Tag:2011 Free Agency
Posted on: June 18, 2011 4:23 pm
Edited on: June 20, 2011 1:34 pm

Report: Vokoun's agent: Goalie will hit market

As the July 1 date for the opening of free agency approaches, it's looking like there will be at least one upper-echelon goaltender available.

Tomas Vokoun has yet to sign an extension with the Florida Panthers, and seems certain to test the waters. His agent, Michael C. Deutsch, told ESPN.com on Saturday that, "at this point it looks like he'll hit the open market ... [Vokoun]'s keeping all his options open, including going back to Florida."

Panthers GM Dale Tallon is non-committal at this point as to which direction the team is going to go with Vokoun. The goaltender situation in Florida has Scott Clemmensen as Vokoun's backup and very promising Swede Jacob Markstrom among other prospects in the system. With a team undergoing a youth movement, the veteran and expensive Vokoun might not be the best fit.

Vokoun was quoted in a Czech newspaper as being interested in going to Colorado, which has an opening in net right now, but Deutsch denied Vokoun ever said a thing to the paper. That still doesn't mean the Avs wouldn't be in play.

Before the Flyers traded for the rights to Ilya Bryzgalov, the big question was which of the two goalies would they chase in free agency. At this point, Philly hasn't reached a deal with Bryzgalov, so it's still possible that if things don't work out between the two, Vokoun and Philadelphia could come together.

Vokoun has played the last four seasons in Florida after spending eight years in Nashville. Playing in front of a poor team, Vokoun had a 22-28-5 record for the Panthers last season while posting a very respectable .922 save percentage and 2.55 goals against average.

-- Brian Stubits

Posted on: June 18, 2011 3:00 pm
Edited on: June 20, 2011 1:34 pm

Predators file for arbitration with Weber

The Nashville Predators have filed for arbitration with star defenseman Shea Weber.

General manager David Poile said that the goal of the Predators is to sign the team captain to a long-term contract, but a deal hasn't been struck yet for multiple reasons.

Weber was set to become a restricted free agent come July 1, but the filing likely keeps him in Nashville as the two sides will have extended time to negotiate a new deal before other teams can give Weber offer sheets. The arbitrations is merely the team protecting itself if the current negotiations drag on too long and stops others from trying to swoop in.

While the unrestricted free-agent market isn't a strong one, there were some enticing names on the restricted list, Weber certainly included. Yesterday, the Devils made the same move as the Predators, filing for arbitration with one of their young Stars, Zach Parise. The biggest name of all of them is Steven Stamkos, who still has nothing set in stone with Tampa Bay.

Keeping Weber in town was at the top of the priority list for Nashville this offseason. Nominated for the Norris Trophy this season as the league's top defenseman, Weber has been a key part of the team's recent playoff visits. Known for having a rifle of a shot off his stick, Weber is an offensive asset too, scoring 16 goals with 32 assists this past season for the Preds.

-- Brian Stubits

Posted on: June 16, 2011 3:29 pm
Edited on: June 20, 2011 1:35 pm

Jagr's agent reportedly contacts Red Wings

After the World Championships, we talked about the possibility of Jaromir Jagr returning to the NHL and listed some potential suitors. Well we missed on one: the Detroit Red Wings.

According to the Detroit News, Jagr's agent Petr Svoboda got in touch with the Wings to expresses Jagr's interest in signing there when free agency opens on July 1.

Jagr, 39, has been playing in the Kontinental Hockey League the last three seasons but is said to want to finish his career back in the NHL. Financial issues with his Avangard Omsk team also hasten a return to North America.

In addition to Detroit, old teams in the Penguins and Rangers as well as the Canadiens are also said to be on the short list.

At this point in his career, Jagr won't command a big salary, so it could be a nice risk/reward signing for some team. He did score 19 goals with 31 assists in 49 games in the KHL last season. Throw him onto a veteran team like Detroit and he might fit in nicely and be a missing piece of sorts.

Either way, it now looks like a sure thing Jagr will be back in the NHL. Now we'll just have to wait to find where along with the rest of the unrestricted free agents.

-- Brian Stubits

Posted on: June 15, 2011 3:52 pm
Edited on: June 20, 2011 1:37 pm

Sharks D Wallin signs contract with Swedish team

Niclas Wallin won’t be returning to the Sharks next season, nor even the NHL.

The defenseman has signed with Lulea of the Swedish league to become their top defenseman and captain next season. The 36-year-old played for Lulea during the lockout in 2004-05 and now returns to his native Sweden.

Courtesy of the team’s website with a huge thanks to Google translator (I love how these things come out some times):

”I have over the years have had a good dialogue and contact with Luleå Hockey and therefore it also feels natural to be a part of the club's future development and the quest for success,” Wallin said in a statement.

”There is a huge honor to the club sees me as a future captain, a role that so many great players have had over the years in Lulea Hockey and that would be a new challenge in my future playing career.

”After many good years over here that's been very interesting and rewarding for the whole family, so now feels the time is ripe to move back home. And home for us has always been Norrbotten.”

The threat has been increasing in recent years of players defecting to the KHL, but you haven’t heard much about other leagues in Europe, although it’s not unheard of. Markus Naslund and Peter Forsberg also made returns to Sweden near the end of their careers.

"For a coach is the addition of a player by Niclas Wallin's caliber is extremely helpful. There is perhaps no player who will appear at the top of the NHL season but a tough and genuine players who will be hugely important for giving us the conditions needed to achieve success," said Jonas Rönnqvist, coach of Lulea Hockey.

Wallin spent 10 seasons in the NHL, most all of which spent with the Carolina Hurricanes. Last season in San Jose, Wallin had three goals and five assists. In the postseason, Wallin had a goal and three assists, averaging 16:35 of ice time.

-- Brian Stubits

Posted on: June 9, 2011 1:19 pm
Edited on: June 20, 2011 1:37 pm

Report: Rangers to buy out Drury's final season

The Rangers are planning to buy out the final season of team captain Chris Drury's contract, according to a report in the New York Daily News. The source of the report was rather succinct in his/her words: "He's gone."

Beginning next Wednesday is the NHL's timeframe for contract buyouts leading up to free agency on July 1. New York owes Drury one more season on his five-year, $35.25 million deal. What shedding his contract from the books would do is save the Blueshirts $3.3 million against next season's salary cap, which is expected to go up a couple million dollars as it is, and will hit the following season's cap by $1.6 million.

The Rangers captain's production went way down last season, playing in 24 games because of injury and being held to only one goal and four assists.

New York has a few decisions to make on the restricted free-agent scene with seven guys on the roster, including up-and-comers Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky. Then attention will turn to the open market, where they are certain to chase Brad Richards.

-- Brian Stubits

Posted on: June 8, 2011 3:25 pm
Edited on: June 20, 2011 1:38 pm

Richards: 'I'd definitely be interested' in Tampa

This much we know: Brad Richards will not be back in Dallas next season. Now we know this as well: Richards would be interested in returning to the Lightning, his former team.

That's because he told the Tampa Tribune as much.

"I don't know what they're thinking as an organization," Richards said. "If they're going to talk to me, I'd definitely be interested.

"I can't speak for them and what they want to do in the offseason. There are rumors, but what do they really mean? At the end of the day, it's what they say if you get the chance to sit down with them."

Of course, Richards played his first 6 1/2 seasons in the NHL with the Lightning, winning a Stanley Cup with the team in 2004. Richards took home the Conn Smythe Trophy for his work in the postseason that year. He was traded just before the deadline in the 2007-08 season to Dallas.

"I certainly wasn't looking to leave at that time -- and I don't think it ever had to happen the way it did -- but I enjoyed Dallas," Richards said.

Richards just played out the final year of his contract that he signed with the Bolts in 2006 and Dallas GM Joe Nieuwendyk said last week they wouldn't re-sign him and were interested in trading his negotiating rights.

It's interesting to note that Richards, who still trains in the Tampa Bay area, was back in town and attended a playoff game at St. Pete Times Forum. He hasn't quite distanced himself from the Lightning yet. Just check out this line:

"If you get the right owner, a general manager like Steve Yzerman, people who know how to do things, it's great. I think we just needed the right kind of owner to come in here. Um, maybe I shouldn't say 'we,' right?"

There will surely be other suitors begging for a chance to sign Richards. But if they can make the numbers work in Tampa, it seems like Richards has a favorite in mind.

-- Brian Stubits

Posted on: June 3, 2011 12:58 pm
Edited on: June 3, 2011 1:17 pm

Stars won't re-sign Richards, look to deal rights

Brad Richards, perhaps the best available player on what is a down unrestricted free-agent market, will not return to Dallas next season. That much we know at this point.

Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk said Thursday that the team is interested in trading the negotiating rights of Richards before the open season on free agents begins on July 1. Dallas is currently in the process of changing ownership groups, and Richards -- who went through the same thing in Tampa Bay -- isn't interested in sticking it out to wait for the new owners.

"We have had talks with Brad throughout the year, and he's not going to sign with us unless we have the ownership situation resolved, and it doesn’t look like that's going to happen by the start of free agency," Nieuwendyk said. "So while we could have discussions, it just doesn't make much sense right now. So we would like to see if we could get something for his rights and allow another team to have a chance to sign him, but a lot of that is up to Brad and his agent."

What's up to the agent is a full no-trade clause that Richards possesses. Naturally the Stars would like to get something in return for some team getting the exclusive rights for a few weeks. Courtesy of the Dallas Morning News:

"Accepting a move to another team creates an obligation, and you have to be pretty sure about that obligation. I think Brad has to do what's best for himself and keep his options open," Richards' agent Pat Morris said.

There were plenty of rumors around the trade deadline surrounding Richards, but obviously the Stars didn't find any to their liking. They also tried to give the centerman an extension a few months ago.

"We felt we made a very fair and honest effort to sign Brad before the trade deadline, but the ownership situation is a real sticking point, and so we have to deal with that," Nieuwendyk said.

Richards, a nine-year veteran, led Dallas this season in points with 77 that included 28 goals -- a career high -- and 49 assists.

Among the teams that will likely be interested in acquiring Richards will be the New York Rangers. If they aren't able to convince Richards to waive his control, then they will probably be waiting on July 1. The return value to Dallas wouldn't have to be much -- again, it is just looking for something -- but it's worth noting the Rangers do not have any second-round picks in this month's draft after this week's acquisition of Tim Erixon in a trade with the Flames.

His former team in Tampa could show some interest in bringing him back, too.

-- Brian Stubits

Photo: US Presswire

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