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Tag:Restricted Free Agency
Posted on: October 20, 2011 4:06 pm
 

Slide risks: Who returns to juniors, who stays

By Brian Stubits

One of the rules of the CBA I love is the ability to give young prospects extended tryouts with the parent organization without risking a contract kicking in. It's a great opportunity for players to learn from some NHL experience and, in some cases, prove they are too good to be sent back to their junior team.

These players are known as "Slide-Risk" players. Here's what the CBA rule states specifically:

"In the event that an 18 year old or 19 year old player signs a Player Contract with a Club but does not play at least 10 NHL games (regular season and/or playoffs) in the first season under that player's Player Contract, the term of his Player Contract and his number of years in the Entry Level System shall be extended for a period of one year, except that this automatic extension will not apply to a player who is age 19 according to Section 9.2 by virtue of turning 20 between September 16 and December 31 in the year in which he first signs a Player Contract."

To summarize, if a player under the age of 20 doesn't play more than 10 games at the NHL level, his contract doesn't kick in. So that's one more year to hold off restricted free agency. What's not to like about the provision?

This season, there are 12 players who could be returned and have their contract years delayed. Without further ado, let's see the names (in alphabetical order, of course).

Brett Bulmer, Minnesota Wild: Bulmer was selected 39th overall by the Wild two drafts ago, but his toughness and energy seem to be welcome as far as first-year coach Mike Yeo is concerned. Bulmer seems like he has earned a spot on the third line, although he hasn't been playing all that much (9:38 per game). He does have a pair of assists in that time. He might not play a whole lot, but Yeo talks pretty glowingly about him. Verdict: Wild ride continues.

Brett Connolly, Tampa Bay Lightning: This is an iffy call. Connolly, taken sixth overall two drafts ago, has the skill. That's evident by his playing alongside Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis at times already this season. Here's what coach Guy Boucher told the Tampa Tribune: "He eventually will be an NHL player. Now will he be an NHL player starting this year for a long time? It's up to him and it's up to, I think, circumstances, too, for us to see if he can manage it because we don't want to hurt the kids." Verdict: 50/50 still.

Sean Couturier, Philadelphia Flyers: The Flyers' top pick in this summer's draft might have surprised a few by earning such a strong look from the staff in Philly, but he has continued to impress. Couturier at this point seems like a fixture already on the team's penalty-killing unit and he is averaging 14:53 minutes on ice per game. He also has a goal and two assists through the first five games. Verdict: Looks like a lock to stay.

Erik Gudbranson, Florida Panthers: The rough-and-tumble defenseman who went third overall two years ago has found himself a defensive partner in Ed Jovanovski, the veteran the Cats brought in this summer. He has only managed 11:49 of ice time in five games, but that's partly because he has racked up 24 minutes in penalties already, getting himself into a pair of fights against the Lightning. Verdict: There seems to be no inclination to send him down. Fine in Florida.

Ryan Johansen, Columbus Blue Jackets: He has played in only three of the Blue Jackets' six games this season, getting on the ice for just 8:18 per game. If he sticks around, his role won't be a big one, likely finding a home on the third of fourth lines. He is their big prospect in Columbus, but he might benefit from more time in the WHL, especially if the team isn't committed to playing him night and night out. Verdict: Could go either way still.

Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche: Landeskog was the player who was universally dubbed with the "most NHL ready" tag prior to this past summer's draft. The expectation for whichever team took him, he would become a fixture almost immediately. That still seems to be the case in Colorado as Landeskog is playing close to 17 minutes a game, has shown solid speed and strength and amassed three points (two goals and an assist). Things are going good in Colorado with him there, that should say enough. Don't mess with a good thing. Verdict: Get comfortable in Denver, kid.

Adam Larsson, New Jersey Devils: Many believed the Devils got a steal by grabbing Larsson with the fourth pick of the draft this summer. But the three that went before him look pretty darn good too, so it's understandable. But that doesn't mean he might not be the best rookie of them all. The Calder candidate has been averaging a whopping 24:14 of ice time with New Jersey and is expected to be a rock on the blueline at the Rock. Verdict: Jersey boy for sure.

Nino Niederreiter, New York Islanders: The fifth overall pick two years ago was given an extended look last season when he played nine games for the Islanders, totaling two points. He was expected to earn a roster spot this year but he has yet to play because of a groin injury. When he's ready, he'll get his nine-game tryout started and they will go from there. Verdict: Good chance he's staying on the Island.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers: There was some skepticism if Nugent-Hopkins was ready for the grind of an NHL season but the Oilers would keep him anyway, it's important the franchise show the future. Well if he's shown anything in the first few games it's that he's good enough to stick around on his own merits anyway. He leads the team in scoring thanks in part to a hat trick already in his career. Verdict: Bundle up for an Edmonton winter.

Mark Scheifele, Winnipeg Jets: The Jets turned lots of heads with their selection of Scheifele early in the draft, but he was impressive during camp and the preseason. So he earned his right at an extended look from the team. He does have a goal on the power play but he has averaged just 11:25 of ice time. "We'll do what's best for him," was coach Claude Noel's cryptic response to Scheifele's place. Verdict: A little more seasoning in juniors before a full season in the NHL.

Devante Smith-Pelly, Anaheim Ducks: It wasn't long ago that Smith-Pelly seemed like a bit of a long-shot to make the roster. But he's giving his best effort to make it a tough call on the staff. He has seemed to work well with Andrew Cogliano and Andrew Gordon on the third line. Averaging a little more than 11 minutes per game, he has picked up one assist. Verdict: Have a feeling he stays since he can't be recalled if he's sent to juniors again. Few more games will tell the tale for sure.

Mika Zibanejad, Ottawa Senators: This is a tough call. From a physical standpoint, Zibanejad seems ready. This hit from his European days pre-draft drew a lot of attention. And earlier this year, GM Bryan Murray said Zibanejad would stay with the Sens. But with just one assist in 12:35 per game and Ottawa being as dreadful as it has been, you wonder if he wouldn't benefit more by being sent down. Verdict: Should probably return to Sweden but gut tells me he stays in Ottawa.

Photo: Getty Images

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Posted on: September 16, 2011 4:31 pm
 

Kings GM talks Doughty negotiations, 'holdout'

By Brian Stubits

Will the Kings ever be able to re-sign Drew Doughty? I'm starting to wonder.

Aside from paying even more than what they have been willing to (reportedly $6.8 million annually, same as the team's highest-paid player Anze Kopitar), there doesn't seem to be much left.

With training camp for Los Angeles opening today, Doughty is officially a "holdout." Technically, he's not a holdout because he doesn't actually have a contract, but that's semantics, hence holdout in quotes.

Technicalities aside, Lombardi is getting down to business. In an interview with Rich Hammond at L.A. Kings Insider, he went into detail about the negotiations and you can feel the frustration from Lombardi through the screen.

“Obviously we’re very disappointed that he’s not here. I don’t think it’s any secret, what we think of this player and his abilities and what his potential is," Lombardi said. "Where we’re at now, we certainly stretched the limit in terms of paying him amongst the top players in the league, paying him appropriately within the team’s salary structure and, most importantly, being able to keep this group together."

Going into great detail of the negotiations up to this point, Lombardi insists that all the options have been explored. Short-term contract and revisit again in a couple seasons? Discussed. Name it, Lombardi says they have tried it.

Lombardi's goal was to have the negotiations done by July 1. Some of the reasons obvious: it would have given them a clearer picture of their cap space headed into free agency, would have taken care of the headache, etc. But Lombardi also wanted it done then so Doughty would be focused on offseason conditioning, a big concern for any player who is in a contract dispute.

But now Doughty is missing company time. The summer is over and Kings are in camp. So Lombardi says that brings up a whole new twist in the talks: salary deductions for each day missed. Check out the follow exchange.

LOMBARDI: “The problem we have, and we’re going to have to see how this evolves, is that generally with a player, you establish his market value and he signs up for 275 days of work. That was the one thing that changed during the CBA, that players were paid during training camp. So, quite frankly, it’s the way we have to approach this. Let alone missing a day or work, as well as getting behind your teammates in terms of preparation. It probably makes this a little more difficult, but you have to factor that in now. You’re not getting a full year’s work as of today.”
Question: Meaning the offer gets reduced by however many days he’s not here?
LOMBARDI: “Well, as we talked about before, there has to be some finality, in terms of when the players are supposed to report. It’s no different, I think, than what the other teams have done. It’s, `OK, now we have to regroup here and see what evolves,’ and then I have to go back to ownership. It’s no different than anything else. You do this based on 275 days of work, and now it’s down to 274.”

If, and that's a big IF, Lombardi is telling the truth, this has a serious chance to destroy the negotiations, not like they are so promising in the first place. But Lombardi has been around the block and knows how unpredictable these negotiations can be.

"Like I said, these things can change in a short time. It’s not that it’s not encouraging. It’s a little disappointing, but we’re also excited as to what I’m seeing and feeling downstairs. We see this kind of thing happen, and eventually it will be resolved. We can’t let this, in any way, derail us from the focus we need here every day.”

Now something will likely be reached at some point, obviously, but it still doesn't seem like it's going to be soon.

Photo: Getty Images

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Posted on: September 16, 2011 9:48 am
Edited on: September 16, 2011 11:53 am
 

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

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

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

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

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 30, 2011 12:53 pm
Edited on: August 30, 2011 1:44 pm
 

Flyers extend James Van Riemsdyk for six seasons

By Brian Stubits

The Philadelphia Flyers have re-signed young forward James van Riemsdyk to an extension, helping them bypass restricted free agency next season.

While the team didn't say how long the contract is for other than being a multi-year deal, Van Riemsdyk spilled the beans himself, tweeting about his delight of the deal.

"Excited to sign a 6 year extension with the @NHLFlyers, love playing in Philly," Van Riemsdyk said. "Want to thank mr snider and flyers management for treating me well and showing confidence in me #firstclassorganization."

Scott Burnside of ESPN reports the deal is for $25.5 million over the six years or an annual cap hit of $4.25 million. That's a pretty hefty deal for JVR at this point, but obviously they are investing in what they think he will become, not who he is now.

A deal at that length will help the sides avoid the restricted free agency process altogether, surely a welcome result for both parties. As this summer has reminded, that can be an ugly fight. Already under contract for next season, the deal will keep JVR in black and orange until he's nearly 30.

The 22-year-old New Jersey native has shown plenty of promise in his two seasons in Philly. Last season he scored 21 goals and chipped in 19 more assists in the regular season before scoring seven goals in 11 games for the Flyers in the playoffs. He will be one of the players called on to help fill the scoring void left by Mike Richards' and Jeff Carter's exits.

It's been a good summer for JVR. First there was the appearance in an upcoming Judd Aptatow film, now this. Not bad for the offseason.

A native of the Jersey shore, Van Riemsdyk grew up a fan of the Rangers. Not any more.

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: August 26, 2011 9:42 am
Edited on: August 26, 2011 1:25 pm
 

Sharks extend Logan Couture for two seasons

By Brian Stubits

The San Jose Sharks built up their blue line this offseason, but now they have returned their attention to the forwards, securing Logan Couture for an additional two seasons.

The news first came from CSN Bay Area and CBSSports.com writer Ray Ratto, who broke the news late Thursday. The new contract calls for Couture to make $2.75 million in the first year of the deal then $3 million in Year 2.

"We reached a number that was fair to both sides," Couture said. "I want to play in San Jose, I want to stay there and I want to win there. I was happy to get the deal done."

Couture, a Calder Trophy finalist as the NHL's top rookie last season, was slated to become a restricted free agent after next season when he is due to make about $1.25 million. So now the 22-year-old will be under contract through the 2013-2014 season.

"Logan is an excellent teammate and he proved it by committing to the team-first philosophy that we have instilled here," GM Dough Wilson said. "Last season, as a rookie, he was a catalyst for our hockey club as one of our most consistent players. Over the last two postseasons, he has been one of our most reliable players. We’re excited to see him build upon his early success and continue his growth over the next three seasons."

Couture was a bit of a revelation last season in San Jose, breaking out with 32 goals and 24 assists in his first full campaign. For much of the season, he looked like the team's best player and somebody who can help continue to carry the Sharks torch in the Pacific.

 "Obviously, it was a successful year last year for myself," Couture said. "My goal coming into this year is to improve as a player. I'm not looking at specific statistical numbers. I want to improve my all-around game, be better on the penalty kill. I still want to score goals and points, but I want to just improve as a player."

Signing Couture presumably puts an end to a busy summer for the Sharks who now have the majority of their biggest contributors locked up through the next two seasons (Cap Geek), at a minimum. Add the core sticking around with the additions of such players as Brent Burns and Martin Havlat, the Sharks will undoubtedly be contending for the Cup again this season.

"I'm just excited to get back to the team with the changes we made," Couture said. "We're definitely a better team."

We've seen some problems with teams trying to tie up their restricted free agents this offseason, such as Drew Doughty in Los Angeles, so it's good to get it done this far in advance to when they don't have to worry about it.

So I can't imagine you can find anything not to like about this move, unless you're a fan of one of the Sharks' division foes.

Photo: Getty Images

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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

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