Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Free agency live blog

We're 10 hours into free agency and things are finally winding down for the day. Tomorrow looks as though it'll be busy, too, with quite a few of the big names still out there.

Newest information at the top:
  • Mike Ryder has just hit pay dirt, signing a $12-million, three-year deal with the Bruins despite the fact he's coming off a 31-point season. A bad signing, in my opinion, and one that will eat up the majority of the team's available cap room
  • The Rangers have re-signed backup 'tender Steve Valiquette (terms to come)
  • Here's Isles GM Garth Snow on the Streit signing: "Mark was someone we targeted from the beginning and we're thrilled he's an Islander," he said. "Mark provides us with the stability on the blueline that we were looking for."
    - Said Streit, who agreed to the contract at 2:00 a.m. in Switzerland on Tuesday: "It's late in Europe right now, but I'm really happy to be an Islander. The whole day, the Islanders showed interest in me and this is an opportunity I couldn't pass up."
  • The Islanders arrive to the party, inking defenceman Mark Streit to a five-year, $20.5-million deal that will pay him $4.1-million a season. Not a horrible deal, although he is going to be 31 in December and has played just 205 NHL games. The Isles desperately need some help up front.
  • Still there? That's nice. The Wild have added depth forward Craig Weller on a two-year deal at $1.2-million, picking up a big player who can fight and bang a bit. He's 27 and has played the majority of his career in the minors, so... yeah
  • Wade Redden signs with the Rangers on another big-time deal: $39-million over six years ($6.5-million cap hit). There were apparently three teams in the running for him up until the end: New York, Dallas and San Jose
  • Rich Hammond, who is king of all things Kings, says there are rumours of Nikolai Khabibulin being dealt to Los Angeles. The Blackhawks are definitely going to have to move someone out, and having that much salary in two netminders makes zero sense. Here's a thought (entirely of my own devising): The Kings could move Michal Handzus back to Chicago, where he was relatively popular, and take on Khabibulin, giving the 'Hawks nearly $3-million in salary relief and getting rid of one of their own headaches
  • The Devils also bring back Bobby Holik on a one-year, $2.5-million deal, six years after losing him to the Rangers on an insane contract. New Jersey gets a lot stronger down the middle with both Holik and Rolston, but both are getting up there and Rolston's deal in particular, because he's over 35, could be a problem if his production declines
  • I took a bit of a dinner break and there were a whole slew of new deals, courtesy of TSN:
    - Toronto signed Niklas Hagman to a four-year contract at $12-million
    - The Rangers re-signed Michal Rozsival to a four-year deal at $20-million and Patrick Rissmiller to an undisclosed deal
    - Vancouver Canucks signed Darcy Hordichuk to a two-year deal
    - Philadelphia signed Nate Raduns to a one-year deal and Glen Metropolit to a two-year deal
    - New Jersey signed Brian Rolston to a four-year deal at $20-million
  • Philadelphia has signed Finnish defenceman Ossi Vaananen out of the Swedish league for one year at $1-million. Vaananen played in the NHL prior to last season with Phoenix and Colorado
  • Columbus gets on the board, signing Mike Commodore to a five-year, $18.75-million deal. The Blue Jackets still need a puck-moving defender, but this is a decent pickup
  • It sounds as if Michal Rozsival is going to re-sign with the Rangers
  • St. Louis has matched the offer sheet for David Backes, waiting only a few hours to do so. Here's Blues president John Davidson: "David is a major part of our youth movement in St. Louis and we expect him to play a huge role as we move forward."
  • Avalanche beat writer Adrian Dater says he can't believe the contract given to Jeff Finger by the Leafs: "No wonder that team hasn’t won a Stanley Cup since 1968."
  • Chicago has signed Brian Campbell to a huge contract: $57.12-million over eight years, an average of $7.14-million per season. The Blackhawks have made two of the biggest buys on the day, and are now going to have cap issues up the ying yang. Campbell's a nice player, and will do wonders for a power play desperate for a point man, but defensively he's only average and his speed will diminish in the later years of this deal. For now, Chicago looks a heckuva lot stronger
  • There's a bit of a lull here again at about 5:30, but it'll pick up again, especially considering the majority of the top 10 UFAs are still available. I'm in the newsroom and will likely be updating all night if anything happens
  • It's a good day to be a backup: The Sabres have settled on Patrick Lalime as the man behind Ryan Miller, giving the veteran a two-year contract worth roughly $2-million
  • The Senators get their goalie: It's Alex Auld on a decent two-year, $2-million deal. Auld had a decent season for the Bruins last year and can potentially challenge Martin Gerber for a few starts
  • Chicago has $12.4-million committed to goaltending next season. That is all
  • Kolzig's contract in Tampa Bay is for one year at $1.5-million (plus undisclosed bonuses), meaning the Lightning are getting close to the cap (they're over $50-million) and likely finished for the summer
  • Vancouver has broken the offer sheet seal for 2008, signing Blues centre David Backes to a three-year, $7.5-million potential contract. St. Louis would receive only a second-round pick in return for one of its promising youngsters, so I can't imagine they don't match given all of their available cap space. GM Mike Gillis isn't making any new friends in the league
  • Darcy Tucker signs with Colorado on a two-year deal worth $4.5-million, which he can add to the $6-million the Leafs paid him to go away. Tucker's a good fit at that price
  • Cory Stillman signs with the Panthers on a three-year deal at just more than $10-million
  • Aaron Voros signs with the Rangers (terms to come)
  • The Penguins gave a three-year deal to Eric Godard for some reason
  • Cristobal Huet has signed with Chicago on a long-term deal, apparently four years at $5.625-million a season, which was more years and dollars than the Capitals offered. No word on what this means for Nikolai Khabibulin, who has a big ticket for one more year, but he'll likely be sent elsewhere
  • Tampa Bay keeps going, signing former Penguins winger Adam Hall at the low price of $600,000 a season over three years
  • Jeff Finger has signed a four-year deal with Toronto worth $3.5-million a year, $14-million total. I find it absolutely incredible that Finger gets double what Sauer received from the Coyotes
  • TSN has this one: "Phoenix signs UFA forward Todd Fedoruk to a 3 year deal"
  • Ty Conklin signs a bargain basement deal in Detroit, a great move by the Red Wings, who pay just $750,000 for someone who played so well in Marc-Andre Fleury's absence in Pittsburgh
  • Montreal has re-signed RFA Andrei Kostitsyn to a three-year deal at an average of $3.25-million per season
  • Unbelievably, Andrew Raycroft has found a home. Colorado signs the former Maple Leafs netminder to a one-year deal
  • Two relatively big ones to report: Jose Theodore to Washington and Kurt Sauer to Phoenix. I'd thought this might happen for the Capitals: Cristobal Huet had them over a barrel and was asking for the moon, even as the Avs had indicated they would go with Peter Budaj as their starter and turned their backs on Theodore. The Caps give him a two-year, $9-million deal, which is way too high given the decent options out there. The Coyotes, meanwhile, desperately needed to restock their blueline after trading Keith Ballard and Nick Boynton to Florida on the Olli Jokinen deal, and they get a good one here. Phoenix signed Sauer to a very solid four-year deal for $1.75-million per season
  • Olaf Kolzig has signed with the Lightning to split duties with Mike Smith. Another astute move by Tampa Bay, which would have been looking for trouble if it put Karri Ramo in a situation where he had to play regularly as an NHLer
  • Fan 590 reporter Howard Berger is reporting in Toronto that the Maple Leafs are pursuing Brian Rolston and Jeff Finger, and may trade Pavel Kubina to Columbus for salary relief. Expect the Blue Jackets to look to deals like this if they miss out on the Wade Redden sweepstakes
  • For what it's worth: "The Colorado Avalanche Hockey Club announced today that it has signed forward Per Ledin to a one-year contract."
  • The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch says Vancouver is the team that has offered Sundin a $10-million per season deal, and it's over two years. Wow
  • Here's Predators GM David Poile on the Zidlicky trade: "Ryan Jones is a big and powerful young forward that adds size and skill to our organization," Poile said. "Additionally, the second-round pick gives us 13 selections in next summer's draft which is projected to be a deep draft. This move will also allow our core blueliners like Ryan Suter, Shea Weber and Dan Hamhuis to take on more responsibility and ice time."
  • Wild GM Doug Risebrough had this to say: “Marek is a top offensive puck-moving defenseman who will add tempo to our lineup,” said Risebrough. “He will complement a defense that is becoming more mobile and skilled, which we anticipate will make our team as a whole more offensive.”
  • Mark Eaton signed a two-year deal for $2-million to stay in Pittsburgh. An underrated contributer comes in at a bargain of a deal
  • TSN is reporting that Mats Sundin has offers from four teams, with one at $10-million per season, which would make him the highest paid player in the NHL. There are some very moneyed teams in the hunt for a big centre, and he's the only one available. The Rangers are probably the only club crazy enough to offer that much cake
  • The Flyers have unloaded Denis Gauthier to Los Angeles in a deal that includes a second-round pick to the Kings and two prospects to Philadelphia (defenceman Patrik Hersley and left winger Ned Lukacevic)
  • I'm hearing some comments on Nashville needing to get to the salary floor, but they are already a few million over even without Zidlicky and still need to sign up and coming young defender Ville Koistinen
  • Vancouver has signed Kyle Wellwood to a qualifying offer for just under $1-million
  • Minnesota has signed former Wild winger Andrew Brunette (three years, $7-million) and traded prospect Ryan Jones and a second-round pick to Nashville for Marek Zidlicky, who is a terrific offensive defender. The Predators have an awful lot of NHL calibre defencemen and shed a $3.35-million a year contract through 2010 in what is definitely a salary dump
  • About an hour and a half in, there's a bit of a lull here and we've yet to see the really big fish come in. That's expected, as players like Marian Hossa have to field as many as a dozen offers and allow a bidding war to take place. I expect many of the star UFAs to go by tonight
  • Boston makes the Blake Wheeler signing official
  • Radim Vrbata has signed in Tampa Bay for a very reasonable $3-million a season over three years. That's a great deal for someone who had 27 goals last season with a Phoenix team low on scoring punch
  • Curtis Joseph is expected, according to multiple sources, to sign a one-year, $700,000 deal with Toronto to play as Vesa Toskala's backup
  • Tampa Bay is apparently after Radim Vrbata and Olaf Kolzig. And we've seen how they spring into action already this week
  • Carolina signed defenceman Anton Babchuk, who spent last year with Omsk Avangard in Russia, to a one-year, $1-million deal
  • "Calgary Flames General Manager Darryl Sutter announced today the acquisition of left wing Rene Bourque from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for a conditional second round draft choice." Chicago's freeing up cap space to become a major player in the free agent market, with Brian Campbell at the top of its list
  • Pascal Dupuis stays with Pittsburgh on a three-year deal worth $1.4-million per season
  • Edmonton acquired Erik Cole from Carolina for Joni Pitkanen, and Gilbert Brule from Columbus for Raffi Torres
  • Corey Perry, as expected, signed with Anaheim for five years and a $5.325-million cap hit
  • Brad Stuart returns to Detroit for four years and $3.75-million a year
  • New Jersey re-signed Jay Pandolfo, David Clarkson and Barry Tallackson but declined the option on Sergei Brylin (who has an option of his own he can use)
  • The Devils also signed pending UFA Bryce Salvador to a four-year deal at $2.9-million per year
  • Washington keeps Mike Green with a four-year deal at $5.25-million per year
Other links: Kukla, TSN, Spector

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At 1:11 p.m., July 01, 2008, Anonymous Danny said...

Tampa should ease up on the forwards and go for a reliable defenceman and a capable backup goaltender, they have enough talent up front already.

At 1:36 p.m., July 01, 2008, Anonymous cynical joe said...

I can't believe PHX couldn't have offered a comparable deal for Vrbata: he really must want out.

At 1:56 p.m., July 01, 2008, Blogger Paul Nicholson said...

What is the salary floor this year? I didn't like spending last year down there...

I like getting rid of Zidlicky though. Over priced, turnover prone, and soft. Not that he was useless, but no problem with losing him.

At 2:03 p.m., July 01, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 2:07 p.m., July 01, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Previous post went through too fast :)

I would be stunned if Sundin signs at 10 million for more than a year.

That to me seems like it'd be a big overpayment.

At 2:10 p.m., July 01, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

James, I love your blog. But you're missing the most important thing today: Can you find out on whos lawn the Tampa Bay owners are camping?

At 2:11 p.m., July 01, 2008, Blogger Joe said...

Why would anyone give Sundin a multi-year deal? The guy looks like he is going to retire any minute and a team will be on the hook for his cap hit when the inevitable happens.

At 2:14 p.m., July 01, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please tell me the Rangers or Islanders are the ones considering giving Sundin $10mil a year

"I can't believe PHX couldn't have offered a comparable deal for Vrbata: he really must want out." Maloney didn't give him what he wanted because there isn't space on the roster for him with the Coyotes prospects coming up and Maloney was very cautious about giving him a long term deal with the consistency issues he has has everywhere he played(him disappearing the last 1/4th of the season when the Coyotes needed him was a BIG part of him not being kept also)

At 2:16 p.m., July 01, 2008, Blogger Paul Nicholson said...

(Found my own answer - looks like the floor is about $40mil. After the Zidlicky trade that puts the team at about $42mil, and at least one more D-man and 2 forwards to sign. Preds may be on the low end, but i don't think the floor is likely at this point)

At 2:18 p.m., July 01, 2008, Blogger Taste of Flames said...

I could see Atlanta offering up 10 mil for Sundin. They have enough money to spend and are absolutely desperate for players with name recognition to help sell tix.

At 2:22 p.m., July 01, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

The floor is $40.7-million. Nashville will be a low-salaried team, but not like last season.

At 2:27 p.m., July 01, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sportsnet just reported that it was the Canucks who offered Sundin a 2 year, $20 million deal ...


At 2:31 p.m., July 01, 2008, Blogger Kel said...

Bruce Garrioch, isn't he the same guy who wrote that Malkin will be traded to LA, for 2nd overall pick and Cammalleri?

At 2:39 p.m., July 01, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scared to death that the Cancuks might land Sundin @ that price tag thankful that the rumor is coming from Garrioch so probably completely unfounded.

At 2:44 p.m., July 01, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 2:49 p.m., July 01, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My english is bad, but not that bad!

Per Ledin is a swedish version of Jarkko Ruutu/Sean Avery. Could be helpful on the fourth line. My guess is that he will spend some time in the AHL.

At 3:00 p.m., July 01, 2008, Blogger Jonathan said...

Team 1260 is reporting that Kurt Sauer has signed a 4-yr deal with Phoenix and Jose Theodore a 2-yr deal with WSH. No numbers.

At 3:12 p.m., July 01, 2008, Anonymous Jeff said...

"Colorado signs UFA G Andrew Raycroft to a 1 year deal (undisclosed)"


At 3:20 p.m., July 01, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Tamp Bay waited a few more hours they could have had Huet. Where does that leave him now that the Avalanche, Tamp and Caps have all signed goaltenders? LA still needs a keeper, but they aren't going to give more than two years.

At 3:26 p.m., July 01, 2008, Blogger Jonathan said...

LA still needs a keeper, but they aren't going to give more than two years.

I guess Ersberg could be upgraded on, but what’s wrong with Labarbera as a starter on a rebuilding team? He had a .910 SV% behind that porous Kings defense; he isn’t the problem.

At 3:27 p.m., July 01, 2008, Anonymous Alex said...

Which teams are left for Huet?

Ottawa, Tampa Bay & Los Angeles are the only 3 teams I see without a #1

I guess Colorado & Edmonton could be interested if the price is really low.

Huet might end up squeezed out of his big paycheck

At 3:34 p.m., July 01, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I could see Huet signing in Ottawa. With Tampa signing Kolzig the options are certainly becoming slim.

Anyone else surprised that there hasn't been any major signings at forward announced at the 3.5 hour mark. Biggest news thus far is Sundin-gate.

At 3:35 p.m., July 01, 2008, Blogger Kel said...

Would be ironic if Kolzig and Huet end up on the same team again.

At 3:43 p.m., July 01, 2008, Blogger Blitzen said...

I can't see Murray bringing Huet to Ottawa unless he trades Gerber.

At 3:43 p.m., July 01, 2008, Blogger C. said...

Would be even more ironic if Huet and Theodore ended up on the same team again.

At 3:51 p.m., July 01, 2008, Anonymous Alex said...

Wow, the Leafs bringing in another perfect buy-out candidate.

Jeff Finger is not worth 3.5mil...

At 3:52 p.m., July 01, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Huet to Chicago... di not see that one coming.

At 3:53 p.m., July 01, 2008, Blogger J. Michael Neal said...

Looking at my Red Wings, I like the Conklin signing. I like the Brad Stuart signing. I am mystified by the Adreas Lilja signing. I had thought that Holland realized that when you win the Cup, there are still some players on the team that you win in spite of, not because of. Lilja was one of those guys. I firmly believe that Quincey, Meech, and Ericsson have all earned the right to see if they can turn pucks over, fall down, and hang their partner out to dry as well as Lilja does.

At 3:59 p.m., July 01, 2008, Anonymous Alex said...

5.6/y for Huet... Can the Hawks really buy out Khabibulin???

Will they keep both and have over 11 mil stuck between the pipes?

totally unexpected

At 4:03 p.m., July 01, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apparently Canucks have signed Backes to a 3 year offer sheet.... Blues have one week to match. WTF

At 4:07 p.m., July 01, 2008, Blogger Jonathan said...

Tucker to Colorado - 2yrs, 4.5M as per TSN and the Team 1260. Haha.

At 4:15 p.m., July 01, 2008, Anonymous Alex said...

was Backes one of Gillis' clients??? I have trouble understanding this move. The Canucks are full of energy 3rd liners... they need goals

At 4:30 p.m., July 01, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No buyouts after June 30.

At 4:33 p.m., July 01, 2008, Blogger Jonathan said...

Auld - 2yrs, 500K per to Ottawa, as per TSN. Very nice signing.

At 4:34 p.m., July 01, 2008, Blogger Jonathan said...

Sorry, 1M per! Misread the TSN tracker.

At 4:40 p.m., July 01, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Auld deal is the equivalent of the Conklin signing. Good fit at the right price.

At 4:42 p.m., July 01, 2008, Blogger Hallock said...

Good pick up of Conklin on the Red Wing's behalf. He'll certainly push Howard. Bargain bin price too.

At 4:47 p.m., July 01, 2008, Anonymous TeeVee said...

Eric Godard to Penguins, a 3 year deal.

At 4:58 p.m., July 01, 2008, Blogger twoeightnine said...

TSN messed up Auld's deal. Originally it was 2/$1m. Now it's 2/$2m.

At 5:03 p.m., July 01, 2008, Blogger hoeker said...

Sauer goes for $1.75m when Stuart goes for $3.75m and Finger for $3.5m? Time to find a new agent, Kurt.

At 5:07 p.m., July 01, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gotta love new owners. Wish RIM guy could also get his team and Canada Day would be even merrier. Thanks Lightning!

Gotta also love The New Leafs with overpriced D in Finger and promising backup in Cujo. Haven't seen that before.

Where is Avalanche going? Forsberg is almost done, Sakic is almost done, Smyth and Hannan are over the hill with big tickets, and now they bring in Raycroft and Tucker while letting young Ds Sauer and Finger go.

At 5:31 p.m., July 01, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for running the live blog and staying on top of everything James :)

At 6:00 p.m., July 01, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the Finger signing really does make little sense, either from a hockey perspective or a cap perspective.

presumably they'll trade Kubina now, but it's still overpaying for a depth puck-moving D, when they really should have gone for defensive depth (ie the less expensive Sauer would have been better)

At 6:02 p.m., July 01, 2008, Anonymous alex said...

Puzzling day for Chicago... I dont know how they will get under the cap as they stand at 58.5 right now.

What can help them get under?
Havlat 6mil
Lang 4mil
Sopel 2.5
Khabibulin 6.75
thats all they have to move to get under...

All the rest is either young and under a million or young & very promising (Seabrook, Duncan, Ladd, Byfuglien, Sharp).

Trading away Lang for a draft pick to one of the Free Agency losing team looks the most reasonable option

At 6:05 p.m., July 01, 2008, Blogger Jonathan said...

St. Louis has matched the offer sheet for David Backes, waiting only a few hours to do so.

If St. Louis really felt like getting back at Vancouver for signing Backes as an RFA, they should have waited until day 6 to match, so as to make it more difficult for Vancouver to move on to plan B.

At 6:14 p.m., July 01, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tallon was throwing money around but maybe he gets it right this time. Chicago needs a coach to take that next step. Icons like Savard are nice when you don't have a chance but now Chicago can push for playoffs. To go anywhere there they need real hockey coach.

I also like what Edmonton did but he didn't get enough for Pitkanen who will be 40-60 point and 25 min. defenceman for years to come and Cole is signed for only one year before becoming UFA. Hopefully Mrs. Cole likes West Edmonton Mall...

At 7:51 p.m., July 01, 2008, Blogger Jonathan said...

I'd wager ten dollars that the contract Redden just signed looks worse in three years time than the one given to Jeff Finger.

At 8:14 p.m., July 01, 2008, Anonymous b said...

I'd wager ten dollars that the contract Redden just signed looks worse in three years time than the one given to Jeff Finger.

And I'll bet you $10 that in 3 years, your mother will be sexier than your grandmother

At 8:16 p.m., July 01, 2008, Blogger Colin said...

James - great stuff.

At 8:34 p.m., July 01, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is buying itself into another lockout

At 9:17 p.m., July 01, 2008, Anonymous cynical joe said...

20 million for Streit?
he wasn't even a full time defenceman in Habtown!

At 9:24 p.m., July 01, 2008, Anonymous TheTick said...

Sabres are 'out' of the Orpik sweepstakes according to the Buffalo News. Teppo Numminen on speed dial, Darcy.

At 10:40 p.m., July 01, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Watching TSN and reading some comments I agree that many players didn't really deserve what they got, but nobody should complain about money spent in the cap era.

If revenues go down, player's pay the difference through escrow.

It's a shame that wealthy teams like our six teams have to pay money to these jokes in sun belt but it is what it is.

Having said that Commodore deal is unbeliavble. His agent should be in HHOF and Howson in HHOS. How much was the difference between Foote's asking price and Howson's offer?

At 12:11 p.m., July 02, 2008, Blogger Dennis Prouse said...

The last comment regarding Commodore is spot on -- if you are going to pay Mike Commodore that kind of money, they why not try harder to keep Adam Foote. The difference between the two is massive. In the world of physical defensive defensemen, Foote is like a genuine Rolex, while Commodore is a street-bought knockoff that will conk out in a month.

Oh, and let me be the 1000th person to say that the Wade Redden deal is absolutely horrendous. I could possibly see the Rangers being willing to match his previous salary for a year, maybe two, to see if he could recapture the form that seemed to leave him for the last season and a half. But a six year deal for $39 million? You have to be kidding me.


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