Posted on: July 26, 2011 10:34 pm
Edited on: July 26, 2011 11:09 pm
By: Adam Gretz
It's late July and the list of free agents that can still help your team is getting short. How short? It's the point in the offseason where a depth signing like Jason Williams is semi-exciting news.
One player that is still floating around in free agent purgatory that could still be worth a look for a club in need of some offense is 37-year-old Cory Stillman. There was a report last week from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch -- on Twitter -- that if the Blue Jackets couldn't secure a deal with Vinny Prospal they might have turned their attention to Stillman.
Other than that, it's been relatively quiet on the Stillman front. Does he still have something left to offer a team? Here's a quick look at what he has working in his favor (and what he has working against him):
1) He Can Still Score: A somewhat underrated point-producer for much of his career, Stillman is still capable of putting up some offense when he's in the lineup and hasn't really slowed down all that much. Over the past three seasons he's averaged .67 points per game, which is only a small drop from the .71 he's averaged over his entire career. He recorded 39 points (12 goals and 27 assists) in 65 games last season split between Florida and Carolina.
2) Playoff Experience: Stillman has earned two Stanley Cup rings in his career, one each with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Carolina Hurricanes, and was a point-per-game player during his postseason run with the Hurricanes during the 2006 playoffs, finishing second to only Eric Staal for the team lead in scoring. Playoff performance is always something teams are looking for, and Stillman is a veteran performer that's had his share of success in the postseason.
3) Potential Salary Cap Value: In the salary cap world value is everything, and Stillman, coming off a contract that saw him earn an average annual salary of $3.5 million could come at an affordable price. If you can get a 40-50 point performer on the cheap at this point in the offseason, you're probably lucky.
The two biggest things working against him, however, are his age (37, and turning 38 in December), and the fact he's had a difficult time staying healthy in recent years. He is still productive, but the key part of point No.1 above is the "when he's in the lineup" part. Over the past three seasons Stillman has appeared in just 186 out of a possible 246 regular season games, and has played more than 65 games just twice over the past six years.
Still, for a contract in the $1.5-$2.5 million range it would certainly be worth a shot at this point in the summer for a playoff team that needs a veteran winger that can provide some offense.
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: July 15, 2011 10:50 am
Edited on: July 15, 2011 1:54 pm
By Brian Stubits
CROSBY HITS THE ICE: For the first time since April, Sidney Crosby has taken to the ice (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review) for workouts as he continues toward his return from the concussion he sustained midway through last season. In April, as the Penguins were in playoff mode, Crosby was working out with the team, leading to speculation he might come back for the playoffs. He was soon shut down because of headaches, which were blamed on a sinus infection, not concussion symptoms. It's still just another small step in his recovery and doesn't guarantee he'll be ready for camp, but at this point it can only be taken as a positive for Pittsburgh.
PRONGER PROBLEMS: Speaking of rehabbing players and camp, Chris Pronger could miss the Flyers' training camp for the second consecutive year. Recovering from the removal of a herniated disc in his back, Pronger is still not able to up his own personal training beyond treadmill walking as he was directed to give his back 12 weeks to scar up and heal. Hopefully it's not an omen for a repeat of last year, when Pronger played just 50 games, his lowest total since 2002-03.
MR. POPULAR'S PENGUINS: Pennsylvania is Steelers country, right? Well yes, it still is, but not among the youth. While the Steelers remain the state's most popular team, including the teams across the state in Philly. But the Penguins lead all teams in the coveted demographic of fans between 18 and 29 years old. Among that demographic, the Penguins received 27 percent of the vote, with the Steelers second at 22 percent. Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review points out that the Penguins were on the brain at the time of the survey as it was in the middle of Jagr Watch. No matter, it's quite a feather in the Pens' cap to beat out the Steelers, Phillies and Eagles in the young demographic.
THEY COULD BE CONTENDERS: At the Florida Panthers' developmental camp, the team received a visit and motivational speech from Micky Ward (Sun-Sentinel) or the man the movie The Fighter was based on. His story certainly stuck with some of the young Panthers prospects like 2011 draft pick Logan Shaw: "Everyone's going to have low points in their career like he did, retiring for two-and-a-half years. He did it for himself, that's why he came back. That's how we all made it here, believing in ourselves and that's going make us have a successful career."
LET YOUR WINGS FLY: Detroit Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader is going to get a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take to the air with the famous U.S. Navy Blue Angels (Detroit Free Press). The former Mr. Hockey in Michigan will join the Blue Angels in a special showing in Ypsilanti where he will experience the tumbles, twirls, rolls and near-Mach 1 speeds of the Jets. The Blue Angels are in town for an air show next weekend.
Posted on: July 10, 2011 11:08 am
Edited on: July 10, 2011 1:33 pm
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.
Posted on: July 2, 2011 6:18 pm
Edited on: July 2, 2011 7:28 pm
Vokoun was the top goalie available on the free-agent market and seemed destined to go to Colorado if he didn't re-sign with the Florida Panthers. When the Cats signed Jose Theodore, it seemed like it was just a matter of time before the Avs signed the veteran goaltender.
Apparently turned off by Vokoun's asking price, the Avs moved on by trading for Semyon Varlamov -- from the Capitals -- and signing Jean-Sebastien Giguere to back him up. That left the question lingering: where would Vokoun sign?
The Capitals had a trio of young goaltenders up until yesterday in Varlamov, Michal Neuvirth and Braden Holtby. When they shipped Varlamov -- who was close to going to the KHL -- most assumed the Caps would go with the duo of Neuvirth and Holtby. Instead, they sign Vokoun -- at a very cheap rate, mind you -- to come in and help the youngsters while trying to help the Capitals advance deeper in the playoffs.
"He's been on teams with no chance to win for a very long time," Vokoun's agent Michael Deutsch said. "The opportunity to compete for a Stanley Cup means a great deal to him."
In his 13 seasons spent between the Panthers, Nashville Predators and one game with the Montreal Canadiens, Vokoun has only appeared in five playoff games. That's partly because of the teams he has had in front of him. Vokoun has continually put up one of the better save percentages in the NHL, last year posting a .922 percentage in Florida.
Signing him at such a low price considering his status as the elite and perhaps even the only full-time starting goaltender available, is no risk for the Caps. For Vokoun, it's a significantly lower salary than I'm sure he expected to command.
By Brian Stubits
Photo: Getty Images
Click here for more free-agency updates.
Posted on: July 1, 2011 4:17 pm
Edited on: July 1, 2011 8:36 pm
There had been a lot of talk around the draft last week that the Panthers were trying to get Versteeg from the Flyers. Now, it actually goes through. You might remember that Versteeg played for Tallon while he was in Chicago, making it another former Blackhawk added to the Panthers roster, joining Brian Campbell, Tomas Kopecky and Jack Skille in the past six months.
It stood to reason the Panthers would be busy considering they had to spend more than any team just to reach the salary cap minimum. In the past few weeks they've taken on the the nickname FLOOR-ida. They also made four moves on the free-agent market, signing Scottie Upshall, Jose Theodore, Ed Jovanovski and Marcel Goc to big deals within the first two hours of free agency beginning.
They topped it all off by later signing Tomas Fleischmann to a four-year, $18 million contract. Fleischmann has been battling a blood clot issue but is believed to be over it as long as he continues to take the prescribed medicine. His highest offensive output came two seasons ago with Washington when he scored 23 goals with 28 assists.
But that didn't end the day for the Panthers. Oh no, they still had one more move left in them. In the late evening, the Panthers announced the signing of Sean Bergenheim for four years at an average of $2.75 million. Bergenheim had a breakout performance when he scored nine goals in the playoffs for Tampa Bay, substantially increasing his asking price and the Lightning were no longer willing to meet it. The Panthers hope Bergenheim found himself in the playoffs and he can continue to play up to a level close to that.
Last season Versteeg had 21 goals and 25 assists.
For Philadelphia it adds to another busy day, something that has become the norm for GM Paul Holmgren of late. Earlier in the day he surprised the NHL by signing Jaromir Jagr to a one-year contract then added Maxime Talbot from the Penguins. After those moves he was approaching the salary ceiling, but by sending Versteeg to Florida he opens up just more than $3 million on the cap, according to capgeek.com.
By Brian Stubits
Photo: Getty Images
Click here for more free-agency updates.
Posted on: July 1, 2011 10:46 am
Edited on: July 7, 2011 5:31 pm
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
By Brian Stubits
Tags: 2011 Free Agency, Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicabo Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Ottawa Senators, Philadelphia Flyers, Phoenix Coyotes, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Washington Capitals, Winnipeg Jets
Posted on: June 29, 2011 5:51 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2011 12:06 pm
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.
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.
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
Posted on: June 29, 2011 10:47 am
Edited on: June 29, 2011 11:20 am
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