Tag:2011 Free Agency
Posted on: July 2, 2011 11:15 am
Edited on: July 2, 2011 6:50 pm
 

Brad Richards settles on signing with Rangers

The biggest free agent is heading to the biggest market.

The front-runners all along, the New York Rangers won the race to sign former Dallas Stars center Brad Richards. Darren Dreger of TSN reports the deal is for nine years and $60 million, an average hit of $6.67 million.

"Very happy to become a New York Ranger today!!!" Richards wrote on his Twitter account. "Playing at MSG will be amazing and looking forward to working with a great young team"

Richards spent the opening day of free agency entertaining team presentations in his agent's office in Mississauga, Ontario. There he hosted the Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs (sans Brian Burke), L.A. Kings, Tampa Bay Lightning and Calgary Flames. It was expected Richards would make his decision late Friday but instead elected to sleep on it before deciding on the Rangers.

"You can find a player like this as a free agent or find a player like this in the top five [of the draft] and it takes a long time to develop," general manager Glen Sather said. "We needed somebody like this to take us to the next step. I think it's a great opportunity for us. I know he left a lot of money on the table by accepting the offer."

And what about that concussion he suffered near the end of the season? Richards says it's nothing to worry about.

"I have been training for six weeks, way ahead of any other training schedule I have been on because I was healthy after the season," Richards said. "My body felt great, my head felt great, so I got at it pretty quick."

For months it had been assumed the Rangers would be the ultimate winner of the Richards sweepstakes. The Blueshirts needed a top-line center, had the money to spend and Richards had said he wanted to play in a big market where hockey matters. Seems to be a natural fit. But it didn't stay that easy.

The Leafs, Kings and Lightning were not surprise suitors at all. And if any other teams were to be in the mix, it was assumed it would the Sabres in Buffalo and maybe even the Flyers in Philly. Instead, the underdog came in the form of the Flames, who gave Richards a lot to think about.

Dreger reported Saturday morning that the Flames actually offered more money than the Rangers, giving an offer at the same length but for $65 million total. In the end, Richards took less money to head to New York and reunite with his former coach in Tampa, John Tortorella.

The Kings also came to the table with an aggressive offer, trying to give L.A. perhaps the best collection of centers in the NHL with Mike Richards and Anze Kopitar already on the roster. Tim Leiweke, the chief executive of Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns the Kings, was part of a group that included general manager Dean Lombardi and several others who went to Canada to meet with Richards. Not even video messages from Wayne Gretzky and Kobe Bryant won over Richards.

"We have a lot of respect for Brad and Pat Morris and the way they handled this," Leiweke said. "We understood his desire to play out East and did the best we could to overcome that. We wish him the best. Dean [Lombardi] and his team did a great job. We are focused on other options and are certain this team is going to be very good next year."

His contract isn't as high as I anticipated it might go. Considering some of the contracts that were flying around yesterday in the free-agent frenzy, it was reasonable to assume he would see a number around the $70 million-$75 million range. Instead, the Rangers get him at an average cap hit of $6.67 million -- still a lot, but a reasonable price for a player that had 77 points in 72 games last season. The Rangers could have done worse.

Now, the Rangers still have around $15 million under the salary cap ceiling, according to capgeek.com, which should be enough room to sign restricted free agents Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov and Brian Boyle.

Brian Stubits

Photo: Getty Images

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Posted on: July 1, 2011 4:28 pm
Edited on: July 1, 2011 4:53 pm
 

Sabres bring in Leino for six years, $27 million

The Buffalo Sabres have added one of the top available wings on the market, signing former Flyer Ville Leino.

The contract calls for Leino to receive $27 million over six seasons, an average of $4.5 million per season.

The Flyers wanted to keep the 27-year-old Leino but couldn't reach a deal before Friday. He scored 19 goals last season with 34 assists in Philadelphia.

The Sabres are clearly showing they are going to be a team that spends under new owner Terry Pegula, a Sabres fan who also happens to be a billionaire. On Thursday they signed defenseman Christian Ehrhoff to a 10-year, $40 million contract. By adding Leino they get a versatile forward who can help them add some scoring on the outside.

By Brian Stubits

Photo: Getty Images

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Posted on: July 1, 2011 4:17 pm
Edited on: July 1, 2011 8:36 pm
 

Busy Panthers get Versteeg in trade, sign five

Dale Tallon has been one of the busiest men today, and now he's made another move. The Florida Panthers GM acquired Kris Versteeg from the Philadelphia Flyers for a pair of draft picks down the road.

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

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Posted on: July 1, 2011 3:54 pm
Edited on: July 1, 2011 5:14 pm
 

Stars add forward Ryder from champion Bruins

The first piece of the Boston Bruins' championship team is gone as Michael Ryder has signed a deal to join the Dallas Stars.

Ryder had a very nice playoff performance for the Bruins with eight goals and nine assists. On the season he had 18 goals and 23 assists for Boston.

The move for Dallas is a nice one and helps them to cover for some of the offense that departs in Brad Richards. Perhaps with a bit bigger role than he had in Boston he can approach the 30-goal mark that he hit a few times early in his career with Montreal.

The team announced the contract is for two seasons at $3.5 million per season.

By Brian Stubits

Photo: Getty Images

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Posted on: July 1, 2011 3:40 pm
Edited on: July 1, 2011 5:16 pm
 

Canadiens sign forward Cole away from 'Canes

Erik Cole has spent the majority of his career in Carolina, but his time in Raleigh is done as he's headed to Montreal for four years, $18 million, according to multiple reports.

Cole was one of the top-rated forwards on the board this free-agent season. There was still hope in Carolina that the team would bring back Cole, but GM Jim Rutherford hinted that perhaps the team wouldn't be able to afford what he would be looking for.

Rutherford shared what happened from a Carolina standpoint: "The Canes took a last ditch effort to sign Cole and changed position considerably, but were unable to keep him."

It's a pretty hefty contract for Cole, but it helps the Canadiens add some size and scoring on the wings.

Last season Cole scored 26 goals and had 26 assists last season for the 'Canes.

By Brian Stubits

Photo: Getty Images

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Posted on: July 1, 2011 2:39 pm
Edited on: July 1, 2011 8:53 pm
 

Flyers strike Penguins again, sign C Talbot

The Flyers have taken another former Penguin; they have signed center Maxime Talbot during  a furious Friday, free-agent frenzy.

Earlier in the day the Flyers signed Jaromir Jagr, who was believed to be favoring a return to Pittsburgh -- the place he began his NHL career.

Philadelphia didn't figure to be much in the way of a big player in free agency considering they were already approaching the cap ceiling. But they still found enough room to sign Jagr and Talbot in addition to signing Andreas Lilja away from Anaheim and re-signing Jakub Voracek, who they acquired in a trade for Jeff Carter.

Talbot's deal is for five years and $9 million, according to Darren Dreger on TSN.

If you thought the Flyers-Penguins rivalry was heated before, just wait until they play next. The Flyers are trying to re-tool the roster after making room for goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, and I'd say they've done just that. The two signings today both pretty much came out of left field and the Flyers will end this week the same way they ended the last: as the most talked-about team in hockey.

Talbot scored eight goals and had 13 assists for the Penguins last season.

By Brian Stubits

Photo: Getty Images

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Posted on: July 1, 2011 2:07 pm
Edited on: July 1, 2011 5:18 pm
 

Avalanche acquire Varlamov from Caps for picks

The Colorado Avalanche have acquired goaltender Semyon Varlamov from the Washington Capitals in exchange for a first-round pick in 2012 and second-round draft pick in either 2012 or 2013.

The Avalanche have a hole to fill in net and most assumed they would do it by signing Tomas Vokoun. Perhaps they still do, but bringing in Varlamov could signal the deal fell through with Vokoun.

Varlamov had been rumored to be on his way to the KHL, but stated he wanted to try and stay in the NHL, just that his days in Washington were done. Now he likely has his chance to stay in the States and be a starter.

Now where does Vokoun go? The Miami Herald's George Richards suggests the netminder could be headed to the desert to sign with the Phoenix Coyotes. Still, where Vokoun ends up will be one of the most interesting questions to follow for the rest of the day.

By Brian Stubits

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: July 1, 2011 11:42 am
Edited on: July 1, 2011 11:08 pm
 

Flyers sign Jagr after Penguins, Wings drop out

The Philadelphia Flyers have signed Jaromir Jagr, GM Paul Holmgren announced Friday afternoon.

The deal is reported to be for one year at $3.3 million.

So how did the talks start between the sides that didn't seem to have any previous contact? It was something the Flyers sort of stumlbed in to.

“Well, obviously it sort of just started innocently yesterday. I just sent a text to Petr Svoboda, his agent, who also represents Jake Voracek, and I didn’t know who was involved," Holmgren said. "I read over the last few days it was just Detroit and Pittsburgh were the teams, so I just sent him a text about if Jaromir would have interest in playing for Philadelphia and it just kind of went from there, and culminated today with our signing of him."

In a shocking turn of events, the Pittsburgh Penguins withdrew their offer to Jagr earlier in the day. To make it even crazier, the Red Wings dropped out, too.

GM Ray Shero had hoped to have an answer from Jagr by now, but things have changed in the last 24 hours. Since Jagr flew to the United States, the list of potential suitors that was believed to be two (Penguins and Red Wings) or maybe three has grown.

"We made what we thought was a very fair contract offer to Jaromir on Tuesday, based on his stated interest of returning to the Penguins," Shero said in a statement. "We made our best offer from the start, given our salary cap structure, in an attempt to facilitate a deal. But now, after several days, with an extended time frame for making a decision, and additional teams getting involved, we have decided to move in a different direction. It was never our intention to get involved in a free agent bidding war, and we have to focus on our team."

The Penguins were believed to be the favorite to sign Jagr and bring him back to the NHL. The 39-year-old spent 11 seasons with the Pens and is near the top of all the franchise's records.

By Brian Stubits

Photo: Getty Images

Click here for more free-agency updates.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl 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