Tag:2011 Free Agency
Posted on: June 29, 2011 5:51 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2011 12:06 pm

Free agency: Vokoun headlines goalie market

If this were real estate, we'd call it a seller's market and Tomas Vokoun would be the blemished old house down the road that ends up looking like a palace.

NHL Free Agency

That was one of the many things that resulted from the Ilya Bryzgalov-to-Philadelphia story. Vokoun was left as the clear cream of the crop for teams in search of goaltending, which figures to be a short list. Teams like Colorado, and possibly Phoenix and Edmonton will need to address their situations -- as will the Florida Panthers.

Now there is no guarantee that Vokoun will have a new address as Panthers GM Dale Tallon said this weekend at the draft that the team's next priority would be to talk to Vokoun and figure out where both sides stand. But at this point it sure seems like Vokoun won't be coming back to the Panthers as the talks reportedly went nowhere.

Because of his status as the best option available, Vokoun will likely command another high salary, not necessarily because his play warrants it but the market could dictate as such. In the end that will largely depend on how many teams decide to take a gander at the goaltender.

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

Brian Boucher -- Flyers: The veteran was much maligned in Philadelphia, but he was serviceable. Last season he played 34 games for the Flyers, going 18-10-4 with a .916 save percentage and 2.42 goals against average. While he doesn't figure to be a starting goaltender for any team, he certainly still has value to a team looking for a solid backup.

Ray Emery -- Ducks: Once upon a time, Emery looked to be a promising up-and-comer in the NHL with the Senators. Since then he struggled, went to the KHL then returned to Philly before finding out he had avascular necrosis which led to the removal of 13 centimeters of his right fibula. But he came back last season for the Ducks, earning a Masterton Trophy nomination, winning seven of his 10 regular-season starts before going 2-3 in the playoffs. Point is, Emery appears able to be a contributor again for a team in net.

Jean-Sebastien Giguere -- Maple Leafs: A long way removed from his Conn Smythe run in 2003, Giguere has spent the last two seasons in Toronto, no longer a starting-quality goaltender. In 33 games for the Leafs in 2010-11, he had an 11-11-4 record with a less-than stellar 2.87 GAA and .900 save percentage. Now 34, Giguere's demand won't be very high but would provide a veteran backup for some team in need.

Vokoun -- Panthers: There are varying opinions about Vokoun, some point to him playing just five playoff games in his career while others note how bad the teams in front of him in both Nashville and Florida have been. His .922 save percentage is proof he can play. Vokoun is streakier than your average goalie, capable of having a month-long run where he is unbeatable followed by a bevy of three-, four-goal games. Teams in the hunt will be those looking for a full-time starter, most likely Colorado.

Others of interest: Mike Smith (TB), Jose Theodore (MIN), Josh Harding (MIN), Johan Hedberg (NJ), Pascal Leclaire (OTT)

By Brian Stubits

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: June 29, 2011 11:13 am
Edited on: June 29, 2011 12:39 pm

Hurricanes agree to two-year deal with LaRose

Just a day after signing Joni Pitkanen to an extension and sounding pessimistic about some of his other free-agents-to-be, Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford has agreed on a deal with winger Chad LaRose.

The two-year contract calls for LaRose to make $3.4 million, which would be paid out in $1.5 million the first year, $1.9 million the second.

"Chad has been one of my favorite players right through his entire Compuware career, and it is my hope that he is a lifelong player with the organization," Rutherford said. "His work ethic and locker-room presence drive our team, whether it's a game or a practice, and he excels in his role on the ice for the Hurricanes."

The 29-year-old Michigan native scored 16 goals last season, sixth most on the team. He ended with a career-high 31 points.

Rutherford is still trying to work out deals with Erik Cole and Jussi Jokinen.

-- Brian Stubits

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: June 29, 2011 10:47 am
Edited on: June 29, 2011 11:20 am

Daily Skate: Kaberle on market, Kopecky off?

BYE BYE B'S?: It was no secret that as well as most every move Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli made in constructing a Stanley Cup champion roster, the fit of defenseman Tomas Kaberle wasn't working out as well as the rest. Kaberle is an unrestricted free agent Friday and Boston might not bring him back. The B's are reportedly shopping his negotiations rights, but at the same time a return isn't being ruled out. Kaberle scored four goals with 43 assists last season, adding 11 assists in the playoffs.

KOPECKY PICKS FLORIDA?: Reports surfaced all over Twitter this morning that Tomas Kopecky, whose rights were acquired by the Panthers two days ago for a seventh-round draft choice, has agreed to a four-year deal worth $12 million. Naturally, it has been met with a lot of criticisms and questions about giving a 15-goal scorer like Kopecky $3 million annually as GM Dale Tallon seems on the verge of doing. Expect to see a lot of over-signing this offseason with the needs being high but the choices being limited. Plus, Florida will have some extra bloated contracts with its chase to hit the salary-cap floor.

FREE MARKET PAIN: Looking forward to free agency opening? Defending Big D isn't. What was already shaping up to be a very uninspiring market is diminishing by the day as potential free agents keep getting signed to extensions or are having their rights traded so they can be signed elsewhere.

HOWE CAN THAT BE? Michigan is one of the better hockey states in the United States; after all, it's home to Hockeytown, USA. That's why it might come as a little surprise that Tuesday the Hockey Hall of Fame elected its first Michigan-born player in Mark Howe. Howe grew up in Detroit, where his father Gordie played for so many years, and played for the Red Wings during his career. His election makes it the fourth-straight year a former Wing is Hall-bound.

A KING'S VIEW: Pete Demers, retired head trainer for the Los Angeles Kings, pretty much saw all you could see in his 41 years on the job. Demers recounts some of the things he encountered over the years to frozenroyalty.net, including a quite comical image of former Montreal Canadiens star Guy Lafleur having a cigarette and hot dog between periods. Priceless.

MANITOBA MAN: It's clear how happy the people of Winnipeg were to have the Thrashers move to Manitoba, but how happy were the players to make the move? Count Dustin Byfuglien among those that likes it. "Every way you look at it, it’s going to be better, in a positive way. All we have to do is play hockey and everyone will appreciate it after a little while," he said. "Every one knows their hockey up there and the guys should be taken care of pretty well." The Winnipeg Sun has more.

-- Brian Stubits

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

Posted on: June 29, 2011 10:08 am
Edited on: June 29, 2011 12:38 pm

Rangers buy out captain Drury's final season

For a few weeks, it has been clear the Rangers wanted to get rid of captain Chris Drury and his big contract. The only question was if they could, considering Drury is dealing with a knee issue that could keep him out all next season and CBA rules prohibit buyouts of injured players.

But Drury has elected to go along with the Rangers' plans, neglecting to apply for a medical exception, the New York Post reports.

That means Drury will become an unrestricted free agent up for grabs on Friday. You have to wonder how much interest there will be, but a reunion with the Sabres is a possibility, Larry Brooks of the Post suggests.

The Rangers, meanwhile, will be cap-charged approximately $3.717 million for the buyout this season and $1.667 million next year, though the obligation for 2012-13 could be erased pending negotiations of a new labor agreement.

Because Drury had a no-move clause in his contract, he was able to elect not to go on unconditional waivers preceding the buyout.

The captain was gracious in bowing out, responding to the Post with a statement via email.

"It was a great honor and privilege to be a New York Ranger for the past four years, and I will always be grateful for the opportunity to fulfill that childhood dream," Drury said in a statement that was sent to the Post by email. "The Rangers are a first-class organization with great people in the hockey, public relations, team services and community relations departments.

"I would also like to thank Ranger fans. They always inspired me to do the best I could in whatever role I was asked to play. Playing before them in the Garden was a thrill of a lifetime. I wish all the fans and the entire Ranger organization the best of luck in the future."

Drury played very little for the Rangers last season, scoring just one goal with four assists in 24 games because of a broken finger and knee surgery.

-- Brian Stubits

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: June 29, 2011 9:52 am
Edited on: June 29, 2011 1:12 pm

Pens await word from Jagr today on one-year offer

The ongoing flirtation between Jaromir Jagr and the Pittsburgh Penguins, his former fling, is getting real. Penguins GM Ray Shero told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he has offered the former team captain a one-year deal and expects word from Jagr today.

"[Today] is decision day," Shero said. "We'll see what he does. ... He's got all the information he needs from us [to make up his mind]."

Since it became clear Jagr was interested in a return to the NHL, there have been two teams at the forefront with a third, unknown team supposedly also in the mix. Jagr first was in contact with the Red Wings, and GM Ken Holland showed reciprocal interest. Since then, Jagr and the Penguins have been figuring out if things would work for a return to the Steel City.

Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review is of the mind that if Jagr had his druthers, he'd come back to Pittsburgh. Same goes for Dan Bylsma, the Penguins coach who has commented a few times on how he'd like to see Jagr on his bench.

"I've been on record a few times with the media about what the attributes of Jaromir Jagr are still really good," Bylsma said. "I think [a reporter] used the word 'hypothetical,' and we've kind of run with that word. There are things that I think he could add to our team."

Rossi quoted Jagr's agent, Petr Svoboda, as saying Jagr is on his way to the States.

"He is flying to New York [from the Czech Republic] right now," Svoboda said. "He is coming this afternoon and will tell us his answer then."

Because of CBA rules, the deal cannot be made official and signed until Friday, when free agency begins.

It's hard to believe that he would fly to America just to say no. Assuming the offer is truly "fair" and "respectful" as Shero said -- the deal is worth a reported $2 million -- it looks as if you can bust out those No. 68 sweaters in Pittsburgh and start growing back those mullets.

Jagr, a Czech native, won an Olympic gold medal in 1998 and a bronze in 2006. He also won two Ice Hockey World Championships in 2005 and 2010. He has already played in 806 games in a Penguins uniform.

He has 646 career NHL goals, and if he returns to the league, his career point total would make him the active leader.

-- Brian Stubits

Photo: Getty Images

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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

Posted on: June 28, 2011 5:21 pm
Edited on: June 29, 2011 11:00 am

'Canes keep Pitkanen, face decisions with others

The players are flying off the free-agent market and the season hasn't even begun. You can add Joni Pitkanen to the list.

The Carolina Hurricanes locked up their young defenseman with a three-year contract at $4.5 million annually before he could test the open waters. The 28-year-old has spent the past three seasons in Raleigh with the 'Canes, scoring five goals with 30 assists last season.

"Joni has been a very important part of our defense as he plays in all situations," GM Jim Rutherford said. "He plays a lot of minutes, and is one of the top puck-movers in the league. We are very pleased that he wanted to return to the Hurricanes."

If he were to hit free agency, he was set to be one of the most coveted defensemen available. Instead, a rather bare market becomes even less inviting for the spenders.

"He's a guy that plays a ton of minutes in all situations, is a big, strong guy, and, if you look at the free agent list for defensemen, he was near the top of it," Rutherford said. "We thought he would want to test the market, but he really loves playing here and I really appreciate what he did to make that happen."

Also on Tuesday the Hurricanes re-signed Patrick Dwyer to a two-year deal.

They are the first of many decisions the Hurricanes have to make in the coming weeks. At this time, they have just five forwards under contract at the NHL level. Cory Stillman, Erik Cole, Chad LaRose and Jussi Jokinen are all unrestricted free agents come Friday while Brandon Sutter is on the restricted list.

Rutherford, holding little back, said things aren't going well with LaRose, Cole or Jokinen.

"For Erik and Jussi, this is about money to them," Rutherford said. "I'll use the same quote that I always use this time of year. You have players who say the right thing publicly about wanting to stay, but what they forget to add is, 'Unless I can get more money somewhere else.'

"That may very well be what happens, and in that way I understand their position."

-- Brian Stubits

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: June 28, 2011 11:40 am
Edited on: June 28, 2011 4:56 pm

Penguins bring back Dupuis for two years, $3M

While all eyes are on Jaromir Jagr in Pittsburgh, GM Ray Shero took care of the in-house business first by re-signing Pascal Dupuis.

The deal is for two years and $3 million, meaning an annual hit of $1.5 million to the cap. The deal was officially announced this afternoon.

"[My family and I] really love Pittsburgh. It was the only place we wanted to go," Dupuis said Tuesday.

Dupuis came over to the Penguins in the deal that landed them Marian Hossa and Hal Gill, clearly the third of three players in the trade. Since then he has proved to be a very valuable player, fitting on any of the four lines Pittsburgh has and stepping into the leader's role a bit when Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin went down with injuries.

Last season for the Pens, Dupuis scored 17 goals and had 20 assists in 81 games. Plus, he was one of the more memorable characters to come out of HBO's 24/7 series before the Winter Classic.

The Penguins now sit at just less than $58 million on the roster, giving them about $6.5 million to spend. They seem to be on the verge of bringing Jagr back to Pittsburgh, something that can't be done until Friday at the earliest, and also are still in talks with Tyler Kennedy, a player that they did not give a qualifying offer to.

-- Brian Stubits

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

Posted on: June 28, 2011 11:05 am
Edited on: June 28, 2011 11:31 am

Daily Skate: Winnipeg ticket prices, RFA offers

COSTLY RETURN: Would you like to go see the Winnipeg Jets make their return to the NHL for the home opener in the 'Peg? Do you have $1,645 handy? A search of ticketcenteronline.com shows only two choices available for any tickets to the game against the Canadiens, and the other price is $1,839. I'd say they have the concept of supply and demand down pretty well.

MAKE IT EIGHT: With news coming out Monday that Matthew Hulsizer has withdrawn his bid to buy the Coyotes, speculation immediately began that that could have been the straw that broke the camel's back and the Coyotes' hopes of staying in the desert might have dried up. There's certainly hope in Canada that it means the Nordiques will be coming back to Quebec City. You might remember when Jim Balsillie was trying to buy the Coyotes that a site makeit7.ca was launched? Now, there's a makeit8.ca with as simple a web page as you'll ever see.

OVER-QUALIFIED: Want to know which restricted free agents were given qualifying offers and which, like Dan Carcillo, let go? Check the list here courtesy of Pro Hockey Talk. Keep in mind that any player who was not given an offer is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent when the market opens July 1.

MR. KENNEDY, JAGR WATCH: One restricted free agent who wasn't offered is Pittsburgh's Tyler Kennedy. But that doesn't mean he won't be back in the black and gold next season. Penguins GM Ray Shero says Kennedy wants to come back and he wants Kennedy back; it's just that arbitration or a qualifying offer wasn't the best option. What's more? The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that Jaromir Jagr and the Penguins have a handshake that he will return to the first franchise he called home.

SHARK THINK TANK: When the Sharks sent Devin Setoguchi and more to the Wild for All-Star defenseman Brent Burns, they undoubtedly upgraded the blue line. But they lost a top-line winger in the process. So fearthefin.com takes the task of figuring out who should take the spot next to Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. There is no shortage of names in the mix, from Dany Heatley to Ryan Vesce.

Flyers ARE FINE: Worried that changes the Flyers just made might damage their chances of winning the Stanley Cup? Senior vice president Bobby Clarke doesn't think you should be. It comes as no surprise, but Clarke believes the Flyers did exactly what they needed to do to get better and explains exactly why Philadelphia is in a better position now than at this time last week.

-- Brian Stubits

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

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