Posted on: August 18, 2011 9:13 am
Edited on: August 18, 2011 10:44 am
By: Adam Gretz
NYLANDER GETS AN INVITE: Michael Nylander last played in the NHL during the 2008-09 season, and he's going to have a chance to make a return this season as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers announced on Wednesday that they've given Nylander an invite on a pro tryout contract. He's played 15 seasons in the NHL for seven different teams and scored 209 goals. During his last appearance in '08-09 he scored nine goals in 72 games as a member of the Washington Capitals. Over the past two seasons he's spent time in the American Hockey League with the Grand Rapids Griffins and Rochester Americans, as well as some time in his native Sweden playing for Jokerit.
SMITH WILL GET A CHANCE IN DETROIT: The Detroit Red Wings lost Brian Rafalski to retirement this offseason which is a rather large blow to their defense. Nicklas Lidstrom is returning for another year, and as good as he still is, he's certainly not getting any younger. It's time for some of the young guys to make their presence felt, and one player that's going to get a long look in training camp is Brendan Smith, the teams first-round pick in 2007. Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press takes a look at whether or not he'll be ready for the NHL this season.
EHRHOFF IS READY TO HANDLE THE EXPECTATIONS: Who is the highest paid defenseman in the NHL this season? That would be Buffalo Sabres rearguard Christian Ehrhoff, who is set to pull in $10 million this season. That makes him not only the highest paid defenseman, but also one of the highest paid players in the league. With that comes plenty of expectations, and the veteran seems ready for all of it according to Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News.
BOEDKER REPORTEDLY RE-SIGNS IN PHOENIX: The Phoenix Coyotes re-signed Mikkel Boedker on Wednesday night according to TSN's Bob McKenzie. In three seasons the former first-round pick has scored 16 goals and recorded 45 points in 126 games.
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Posted on: July 20, 2011 5:07 pm
Edited on: July 20, 2011 5:45 pm
By: Adam Gretz
Buffalo Sabres fans are more than a little pumped up about their team's new owner, Terry Pegula, and it's already showing at the box office. Even more than usual.
The Sabres announced on Wednesday that the team reached a franchise record renewal rate of 99 percent for 2011-12 season tickets, and because of that, capped season ticket sales at 15,200. HSBC Arena, the home of the Sabres, has a capacity of 18,690 for hockey.
Pegula, a billionaire businessman and long-time Sabres fan, purchased the team back in February, almost immediately sending a burst of excitement through the entire fan base. That excitement has carried over to the offseason where Buffalo has been one of the most active teams this summer, spending millions on players.
Prior to the start of free agency the team acquired defenseman Robyn Regeher from the Calgary Flames, and then followed that up by signing Christian Ehrhoff and Ville Leino. Ehrhoff's deal is structured in a way that makes him one of the highest paid players in the NHL this upcoming season.
The Sabres have always been a hot ticket in Buffalo, routinely playing to near capacity crowds. But a 99 percent renewal rate? That's mighty impressive, and it's not hard to understand. They have a new owner that's one of them (Pegula was reportedly a season ticket holder for the Sabres prior to purchasing the team) and is spending big money in an effort to put the best possible team on the ice, even if some of the signings -- like the ones to Leino and Ehrhoff -- carry a bit of a risk.
Posted on: June 30, 2011 6:45 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2011 7:07 pm
Less than 24 hours before acquiring his rights and just hours before free agency begins, the Buffalo Sabres have signed defenseman Christian Ehrhoff to a long-term contract, the team announced Thursday evening.
Bob McKenzie of TSN reports the deal could be for 10 years and $40 million.
Since turning down an offer to stay with the Canucks, Ehrhoff had his rights sent to the Islanders. After trying to sign him to a deal, Isles GM Garth Snow accepted that he would not be able to entice Ehrhoff to sign, he shipped his rights to Buffalo and a match was made.
Ehrhoff brings plenty of offense from the back end, scoring 14 goals with 36 assists last season for the Presidents' Trophy-winning Canucks.
The Detroit Red Wings figured to be big contenders for Ehrhoff's services but they never got the chance. Instead they will have to look at the rest of the defensive market, which gets even paltrier without Ehrhoff available.
By Brian Stubits
Posted on: June 29, 2011 8:11 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2011 9:17 am
Christian Ehrhoff's time as a New York Islander hardly lasted a day. Such is the world of negotiation rights.
On Wednesday, about 24 hours after acquiring his rights from Vancouver for a fourth-round draft pick, the Islanders sent his rights to Buffalo and recouped the fourth-round selection it gave up.
Islanders GM Garth Snow tried to sign Ehrhoff -- reported numbers were around $5 million annually -- but the German defenseman rejected Snow's overtures, apparently intent on hitting the free-agent market even if it means less money than what New York was offering. Now, the Sabres are on the clock.
At this point ,it's starting to feel like a hot potato being tossed about, except in this case teams are trying to hold on until they are burned.
For the Islanders, it ends up being a wash, possibly costing them a few draft positions in the fourth round, assuming they finish worse than the Sabres next season. In the process, Snow shows the Isles want to invest and get better, perhaps making his team a little more attractive to free agents than it otherwise would have been.
If the Sabres are unable to sign Ehrhoff by Friday when free agency begins, the Red Wings are the odds-on favorite to sign him.
-- By Brian Stubits
Posted on: June 29, 2011 6:10 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2011 10:14 pm
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
Tags: Andy Greene, Boston Bruins, Brent Sopel, Bryan McCabe, Christian Ehrhoff, Columbus Blue Jackets, Detroit Red Wings, Ed Jovanovski, James Wisniewski, Jonathan Ericsson, Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Phoenix Coyotes, Roman Hamrlik, Sami Salo, Scott Hannan, Steve Montador, Tomas Kaberle
Posted on: June 27, 2011 4:43 pm
Edited on: June 27, 2011 6:00 pm
Without the deal, Bieksa was headed for the unrestricted free-agent market, which opens Friday.
Bieksa, 30, has spent the entirety of his NHL career with the Canucks, entering the league in 2005. This season he combined with Dan Hamhuis to form one of the better defensive pairings in hockey after he was rumored to be on the trading block just last season.
He was stellar in the playoffs, scoring five goals and recording five assists as the Canucks came one win shy of their first Stanley Cup. Bieksa scored the series-ending goal against the San Jose Sharks after the puck seemed to magically bounce off the boards right on to his stick and nobody but him on the ice was aware.
The Canucks still have work to do with other free agents, including fellow defenseman Christian Ehrhoff. He figures to command a similar salary as Bieksa. Among other UFAs are Chris Higgins, Raffi Torres, Tanner Glass and Sami Salo.
-- Brian Stubits
Photo: Getty Images