Tag:2011 Free Agency
Posted on: September 16, 2011 9:48 am
Edited on: September 16, 2011 11:53 am
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Schenn, Leafs reach deal; Isles lock up Bailey

By Brian Stubits

Make that two restricted free agents down, two more to go.

Just in the nick of time, the Islanders re-signed Josh Bailey then the Leafs followed suit by extending Luke Schenn, each without new contracts the day before most teams reported to training camp. That means we reached camps with all the restricted free agents under contract except two: the Coyotes' Kyle Turris and the big name on the block, Drew Doughty with the Kings.

Schenn was a tough negotiation to figure out. Eventually he got a five-year contract for $3.6 million annually. The Maple Leafs were looking for a lower price for Schenn but the desire to tie him into a longer deal drove up what they were willing to pay. The money does seem high, but consider what the going rate is for defensemen these days...

The hard part of the Schenn talks is trying to figure out his value. He's still a young player and projects to be a star for the Leafs on the blueline for a long time to come, but he hasn't shown that form as of yet. Clearly GM Brian Burke thinks he will meet that potential soon enough.

Billed as a stay-at-home defenseman, Schenn had five goals and 17 assists with Toronto last season while recording a minus-7. Those numbers were certainly a contributing factor in getting a good contract.

First came Bailey. Word of his new contract came down in the late hours Thursday night and he made if official by signing his two-year, $2.1 million contract on Friday morning.

Bailey's contract comes on the heels of the team re-signing John Tavares, avoiding the restricted free-agency drama altogether. Reports all along were that the negotiations were close and going smoothly, a deal was expected to be reached. I wonder why it took so long, but as long as it was completed before camp, no harm no foul, just some uneasiness.

Bailey is another part of the young core the Islanders are building around. Last season playing 70 games he had a little stepback from his sophomore season, scoring 11 goals to go with 17 assists.

Photo: Getty Images

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Posted on: September 15, 2011 9:52 am
Edited on: September 15, 2011 11:36 am
 

Sabres' Myers gets 7-year, $38.5M extension

By Brian Stubits

Yesterday the news came down that an extension for Tyler Myers was close in Buffalo. Today the deal is done after Myers and the Sabres reached a seven-year deal.

"We had two sides that wanted to stay together," Myers' agent, J.P. Barry, told the Buffalo News on Wednesday. "Tyler wanted to remain a Sabre, and having this done at an early stage was something that he wanted. He's happy that the club approached him about wanting to do this early."

A short while after the team announced the seven-year deal, the numbers on the contract slipped out. From Darren Dreger at TSN: "Myers 7 years, $38.5. $10M signing bonus July 1, 2012, the first day of ext. That means over a quarter of the contract is paid on day one." The Associated Press confirmed the value of the contract.

That part about the signing bonus and so much being paid on the first day is bound to raise some eyebrows. The contract is incredibly front-loaded, somewhat similar to many of the contracts that have drawn criticism in recent years, most notably Marian Hossa's and Ilya Kovalchuk's. But moreover, many are viewing it as an indication of the labor situation in the NHL.

From TSN's Bob McKenzie:

"Myers' $10M SB amounts to lockout protection. IF there were, say, season-long lockout, he'd still get his $10M, only lose $2M in salary."

With the length of the contract, it will take Myers until he is 28 and if an extension isn't signed before then, he will be eligible for unrestricted free agency. Of course, with the way things are starting to go in Buffalo with new ownership, I'm not too sure why he would be interested in leaving if the future really is as bright as it seems.

Myers, one of the biggest players in NHL history at 6-feet-8, won the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie two seasons when he scored 11 goals with 37 assists and a plus-13. A debut season like that had people envisioning the next Zdeno Chara, a mountain of a man with a massive shot on the blueline. But he regressed some last season, seeing his point total dip by 11.

I must admit, I'm leery of such a long contract. There are very few players that I'd be comfortable signing to such a long deal and they are of the Alex Ovechkin/Steven Stamkos mold. It's just a risky proposition, you never know what could happen.

But of course the other side of the coin is that it gives the Sabres long-term stability at an important position with a potential perennial all-star.

Photo: Getty Images

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Posted on: September 14, 2011 2:49 pm
Edited on: September 14, 2011 4:56 pm
 

Bruins, Marchand reach two-year extension

By Brian Stubits

Brad Marchand can grab another bottle of champagne and toast to a new contract.

The Boston Bruins avoided a holdout with the restricted free agent, signing the young winger to a two-year deal on Wednesday. The contract is reported to be worth $5 million total by numerous reports.

"I wanted to be here first day. I wanted to show I wanted to be here ... now we can just move forward," Marchand said. "I never was going to miss a day of camp."

The deal had been in the works all summer long with Marchand and Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli repeatedly saying neither was concerned a deal would be reached. It took almost until the start of training camp, but they were ultimately proven right.

"Brad's always told me that he wanted to be here...I had a feeling it would get done," Chiarelli said.

It comes as a touch of a surprise that the contract a) is for only two years and b) for that low of a salary. An annual cap hit of $2.5 million isn't what I expected Marchand to hit, especially considering the deal the Flyers gave to James van Riemsdyk. A short while back we detailed how similar Marchand and Van Riemsdyk have been in their short careers -- nearly identical -- and assumed their new contracts would be equally similar.JVR signed for four years at an annual average of $4.25 million, or nearly double that of Marchand.

Although perhaps the comparison that Chiarelli was working on was with the Sharks' extension of Logan Couture. With him, San Jose drew up a similar two-year contract with their high-scoring youngster, signing him for $5.75 million total. Considering Marchand's numbers don't quite match Couture's, those seem to be in balance.

Either way, I like the deal from Boston's side a lot. It essentially gets two more years (and will still retain his rights under the current CBA when this new contract expires) for a relatively low price to further evaluate, largely avoiding the risk of a bad contract.

"I am very happy with the term ... I think it was a perfect fit for both parties," Marchand said.

Marchand was still technically a rookie last season after recording just one assist in 20 games in the 2009-10 season. But last year he was with the Stanley Cup champions from the start, scoring 21 goals with 20 assists in 77 games, but then really stepping up his game in the playoffs. That's when he had 11 memorable goals and eight assists for Boston as it ended its long Cup drought.

With Marchand officially back, the Bruins return nearly the entire roster that won the championship last year. Moreover, Chiarelli has saved himself roughly $5 million in salary cap space (capgeek.com) if he decided to make any midseason acquisitions to help the B's repeat.

Can you say preseason Stanley Cup favorites?

Photo: Getty Images

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Posted on: September 8, 2011 1:04 pm
 

Parise, Devils continue working on long-term deal

By Brian Stubits

The speculation was rampant when Zach Parise re-inked with the Devils for just one season.

You could hear the panic out of New Jersey. The anticipation was equally as loud from fan bases all across the NHL, hopeful for a shot to get one of the game's young Stars next offseason.

Well everybody can calm down. Parise talked about his offseason negotiations at the media tour in New York City today, saying in no way does the short contract indicate a desire to leave New Jersey. From NHL.com:

"We talked about both," Parise said of discussing short- and long-term deals. "Without getting into too much detail with respect to everyone involved, we came down to that and that made the most sense. We said it right after we signed it, that we were going to keep talking. It's not as if we're not going to talk until next June 30. We'll keep going and keep working on it.

"I know people's initial reactions are, 'Oh, it's one year and get out of there.' But that's not how it went down, that's not how it worked out. We'll keep trying to figure it out."

Until last season, Parise had avoided injuries throughout his six-year career. But surgery on his knee limited him to just 13 games last season. But go back to 2008-09 when Parise scored 45 goals with 49 assists -- he has scored more than 30 goals in each of his past four full seasons -- and you can understand why he is so coveted.

If he is able to return from the surgery and show his old form once again, it will go a long way toward getting the Devils back into the playoff picture after a staggering fall last season. Oh, and he'll ensure he'll get the handsome salary that's been coming his way.

Photo: Getty Images

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Posted on: September 6, 2011 4:52 pm
 

What to expect for Brad Marchand, remaining RFAs

By Brian Stubits

Remember back a few months, when they were actually playing hockey. The breakout star of the playoffs was Brad Marchand for the Bruins. He was second in goals scored for the entire playoffs despite playing in his first postseason, a run that included two goals in the Game 7 win in Vancouver.

But success isn't cheap. That's why Marchand still doesn't have a contract to talk about at this point. Clearly Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli and Marchand's camp can't agree on what kind of money he should receive. There is no doubt both sides want to stay together. The B's have a promising player coming out of his rookie season while Marchand found himself on a championship team and fitting in with Boston.

Therein lies the dilemma. Is Marchand worth big bucks after showing all that he's capable of in the playoffs? That's what his agent has to be saying. Or could it be that he played just a little over his head in the playoffs. He wouldn't be the first to have done that. That has to be the concern for Chiarelli.

Now you have to give the Bruins GM this: he's being very prudent. Boston has the room to sign Marchand to a relatively big contract. Per Cap Geek, the B's still have more than $7 million in cap space available. So you could understand if he conceded to get Marchand back in the fold ASAP. But the goal is to set up a longtime winner and that could be damaged by bad contracts. Not to say signing Marchand to a big deal would be a bad contract, but it could be.

In cases like this, you are always on the lookout for precedents. Thankfully, Flyers GM Paul Holmgren gave a pretty good one last week when he signed James van Riemsdyk to an extension. Philly gave him a six-year deal that carries a $4.25 million annual cap hit.

Comparing the two, JVR has two full NHL seasons under his belt as opposed to one-plus for Marchand. But last season, the players had strikingly similar numbers. In 75 games, Van Riemsdyk had 21 goals and 19 assists. In 77 games, Marchand had 21 goals and 20 assists. They both also stepped up their scoring pace in the playoffs as Van Riemsdyk had seven goals in 11 games while Marchand had 11 tallies and eight assists in 25 games.

So at this point, the two could pass for career twins. So if Chiarelli was looking to keep the figure low, this didn't help. When the sides finally get this worked out, I'd expect to see a deal very similar to Van Riemsdyk's, just for a shorter length.

In the meantime, Marchand can continue to work on the promising rapping career.

Now a look at the other high-profile restricted free agents still sans deals.

Drew Doughty, Kings: This one has been discussed at incredible length this offseason, but we can't ignore it here. The assumption was that the deal coming from Shea Weber's arbitration hearing would lead to a resolution in Los Angeles. Now it wasn't expected that Doughty would receive the same money that Weber would, but something close. It's hard to imagine this getting resolved without Doughty getting north of $5.5 million-plus, and that's on the conservative side.

Luke Schenn, Maple Leafs: The Leafs continue to try and bring Schenn into the fold long-term, hoping he can be a significant piece to their future. The good news for fans in Toronto is that GM Brian Burke remains confident Schenn will be signed before training camp begins, indicating that the sides might not be that far apart. Judging by the fact that Burke has been unwilling to trade Schenn and the Leafs seem to believe he will develop into an elite shutdown defenseman, you are left to assume Schenn will get a decent amount of scratch, probably somewhere around $3 million-$3.5 million annually, along the likes of the Rangers' Marc Staal. But with Burke it's almost impossible to accurately guess.

Zach Bogosian, Jets: Bogosian was billed as a very solid two-way defenseman coming out of the 2008 draft, but so far he hasn't matched that billing. Five goals and 12 assists like a season ago don't exactly scream two-way star. Realistically, he shouldn't expect to get a pay day similar to Schenn, perhaps a comparable player. The only problem in their numbers from last season being very similar, Schenn isn't expected to give a lot on the offensive side while Bogosian is. Of course there's still plenty of time from Bogosian to grow and perhaps become the player scouts envisioned once upon a time. But considering he's still a second-pairing defenseman for Winnipeg, the best guess would be a modest money amount over a shorter length to give more time to evaluate Bogosian's NHL value.

The rest of the RFAs:

Kyle Turris, Coyotes: The third overall draft pick in 2007, he doesn't appear to be near a deal with Phoenix at this point, asking for about $4 million annually over three years per ESPN.com. As you would guess, the Coyotes aren't willing to go near that mark. This one will take some serious concessions, likely on Turris' behalf.

Shawn Matthias, Panthers: The former prized prospect is going to have to swallow the fact the Panthers won't give him a guaranteed, one-way contract. That seems to the hold up in the negotiations here, but the Panthers feel there is too much competition for roster spots to guarantee a guy who hasn't proven he deserves a spot yet.

Josh Bailey, Islanders: He has shown some promise for becoming a decent scorer in the NHL, finding the net 16 times as a 20-year-old two seasons ago. Lighthouse Hockey did a good job of comparing Bailey to Phoenix's Mikkel Boedker and his recent $1.1 million annual contract a few weeks back, concluding Bailey has shown he deserves more than that.

Kyle Cumiskey, Avalanche: The Avs did give him a qualifying offer on the heels of an 18-game season, but that's as far as negotiations have gone. But Adrian Dater at the Denver Post expects the hurdles will be overcome in the next week and Cumiskey will be back for camp.

Photo: Getty Images

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Posted on: August 24, 2011 10:22 am
Edited on: August 29, 2011 2:04 pm
 

Daily Skate: National TV partners; remaining FAs

By Brian Stubits

MADE FOR TV GAMES: If you had one guess as to the most nationally televised matchup in the NHL since 1994, what would you pick? If you said Rangers-Flyers, you got it, and it's not even close. Puck The Media has compiled a list of the national broadcasts going back to 1994 and Rangers-Flyers takes the cake by eight games over Penguins-Flyers. Take a look at the whole list here. Notice a lot more mixtures containing the Rangers, Flyers and Red Wings. Earth shattering there, we know.

FREE AGENTS STILL FREE: Don't forget there are still some free agents floating out there looking for work. Guys like Bryan McCabe, Cory Stillman, Teemu Selanne and Chris Campoli haven't found contract offers as of yet. So Down Goes Brown helps the teams still shopping by providing a buyer's guide to the remaining players that is full of gems like this: Chris Campoli, the good: Is known as a puck-moving defenceman, which presumably makes him more valuable than a defenceman who insists on keeping the puck stationary at all times.

TOMAS THE TANK: The Panthers' rebuilding efforts were hardly met with universal praise across the hockey world. The majority of people outside of South Florida saw a bunch of overpriced, mediocre signings instead of impact spending. But Dale Tallon doesn't feel that way (of course not), especially about his most expensive forward addition, Tomas Fleischmann. Tallon told the Miami Herald that "[Fleischmann] hasn't reached his peak yet and numbers are just going to go up."

STILL LOOKING TO STRIKE OIL: The Oilers are still trying to work their way back up the Western Conference standings, and the best way to do that will be to get better in the defensive end. David Staples of the Edmonton Journal isn't exactly optimistic that will happen this season. Where he's holding out his hope is that the young defensemen will be better with another season because there isn't much else to inspire a feeling of blue line growth. He also has an injury update on the "lanky Yankee" Ryan Whitney.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: July 29, 2011 2:18 pm
 

Veterans Sopel, Kovalev heading to KHL

By Brian Stubits

The NHL lost two free agents to the KHL on Friday as Brent Sopel and Alexei Kovalav are headed to the Russian league to continue their careers.

Sopel made the announcement himself on his Twitter account, saying "Two years in the KHL! So excited for this new opportunity!" More specifically, he inked the deal with Metallurg Novokuznetsk.

Sopel will be 35 next season and the defenseman hasn't put up more than 10 points in a season since 2007-08 with the Blackhawks. His best season came with the Canucks in 2003-04 when he scored 10 goals and had 32 assists. He split last season between the Thrashers and Canadiens.

He has seen his offensive numbers dip and his ice time has gone down, too, but it isn't as if he is a player that wouldn't interest any team at this point. Playing for the Thrashers last year he had a plus-7 in 59 games. Not bad considering the team he was on. Him going to the KHL is more a surprise than Kovalev.

Kovalev, meanwhile, will sign with Atlant Mytishchi according to Sport-Express.

Now 38, the Soviet Russian native played for the Senators and Penguins last season, scoring 17 goals with 19 assists. He has never had much of a problem scoring goals, tallying 428 over his career in the NHL that spanned 18 seasons.

For him it's a move you would expect. He's up there in age and gets a chance to finish out his playing career much closer to home, something that is becoming more and more common among the Russian veterans.

The moves, though, should put no fear in anybody that the KHL is creeping in on the free agents. The two leagues recently signed an agreement for signing players, but this appears to be a situation of veterans not finding interest from NHL squads.

Photo: Getty Images

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Posted on: July 28, 2011 3:25 pm
Edited on: July 28, 2011 4:00 pm
 

Canucks avoid arbitration with unsung hero Hansen

By Brian Stubits

You can cancel another arbitration hearing off the list as Jannik Hansen and the Canucks have reached an agreement. The team announced the deal is for three years.

That means we have yet to have a true arbitration hearing and there are only three names left: Shea Weber, Zach Parise and Blake Comeau. The closest was Chris Campoli, but that was expedited after the Blackhawks announced they would walk away from the award before the hearing was even held and the process served as a formality.

Hansen was drafted by the Canucks in the ninth round back in 2004. The 25-year-old Dane has played in the NHL in four seasons, with last being his first full year with the Canucks. In 82 games, he tallied nine goals with 20 assists. In the playoffs he added three goals and six assists (and one paddle to the face).

Hansen, the first Danish player to record a point in a playoff game, received the Fred J. Hume Award as the team's unsung hero from the Canucks' booster club. He was one of the Canucks' best defensive forwards.

The sides are surely glad to avoid arbitration. They went through it last year when the Hansen was awarded a one-year, one-way deal worth $850,000, which the Canucks obviously accepted.

Photo: Getty Images

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