Cooke of the Penguins, and before they’d used the second overall pick this past weekend to draft his successor at centre, Tyler Seguin.

Stuck with Tim Thomas, a very expensive goalie they might not be able to move, the Bruins may be prepared to surrender Savard in a so-called “soft” deal. In other words, basically for free.

Which brings us back to Big Blue. Savard is apparently willing to waive his no-trade clause to facilitate a trade to Toronto or Ottawa, in part because of family responsibilities in the Oshawa area.–cox-marc-savard-talk-risky-business-for-leafs

Nabokov, Flyers talking, but….

The Flyers have been given permission to talk with the agent for San Jose goalie Evgeni Nabokov and try to make a deal before the free-agency period starts on Thursday.

But a soucre close to the situation said he was “not optimistic” that a deal could be reached prior to Thursday.

In other words, Nabokov is expected to test the free-agent waters, and the Flyers will be among a handful of suitors.

If the Flyers do sign Nabokov before Thursday, they would probably have to give San Jose a late pick in the 2011 draft. The source said no compensation has been decided upon, and he denied an Internet report that the Flyers would give a seventh-round pick if they signed Nabokov prior to Thursday.

Jackets to seek center via free agency

Blue Jackets officials flew home from the NHL entry draft late Saturday without making changes to their NHL lineup. They added eight players in the draft, but none is expected to make an impact in Columbus until the 2011-12 season.

Now, free agency is ahead, with the NHL’s annual lunacy kicking off Thursday. Blue Jackets fans anticipating radical changes probably will be severely disappointed.

“There are a couple of things we’d like to try and do, but we’ll probably be pretty quiet on July1,” general manager Scott Howson said. “It’s a thin market this summer, and there will be lots of competition for a few of the players out there.

“We’re always looking for ways to improve the team, but we’re not going to overpay to do it. It ends up hurting in the long run.”

The Blue Jackets will try to sign a fourth-line center through free agency, and they’ll attempt to reshape the blue line via one or more trades, perhaps with one of the handful of NHL clubs facing salary-cap issues.

Of the two desires, Howson said, adding a fourth-line center is the priority.

Names to keep in mind among free-agent centers are Adam Burish, Dominic Moore, Ryan Johnson, Krys Barch and Ryan Hollweg. None of them is likely to seek more than $1 million per season.

One of the above-mentioned names will be added to the Blue Jackets’ current cast of centers, top-six pivots Antoine Vermette and Derick Brassard and third-line checker Sammy Pahlsson.

It’s possible that the best hope of landing a true No. 1 center to play with captain Rick Nash rests with the player the Blue Jackets drafted No. 4 overall on Friday: center Ryan Johnson. That could take three years.

As for the defense

“We’ve had preliminary discussions about ideas and our needs with a few teams,” Howson said, “but nothing material or significant as of yet. There are lots of teams who are looking for defensemen, though.

We’ll get through a few days of free agency and see where the market is.”

Howson acknowledged that it could take a couple of months for such a trade to be completed. Last summer, for instance, San Jose traded defenseman Christian Ehrhoff to Vancouver on Aug. 28 to ease salary-cap pressure. (The Blue Jackets, who also wanted Ehrhoff, had offered the Sharks left winger Jason Chimera.)

“We have seven NHL defensemen,” Howson said. “If we go into the season with that same seven, I’m happy with that.”

The top free-agent defensemen – Sergei Gonchar, Paul Martin, Dan Hamhuis, Anton Volchenkov, Pavel Kubina, etc. – probably will be too expensive for the Blue Jackets to pursue.

The Jackets have $47.6million committed to 18 players next season, with forwards Jared Boll and Mike Blunden and defenseman Anton Stralman – all three restricted free agents – yet to sign. Those numbers don’t include left winger Nikita Filatov, who is expected to return from Russia.

Dater: Avalanche comes into free agency with money to burn

According to the great website — and thank goodness there are geeks out there who keep track of this stuff for numbers-challenged reporters like me — only three NHL teams have more space under the salary cap than the Avalanche.

The Avs have 17 likely roster players signed for this coming season, and still have $29,492,500 of cap space — with the NHL’s cap having just increased from $56.7 million to $59.4 million.

Even with four key young players — Chris Stewart, Peter Mueller, Brandon Yip and Kyle Quincey — still unsigned, the Avs would probably still have considerable cap space for the coming season when or if they come to terms.

And yet, the signs still point to this Thursday being a relatively quiet one for the Avs. Thursday, of course, is the day eligible NHL players can become unrestricted free agents. The biggest name likely to be out there remains New Jersey left wing Ilya Kovalchuk, who is only 27, a premier scorer and plays the position at which the Avs most lack in depth.

Avs general manager Greg Sherman has said all along the team won’t take any “shortcuts,” i.e. spend big money on free agents, but plenty of NHL watchers can’t help but wonder if he’s bluffing.

Denver remains a desirable location for players and would be even more so for a team that has so much money it could spend.

But the aftereffects of previous spending sprees continue to leave bad memories in the minds of many still with the organization — presumably owner Stan Kroenke in particular. The Avs were right up against the cap in 2008-09 and finished last in the Western Conference. Kroenke sent the command to “rebuild,” i.e. get younger and cheaper, and that blueprint remains firmly in place.

That mandate likely is why it’s taking time to sign Stewart, Mueller, Yip and Quincey. Even with all that cap space, the Avs remain leery of handing out lavish

11 Responses to Trade Rumors and Free Agent News – June 28, 2010

  1. Steve362 says:

    Everyone talking about how Savard is a risky acquisition. This may be true – although; the new rule for hits to the head is now in place and may save his career. Not so risky with the new punishment in place!

    I say go for it – if we can get Savard for anyone besides Kessel, Kadri, Bozak, Kulemin, Kaberle, Phaneuf, and Schenn

    Also- it seems that the Flyers are having trouble signing Nabokov – much the same as they had trouble signing Hamhuis – think they would be interested in a blockbuster trade for Giguire and Kaberle

    Carter and Briere for Kaberle, Giguire, Grabovski and a prospect

    If these two trades fell into place we'd look like this down the middle

    Savard Carter – Bozak (while playing Briere on the Wing as he is obviously a top six forward) along with Kessel, Kulemin, Kadri we've got a pretty solid top 6

    Kulemin – Savard – Kessel
    Briere – Carter – Kadri
    Caputi – Bozak – Stalberg
    Orr- Mitchel – Sjostrom

  2. LeafsneedSteen says:

    Leave it to Cox to find fault with a gimme deal, his reflexive cotrarain is predictably annoying.

    Can Savard stay in Boston after this? Knowing that Chiarelli is simply waiting for another window to deal him? 

  3. Kev_Leafs says:

    Cox is just an ass for the sake of being an ass.

    He always speaks out against what the Leafs do or might realistically do.

    He does offer things up that the Leafs 'should' do and then uses those things as evidence for failures on the Leafs part.  Such as go after Horton and Hamhuis (recently in his posts), even though – in these two cases as examples – Burke didn't have the assets to get Horton, whom he was mildly interested in, and has openly stated that he's fine with his defensive core.  He's then likely to write – Leafs fail miserably by not landing Horton and Hamhuis.  If the Leafs don't land Savard in the next couple of weeks, you'll soon see an article by Cox in which he criticizes the Leafs inability to land Savard in this 'soft-deal' situation (according to reports), despite him saying that they really should avoid landing him because of his expensive deal.  (By the way, it isn't really an expensive deal, if Savard doesn't want to play hockey anymore at 37 since he's only going to make $500,000, he'll just retire.)

    Take his input for what it is – he's paid handsomely to always write against the Leafs while supposedly supporting them (since it's in a Toronto paper).

  4. HABSSTAR says:

    All talk, no action. – BS.  That's a pretty bad article from the Ottawa Sun.

    There was some big trades this year, just not at the draft.  Phaneuf to TO wasn't a big trade?  Halak going to St. Louis wasn't a big trade?  I think they were.  Hamhuis' rights were trade twice in less than a week!  The examples of Savard and Thomas are bad examples as both have pretty bad contracts for older guys.  One of whom might be a squeaky toy to the head away from forced retirement.  Geeze wonder why no one's going after them…

    Burke did everything he could to deal Kaberle?  Really?  I doubt it.  He still has the option of letting him play this year and maybe getting him to resign with the club.  He doesn't "have" to deal him.  Secondly he even said he wasn't shopping him around so why would he be trying to everything he could to deal him?

    The draft was a beehive of activity when teams like NY and TO could waltz around the floor and get players who they knew teams like Edmonton couldn't afford.  The salary cap has reduced that to a certain degree and I'm glad it has.  There's still teams on a budget but it would completely one sided for the "have" teams right now if there was no cap. 

    Anyone else find it kinda funny how intertwined the Leafs an  Bruins could become if the Leafs pick up Savard?  Like seriously, they get Savard because he becomes redundant thanks to the centre Boston just drafted with TO's pick that they received when they traded Kessel.  Maybe they should just merge the two teams.

  5. Leafs_Forever says:

    Hey, take it easy on Cox.  This is one of the smartest things he has said in the last year.

    It is obvious that the Bruins are nervous about Savard's last concussion.  When he returned in the playoffs he was not the same player.

    The risk is only worth it if the leafs give up basically nothing.  I mean, this is like his 6th major do*****ented concussion.  How many did Lindros have before his career was over? 7?

    Also, when a player has had this many concussions, an 'impotent' head shot rule will do no good.  One stiff check could end his career….


  6. mojo19 says:

    Sub Hanson for Mitchell. I believe Hanson was tendered a qualifying offer by the Leafs but Mitchell was not.

  7. mojo19 says:

    Jason Arnott is old, but that's a pretty big deal too. Kind of underrated I think.

  8. mojo19 says:

    I'm willing to roll that dice.

  9. HABSSTAR says:

    Yeah, maybe it's just me but that article just seems off.  Seems like there's been more activity with name players being traded in the last 4 months then there has been in a long time.  It just didn't sound right. 

    And yeah Arnott on the move is another good example. 

  10. Redwings3019 says:

    Quincey come back to Detroit…please

    I dont understand the Philly/Nabokov situation. I would have never picked Philly as a team that fits with Nabokov. I just dont like the guy I guess, he's a talented reflex goalie but has he ever done anything to make you think he could win a team a cup…

    Turco is a better fit in my mind, with Philly's D he would help with the dump/chase which was a problem against Chicago. Mason, Theodore also seem like better fits. Theodore had a solid second half last season but I think would benifit more from a stronger D team.

    Nabokov didnt take them past Detroit this playoffs, if a goalie had any effect on the series it was more from Howard than Nabokov. (personally though I dont think the biggest factor was on either team but was on the ice…)

    I also dont agree about the Blockbuster Buzzkill. Kovalchuk was huge, Phaneuf, Chicago's deal (seen coming though) Wolski/Mueller was fairly big considering these guys were top prospects on their teams. Halak took everyone by suprise.

    I cant see how the cap has killed trades when the big arguements used are Thomas and Savard… Almost every second article is why Boston shouldnt trade Savard or why a team shouldnt take him…Thomas is a 'Blockbuster Video' trade, how is this guy worth a team's left arm? He's had a few good seasons true but hes signed to a bad contract and is up their in age. Goalies arent the biggest ticket this offseason either. Im not going to pick Thomas as "the answer" to any team's cup…

    I believe Burke wants to trade Kaberle but how many times does he have to say "we either get what we want or we keep him" so how does this translate into "Burke is doing everything he can to trade Kaberle, its a must…holy crap he still hasnt traded him…" He doesnt care, its his best asset currently so he'll listen to offers (like every GM would do).

    Again Spezza is similar. The market for talented centres seems to be big in certain places but then you have Murray say "Spezza never asked for a trade and we dont really want to trade him" but this translates to "Spezza unhappy, wants trade, Heatley take 2, etc."

    This is why trade is dead? Because two players are just available to be traded, one who is brought in because of a drafted player (who could easily be put on the wing and solve the problem) and the other because he has a bad contract and is now their backup…is that really the peak of trades?

    The biggest names available (some have been resigned) this offseason still appear to be hitting the open market so why would you make a trade to get a player then find out you could have gotten a equal/better one a few days later without giving away anything? How many teams traded their first/second round before the draft? From what Ive heard (was a while ago and could be wrong) next years draft isnt as strong so why would you trade picks in a stronger draft year?

  11. number15 says:

    Jackets don't have many options in free agency…… How about trading for a young centre. [Makail Grabovski] of the Toronto Maple Leafs

    they could likely get him for next to nothing as long as the return wasent a bad contract

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