Tag:2011 Free Agency
Posted on: July 1, 2011 11:18 am
Edited on: July 1, 2011 2:44 pm

Blue Jackets sign Wisniewski to six-year contract

James Wisniewski has signed a six-year contract worth $33 million with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Wisniewski Conference Call

The Jackets acquired the rights to the defenseman from Montreal earlier this week, trying to get him signed before any other team had a crack.

Wisniewski figured to be one of the more sought-after defensemen today. He might not be the best defender in hockey, but he provides a massive offensive boost to the Blue Jackets' blue line. Acquired by the Canadiens before last season, "Wiz" had 10 goals and 41 assists, leading Montreal defensemen.

The 27-year-old native of Canton, Mich., joins his fourth team in seven seasons, beginning his career with Chicago before moving on to Anaheim.

By Brian Stubits

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: July 1, 2011 11:06 am
Edited on: July 1, 2011 12:01 pm

Wings re-sign Ericsson for three years, $9.75M

With some work to do on defense, the Red Wings decided their first stop would be re-signing Jonathan Ericsson.

The Detroit Free Press reported last Thursday night and the team confirmed Friday morning that the Wings have re-signed the defenseman to a three-year deal worth $9.75 million.

Ericsson is coming off an improved season from the year before. The Wings have wanted to see him get more physical with his big frame (6'4/220). It's a pretty hefty pay check to a guy that doesn't get top-tier minutes on the blue line, but the Wings are gaining hope he can be a player on the special-teams units.

Last season for the Red Wings Ericsson had three goals and 12 assists with a plus-8 rating.

By Brian Stubits

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl or @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 30, 2011 8:11 pm
Edited on: July 1, 2011 11:55 am

Free agent needs: Demand to exceed supply

This will likely be a free-agent scene like we've never seen before.

Inflated contracts will be an hourly debate. The salary cap -- and more importantly its floor -- will be discussed ad nauseum. Trades will be a likely avenue to help fill the needs tat might otherwise not be available on the free-agent market that keeps shrinking as teams see the scarcity of the market they get scared and scramble to re-sign their free agents.

NHL Free Agency

Almost every GM will put on their thinking cap. Some will have to get creative to get the players they need. Others will have to weigh the pros and cons of overpaying just to be able to hit the salary cap floor.

For any studying business, just take a gander at this market for supply and demand in full effect. Because the demand will likely supersede the supply, values are going to go up. So get ready to drop your jaws at some of the deals about to be handed out.

With that, here's my take on what each team will be targeting in the near future.

Anaheim Ducks: They have three premier forwards in Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan and Hart winner Corey Perry, but at this point they only have eight forwards inked. They will need to find some at each of the positions up front to help fill in the lines. If he's not held onto by Philadelphia, Ville Leino could be a nice addition on the wing. Teemu Selanne is a free agent, but they don't have to worry about him other than if he will play another season because it's either Anaheim or retire.

Boston Bruins: GM Peter Chiarelli should be very quiet this week unless he gets busy in the trade market, which isn't likely to even cross his mind. Why break up a good thing? All that the B's will be looking for is re-signing Brad Marchand and making a decision on a new defenseman, preferably somebody who can move the puck and command the power play. I'm not sure if the fit would be right, but Bryan McCabe could fill the role. They could try and add another forward, but that would be a luxury at this point.

Buffalo Sabres: Clearly shoring up the defense has been a priority to this point in the offseason for the Sabres and they still have work to do. At the draft they traded for Robyn Regehr and then they acquired the rights to and signed Christian Ehrhoff. Now that Steve Montador is in Chicago, they could be on the lookout for another defenseman or just dip into the system. A decision has to be made on a backup goalie whether it be keeping RFA Jhonas Enroth, re-signing Patrick Lalime or bringing in somebody new. Then it's on to the center position where they will certainly be in the hunt for Brad Richards.

Calgary Flames: The Flames don't seem to be a team that will be very active at all come Friday. They already have a slew of high-priced forwards locked up and they're set in net, too. All that they figure to address will be the defensemen where only four guys are signed at the moment but they have RFAs in Chris Butler and Brendan Mikkelson. Now that the family has been mostly ousted, don't expect the Flames to go snag restricted Carolina free agent Brandon Sutter.

Carolina Hurricanes: It wasn't long ago GM Jim Rutherford was saying that re-signing Joni Pitkanen, Jussi Jokinen, Chad LaRose and Erik Cole would be too rich for his team's blood. Since then, he has re-upped all of them but Cole, who will be test the open waters. They are pretty set in the defensive categories but have a good amount under the cap to take care of the forwards, which includes the possibility of still re-signing Cole.

Chicago Blackhawks: By acquiring the rights to Steve Montador and signing him (for a reported $2.75 million cap hit), the 'Hawks have all but shored up the defensive ranks other than RFA Chris Campoli. All signs point to them keeping Michael Frolik on the forward side, leaving them a little money left over to find a "role player" or two while not hitting the limit. GM Stan Bowman doesn't anticipate being a player on any big names (see: Brad Richards) and would like to keep some breathing space.

Colorado Avalanche: The Avs will be one busy team in the upcoming days. It will likely start with finding their next goalie and they seem to be the runaway favorite to pull in Tomas Vokoun. They will have a lot of money to spend (and it started with re- signing defenseman Ryan O'Byrne) and so they will likely be in on some of the bigger names available. They would like to find some experienced players like Ed Jovanovski to help mentor the young guns. Cap flexibility will likely be kept, though, as 10 of their forwards will be free agents next year, including Matt Duchene.

Columbus Blue Jackets: A pretty major reconstruction has already begun with the addition of Jeff Carter to give them a top-line center to play with Rick Nash. Where most of their attention will be focused is on the defensive front, starting with keeping James Wisniewski after they acquired his rights from Montreal. I'd look for them to take a gander at another blueliner while they're at it.

Dallas Stars: They have a few spots up front to fill out, including the vacancy of Brad Richards they just won't be able to replicate on this free-agent market, and a good amount of money to do it. Dallas, though, will be a hard sell to a lot of free agents because of the unclear ownership situation, a large part of the reason why Richards wouldn't sign an extension. Because of that same reason, don't look for Dallas to be too far above the salary floor when it's all done.

Detroit Red Wings: For the Wings it starts with the blue line. They need to fill Brian Rafalski's void with some offense from the back with Christian Ehrhoff being a perfect target. Only problem is he could be locked down by Buffalo before the Wings ever have a shot to talk to him. They would clearly like to add a veteran forward while they're at it, evidenced by their pursuit of Jaromir Jagr. All in all, they are in excellent condition with the cap and their roster.

Edmonton Oilers: Unlike other rebuilding teams, they will have no problem getting to the salary cap floor. It will be interesting to see if the Oilers make a play for any of the goalies available, but they could easily pass with Nikolai Khabibulin still under contract for another two seasons. They took care of the veteran mentor role with Ryan Smyth, but they could look for another. They will also be in business for a defenseman or two to shore up the back.

Florida Panthers: What don't they need? Florida has already shown with Tomas Kopecky that they might be the biggest offender of the overpaid contracts and it's two fold: First they have more money to spend than any team just to get to the salary floor and secondly Florida is the type of market that has to overpay to get somebody to want to come. GM Dale Tallon has already shown he's willing to take on bad contracts from other teams looking for wiggle room. But the Panthers will surely be in the hunt for some help at forward and perhaps another veteran defenseman.

Los Angeles Kings: First of all, sign Drew Doughty. That should be about the first three priorities for GM Dean Lombardi. What will be drawing most of his attention after that will be finding some forwards he can pair with the nice group of centers he is putting together in Mike Richards and Anze Kopitar. I'd expect them to be in on some of the bigger names as far as the wings go, such as they are in this market.

Minnesota Wild: Here's another team that has been incredibly proactive in making sweeping changes to the roster without the benefit of free agency. They are set with their starting goaltender in Niklas Backstrom but the backup will be a question mark as both options now are unrestricted free agents (Josh Harding and Jose Theodore). They could elect to re-sign either one or go to the market for backup help. They also would like to add some more scoring punch to a team that hasn't been able to light the lamp much, especially since Marian Gaborik split.

Montreal Canadiens: Signing Andrei Markov to an extension was a priority and they have taken care of that. Another could be seeing if there are any takers for Scott Gomez and his massive $7.357 million cap hit (hello teams looking to hit the cap floor!) From there they have a little bit of work to do on the forward front. While they won't find too much in the way of scoring help, they could nab some guys to fill out the lower lines.

Nashville Predators: Things took a turn late Wednesday when the NHLPA filed a grievance against the Predators regarding the timing of their qualifying offers to their restricted free agents such as Sergei Kostitsyn. After they get those guys back in the fold (IF they do) they have a roster in pretty good shape. Marcel Goc and Joel Ward are both going to be up for grabs, so they will have a forward or two in their sights. In the meantime, they will be looking to get Shea Weber signed up for the long run.

New Jersey Devils: Like the Predators, they have a restricted free agent they need to get locked up, and for the Devils it's Zach Parise. Get him squared away and figure out the defensive front where they have four restricted free agents (Matt Corrente, Anssi Salmela, Matthew Taormina and Mark Fraser) plus UFA Andy Greene and they don't figure to be active in free agency. They will probably try and sign a goalie to play behind Martin Brodeur, however.

New York Islanders: Shown by their pursuit of Christian Ehrhoff, the Islanders will be aggressive this weekend, and will be looking for some help on defense. They also could stand for a veteran presence to come in and help a young but talented group of forwards that includes John Tavares, Michael Grabner and Kyle Okposo now that Doug Weight is done. They will probably be in the hunt for some of the top forwards available, but can they do what they couldn't with Ehrhoff and convince them to sign?

New York Rangers: The Rangers have a primary target that most everybody seems to think is destined to sign, and that's the big fish this year in Brad Richards. But regardless of whether they get him or not, they have some in-house work to take care of, too. Artem Anisimov, Brian Boyle, Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky. The goal in New York now is to add some skill so they can start scoring some more. That goes for the blue line, too, where they might look at a guy like Tomas Kaberle for a puck mover.

Ottawa Senators: As they showed at the draft, the Senators are in retooling mode and the free-agent market doesn't yield too much help in that regard this year. They have veteran presences in both the front (Daniel Alfredsson) and the back (Sergei Gonchar) so that won't be as much of a priority just to fill the role. Where the Senators could stand to address would be up front and also possibly a goalie to come in and help Craig Anderson out.

Philadelphia Flyers: The Flyers are in a position of luxury, just looking for a fill-in pieces. For the most part, they have the roster they are going to compete for a Cup with. Now that they won't go after Steven Stamkos, they have some money they freed up by trading Jeff Carter and Mike Richards to try and re-sign Ville Leino or go after some other forward if things don't work out with Leino. Don't forget RFAs they acquired in the trades, Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds, are also waiting to be signed.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Pretty clearly they want some help on the power play and Jaromir Jagr is the guy that Dan Bylsma wanted most. They would also like to keep Tyler Kennedy in Pittsburgh, but they don't have much money to go around as they are closer to the new salary cap than any team. GM Ray Shero also would prefer to have a little bit of extra money below the cap to provide him flexibility midseason in case any moves need to be made.

Phoenix Coyotes: Perhaps a sign of the team's financial issues, there is not a single forward that is under contract beyond next season. On defense there are a few more locked down and they would like to add one more to that list in Keith Yandle. Keeping him on the roster will be a major focal point. They have the second least amount of money committed as of now, so they will have to be active players in some fashion. They could use a little more help on the deeper lines at center and on the edges.

San Jose Sharks: They don't have a ton of free space to work with and are now pretty set in the back end after landing Brent Burns from Minnesota at the draft. The top lines are pretty well covered but the Sharks will look to fill out the depth up front with some cheaper targets considering the cap restraints. For them it's a matter of finding good role players, which is a pretty nice position to be in with such a down free-agent class.

St. Louis Blues: The Blues shouldn't be much of a factor in the open market considering they have spent the majority of their time since the season ended re-signing the bulk of their free agents, including T.J. Oshie on Thursday. Another one left to go is Matt D'Agostini. From there they will just need to make a call on the goaltending situation and they might be open to the idea of adding a defenseman to the mix.

Tampa Bay Lightning: We all know what they must do and that's fend off the suitors and sign Steven Stamkos to a long-term deal already. Another RFA they have been working on in a much quieter fashion is Teddy Purcell, who might be taking the team to arbitration. They also must address the goaltending situation beyond what they've already done -- signing Dwayne Roloson to a one-year deal. He isn't a goalie you want to start 60 games or more, so getting a solid backup will be important.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Another team that will be in the chase for Brad Richards, they would love to add some skilled players who can help fill out the top lines. They will certainly be in the market for more help up front such as Maxime Talbot, whose negotiation rights they looked into acquiring. The Leafs have plenty of space available, so they will be in play for the bigger names on available even if they strike out on Richards.

Vancouver Canucks: There isn't much the Canucks need to do, but one thing will be finding somebody to give them what Christian Ehrhoff did, some offensive production from the blue line. With him gone they will likely look for somebody on defense. From there it's mostly adding depth to the forward corps as they are in a pretty good position (understatement of the year) in the talent department up front.

Washington Capitals: The Caps don't have much to do, they are pretty much set. But they do still need to get newly acquired Troy Brouwer under contract as he's a restricted free agent. On the back end, Scott Hannan is heading to free agency so if he is out in Washington they will be in the market for a guy like him who can play some tough defense. All in all, things should be quiet in the capital.

Winnipeg Jets: Will they or won't they sign Andrew Ladd? They would like to as they sent him a qualifying offer, but right now negotiations aren't going exceptionally well. He likely isn't leaving, but getting him signed would be a nice step. Same goes for Zach Bogosian on the blue line. Both guys are restricted players that can help them out, so their signings are as important as anybody they can get on the open market. But they will look to add some quality forwards while they're at it.

By Brian Stubits

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

Category: NHL
Posted on: June 30, 2011 6:45 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2011 7:07 pm

Sabres sign Ehrhoff to long-term contract

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.

Now Ehrhoff joins a retooled defensive corps in Buffalo that includes newcomer Robyn Regehr. Add in young Tyler Myers and they have the makings of a very nice blue line.

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

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

Posted on: June 30, 2011 2:25 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2011 5:57 pm

Flyers won't offer Stamkos after mulling move

We are now in the window of time teams can send offer sheets to restricted free agents. Thus far, no such offers have been sent to the biggest RFA out there, Steven Stamkos, and the Flyers won't be the first.

Frank Seravalli of the Philadelphia Daily News confirmed the Flyers have declined to extend a sheet to the young superstar in Tampa Bay.

According to Seravalli the Flyers had been seriously contemplating sending an offer to Stamkos. He reported the deal would have been a 12-year, $115 million contract, which would have carried a $9.58 annual cap hit. The most any team could offer is $12.86 million annually, or 20 percent of the salary cap. Tampa Bay would have seven days to match the offer.

NHL Free Agency

At debate for the Flyers wasn't whether they could afford Stamkos. They wouldn't be able to re-sign players like Ville Leino if they had, but that's a tradeoff they would've taken. Other residual moves, such as possibly sending Scot Hartnell and his $4.2 million contract to the AHL where it doesn't hurt the cap, would have had to be made to make everything fit.

Part of the concern was knowing whether or not Lightning GM Steve Yzerman is bluffing when he says no matter the offer, the Lightning will match it. Maybe he's telling the truth, maybe he's not. But if he is, he could -- and likely would -- take seven days to give a response to any offer a team might send. In that time Philadelphia could have seen all of its potential targets -- Leino, Michael Ryder, Erik Cole, John Madden among others -- sign elsewhere and be left hanging out to dry a bit.

The Flyers have already given the organization a very different look in the past few weeks, but adding Stamkos would be getting a nose job, tummy tuck and facelift all in one stop. Perhaps it was all just a bit too costly for Philly's britches (we didn't even mention that if they somehow did take Stamkos away, they would owe Tampa Bay four first-round draft picks).

It probably would have been all for naught as I am of the mind that Yzerman isn't bluffing when he says Tampa Bay will do whatever it takes to keep Stamkos around. You just don't let franchise players like him go that easily.

By Brian Stubits

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: June 29, 2011 8:11 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2011 9:17 am

Islanders ship Ehrhoff's rights off to Sabres

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.

Ehrhoff scored 14 goals and had 36 assists for the Canucks last season and rejected an offer that was reported to be the same as Kevin Bieksa, who signed a five-year, $23 million contract.

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

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

Posted on: June 29, 2011 6:23 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2011 2:36 pm

Free agency: Richards cream of offensive crop

You ever see a fish feeding frenzy? When the fish basically jump on top of each other to get the food first? That's what free agency will look like because of the dearth of big fish to be found, to mix our metaphors.

There is no doubt who the most coveted free agent is this season. Brad Richards tops all names up for grabs and pretty much every team is likely to show some interest in signing the former Stars center.

NHL Free Agency

Richard expects to be a busy man come Friday, according to his agent, Pat Morris, who spoke to Buffalo radio station WGR 550 on Wednesday.

"If five teams call, I'd be shocked by the limited number. If 25 teams called, I wouldn't be shocked," Morris said.

Perhaps the first ring will come from the Rangers, who seem to be the team most coveting Richards. They would love to find a center who can score to anchor the first line with Marian Gaborik. Just a reminder, though: veteran newcomers don't always work out so well for the Blueshirts, just think of Scott Gomez and Chris Drury.

If Rangers GM Glen Sather isn't first to get in touch with Richards, then it could very well be Brian Burke and Toronto. The Leafs are hungry to get back to the playoffs after a lengthy drought by the organization's standards (six seasons). Richards grew up a Leafs fan, so that has helped drive speculation in Ontario. But honestly a massive chunk of the NHL players grew up Maple Leafs fans, so that means next to nothing.

His former team in Tampa Bay, the Sabres in Buffalo, and even the Flyers are potential suitors, too.

Frankly, any team that has enough room to sign Richards will probably be standing with food in hand, hoping to get the hook, line and sinker on the best player to be had.

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

Sean Bergenheim -- Lightning: Before the postseason, Bergenheim would have likely re-signed quietly with the Lightning after a modest 14-goal, 15-assist season. But he busted out in a big way during the playoffs, scoring nine goals in 16 games. Since then he has turned down an offer from Tampa Bay with GM Steve Yzerman commenting that the two sides obviously see Bergenheim's value a little differently. At this point it looks like he'll be playing elsewhere.

Erik Cole -- Hurricanes: Cole has been a near lifer in Carolina, spending all but a part of his nine seasons in the red of the 'Canes (he was sent to Edmonton and then promptly reacquired by Carolina). He enters free agency coming off a 26-goal, 26-assist campaign, more than attractive numbers. Carolina GM Jim Rutherford would still like to re-sign Cole and keep him around longer, but at this point they haven't been able to find common ground. Carolina is still the odds-on favorite, though.

Simon Gagne -- Lightning: Gagne is coming off a 17-goal, 23-assist season in Tampa Bay, his first with the Lightning. It wasn't long ago that Gagne was a 40-goal scorer for the Flyers, last hitting that mark in 2006-07. It isn't as if he's too old to still flash that form at 31, but the concern might be in the injury department, specifically concussion concerns. Could be worth a shot from a team looking for scoring on the wings.

Jussi Jokinen -- Hurricanes: Another player Rutherford has said he's not sure if he'll be able to re-sign but wants to, Jokinen should draw a good amount of interest if Carolina can't lock him up. The last two seasons for the 'Canes he has surpassed 50 points, highlighted by a 30-goal, 35-assist campaign in 2009-10. (June 30: Re-signed with Hurricanes for three years, $9 million)

Ville Leino -- Flyers: The 27-year-old Fin is coming off his best season in the NHL, scoring 19 goals with 34 assists on the heels of his 21-point postseason when the Flyers went to the Cup Finals. There is no question the Flyers would like to have him back, but it's a matter of if they can have him back. The Flyers are still reportedly eyeing RFA Steven Stamkos, so Leino could be left in the lurch and snagged by another team while Philly chases that option.

Richards -- Stars: Richards is a true No. 1 center. Last season in 72 games for the Stars he tallied 77 points on 28 goals and 49 assists. The mystery isn't who will be interested in Richards, it's who will Richards be interested in? He will likely have his pick of the litter, from his old stomping grounds in Tampa to New York or Chicago.

Michael Ryder -- Bruins: The 31-year-old Ryder hasn't made the best impression in the world in either Montreal or Boston, the two stomping grounds in his career. However, the guy has scoring ability, hitting the 25-goal plateau in four of his seven NHL seasons, including 38 as a rookie.

Maxime Talbot -- Penguins: Talbot isn't the highest-scoring center you'll find (just eight goals and 13 assists last season) but he has earned a reputation as a postseason performer, which never hurts. The Maple Leafs have shown interest in Talbot since it became clear he wouldn't be returning to Pittsburgh and seem the most likely destination at this point.

Scottie Upshall -- Blue Jackets: Smack dab in the middle of his prime at 27, Upshall has plenty of talent to draw interest. He hasn't found the perfect spot for himself in either Columbus or any of the spots before. But each of the past four seasons has seen his goal total rise, hitting 22 last season for the Jackets. Once concern is that last season was the first time he played 75 games (he played all 82).

Others of interest: Jason Arnott (WAS), Tomas Fleischmann (COL), Radim Vrbata (PHO), Joel Ward (NSH), Marcel Goc (NSH), Raffi Torres (VAN), John Madden (MIN), Andrew Brunette (MIN), Tim Connolly (BUF)

By Brian Stubits

Photo: Getty Images

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