Tag:2011 Free Agency
Posted on: June 28, 2011 10:22 am
Edited on: June 28, 2011 11:03 am

Caps sign Laich with six-year, $27 million deal

The Capitals have signed center Brooks Laich to a six-year contract worth $27 million.

There was concern among the Caps faithful that Laich would be on his way out of town, considering he was set to become an unrestricted free agent Friday.

"It wasn't very stressful at all," said Laich of the negotiating process. "Washington was easily my first choice. I gave my agent instructions that I fully intended to return to Washington and that was my only choice. I wasn't looking to test the market."

Keeping Laich was important to the Capitals. He's a solid, two-way player who contributed 16 goals and 32 assists last season for the Caps after a career-high 25 goals and 59 points the season before.

"He's really important to this team," Capitals GM George McPhee said. "This guy is committed. I think lots of other teams were going after him. This is an important guy for us."

"My intent the whole time was to return," Laich said. "That was the only option. We got to a point where it got very close to the draft and I really wanted to get the deal done so I knew for sure I’d be going back to Washington. You never know (what) could happen at the draft; they could have made trades or gone in another direction. I didn’t want to lose Washington."

It might have taken a couple of days longer, but the only thing anybody is losing is the free-agent market, down one of the better players that would have been available.

-- Brian Stubits

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: June 27, 2011 5:31 pm
Edited on: June 27, 2011 6:28 pm

Stamkos atop restricted free-agent class

Here we are, just days away from July 1, and Steven Stamkos still doesn't have a contract for next season. Come Friday, he will be a restricted free agent if no extension is reached with the Lightning before then. Stamkos says they're close, but as of yet no deal is done.

So will there be a stampede for Stamkos, a young superstar who has been the NHL's leading goal scorer over the past two seasons? Don't hold your breath.

If Stamkos is still unsigned comed Friday, teams will have the option of extending him an offer sheet, at which point Tampa Bay would have the option to match. And make no mistake, Lightning GM Steve Yzerman will match. He is indicated that there really isn't a level he won't go to to keep his star.

Perhaps you're thinking if a team has a ton of money, why not call Yzerman's bluff, see if he truly means it? If nothing else, you force Tampa Bay to handicap the rest of its roster by committing more than it had afforded to signing Stamkos. Take the Panthers, for example. GM Dale Tallon has to spend $26 million just to reach the salary cap floor, so he has a ton of money to throw around at this point. Couldn't he set out to damage his division rivals by either taking away their best player (and giving the Panthers a star of their own) or hampering Yzerman's efforts to build his roster by offering Stamkos, say $12 million annually?

The answer is of course he could, but it's unlikely he would. Or any other team for that matter. Why? In the hypothetical world where the Lightning don't match and let Stamkos go, they would still get compensation. For Stamkos, the going rate would be four first-round draft picks going back to the Lightning. Stamkos is elite, but that's a heavy, heavy price to pay, in addition to the money committed to paying Stamkos.

So there's a reason why nobody -- except Maple Leafs fans -- has their hopes too high for Stamkos. Then again, you never know what might happen.

Among the other top RFAs this season, both Nashville's Shea Weber and New Jersey's Zach Parise have dates with arbitration after the teams filed, meaning they are off the market while the teams try to negotiate contract extensions. It's hard to imagine either player going as far as arbitration, but if they do, it's even less fathomable the teams would decline to give the player the award. Point being, don't expect to see either guy in a new sweater any time soon, barring trade, of course. These are the types of guys that you imagine will do what they need to do so as not to lose such cornerstones.

Now just because Stamkos seems like a sure bet to remain in Tampa, that doesn't mean other RFAs can't be pried away from their current teams.

Here are the top restricted free agents (in alphabetical order).

Artem Anisimov, Brian Boyle, Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky -- New York Rangers: The young Rangers all scored at least 18 goals for the Blueshirts last season, led by Dubinsky's team-high 24. The quartet could be described as the future of the franchise.

Drew Doughty -- Los Angeles: The 21-year-old defenseman has already reached All-Star status and is one of the better offensive defensemen in the league already.

Sergei Kostitsyn -- Nashville: The other RFA they have to deal with in Music City, Kostitsyn scored 23 goals and pitched in with 27 assists, having the best shooting percetage in the NHL out of those with at least 25 shots.

Andrew Ladd -- Winnipeg: Ladd was sent to Atlanta from Chicago after the cap-strapped Blackhawks couldn't retain him. In one season for the Thrashers, he had 29 goals, nine on the power play, and 30 assists.

Brad Marchand -- Boston: The rookie really broke out in the playoffs, when he scored 11 goals for the B's on their way to the Stanley Cup, the second most for a rookie in the postseason ever behind only Jeremy Roenick.

Keith Yandle -- Phoenix: A great puck-moving defenseman, he could perhaps be a target of the Bruins in his hometown of Boston. Yandle had 11 goals and a whopping 48 assists for the Coyotes last season.

Others to watch: Zach Bogosian (WPG), Troy Brouwer (WAS), Michael Frolik (CHI), Clarke MacArthur (TOR), Blake Wheeler (WPG), Mike Santorelli (FLA), Blake Comeau (NYI), Teddy Purcell (TB), Semyon Varlamov (WAS)

2011 Restricted Free Agent Compensation
Annual Cap Hit Compensation
Less than $1,034,250 None
$1,034,250 - $1,567,043 Third-round pick
$1,567,044 - $3,134,088 Second-round pick
$3,134,089 - $4,701,131 First- and third-round picks
$4,701,132 - $6,268,175 First-, second- and third-round picks
$6,268,176 -- $7,835,219 Two first-round picks, second- and third-round picks
More than $7,835,219 Four first-round picks

-- Brian Stubits

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: June 27, 2011 4:43 pm
Edited on: June 27, 2011 6:00 pm

Report: Bieksa, Canucks agree on five-year deal

The Canucks have reached an agreement with defenseman Kevin Bieksa on a five-year, $23 million deal, tsn.ca reports. Included in Bieksa's contract is a no-trade clause.

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

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

Posted on: June 23, 2011 9:46 am
Edited on: June 23, 2011 11:12 am

Daily Skate: Mohr's host work, new realignment

Here's what you might have missed while recovering from the NHL Awards after parties.

MORE OF MOHR: For the second straight year, Jay Mohr was tagged to host the NHL Awards and it seems to be a great fit. I thought the opening monologue was very good and did its best to avoid the incredibly easy jokes. The best part in my mind, though, was the opening video in a spinoff of the Penguins/Capitals 24/7 feature. And when he made a mistake, like calling the Tampa Bay GM "Steve Why-zerman" he owned up to it and later called out the Real Housewives of wherever for their mispronunciation of Martin St. Louis, which followed a very awkward presentation. All in all, Mohr did well I thought, and the reaction all seemed pretty positive.

SWEET EMOTIONS: Anaheim Ducks star Corey Perry seemed genuinely surprised and honored when he took home the Hart Trophy as the Most Outstanding Player voted by the writers. His acceptance speech was very brief as you could see the impact of the moment hitting Perry. "I'm an emotional person," Perry said. "It's like going back when we won the Stanley Cup. I cried after that. That's just the person I am." Eric Stephens of the OC Register has the whole story.

RETHINKING REALIGNMENT: It's going to happen after next season: There will be a shift in the divisional format of the NHL. But according to the Toronto Sun, if Gary Bettman gets his way, it's going to be a pretty radical change. Bettman reportedly proposed a four-division format with the top four from each division making the playoffs and the first round a divisional round. The Sun says both Columbus and Detroit could get what they want and move to the East. Jackets Cannon takes a shot at what the new layouts could look like.

YOUR MOVE, JAGR: In the latest episode of As the Jagr Turns, Detroit general manager Ken Holland admits to being very intrigued about adding the 39-year-old veteran, noting he added old vets in Mike Modano and Dominik Hasek, too. But at this point, the Red Wings have done their part and now are just waiting for an answer back from Jagr as to where he will play, be it Detroit, Pittsburgh, some mystery NHL team or back in Russia. Free agency doesn't start until July 1, but Jagr can sign before, and that's what is expected to happen.

NEW DIGS FOR DUDLEY?: Recently, Rick Dudley was informed he would not stick around with the Winnipeg organization after the move, leaving a guy known as one of hockey's sharpest eyes for talent without a job. But perhaps not for long. Aaron Portzline at the Columbus Dispatch reports Dudley had an "exploratory chat" with Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson. Columbus has a few positions to fill in its hockey operations department, so it could be the beginning of a working relationship.

TEDDY TAKES ON D.C.: Washington Capitals Examiner blogger Michael Hoffman recounts the interesting and often rocky relationship Caps owner Ted Leonsis has with the local-area media. The latest squabble surrounds the discussion by a blogger about the possibility of Jagr coming back to Washington and Leonsis hammering him for such speculation.

-- Brian Stubits

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

Posted on: June 22, 2011 11:48 am
Edited on: June 22, 2011 6:42 pm

Daily Skate: Jagr loves Mario; Bryzgalov money

We present to you the return of the Morning Skate here at the Eye on Hockey blog, where we catch you up on what you might have missed while you were sleeping.

JAGR WATCH CONTINUES: First, it was contacting the Red Wings. In the last couple of days, it's been all about the Penguins. Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review sheds some light on Jagr's interest in returning to Pittsburgh: "A longing to reconnect with the Penguins could be part of what brings back legendary forward Jaromir Jagr. He loves that team, that city," agent Petr Svoboda said Tuesday from the Czech Republic. "And he loves Mario [Lemieux], so that is all on his mind." Jagr is expected to speak with the Penguins some time today.

BRYZGALOV LOVE: The Flyers and goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov are still working on getting a deal done to help cover Philly's Achilles' heel, but as of yet, nyet. There has been talk that Bryz wanted to be the highest-paid goalie in the NHL and reports are starting to leak that he could become just that as the ballpark number right now is $7 million. Seems a bit much, don't you think?

LONG FOR LONG ISLAND: The Islanders are getting closer and closer to solidifying their home in New York as sides work toward a new arena. According to Newsday, details of the deal have emerged, and it would call for Nassau County to receive 11.5 percent of all revenue from a new Nassau Coliseum and would give owner Charles Wang a 30-year lease, beginning in 2015.

SHIRTS AND SKINNER: A finalist for the Calder Award as the NHL's top rookie, Carolina Hurricanes teen-sensation Jeff Skinner agreed to let readers of Seventeen dress him for the occasion (tonight at 7 ET on Versus). He and his family had a good laugh when reading Skinner was referred to as "The Justin Bieber of hockey."

NEVER TOO SOON FOR SNUBS: The Calder hasn't even been handed out yet (it will go to Skinner), but that doesn't stop Ricky Doyle at NESN from thinking Brad Marchand not only should have been invited, but maybe even should be the front-runner. He makes the argument, but I just don't see it. If we included playoffs, sure, but Skinner, Logan Couture and Michael Grabner all earned their spots.

PERRY GOES BLUE: Ducks star Corey Perry is in Las Vegas too as he's up for the biggest trophy of them all, the Hart. If his name isn't called for that award, at least he won't leave Vegas without making an appearance on a stage. Perry was called onto stage by the Blue Man Group and took part in their show. I was very excited to watch this video when I came across it, until I saw the footage and was left wondering what exactly Perry did. That was the equivalent of an empty-netter.

DEALIN' DAYS OF SUMMER: This is always a busy time for trades across the NHL, what with the draft on the docket and all. One team that could be an active participant is the Blue Jackets. The Columbus Dispatch says GM Scott Howson is surprised at some of the names available, and it would be wise for him to look at trades since the team's needs are plentiful.

NOT SMITTEN FOR SMYTH: There's been some debate on whether Kings forward Ryan Smyth asked L.A. for a trade to Edmonton, where he began and played most of his career. Smyth himself denied it, but media sources like Bob McKenzie of TSN wouldn't back off their reports. John MacKinnon of the Edmonton Journal says it shouldn't matter; Smyth isn't a good fit for the rebuilding club anyway.

TRADE TRACKER: Trying to remember who exactly your team traded to get that backup goalie in November? Want to forget that organization-crippling move your GM made? Here's a handy, dandy look at all the NHL trades made last season, thanks to hockeyinsideout.com.

-- Brian Stubits

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

Posted on: June 22, 2011 10:53 am
Edited on: June 22, 2011 11:02 am

Stamkos thinks new deal with Lightning is close

All had been quiet on the Steven Stamkos restricted free agent front. Apparently, that’s just now GM Steve Yzerman likes it.

Without a new deal, Stamkos would be able to receive offer sheets from other organizations looking to snare the Lightning star from Tampa Bay. At that point Yzerman would be able to -- and certainly would do it -- match any offer. It just means that keeping Stamkos long term could come at a higher price than the team hoped for.

To this point, there has been little-to-no news about the negotiations, which does little to soothe Tampa Bay fans’ fears. But, alas, we have an update on the talks.

"I think it's close," Stamkos said from Las Vegas, where he is for tonight's NHL awards show (7 ET on Versus). "I don't think it's far off. As close as we are, it's not something I'm really worried about.

"Tampa is a great organization. With the success we had this year, there are only going to be bigger and better things. You want to be part of that. Whatever happens, happens, but I have confidence things are going to get done well before [July 1]."

Damian Cristodero of the St. Petersburg Times thinks it will cost about $7 million a year.

Now nobody in his right mind truly believed Stamkos would be playing anywhere but Tampa next season. It’s just that when negotiations are held out of the media the way these have been, the hometown fans begin getting paranoid that their burgeoning 21-year-old star, who has led the NHL in goals over the last two seasons, will be taken away by a team like Toronto.

At the same time, every passing day increases the pipe dreams of fans from afar, drooling at the idea of acquiring a prolific, young scorer. Well, put your tongues back in your mouths, everybody.

I’m beginning to feel like Kevin Bacon: “Remain calm. All is well!”

-- Brian Stubits

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

Posted on: June 20, 2011 1:07 pm
Edited on: June 20, 2011 2:06 pm

Montreal's Max Pacioretty gets two-year extension

Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty agreed to a two-year contract extension as the club said it’s confident he can recover from a concussion and neck injury that ended his season in March.

“We are very pleased to have reached an agreement with Max Pacioretty who is one of the most promising young players in our organization," Canadiens general manager Pierre Gauthier said in a statement. "A power forward with skills, Max showed that he can help our team and make a name for himself in the NHL. We are confident that he will have recovered fully from the injury that kept him out of the line-up for the last month of the regular season and the playoffs.”
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, although The Montreal Gazette reports the deal is worth a total of $3.25 million.

Pacioretty suffered a non-displaced fracture of his neck and a severe concussion after a collision with Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara on March 8. Chara, who was ejected for interference but not suspended, checked Pacioretty, whose head hit violently off a divider.

Pacioretty had 24 points (14 goals, 10 assists) in 37 games last season, including two game-winning goals.

-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: June 19, 2011 5:20 pm
Edited on: June 20, 2011 1:34 pm

Bryzgalov says deal with Flyers could be set soon

Last week, Ilya Bryzgalov and his wife visited Philadelphia as contract negotiations between he and the Flyers began. Apparently they covered a lot of ground.

The goaltender, whose exclusive negotiating rights were acquired by the Flyers from the Coyotes earlier this month, told Russian news outlet sports.ru that things are moving along well.

"Everything was constructive and we understood each other. However, detailed comments on the negotiation process is not ready to give."

Bryzgalov also said Tuesday or Wednesday -- his 31st birthday -- could be the day a deal is reached and "we are waiting for solutions," which would hint he is waiting to hear back from Philly. Or at least that's how I'm interpreting the google translation. My Russian isn't exactly polished.

"We have spoken with Ilya and his agent Ritch Winter about many different scenarios," Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said on Friday. "As for now, we both know each other's position and have agreed to speak again next week. There will be no further comment at this time."

Bryzgalov has shared his desire to be one of, if not the top-paid goalie in the NHL. The one-time Vezina finalist is said to be looking for a deal in the $6 million-plus range, but in their current situation the Flyers couldn't sign him and be under the cap. So before they can actually ink Bryzgalov, they will have to make a move or two first. It will be a busy few weeks for Philly.

-- Brian Stubits

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