Tag:Phoenix Coyotes
Posted on: July 5, 2011 1:19 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2011 1:20 pm
 

Stars-Coyotes game at Reliant Stadium called off?

By Brian Stubits

A little while back we told you about the plans for a preseason game between the Stars and Coyotes to be played at Houston's Reliant Stadium. Scratch that.

From Mike Heika at the Dallas Morning News:

Word just came down that they could not make the planned pre-season game between the Stars and Coyotes at Houston's Reliant Stadium happen.

The guess is it will just be held at [American Airlines Center in Dallas], but we'll see when the official pre-season schedule comes out later this week.

Admittedly, I'm disappointed by this news. I was really looking forward to a "Summer Classic" being held, even if it was set for a domed stadium, helping considerably to control the temperature. Still, semi-outdoor September hockey in Houston? I was interested, and we're talking preseason hockey here, so that's not an incredibly enticing spectacle to begin with.

No word on why it is being called off. At this point we still have no NFL games to interfere.

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

Category: NHL
Posted on: July 5, 2011 11:30 am
Edited on: July 5, 2011 11:49 am
 

Daily Skate: Burke not too pleased with criticism

BURKE BURN: If you happened to catch the free-agency coverage on TSN (Versus was carrying the stream) you probably noticed Toronto Sun columnist Steve Simmons more or less lambasting Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke for not being present on the opening day of free agency, which included the team's meeting with Brad Richards. Instead, he was spending Canada Day with troops in Afghanistan. Burke, who had plenty of communications with everybody back in Canada via cell phone and Skype, is offended by the criticism, saying he would do it again. The National Post has the whole story.

RICHARDS OR POORER? Since Brad Richards elected to sign with the Rangers, it's been a lot of euphoria in Blueshirt land as they finally got a top-line center they hope can give them close to the production that messiah Messier once did. But it's not all rainbows and sunshine. Blueshirt Banter reins in the party on Broadway a bit by looking at the downsides to Richards, going deep into the world of statistics to do so.

COLE AS GOOD AS GOLD: As you might have gathered by now, this was not a deep free-agent class by any means, so it was tough for teams to fill their needs. But Montreal Canadiens blog Lions in Winter thinks the team did a fantastic job of taking care of its principle need: a top-six power forward. Outside of the pipedream of signing Richards, the conclusion is that Erik Cole was about the best fit they could find.

HEAT-ING UP? Dany Heatley had 26 goals and 38 assists for the San Jose Sharks last season. For most players in the league, those are great numbers. For a guy that has shown he can score 50 goals in a season? A little lackluster. So he gets a fresh start in Minnesota, a team that will be looking for every ounce of scoring it can find. Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune takes a look at the new partnership between the two and how they all hope it brings a return to form for Heatley.

TORRES' TREK: Raffi Torres is the son of a Mexican father and Peruvian mother who hails from Canada and has red hair. All make for one interesting player ... and determined. Torres, who just signed with the Phoenix Coyotes, gained that proverbial chip on his shoulder growing up facing the prejudices of playing hockey as a Latino. The Arizona Republic explains.

By Brian Stubits

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl and @BrianStubitsNHL 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 6:10 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2011 10:14 pm
 

Free agency: Ehrhoff atop veteran defenseman list

It wasn't long ago that we had a free-agent defensive class that was shaping up with names like Kevin Bieksa, Andrei Markov, Joni Pitkanen and Christian Ehrhoff.

NHL Free Agency

Now all of them are off the market before it even begins. Capped off by the Sabres signing Ehrhoff to a long-term deal, each has signed contracts to stay with their teams (except in Ehrhoff's case since his rights were traded).

As a result we're left with an overall veteran group with mixed-in youngsters.

The hard part is naming a defensive headliner. Is it Ed Jovanovski, the veteran who played most recently in Phoenix? Could it be Roman Hamrlik, a 17-year veteran that still has a few miles left on the tires?

Here are this year's best defensemen (in alphabetical order).

Jonathan Ericsson -- Red Wings: The 6-foot-5 Swede is just 27 and skates well, so he's an intriguing prospect, even if he has been playing mostly as a third-pairing defenseman. At this point there is no deal in place to keep him in Detroit, but that can still be done. If not, though, there will be some suitors intrigued by the big man with very modest offensive numbers (six goals, 15 assists last season). (June 30: Re-signed with Red Wings)


Ehrhoff -- Canucks/Islanders/Sabres: He rejected an offer from the Canucks that was reportedly the exact same as Kevin Bieksa's five-year, $23 million deal and has since been sent to Long Island -- for a few days, at least. Ehrhoff has plenty of offense, scoring 14 goals with 36 assists last season in Vancouver. It's likely the Red Wings will be hot and heavy to sign Ehrhoff to fill Brian Rafalski's void now that talks have broken off with the Islanders. (June 30: Signed with Sabres)

Hamrlik -- Canadiens: At 37, Hamrlik has already declined a one-year offer from the Habs, looking to get something for two or three years. He has taken a lot of heat from the fans in Montreal, but he's still a solid player on the blue line who helped cover for an injured Markov this season. A return to Montreal is still possible, but other teams will a shot, too.


Jovanovski -- Coyotes: He's 34 but can still be a nice addition as a top-two pairing defenseman. The big question is if he can stay healthy. He will surely have a pretty hefty pay cut coming his way after the five-year, $32.5 million contract he signed with the Coyotes, but could be a target for teams like Colorado or Florida looking for experience on the back end.


Tomas Kaberle -- Bruins: He wasn't a great fit in Boston this year, as his time diminished during the playoffs. The big bug-a-boo was not giving much life to the power play, which was a year-long struggle for Boston despite the team's success. The Bruins are still trying to figure out if they want him back, but it looks like the answer will be no. He still can be an offensive contributor, though; he had four goals with 43 assists last season.

Bryan McCabe -- Rangers: Acquired by New York midseason, McCabe's greatest attraction is the offense he provides on power plays. He is coming off a big contract that was big in his falling out with Toronto when the fans didn't feel he was living up to the money. That shouldn't be a problem this time around as he won't get the big bucks.


Wisniewski -- Canadiens/Blue Jackets: He is in the 20-something crowd at 27 and has plenty of offensive potential. After coming over to Montreal from the Islanders, Wisniewski actually put up the most points of any player on this list last season with 51 (10 goals, 41 assists). There are plenty of concerns about him as a defensive player and it looks like the Blue Jackets are going to try and lock him up after acquiring him Wednesday afternoon.

Others of interest: Andy Greene (NJ), Scott Hannan (WAS), Sami Salo (VAN), Brent Sopel (MTL), Steve Montador (BUF)

By Brian Stubits

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: June 29, 2011 5:51 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2011 12:06 pm
 

Free agency: Vokoun headlines goalie market

If this were real estate, we'd call it a seller's market and Tomas Vokoun would be the blemished old house down the road that ends up looking like a palace.

NHL Free Agency

That was one of the many things that resulted from the Ilya Bryzgalov-to-Philadelphia story. Vokoun was left as the clear cream of the crop for teams in search of goaltending, which figures to be a short list. Teams like Colorado, and possibly Phoenix and Edmonton will need to address their situations -- as will the Florida Panthers.

Now there is no guarantee that Vokoun will have a new address as Panthers GM Dale Tallon said this weekend at the draft that the team's next priority would be to talk to Vokoun and figure out where both sides stand. But at this point it sure seems like Vokoun won't be coming back to the Panthers as the talks reportedly went nowhere.

Because of his status as the best option available, Vokoun will likely command another high salary, not necessarily because his play warrants it but the market could dictate as such. In the end that will largely depend on how many teams decide to take a gander at the goaltender.

Here are this year's best goaltenders (in alphabetical order).

Brian Boucher -- Flyers: The veteran was much maligned in Philadelphia, but he was serviceable. Last season he played 34 games for the Flyers, going 18-10-4 with a .916 save percentage and 2.42 goals against average. While he doesn't figure to be a starting goaltender for any team, he certainly still has value to a team looking for a solid backup.


Ray Emery -- Ducks: Once upon a time, Emery looked to be a promising up-and-comer in the NHL with the Senators. Since then he struggled, went to the KHL then returned to Philly before finding out he had avascular necrosis which led to the removal of 13 centimeters of his right fibula. But he came back last season for the Ducks, earning a Masterton Trophy nomination, winning seven of his 10 regular-season starts before going 2-3 in the playoffs. Point is, Emery appears able to be a contributor again for a team in net.

Jean-Sebastien Giguere -- Maple Leafs: A long way removed from his Conn Smythe run in 2003, Giguere has spent the last two seasons in Toronto, no longer a starting-quality goaltender. In 33 games for the Leafs in 2010-11, he had an 11-11-4 record with a less-than stellar 2.87 GAA and .900 save percentage. Now 34, Giguere's demand won't be very high but would provide a veteran backup for some team in need.


Vokoun -- Panthers: There are varying opinions about Vokoun, some point to him playing just five playoff games in his career while others note how bad the teams in front of him in both Nashville and Florida have been. His .922 save percentage is proof he can play. Vokoun is streakier than your average goalie, capable of having a month-long run where he is unbeatable followed by a bevy of three-, four-goal games. Teams in the hunt will be those looking for a full-time starter, most likely Colorado.

Others of interest: Mike Smith (TB), Jose Theodore (MIN), Josh Harding (MIN), Johan Hedberg (NJ), Pascal Leclaire (OTT)

By Brian Stubits

Photo: Getty Images

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


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 6:27 pm
Edited on: June 27, 2011 6:34 pm
 

Report: Hulsizer no longer interested in Coyotes

The Coyotes' hopes of staying in the desert might have taken a critical blow on Monday.

The Phoenix Business Journal says that Matthew Hulsizer has pulled out of the negotiations to buy the franchise.

You might remember Hulsizer appeared close to purchasing the team until a Phoenix-area watchdog group objected to the city of Glendale's role in the sale. That put a serious stall in the talks, putting the two sides further apart. Eventually Hulsizer, who has been trying to work out an agreement since last year, grew weary of the process and no longer is interested in the Coyotes. However, the Business Journal says that he could turn his attention to another NHL team as he is still interested in being an owner.

Now, there appears to be just two buyers still in the hunt, according to the report. One, Jerry Reinsdorf, has been in and out of the picture since the NHL took control of the team two years ago. The other is an unnamed group. There is no information as to how far along the negotiations with either group are.

The NHL has been adamant that it wants to keep the Coyotes where they are, turning away potential owners like Jim Balsillie who wanted to relocate the franchise. But pretty soon, even Bettman will grow tired of the process and might consider opening up to owners not interested in staying in the desert. The cities that would figure to be leading contenders would be Kansas City with its arena sans a permanent tenant and Quebec City, former home to the Nordiques/Avalanche.

-- Brian Stubits

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

Category: NHL
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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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com