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Tag:Winnipeg Jets
Posted on: July 11, 2011 12:30 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 3:54 pm
 

Teams still need to reach salary floor

SheaWeberCapFloor

By Adam Gretz


With the increase to the NHL's salary cap this offseason (all the way up to $64.3 million), there was also an increase in the salary floor, which is now up to $48.3 million, a number that is higher than the actual cap was during the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons. As of Monday, there were still seven teams that needed to reach the floor, according to CapGeek, the best salary cap resource anywhere on the Internet.

Here are the seven teams, the amount of money they need to spend to reach the floor (via CapGeek), and the number of spots they have remaining to fill out a 23-man roster:
  • New York Islanders, five roster spots, $10.44 million
  • Nashville Predators, three roster spots, $7.09 million
  • Colorado Avalanche, one roster spot, $3.79 million
  • Phoenix Coyotes, two roster spots, $2.78 million
  • Winnipeg Jets, two roster spots, $2.45 million
  • Ottawa Senators, three roster spots, $1.20 million
  • Carolina Hurricanes, two roster spots, $591,667
Obviously, the New York Islanders have the most work to do, and Scott Lewis at Houses of the Hockey had a nice look over the weekend at how far behind they're lagging in the race to the floor, and what general manager Garth Snow can potentially do to spend another $10-plus million (the names Mike Komisarek and Brian Rolston are used as possible suggestions. How's that for excitement, Islanders fans?).

The problem for some of these teams will be spending the necessary money on players that can actually make a positive impact, or an impact that will equal the financial commitment. What started as a weak free agent class has already been picked over, and whatever meat is remaining on the bones consists of ... well, let's just say less-than-attractive options.

The real winners in this are the second-, third- and fourth-tier free agents -- as well as the restricted free agents -- that could snag a larger salary than they normally would because these clubs have to spend a predetermined amount of money. Or the team that has an albatross contract it desperately wants to rid itself of (kind of like how the Chicago Blackhawks managed to find a taker -- the Florida Panthers -- in Brian Campbell's contract).

Moving past the Islanders, the Predators still have the most money to spend but also have the biggest restricted free agent remaining of the aforementioned clubs in defenseman Shea Weber. He's scheduled for an arbitration hearing in early August and will almost surely take up a large chunk of the remaining $7 million the Nashville front office is required to spend.

The Predators had a restricted free agency issue centered on the timing of their qualifying offers and needed to work out deals with Cal O'Reilly, Matt Halischuk, Chris Mueller, Nick Spaling and leading goal-scorer Sergei Kostitsyn. They managed to work out contracts with all of them last week to avoid any further complications, including the possibility the players could be granted unrestricted free agency. Those five contracts also helped narrow the gap to the salary floor.

Carolina is less than a $1 million away from reaching the floor with two spots to fill, which should be done with ease. Pretty much any two additions, even if they're minor league roster-filler, will jump the Hurricanes over the threshold, and the team still has to work out a deal with restricted free agent Brandon Sutter, who scored 14 goals a year ago.

The Jets should also have little trouble reaching the minimum as they still have restricted free agents Blake Wheeler, Zach Bogosian and Ben Maxwell. The Coyotes and Avalanche have restricted free agents of their own to sign, while the Senators have to look outside the organization for its remaining $1.2 million.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: July 10, 2011 11:08 am
Edited on: July 10, 2011 1:33 pm
 

Daily Skate: another fresh start for Esposito

By: Adam Gretz

ESPOSITO GETS ANOTHER FRESH START There was a time prior to the 2007 Entry Draft when Angelo Esposito was projected to be one of the top picks (if not the top pick) after putting up monster numbers in the QMJHL while playing on a line next to Alexander Radulov with the Quebec Remparts. By the time draft day came around his stock had fallen (due in part to declining production) to the point where he wasn't selected until late in the first-round by the Pittsburgh Penguins with the 20th overall pick. Within a year, Esposito's value continued to fall and he was packaged in a trade to Atlanta, along with Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen and a first-round pick, in exchange for Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis at the NHL's trade deadline. It was a deal that was supposed to help re-build the Thrashers, but ultimately came up empty. Very empty. Armstrong and Christensen have already left the organization and the first-round pick (Daultan Leveille) has yet to play a pro game. On Saturday, the Jets organization (which was the Thrashers organization until a month ago) officially parted ways with Esposito, sending him to the Florida Panthers in exchange for Kenndal McArdle. Esposito has spent parts of the past three seasons in the AHL, having scored just three goals to go with 14 assists in 70 games.

PANTHERS ACQUIRE TWO OTHERS Along with the Esposito acquisition the Panthers made two other small moves on Saturday, acquiring forward Sergei Shirokov from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for forward Mike Duco. The team also picked up Keith Seabrook from the Calgary Flames for Jordan Henry. Shirokov has appeared in eight NHL games in his career, scoring one goal. Seabrook, 22, spent the 2010-11 season split between the Abbotsford Heat and Manitoba Moose of the AHL.

LUNDIN SIGNS WITH Wild The Minnesota Wild signed free agent defenseman Mike Lundin to a one-year contract on Saturday. He spent the past four years with the Tampa Bay Lightning after being selected in the fourth-round by the team in 2004.

HULSIZER INTERESTED IN Blues? After withdrawing his offer to purchase the Phoenix Coyotes, Matthew Hulsizer has reportedly set his sights on becoming the owner of the St. Louis Blues. David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail has the story.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: July 8, 2011 5:38 pm
Edited on: July 8, 2011 8:01 pm
 

Eric Fehr traded to Winnipeg

Eric Fehr traded to Winnipeg

By: Adam Gretz


Outside of re-signing team captain Andrew Ladd to a contract extension earlier this week, the Winnipeg Jets' offseason has been a calm one. Perhaps even a little patient. The club hasn't jumped into a weak free agent class and has instead made only a couple of minor depth additions. On Friday, the club made a slightly larger move when it acquired forward Eric Fehr from the Washington Capitals in exchange for minor leaguer Danick Paquette and a fourth-round draft pick in 2012.

Fehr, who has to pass a physical by 5 PM Monday for the deal to become official, has had his career derailed by injuries since being selected with the 18th overall pick in the 2003 draft. In 52 games with the Capitals last season he scored 10 goals to go with 10 assists, after scoring a career-high 21 goals the previous season in 69 games.

Since making his NHL debut during the 2005-06 campaign Fehr has played more than 60 games just twice in his career. He is still only 25 years old and has enough ability that this is a worthy gamble by the Jets front office, especially given the relatively cheap price they had to surrender to make it happen.

The key aspect of the trade for the Capitals is getting Fehr's $2.2 million cap hit off the books for the upcoming season, as the club needed to clear cap space and still has to work out a deal with restricted free agent defenseman Karl Alzner. This should help, and given the offseason additions of Joel Ward, Troy Brouwer and Jeff Halpern up front, shouldn't hurt the on-ice product. Even if the return isn't all that impressive.

Paquette, a third-round pick by the Thrashers organization in 2008, spent the 2010-11 season playing for the Gwinnett Gladiators of the East Coast Hockey League where he scored 13 goals in 59 games. According to Hockey's Future, he has the potential "to be an effective energy line player and possible power play threat."

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: July 5, 2011 2:17 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2011 2:48 pm
 

Andrew Ladd signs $22 million deal with Winnipeg



By: Adam Gretz

The Winnipeg Jets have had a rather quiet return to the NHL, making a handful of small moves in the first week of free agency including the easily overlooked additions of Rick Rypien and Randy Jones. On Tuesday, they made their most significant transaction since relocating from Atlanta earlier this summer by re-signing forward Andrew Ladd to a five-year contact extension worth a total of $22 million according to TSN's Darren Dreger.

The deal carries a salary cap hit of $4.4 million, which nearly doubles his cap hit of $2.3 million from a year ago.

Ladd was acquired by Atlanta last offseason from the Chicago Blackhawks as part of their salary cap-induced roster purge, and he went on to have a career year leading the Thrashers with 29 goals and 59 points in 81 games while seeing plenty of time on a line with Bryan Little. Along with leading the team in scoring, he was also typically drawing the toughest on-ice assignments for the Thrashers and was the team's captain.

With Ladd locked up for another five years, the Jets now have 20 players under contract for the 2011-12 season for a combined cap hit of $43.6 million, according to CapGeek. That leaves them with approximately $20 million in remaining salary cap space for the upcoming season, while they're still about $5 million away from reaching the salary cap floor, which is set at $48.3 million.

Ladd's also one of just four players on the roster signed through the 2012-13 season, joining Chris Thorburn, Dustin Byfuglien and Mark Stuart.

Given the current makeup of the roster, Ladd is clearly Winnipeg's best forward (not just based on his point production, but also because he was usually the focal point of the opposition's game plan and facing the toughest competition on the team) and still only 25 years old. Considering some of the contracts that were handed out during the first week of free agency to players that were older and/or not quite as good, the Jets managed to secure what should be a building block of their franchise with a very reasonable deal.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl and @agretz on Twitter.


Posted on: July 1, 2011 10:46 am
Edited on: July 7, 2011 5:31 pm
 

Free-agent tracker: Leafs make move, add Connolly

It took more than 24 hours, but the Toronto Maple Leafs, no strangers to free-agent signings, spent their first dollars on a free agent, signing Tim Connolly for two years, $9.5 million, according to Darren Dreger of TSN.

The Maple Leafs were among the favorites to sign Brad Richards, who ended up going to the Rangers. GM Brian Burke took some criticism for not being present at the presentation to Richards, instead spending Canada Day overseas with Canadian soldiers in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

The Leafs needed to find a center and wanted it to be Richards. Once they missed out, they turned their attention straight to Connolly, most recently with the Sabres. The 10-year veteran has spent the past eight seasons in Buffalo, notching career highs of 18 goals (in 2008-09) and 65 points (2009-10). He is coming off a 13-goal, 29-assist season.

It seems to be a bit high for Connolly, $4.75 million annually, but Toronto had money to spend and needed to grab a center. Plus, the risk is minimized a bit with just a two-year contract instead of something in the four- or five-year range.

This week's moves

Who ended up where
Anaheim Ducks F Brian McGrattan (1-year contract)
F Jean-Francois Jacques (1-year, 2-way contract)
D Bryan Rodney (1-year contract)
F Andrew Gordon (2-year contract)
D Kurtis Foster (trade)
Boston Bruins F Josh Hennessy (1-year contract)
D Joe Corvo (trade)
F Benoit Pouliot (1-year contract)
F Trent Whitfield (2-year contract)
G Anton Khudobin (2-year contract)
Buffalo Sabres F Colin Stuart (1-year contract)
F Derek Whitmore (1-year contract)
G Drew MacIntyre (1-year contract)
D Mike Webe (multi-year contract)
F Cody McCormick (multi-year contract)
F Ville Leino (6 years, $27 million)
D Christian Ehrhoff (10 years, $40 million)
Calgary Flames G Leland Irving (1 year, $600,000)
F Sven Baertschi (3 years, $2.775 million)
D Anton Babchuk (2 years, $5 million)
F Guillaume Desbiens (1 year, $525,000)
F Ben Walter (2 years, $1.075 million)
F Jon Rheault (1 year, $95,000)
D Clay Wilson (2 years, $1.05 million)
D Chris Butler (2 years, $2.5 million)
F Carter Bancks (2 years, $1.12 million)
D Joe Piskula (2 years, $1.05 million)
Carolina Hurricanes D Tomas Kaberle (3 years, $12.75 million)
F Anthony Stewart (2 years, $1.8 million)
F Justin Soryal (1 year, $525,000/$80,000)
F Alexei Ponikarovsky (1 year, $1.5 million)
F Jiri Tlusty (1 year, $525,000)
C Tim Brent (2 years, $1.5 million)
G Brian Boucher (2 years, $1.9 million)
F Jussi Jokinen (3 years, $9 million)
F Chad LaRose (2 years, $3.4 million)
D Joni Pitkanen (3 years, $13.5 million)
Chicago Blackhawks F Dan Carcillo (1-year contract)
D Steve Montador (4 years, $12 million)
F Andrew Brunette (1-year contract)
D Sean O'Donnell (1-year contract)
F Jamal Mayers (1-year contract)
F Brett MacLean (1-year contract)
Colorado Avalanche G Jean-Sebastien Giguere (2-year contract)
D Jan Hejda (4-year contract)
F Chuck Kobasew (2-year contract)
G Semyon Varlamov (trade)
Columbus Blue Jackets F Ryan Russell (trade)
D Radek Martinek (1 year, $2.2 million)
D Marc Methot (4 years, $12 million)
D Aaron Johnson (1-year, 2-way contract)
F Alexandre Giroux (1 year, $825,000/$325,000)
D James Wisniewski (6 years, $33 million)
G Curtis Sanford (1-year contract)
F Andrew Joudrey (2-year contract)
F Nicholas Drazenovic (1-year contract)
G Mark Dekanich (1-year contract)
D Dalton Prout (3-year contract)
Dallas Stars D Sheldon Souray (1 year, $1.6 million)
C Vernon Fiddler (3 years, $5.4 million)
F Radek Dvorak (1 year, $1.5 million)
D Adam Pardy (2 years, $4 million)
F Michael Ryder (2 years, $7 million)
C Jake Dowell (1 year, $800,000)
Detroit Red Wings F Chris Conner (1-year contract)
D Logan Pyett (1-year contract)
D Garnett Exelby (1-year contract)
D Ian White (2 years, $5.75 million)
D Mike Commodore (1 year, $1 million)
D Jonathan Ericsson (3 years, $9.75 million)
F Patrick Eaves (3 years, $3.6 million)
F Drew Miller (2-year contract)
Edmonton Oilers C Ryan Keller (1 year, $625,000/$225,000)
F Yann Danis (1-year contract)
D Theo Peckham (1 year, $1.075 million)
F Josh Green (1-year contract)
F Darcy Hordichuk (1-year contract)
D Cam Barker (1-year contract)
F Ben Eager (3-year contract)
D Andy Sutton (trade)
C Eric Belanger (3-year contract)
D Corey Potter (1-year contract)
Florida Panthers F Mike Santorelli (2 years, 3.2 million)
F Matt Bradley (2 years, $1.9 million)
F Sean Bergenheim (4 years, $11 million)
F Kris Versteeg (trade)
D Ed Jovanovski (4 years, $16.5 million)
F Tomas Fleischmann (4 years, $18 million)
G Jose Theodore (2 years, $3 million)
F Scottie Upshall (4 years, $14 million)
C Marcel Goc (3 years, $5.1 million)
F Tomas Kopecky (4 years, $12 million)
Los Angeles Kings F Simon Gagne (2 years, $7 million)
Minnesota Wild F Colton Gillies (2 years, $1.25 million)
F Jeff Taffe (1-year, 2-way contract)
F Darroll Powe (3 years, $3.2 million)
F Dany Heatley (trade)
F Jeff Taffe (two-way contract)
G Josh Harding (1-year contract)
D Drew Bagnall
D Kyle Medvec
C Jed Ortmeyer
Montreal Canadiens F Michael Blunden (trade)
F Brian Willsie (1-year contract)
G Nathan Lawson (1 year, $525,000/$105,000)
G Peter Delmas (3-year, 2-way contract)
F Brock Trotter (1-year contract)
F Erik Cole (4 years, $18 million)
G Peter Budaj (2-year contract)
Nashville Predators C Cal O'Reilly (1 year, $1.05 million)
F Nick Spaling (2 years, $2.1 million)
F Matthew Halischuk (2 years, $1.425 million)
F Chris Mueller (2 years, $550,000/$65,000)
F Zack Stortini (1 year, $550,000/$75,000)
C Kyle Wilson
F Niclas Bergfors (1 year, $575,000)
D Brett Lebda (trade)
F Robert Slaney (trade)
F Brodie Dupont (trade)
New Jersey Devils D Andy Greene (4 years, $12 million)
G Johan Hedberg (1 year, $1.25 million)
New York Islanders F Trevor Gillies (1-year, 2-way contract)
C Trevor Frischmon (1-year, 2-way contract)
C Marty Reasoner (2-year contract)
F Kiril Kabanov (3-year contract)
New York Rangers F Andreas Thuresson (trade)
C Brad Richards (9 years, $58.5 million)
C Mike Rupp (3 years, $4.5 million)
F Ruslan Fedotenko (1 year, $1.4 million)
Ottawa Senators F Erik Condra (2-year contract)
C Zenon Konopka (1 year, $700,000)
G Alex Auld (1-year contract)
F Francis Lessard (1-year contract)
Philadelphia Flyers F Wayne Simmonds (2 years, $3.5 million)
G Jason Bacashihua ($525,000/$125,000)
F Tye McGinn (3-year, 2-way contract)
F Jaromir Jagr (1 year, $3.3 million)
C Maxime Talbot (5 years, $9 million)
F Jakub Voracek (1 year, $2.25 million)
D Andreas Lilja (3 years, $5.1 million)
Pittsburgh Penguins D Alexandre Picard (1 year, $600,000)
G Brad Thiessen (1 year, $525,000)
D Boris Valabik (1 year, $550,000)
F Steve Sullivan (1 year, $1.5 million)
F Tyler Kennedy (2 years, $4 million)
F Colin McDonald (1 year, $525,000)
Phoenix Coyotes F Matt Watkins (1-year contract)
D Dean Arsene (1-year contract)
D Nathan Oystrick (1-year contract)
D Keith Yandle (5 years, $26.5 million)
D Tyler Eckford (1-year, 2-way contract)
G Curtis McElhinney (1-year, 2-way contract)
F Radim Vrbata (multi-year contract)
D Boyd Gordon (2 years, $2.65 million)
G Mike Smith (2 years, $4 million)
F Raffi Torres (2 years, $3.5 million)
C Alex Bolduc (1 year, $575,000/$105,000)
San Jose Sharks F Martin Havlat (trade)
D Jim Vandermeer (1 year, $1 million)
C Michal Handzus (2 years, $5 million)
St. Louis Blues C Jason Arnott (1-year contract)
F Jamie Langenbrunner (1-year contract)
G Ben Bishop (1-year contract)
C Scott Nichol (1-year contract)
F Brett Sterling (1-year, 2-way contract)
D Kent Huskins (1 year, $1 million)
F Matt D'Agostini (2 years, $3.3 million)
G Brian Elliott (1 year, $600,000/105,000)
F Adam Cracknell
F Cody Beach
Tampa Bay Lightning C Tom Pyatt (1-year, 2-way contract)
C Trevor Smith (1-year, 2-way contract)
D Richard Petiot (1-year contract)
D Matt Gilroy (1-year contract)
F J.T. Wyman (1-year, 2-way contract)
G Dwayne Roloson (1 year, $3 million)
G Mathieu Garon (2 years, $2.6 million)
F Michael Oullete (1-year, 2-way contract)
F Brett Connolly (3-year contract)
Toronto Maple Leafs D Matt Lashoff (1-year contract)
F Philippe Dupuis (1-year contract)
F Tyler Bozak (2-year contract)
C Clarke MacArthur (2 years, $6.5 million)
D Cody Franson (trade)
F Matthew Lombardi (trade)
C Tim Connolly (2 years, $9.5 million)
G Ben Scrivens (1-year contract)
Vancouver Canucks D Alexander Sulzer (
G Matt Climie
D Sami Salo (1 year, $2 million)
F Chris Higgins (2 years, $3.8 million)
F Marco Sturm (1 year, $2.25 million)
D Kevin Bieksa (5 years, $23 million)
F Mark Mancari (1 year, $525,000)
D Andrew Ebbett (1 year, $525,000)
Washington Capitals F Troy Brouwer (2 years, $4.7 million)
D Danny Richmond (1-year contract)
G Tomas Vokoun (1 year, $1.5 million)
F Chris Bourque (1-year contract)
F Ryan Potulny (2 years, $1.05 million)
F Joel Ward (4 years, $12 million)
D Roman Hamrlik (2 years, $7 million)
F Jeff Halpern (1 year, $825,000)
D Sean Collins (1-year contract)
Winnipeg Jets F Jason Gregoire
F Andrew Ladd (5 years, $22 million)
C Rick Rypien
D Mark Flood
D Randy Jones (1 year, $1.15 million)
D Derek Meech (1 year, $700,000/$105,000)
F Tanner Glass (1 year, $750,000)
C Aaron Gagnon

By Brian Stubits

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

Posted on: June 29, 2011 10:47 am
Edited on: June 29, 2011 11:20 am
 

Daily Skate: Kaberle on market, Kopecky off?

BYE BYE B'S?: It was no secret that as well as most every move Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli made in constructing a Stanley Cup champion roster, the fit of defenseman Tomas Kaberle wasn't working out as well as the rest. Kaberle is an unrestricted free agent Friday and Boston might not bring him back. The B's are reportedly shopping his negotiations rights, but at the same time a return isn't being ruled out. Kaberle scored four goals with 43 assists last season, adding 11 assists in the playoffs.

KOPECKY PICKS FLORIDA?: Reports surfaced all over Twitter this morning that Tomas Kopecky, whose rights were acquired by the Panthers two days ago for a seventh-round draft choice, has agreed to a four-year deal worth $12 million. Naturally, it has been met with a lot of criticisms and questions about giving a 15-goal scorer like Kopecky $3 million annually as GM Dale Tallon seems on the verge of doing. Expect to see a lot of over-signing this offseason with the needs being high but the choices being limited. Plus, Florida will have some extra bloated contracts with its chase to hit the salary-cap floor.

FREE MARKET PAIN: Looking forward to free agency opening? Defending Big D isn't. What was already shaping up to be a very uninspiring market is diminishing by the day as potential free agents keep getting signed to extensions or are having their rights traded so they can be signed elsewhere.

HOWE CAN THAT BE? Michigan is one of the better hockey states in the United States; after all, it's home to Hockeytown, USA. That's why it might come as a little surprise that Tuesday the Hockey Hall of Fame elected its first Michigan-born player in Mark Howe. Howe grew up in Detroit, where his father Gordie played for so many years, and played for the Red Wings during his career. His election makes it the fourth-straight year a former Wing is Hall-bound.

A KING'S VIEW: Pete Demers, retired head trainer for the Los Angeles Kings, pretty much saw all you could see in his 41 years on the job. Demers recounts some of the things he encountered over the years to frozenroyalty.net, including a quite comical image of former Montreal Canadiens star Guy Lafleur having a cigarette and hot dog between periods. Priceless.

MANITOBA MAN: It's clear how happy the people of Winnipeg were to have the Thrashers move to Manitoba, but how happy were the players to make the move? Count Dustin Byfuglien among those that likes it. "Every way you look at it, it’s going to be better, in a positive way. All we have to do is play hockey and everyone will appreciate it after a little while," he said. "Every one knows their hockey up there and the guys should be taken care of pretty well." The Winnipeg Sun has more.

-- Brian Stubits

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl on Twitter or @BrianStubitsNHL

Posted on: June 28, 2011 11:05 am
Edited on: June 28, 2011 11:31 am
 

Daily Skate: Winnipeg ticket prices, RFA offers

COSTLY RETURN: Would you like to go see the Winnipeg Jets make their return to the NHL for the home opener in the 'Peg? Do you have $1,645 handy? A search of ticketcenteronline.com shows only two choices available for any tickets to the game against the Canadiens, and the other price is $1,839. I'd say they have the concept of supply and demand down pretty well.

MAKE IT EIGHT: With news coming out Monday that Matthew Hulsizer has withdrawn his bid to buy the Coyotes, speculation immediately began that that could have been the straw that broke the camel's back and the Coyotes' hopes of staying in the desert might have dried up. There's certainly hope in Canada that it means the Nordiques will be coming back to Quebec City. You might remember when Jim Balsillie was trying to buy the Coyotes that a site makeit7.ca was launched? Now, there's a makeit8.ca with as simple a web page as you'll ever see.

OVER-QUALIFIED: Want to know which restricted free agents were given qualifying offers and which, like Dan Carcillo, let go? Check the list here courtesy of Pro Hockey Talk. Keep in mind that any player who was not given an offer is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent when the market opens July 1.

MR. KENNEDY, JAGR WATCH: One restricted free agent who wasn't offered is Pittsburgh's Tyler Kennedy. But that doesn't mean he won't be back in the black and gold next season. Penguins GM Ray Shero says Kennedy wants to come back and he wants Kennedy back; it's just that arbitration or a qualifying offer wasn't the best option. What's more? The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that Jaromir Jagr and the Penguins have a handshake that he will return to the first franchise he called home.

SHARK THINK TANK: When the Sharks sent Devin Setoguchi and more to the Wild for All-Star defenseman Brent Burns, they undoubtedly upgraded the blue line. But they lost a top-line winger in the process. So fearthefin.com takes the task of figuring out who should take the spot next to Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. There is no shortage of names in the mix, from Dany Heatley to Ryan Vesce.

Flyers ARE FINE: Worried that changes the Flyers just made might damage their chances of winning the Stanley Cup? Senior vice president Bobby Clarke doesn't think you should be. It comes as no surprise, but Clarke believes the Flyers did exactly what they needed to do to get better and explains exactly why Philadelphia is in a better position now than at this time last week.

-- Brian Stubits

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl on Twitter or @BrianStubitsNHL

Posted on: June 27, 2011 5:31 pm
Edited on: June 27, 2011 6:28 pm
 

Stamkos atop restricted free-agent class

Here we are, just days away from July 1, and Steven Stamkos still doesn't have a contract for next season. Come Friday, he will be a restricted free agent if no extension is reached with the Lightning before then. Stamkos says they're close, but as of yet no deal is done.

So will there be a stampede for Stamkos, a young superstar who has been the NHL's leading goal scorer over the past two seasons? Don't hold your breath.

If Stamkos is still unsigned comed Friday, teams will have the option of extending him an offer sheet, at which point Tampa Bay would have the option to match. And make no mistake, Lightning GM Steve Yzerman will match. He is indicated that there really isn't a level he won't go to to keep his star.

Perhaps you're thinking if a team has a ton of money, why not call Yzerman's bluff, see if he truly means it? If nothing else, you force Tampa Bay to handicap the rest of its roster by committing more than it had afforded to signing Stamkos. Take the Panthers, for example. GM Dale Tallon has to spend $26 million just to reach the salary cap floor, so he has a ton of money to throw around at this point. Couldn't he set out to damage his division rivals by either taking away their best player (and giving the Panthers a star of their own) or hampering Yzerman's efforts to build his roster by offering Stamkos, say $12 million annually?

The answer is of course he could, but it's unlikely he would. Or any other team for that matter. Why? In the hypothetical world where the Lightning don't match and let Stamkos go, they would still get compensation. For Stamkos, the going rate would be four first-round draft picks going back to the Lightning. Stamkos is elite, but that's a heavy, heavy price to pay, in addition to the money committed to paying Stamkos.

So there's a reason why nobody -- except Maple Leafs fans -- has their hopes too high for Stamkos. Then again, you never know what might happen.

Among the other top RFAs this season, both Nashville's Shea Weber and New Jersey's Zach Parise have dates with arbitration after the teams filed, meaning they are off the market while the teams try to negotiate contract extensions. It's hard to imagine either player going as far as arbitration, but if they do, it's even less fathomable the teams would decline to give the player the award. Point being, don't expect to see either guy in a new sweater any time soon, barring trade, of course. These are the types of guys that you imagine will do what they need to do so as not to lose such cornerstones.

Now just because Stamkos seems like a sure bet to remain in Tampa, that doesn't mean other RFAs can't be pried away from their current teams.

Here are the top restricted free agents (in alphabetical order).

Artem Anisimov, Brian Boyle, Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky -- New York Rangers: The young Rangers all scored at least 18 goals for the Blueshirts last season, led by Dubinsky's team-high 24. The quartet could be described as the future of the franchise.

Drew Doughty -- Los Angeles: The 21-year-old defenseman has already reached All-Star status and is one of the better offensive defensemen in the league already.

Sergei Kostitsyn -- Nashville: The other RFA they have to deal with in Music City, Kostitsyn scored 23 goals and pitched in with 27 assists, having the best shooting percetage in the NHL out of those with at least 25 shots.

Andrew Ladd -- Winnipeg: Ladd was sent to Atlanta from Chicago after the cap-strapped Blackhawks couldn't retain him. In one season for the Thrashers, he had 29 goals, nine on the power play, and 30 assists.

Brad Marchand -- Boston: The rookie really broke out in the playoffs, when he scored 11 goals for the B's on their way to the Stanley Cup, the second most for a rookie in the postseason ever behind only Jeremy Roenick.

Keith Yandle -- Phoenix: A great puck-moving defenseman, he could perhaps be a target of the Bruins in his hometown of Boston. Yandle had 11 goals and a whopping 48 assists for the Coyotes last season.

Others to watch: Zach Bogosian (WPG), Troy Brouwer (WAS), Michael Frolik (CHI), Clarke MacArthur (TOR), Blake Wheeler (WPG), Mike Santorelli (FLA), Blake Comeau (NYI), Teddy Purcell (TB), Semyon Varlamov (WAS)

2011 Restricted Free Agent Compensation
Annual Cap Hit Compensation
Less than $1,034,250 None
$1,034,250 - $1,567,043 Third-round pick
$1,567,044 - $3,134,088 Second-round pick
$3,134,089 - $4,701,131 First- and third-round picks
$4,701,132 - $6,268,175 First-, second- and third-round picks
$6,268,176 -- $7,835,219 Two first-round picks, second- and third-round picks
More than $7,835,219 Four first-round picks

-- Brian Stubits

Photo: Getty Images

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