NHL Free Agency: Andrew Ladd Avoids Arbitration, Signs With Thrashers

NHL free agency is in full swing. Join us as we cover all the news, rumors and opinion that surrounds the mayhem.

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New York Islanders Lure James Wisniewski From Anaheim

The New York Islanders have seized rugged defenseman James Wisniewski from the Anaheim Ducks, trading a conditional third round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft in exchange. He has a lot going for him such as the 30 points he emerged with last season, but carries a major risk factor with his injury/suspension dossier.

Either way, Islanders General Manager Garth Snow isn't complaining.

"We see James as a key addition to our team and we feel our fans will connect with his style of play," said Islanders General Manager Garth Snow. "He is a solid puck-moving defenseman who can bring an added element of toughness to our blue-line."

From a Ducks perspective, stick with Anaheim Calling and for Islanders supporters, Lighthouse Hockey will provide you with feedback.


Ladd Avoids Arbitration, Adds To Atlanta's 2010-11 Chicago Cup Reunion Tour

The Atlanta Blackhawks, er, Thrashers will avoid arbitration with trade acquisition Andrew Ladd. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Ladd signed a one-year, $2.35 million deal with the team on Thursday morning, the same day as his arbitration hearing.

A year ago with Chicago, Ladd made $1.65 million, so he's getting a decent raise from his last contract. With Dustin Byfuglien, Ben Eager, Brent Sopel and now Ladd locked on to the club for next season, it's looking very windy in Atlanta these days.

For more, visit Bird Watchers Anonymous and SB Nation Atlanta.


Columbus Blue Jackets Retain Anton Stralman

Defenseman Anton Stralman won't be going anywhere this summer. Traded twice last year before the season began, the 23-year-old has signed a one-year contract worth $1.95 million with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Stralman gave the Columbus blue line much-needed offensive instincts, leading the crew in assists (28) and points (34).

General Manager Scott Howson narrowly escaped arbitration by speaking with Stralman minutes before the scheduled hearing Wednesday morning.

"Talking to Anton this morning, we both agreed that if we have to go through the process, we have to go through it," Howson said. "I made sure he knew this was part of the business and that whatever was going to be said in that room, we still like him as a player. But the danger in going through it is, it gets very personal.

"It helped to have the player there this morning, to look him in the eye. It helps you get a deal done."

Head over to The Cannon for more information.


Denis Grebeshkov Bolts For Russia, Signs With KHL's SKA

He had a lot of great moments in his North American career. There's that time he played for the Islanders. The time he bolted to Russia after not agreeing to a contract with them. Then that time he came back to North American to play for the Oilers. Then, of course, there was that time he took a puck to the groin after his most recent trade to the Predators.

But in all seriousness, Grebeshkov is a very solid defenseman, and as he bolts to Russia for the second time in less than a decade, the NHL is losing a solid player. According to multiple ssources, the hulking Russian defenseman is now a member of SKA of the KHL after signing a two-year worth more than the $3.15 million he made this past season. That number comes via Andy Strickland.

For more on this story, head over to On the Forecheck, where Preds fans are scratching their heads at the loss of yet another young Russian commodity.


Forget Arbitration: Tomas Fleischmann Signs One-Year Deal With Washington

Tomas Fleischmann has taken a one-year contract with the Washington Capitals that will reportedly pay him $2.6 million. The Czech native registered a career-best 23 goals and 28 assists in 69 games last year and represented his country during the Winter Olympics.

Schedules for an arbitration hearing with the club, the 26-year-old has put many minds at ease with this solution. Fleischmann's most intriguing statistic was his eight goals in the ten matches superstar Alexander Ovechkin missed during suspensions and injuries.

Find out how they feel at Japers Rink about this transaction.


Gilbert Brule Signs Two-Year Extension With Edmonton

The Edmonton Oilers have dodged arbitration with Gilbert Brule by signing the young forward to a two-year deal worth $1.85 million per season. With 17 goals and 20 assists in 2010, the former sixth overall selection in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft crushed his previous best offensive totals - nine goals and ten assists in 2007.

Per TSN:

"Gilbert made a big step last year in his development," said Oilers' general manager Steve Tambellini. "We are excited to have him here in Edmonton and look forward to his continued contribution to the team."

The Copper & Blue has you covered with additional information.


Josh Harding Signs One-Year Deal In Minnesota

Restricted free agent goaltender Josh Harding signed a one-year contract with the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday. According to Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the contract is worth $1.2 million, $100,000 more than the qualifying offer originally made to Harding back before July 1.

Harding has been the subject of trade rumors throughout his Minnesota career, and even with this deal, that may still be in the cards. Harding is the number two goalie behind Niklas Backstrom, and the number three goalie and current AHL starter, Anton Khudobin, wants to sign a one-way deal with the Wild.

Khudobin has a lot of potential and was very impressive in limited NHL action this past year, and the Wild could opt to give him the one-way deal he wants, making Harding expendable.

For more on this story, visit Hockey Wilderness and SB Nation Minnesota.


Carcillo Avoids Arbitration, Signs One-Year Deal With Flyers

Opting not to hit the arbitration process, Dan Carcillo signed a one-year, $1.075 million contract with the Flyers today. Several sources, including CSN, are reporting that figure. It's a smart move by Carbomb, who likely realized that the Flyers have a ton of weapons to throw his way in the arbitration process.

He may not have picked up $1.075 million from an arbitrator. Carcillo made $937,500 last a year ago, so it is a slight raise. It's also likely a bit north of what his qualifying offer was from the Flyers. They had to offer him, at minimum, $984,375 according to the CBA. So... one more year, at least, of Carcillo in Philly.

The big question remains: how will Carcillo and Shelley, two guys who fit a similar mold, fit into this Flyers lineup?

Read more at Broad Street Hockey


Done Deal: Nikolai Zherdev Officially Joins Philadelphia Flyers

The Philadelphia Flyers have picked up Nikolai Zherdev with a one-year contract reportedly worth $2 million. This transpiration was reported as being close for the last couple of days but never confirmed. Returning to the NHL after a one-year stint in the Kontinental Hockey League, the former Blue Jackets and Rangers property will be depended upon for his pure offensive capabilities.

From TSN.com:

"Nik is a highly-skilled player who, at 25-years-old, we feel will be a good fit to our core of forwards," said general manager Paul Holmgren. "Prior to playing last season in Russia, Nik ranked as one of the top young point- producers in the NHL. We are pleased to add him to our team."

To find out how Flyers supporters feel about this deal, stop by Broad Street Hockey.


Rangers Re-Sign Dan Girardi, Bruins Do Likewise With Mark Stuart

The New York Rangers locked up defenseman Dan Girardi with a new contract at four years worth $3.325 million per season. Girardi posted 24 points in 2010 and has competed in 280 consecutive matches, placing himself ninth among active NHL players.

In Boston meanwhile, the Bruins signed rearguard Mark Stuart to a one-year deal with the financial terms being undisclosed at this point.


Three For Three: Washington Capitals Re-Sign Eric Fehr

In their third deal in as many days, the Washington Capitals negotiated a two-year, $4.4 million contract for Eric Fehr following agreements with defenseman Jeff Schultz and the gritty Boyd Gordon. A former first-round draft pick in 2003, Fehr had little ice time to work with on average, but still managed career highs with 21 goals and 18 assists in addition to three tallies in Washington's brief postseason.

Swing by Japers' Rink for further information.


Report: Kings Say No To Kovi -- Again

In the ongoing saga that is the Kings flirtation with signing free agent Ilya Kovalchuk, the latest chapter has L.A. once again declining to meet the high-scorer winger's high salary demands, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The reason for the Kings to say no again remains the same: the team was to maintain financial flexibility in order to re-sign many of its young players.

"We really would love to add Kovi to our team, but not at the cost of our good young players," Tim Leiweke, the Kings' governor and chief executive of parent company AEG, said Wednesday night. "Dean is trying here, but we know what we need in cap space going forward to keep our nucleus together. We can't let one guy throw us into panic in a year or two. It is not about cash. It is about cap."

Is it over? Probably not until Kovalchuk signs with another team, but the Kings have remained firm on two fronts: they want to sign Kovalchuk but only at the right price.


Brett Lebda Accepts Two-Year Deal With Toronto Maple Leafs

Unrestricted free agent defenseman Brett Lebda has taken a two-year contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, ending five years of service for the Detroit Red Wings. The undrafted player has spent the entirety of his 326-game career in the Motor City, amassing 18 goals and 50 assists after signing with them in July 2004.

Set to earn $1.45 million per campaign, the 28-year-old will have no shortage of challenges in Toronto. For reactions from both parties, visit Pension Plan Puppets and Winging It In Motown.


Buffalo Sabres Add Veteran Muscle, Ink Rob Niedermayer

The Buffalo Sabres have imported experience by signing veteran Rob Niedermayer to a one-year deal which will earn him $1.15 million. A former Stanley Cup winner with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007, the 35-year-old's addition is a low risk for the Sabres at his price tag and he will surely influence some of the more youthful players.

Niedermayer represented the New Jersey Devils last year, recording ten goals and 12 assists in 71 games. Die By The Blade's Andy Boron isn't too excited about the acquisition, but at the same time, isn't bummed out either.

His stats are fairly pedestrian, as he's never been a huge points guy - his career high was 61 points all the way back in 1995-96. He can put in goals, having been a 20-goal scorer in the past, but usually settles in around 10-15. Niedermayer's strength comes from his toughness and leadership. He's a pretty big boy at 6-2, knows how to use his body, and will anchor one of Buffalo's bottom two lines, most likely the third with Gaustad centering the fourth - however, he's versatile enough to play either wing if necessary.


Back To Raleigh: Joe Corvo Signs Two-Year Deal With Hurricanes

Dealt to the Washington Capitals during last year's trade deadline, Joe Corvo has re-joined the Carolina Hurricanes under a two-year contract. The defenseman will receive $2 million in 2010-2011 and $2.5 million in 2011-2012. Corvo, who was exchanged for Brian Pothier, Oskar Osala and a 2011 second-round draft pick, had six points in 18 games with the Capitals and two more points in the postseason.

Per TSN:

"Joe has been a really good player for us over the last three seasons, and we feel that this solidifies our defense," said Carolina president and general manager Jim Rutherford. "We appreciate him working with us to get this deal done. He said that he really wanted to stay in Carolina and this commitment confirms that."

Browse through Canes Country for extra information.


Nikolai Zherdev Reportedly Signs With Flyers

According to the ever-reliable Dimitri Chesnokov over at Puck Daddy, a Russian outlet is reporting that free agent winger Nikolai Zherdev has signed with the Philadelphia Flyers. At this point, we don't know the financial terms or any details of the contract. Philadelphia media, including CSN Philly and the Daily News, have been unable to confirm the news as of now.

Zherdev played in the KHL back in Mother Russia a year ago after the Rangers let him walk following arbitration. The arbitrator settled at just under $4 million last offseason, but after a year overseas, that shouldn't necessarily be an indication of what the Flyers could be paying him here.

So what are [the Flyers] getting if these reports are true? Zherdev is a gifted offensive talent and would immediately be the top ranked right wing on the Flyers depth chart. It makes a trade of Simon Gagne make a bit more sense, and it also makes the chances of Dan Carcillo walking after his own arbitration hearing more and more likely, should the arbitrator rule in his favor and give him a high price tag that the Flyers are able to back away from.

The Flyers would have six wingers under contract after Zherdev, excluding Riley Cote and including Darroll Powe, who didn't file for arbitration but has yet to sign a new deal as a RFA. With the overload at center, the Flyers would be set at the forward positions even after a possible trade of Gagne.

Read more at Broad Street Hockey.


What If There Are No Other Offers, Ilya Kovalchuk?

Regarding Ilya Kovalchuk, the fact that now six days have passed with no deal tells me that there hasn't been a deal simply because there's no acceptable offer. They're not "working out the details." They're not "clearing cap space." There's nothing. Nothing acceptable to Kovalchuk/Grossman.

Because otherwise, they would have accepted it. So all they can do now is wait until a face-saving deal comes their way. Whether that's a KHL deal, a deal from left field, or a tweaked version of either the Devils' or Kings' offers, it's obviously impossible to know. But as time goes on, the smoke dissipates and eventually even the press will see Grossman with the big fan and the smoke machine and they'll call it what it is.

Or, if Grossman is smart and/or lucky, he will wrap this up before people figure it out.

Read more at Jewels From The Crown.


Evgeni Nabokov Signs In With KHL Team

Goaltender Evgeni Nabokov is getting paid, but winning a Stanley Cup is probably out of the question for him at this point. He's heading back to Russia after accepting a four-year deal worth $6 million a season with SKA St. Petersburg. Sovetsky Sport first reported the news.

Other former NHLers playing for SKA include Alexei Yashin, Darius Kasparitis and Sergei Zubov. For more, settle in at Fear The Fin, where Nabby's former fans are reminiscing about his NHL career.


Kovalchuk's Agent Says Decision Won't Come On Monday

This is getting a little crazy, Ilya.

Despite announcing earlier Monday that a deal would come down today, the agent for free agent superstar Ilya Kovalchuk said late Monday that he won't be making a decision just yet on which team he'll sign with.

From the agent, Jay Grossman:

Ilya Kovalchuk choices have been narrowed down, details to be finalized but no announcement tonight....around 8:15 PM ET, Jul 5 via TweetDeck


This might end someday. We'll see.


Could Kovalchuk Just Stay In New Jersey?

The Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes will come to an end on Monday, and that's directly from the source -- his agent, Jay Grossman.

Ilya Kovalchuk looking to make decision on his future today....www.puckagency.comabout 11:30 AM, Jul 5 via TweetDeck


So, where is he going? We learned over the weekend that the Los Angeles Kings, long time considered the front runner for his services, were dropping out of the running. With the choices narrowed down, could Kovalchuk just be staying in New Jersey after all?

According to Mark Everson of the New York Post, that's exactly what's happening.

With Ilya Kovalchuk's agent breaking silence to promise a decision today, it appears the Devils have the inside track on re-signing him to what one source suggests will be a seven-year, $60 million package.

The Islanders have indicated their interest in the 27-year-old superstar, but that same source says they did not make a formal bid of $100 million over 10 years.

The Kings dropped out of the running after Kovalchuk rejected their last offer, and his Russian options have dwindled as well, with one report suggesting four years at $9 million each.

Steve Lepore over at SB Nation New York says, however, that Everson is a "dubious source" to be breaking this news. He's apparently known amongst Devils fans to have a weak reputation as a journalist, so this might be a premature report. If true, though, Kovalchuk will be the fourth-highest paid player in the NHL.

Los Angeles Daily News hockey writer J.P. Hoornstra says that Kovalchuk is ready to sign a three-year, $26 million deal. We'll see what happens, but at the end of the day, expect the official word to come from Grossman, the agent, after all.


2010 NHL Free Agency: Where Will Kovalchuk Land?

The consensus: Ilya Kovalchuk wants a lot of money.

Beyond that, we don't really know what's in his brain. Most people seem to think that the Los Angeles Kings are still the front runner to land his services this summer, and that the New Jersey Devils are still in the mix as well. But a new team is suddenly in the mix.

Charles Wang's crazy New York Islanders. Lighthouse Hockey has the full details:

Both NHL.com and Chris Botta of Islanders Point Blank are reporting that Garth Snow is in discussions to bring Kovalchuk to the Islanders. The numbers being thrown around right now are in the range of 10 million over 10 years. With the Devils recent signings they can only offer 7.5 million (and that's if they go over the 10% that your allowed to go over during FA, you still need to get back under the cap) and the Kings have been silent on him for most of today. I'll try to boil down the drama.

Word from the Ilya Kovalchuk camp is that he wants to win now and plans to sign with the Devils unless the Kings can offer more then the Devils. Supposedly the Kings offered him 7 Million a year, while the Devils have told him to wait until they clear space for him. This appears to be an interesting move by Lou in order to get Kovy in a position that there are no suitors who can afford him, allowing Lou to swoop in and offer him a lower deal. Much like how Nabakov and Turco are going to have to take much less then 6 million soon if they want to play in the NHL this year.

There's no doubt that the Isles need the contract, even if it's an insane $100 million over 10 years contract. They're under the salary floor, for one, and Wang needs the leverage to be able to push his beloved Lighthouse redevelopment project through in Hempstead, where the team plays.

Jewels From The Crown has about 900 stories on this saga, so you should go check them out.


More Free Agent Signings: A Backup For Brodeur, Prospal Back In NY, Leopold Signs In Buffalo

- The Devils have signed Johan Hedberg to a contract as their backup goaltender, or at the very least they're close to a deal, according to Craig Custance of The Sporting News. Hedberg leaves an Atlanta team that just added a goaltender in Chris Mason, and he gives Martin Brodeur a reliable backup that can reliably take some starts away from the future Hall of Famer. Check out In Lou We Trust for more.

- The Rangers have reportedly signed Vinny Prospal to a one-year deal. Larry Brooks of the NY Post says it's a $1 million deal. Blueshirt Banter for more.

- The Buffalo Sabres have filled in the hole left by Henrik Tallinder by signing free agent defenseman Jordan Leopold to a three-year deal, according to Pierre LeBrun of ESPN. See Die By The Blade for more.


Trade: Andrew Ladd Heads To Thrashers For Pick, Prospect

From Ben Wright, the Atlanta Thrashers PR man...

The Thrashers will send a pick and a prospect to Chicago for Andrew Ladd.about 4:40 PM ET, Jul 1 via TweetDeck


According to Darren Dreger, it's a 2nd round pick and Ivan Visnevsky for Ladd.

The Thrashers are seriously improving, turning into Blackhawks East, even. Meanwhile, the actual Blackhawks are dismantling. They've lost Dustin Byfuglien, Ben Eager, Kris Versteeg and now Ladd from their Cup team already.


Chris Mason Signs With Thrashers

From USA Today's Kevin Allen...

Chris Mason is Atlanta's new No. 1 goalie, signing a two-year deal with yearly salaries of $1.6 and $2.1 million.about 4:30 PM ET, Jul 1 via web


That's about on par with what other goalies, Dan Ellis and Michael Leighton, have picked up in this market so far.


Olli Jokinen Heads Back To Calgary, Fans Freak Out

Not since the 1988 Olympics and the Jamaican bobsled team has the city of Calgary seen something this crazy. The Flames are bringing back Olli Jokinen, who they brilliantly dumped off to the Rangers at the trade deadline just months ago.

Jokinen will get $6 million over two years from Darryl Sutter and the Flames. Meanwhile, Sutter will hide in his office to avoid projectiles.

For more, visit Matchsticks & Gasoline, where they seriously need a hug.


Anton Volchenkov Signs 6-Year Deal With Devils

Anton Volchenkov's agent, Jay Grossman, has announced on Twitter that the former Ottawa Senator is close to a six-year deal with the New Jersey Devils. After losing Paul Martin, the Devils have now added Henrik Tallinder and Volchenkov in a concerted effort to get bigger on the blueline.

For more, be sure to check in with In Lou We Trust.


Dan Hamhuis Heading Home To Vancouver

All along, it seemed like Dan Hamhuis was going to hold out for a chance to go home. In the end, the British Columbia native is heading to Vancouver, signing a six-year, $4.5 million deal with the Canucks.

For more, be sure to check out Nucks Misconduct.


Kurtis Foster Gets Raise, Signs In Edmonton

Before today, most people seemed to think that Kurtis Foster would be the best bang for the buck on the free agent market, at least in terms of defensemen. Foster's getting a serious raise today, but he's still a good deal for the Edmonton Oilers.

Steve Tambellini has signed Foster to a two-year, $1.8 million deal. Check out The Copper & Blue for more, as well as SB Nation Edmonton. (Just kidding on that second one, you didn't really think we'd have a regional site for Edmonton, did you?)


Devils Fill Void By Signing Henrik Tallinder

After losing Paul Martin earlier in the day, the New Jersey Devils were in desperate need tor a defenseman. They got their guy in former Buffalo Sabre Henrik Tallinder.

The Devils have signed Tallinder to a four-year contract worth $3.375 million a season. It's certainly a downgrade from Martin, but he's also cheaper. It's a very strong signing by Lou Lamoriello who desperately needed to sign a guy of this caliber.

For more, visit SB Nation New York and In Lou We Trust.


Coyotes Sign Ray Whitney For Two Years

The Phoenix Coyotes have added veteran forward Ray Whitney to their roster. Whitney signs in Phoenix for two years, $3 million per year, according to Darren Dreger.

For more, visit Five For Howling.


Toni Lydman Signs With Anaheim Ducks

Okay, so he's not Scott Niedermayer, but Toni Lydman isn't a bad player. The Anaheim Ducks have reportedly signed him to a three-year, $9 million contract according to TSN. We have more at our Ducks blog, Anaheim Calling, and at SB Nation Los Angeles.

In Buffalo, they're left wondering what will happen on their blueline. Lydman and Henrik Tallinder are both out in that town. Check out Die By The Blade for more on that.


Dan Ellis, Derek Boogaard Signings Highlight Absurdity Of July 1

Okay, how's this for crazy news on free agency day?

It's not so much that Dan Ellis has signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning. It's not so much that it's a two-year, $3 million deal worth $1.5 million a season, either. No, it's that a guy like Derek Boogaard gets signed by the New York Rangers minutes later for even more cash than that.

Yep, Boogaard gets a ridiculous $1.65 million a season for the next four years in New York, according to Bob McKenzie.

Be sure to check out SB Nation New York and Blueshirt Banter for more on that signing, and check Raw Charge and SB Nation Tampa Bay for more on the Ellis signing.


Paul Martin Signs With Pittsburgh Penguins

Well, it all worked out for the Pens.

Instead of Sergei Gonchar and Dan Hamhuis, the Penguins have signed Zybnek Michalek and now Paul Martin to contracts on this July 1. Martin has agreed to a five year deal with the Pens worth $5 million a season. Various sources have reported this deal.

Pensburgh will be sure to have more.


2010 Free Agency: Analysis On The Days Moves Thus Far

Via From The Rink:

Quick hits and reactions from the day's bigger news so far:

-Philadelphia Flyers restock their defense: By re-signing Braydon Coburn and trading for Andrej Meszaros, the Flyers now have one of the most impressive -- and expensive -- defense groups in the NHL. Meszaros was a bit lost in Tampa Bay when he was asked to be more than he could; in Ottawa, he excelled when he was behind guys like Zdeno Chara. With Chris Pronger and Kimmo Timonen ahead of him on the depth chart, this could revive Meszaros' career. It also gives Philadelphia two good sets of power play blueliners.

-San Jose Sharks find their goalie: Last year, Antero Niittymaki platooned with Mike Smith in Tampa Bay and was the more consistent goaltender despite constantly being deluged thanks to a poor defensive system. Now he gets to play with a conference finalist; more importantly, the Sharks get a relatively cheap goaltender to platoon with young Thomas Greiss. Look for the duo to split the games 50/30, with the majority going to whoever grabs the proverbial ball and runs with it. It's a low-cost solution that gives Doug Wilson some flexibility to add on to their blueline and it probably won't take their goaltending down too much from Evgeni Nabokov.

Much more at FTR.


Derek Morris Re-Signs With Coyotes

Derek Morris is staying in the desert. After losing one defenseman earlier in the day, the Coyotes are keeping Morris around for a reported $2.75 million a year for four years.

For more, visit our Coyotes blog, Five For Howling.


More Signings: Armstrong To Leafs, Niittymaki To Sharks, O'Donnell To Flyers, Auld To Habs

- Evgeni Nabokov is gone, and it appears the San Jose Sharks have found their answer to replace him. Antero Niittymaki has signed a two year, $4 million contract according to a number of sources. It'll be interesting to see how the fans over at Fear The Fin react to the news.

- The Montreal Canadiens have found their backup goalie today as well. Alex Auld signed with the Habs, a one-year deal worth $1 million. Various sources have reported the news.

- Colby Armstrong just got paid. He heads to the Toronto Maple Leafs for three years, $9 million. Most teams in the running for him probably couldn't have afforded that.

- Old defenseman Sean O'Donnell signed with the Flyers for one-year. He's a very solid sixth d'man in Philadelphia, who really solidified their blueline today.


Penguins Sign Zybnek Michalek For 5 Years

The Pittsburgh Penguins lost out on Dan Hamhuis and Sergei Gonchar (although we guess Hamhuis is technically still a possibility), but they're attempting to shore up the newly-found holes in their defense. Ray Shero has agreed to terms with free agent defenseman Zybnek Michalek.

According to Darren Dreger, it's a five year deal worth $20 million. Michalek made a name for himself in Phoenix this past season, and it's widely regarded that the Pens are getting a very solid up-and-coming defenseman in this deal.

Other reports also say that Shero and the Pens are still in the running for defenseman Paul Martin. Acquiring these two players would more than make up for the holes created on their blueline in the last few days.

Check out Pensburgh and SB Nation Pittsburgh for more reaction.


Tampa Signs Martin St. Louis To Four-Year Extension

Martin St. Louis wasn't a free agent this year. No, his time was set to come in 2011, but the Tampa Bay Lightning have ensured today that he won't see the UFA light until at least 2014.

The Lightning agreed to terms on a four-year contract extension with the all-star forward, keeping him in Bolts blue until 2014. The team announced the deal on Twitter.

Check out Raw Charge for more.


Two More Signings: Alex Steen Signs With Blues, Anton Babchuk Heading Back To Hurricanes

- Jeff Marek is reporting that the Carolina Hurricanes have signed Anton Babchuk to a one-year deal worth $1.4 million. See Canes Country for more.

- Jeremy Rutherford at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting that Alex Steen has signed a four-year contract with the St. Louis Blues. Check out St. Louis Game Time for more on that front.


Fast And Furious: Gonchar Signs In Ottawa, Coburn Signs In Philly, Tanguay In Calgary

- The biggest move of the day: Sergei Gonchar has quickly signed in Ottawa, completing a three-year deal with the Senators worth $5.5 million per season. He also has a no trade clause. He gets the third year of a contract that the Penguins wouldn't give him. How Ottawa and Gonchar come to an agreement with $16.5 million on the line in about 20 minutes is beyond me. Check Silver Seven for more reaction.

- Braydon Coburn has re-signed in Philadelphia, a two-year deal worth $6.4 million according to several sources. The Flyers blue line is suddenly the most expensive in the NHL. Check Broad Street Hockey for more.

- Alex Tanguay has reportedly signed in Calgary, according to RDS. It's a one-year deal.


Flyers Acquire Andrej Meszaros From Tampa For 2012 2nd Round Pick

The Tampa Bay Lightning have cleared a bit of cap space, sending Andrej Meszaros, a $4 million cap hit, to Philadelphia for a second round pick. Here's the reaction from our Flyers blog, Broad Street Hockey:

According to Bob McKenzie on Twitter, the Flyers have acquired Andrej Meszaros from the Tampa Bay Lightning for a second round pick. Meszaros, 24, is under contract until 2013-2014. He has a cap hit of $4 million a season, with the salary ramping up at the back end of the contract.

Meszaros is a big defenseman, but a big criticism of him is that he doesn't use his body as well as he can. We'll try to get more of a scouting report on him from the folks over at Raw Charge.

At first glance, this seems like an overpayment for a guy that's that expensive. I don't know much about this guy, though, so we'll have to see how this goes. It's a bit curious that the Flyers wouldn't at least wait to see what showed up on the free agent market, though.

For Tampa, it's clearly a cap space move. They free up that $4 million and they're in play for the rest of the day.


Martin Biron Signs With New York Rangers for Two Years, 1.8 Million

TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports that Martin Biron has signed with the New York Rangers for two years, making slightly less than 900k per season.

It’s interesting to see that Biron is one of the first players to sign on Free Agency Day 2010, since he was left reeling without a contract for over three weeks last summer after an apparent lack of attractive offers.

With the signing, Biron joins his third Atlantic Division team in three years, after spending 2007-2009 with the Flyers and 2009-2010 with the Islanders.

For reaction to the deal from a Rangers perspective, visit SB Nation's Rangers blog, Blueshirt Banter.


2010 NHL Free Agency: Paille Back To Boston, Stepan To Rangers

A few quick notes...

- The Boston Bruins have re-signed Daniel Paille, according to Darren Dreger. It's a two-year deal worth $2.15 million. He'll get $1 million in the first year and $1.15 million in the second. Visit Stanley Cup of Chowder for reaction.

- Jeff Marek reports that the Rangers have signed Derek Stepan. He was their 2nd round pick in 2008. Visit Blueshirt Banter for more.


2010 NHL Free Agency: Team-By-Team Cheat Sheets From SB Nation

Our NHL bloggers have put together cheat sheets with their team needs on them, breaking down this whole free agent frenzy thing into small portions that are easily digestible. Here's a glimpse. Be sure to click through to the team blogs for much more detail.

Team Key need Blog
Anaheim all the defense they can get Anaheim Calling
Atlanta number 2 goalie and a forward Bird Watchers Anonymous
Boston get rid of Tim Thomas Stanley Cup of Chowder
Buffalo PP QB, D depth, 3rd line C, RW Die By The Blade
Calgary Top-6 forward, 1 or 2 bottom-6 Matchsticks & Gasoline
Carolina low on cap space, won't do much Canes Country
Chicago winger, 3rd pairing D Second City Hockey
Colorado Kovalchuk? Mile High Hockey
Columbus a little of everything The Cannon
Dallas backup goalie, defensive help Defending Big D
Detroit veteran forward, tough guy Winging It In Motown
Edmonton a lot of everything The Copper & Blue
Florida need to improve everywhere Litter Box Cats
Los Angeles sniper, second-pair defenseman Jewels From The Crown
Minnesota #2 C, scoring winger, puck-moving D Hockey Wilderness
Montreal backup goalie Eyes On The Prize
Nashville top line leader, backup goalie On the Forecheck
New Jersey 3rd line center, offensive dman In Lou We Trust
NY Islanders defense, defense Lighthouse Hockey
NY Rangers dont do anything stupid Blueshirt Banter
Ottawa need a solid defenseman Silver Seven
Philadelphia goalie, third-pair D, scoring winger Broad Street Hockey
Phoenix fill holes up front, add a dman Five For Howling
Pittsburgh defense, defense, defense Pensburgh
San Jose solid veteran goaltending Fear The Fin
St. Louis offense, especially at LW St. Louis Game Time
Tampa Bay a defenseman, goaltending Raw Charge
Toronto goals! Pension Plan Puppets
Vancouver third liners, defense Nucks Misconduct
Washington 2nd line center Japers' Rink

2010 NHL Free Agency: Evening Update On Michalek, Tampa's Free Agents, Minor Trade

A quick evening update from a variety of sources...

- ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun is all over the place on this free agent eve, reporting a number of different things, including that the Sabres and defenseman Henrik Tallinder are still apart on a deal. A number of teams are reported to be interested in Tallinder's services comes noon on Thursday. The Sabres are also not close to a deal with defenseman Toni Lydman. Both are expected to hit the market.

- LeBrun (he's like our LeBron, or something) also reports that Antero Niittymaki and Kurtis Foster are still apart on deals with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

- Penguins GM Ray Shero is a busy man tonight, working the phones heavily, according to beat writer Rob Rossi. Talks are still ongoing with soon-to-be free agents Dan Hamhuis, Sergei Gonchar, Mark Eaton, Jordan Leopold and Bill Guerin, but the sides don't appear to be closer on any of those fronts.

Leopold, Gonchar and Eaton were three of the Pens top six defensemen last season, so losing all three would obviously be a serious blow in Pittsburgh.

- The Los Angeles Kings won't be offering Alexander Frolov a contract on Thursday, meaning he will become an unrestricted free agent. The news comes via Helene Elliott of the LA Times.'

- There was a minor trade this evening betweeen the Anaheim Ducks and Calgary Flames. The Flames sent AHL forward Jason Jaffray to the Ducks for forward Logan MacMillan.

- Allen Walsh, agent for Zbynek Michalek, says that he and the defenseman are still working toward a deal with the Coyotes.


How Much Does Dan Ellis Want In His Next Contract?

There was a report in Radio-Canada earlier today in which reporter J-F Chaumont said that Dan Ellis asked for a two-year, $4 million contract in his negotiations with the Montreal Canadiens. According to ESPN's Pierre Lebrun, however, that story is less than true.

Just got off the phone with Dan Ellis. Says it was misunderstanding. Reporter asked him about that figure and he said it's something he ... .... would consider. He never put out that figure. He's laughing it off as his first experience with Montreal media!around 4 PM ET, Jun 30 via web


Chaumont supported his reporting via Twitter -- in slightly broken English -- saying that Ellis did in fact say such things as responses to his questions.

At this point, it doesn't appear that Ellis will come to terms with Montreal before noon on Thursday.


Devils Blog: Will Paul Martin Be A Devil Tomorrow?

Our Devils blog, In Lou We Trust, asks if Paul Martin will be a New Jersey Devil tomorrow. They analyze an article from beat writer Tom Gulitti to try to find an answer.

One of the troubling things about both articles is that I can't recall the last time a free agent was this forthcoming with information and ended up being signed or re-signed by the Devils. 

Plus, they haven't talked numbers yet and he is the Devils #1 priority?  I understand making sure that the player wants to stay with the team, but you would think some numbers would have been discussed.  Also, at this point if Martin cannot answer the 'Do you want to be a Devil?' question I think his non-answer might speak volumes.

OK, maybe I have too much time on my hands or I am trying to find something in his words that aren't there but does this sound like a player who is going to re-sign?  I think it's clear that a hometown discount might be out of the equation and the Devils will be forced to match a salary offer in the $5MM-$6MM range.  It is possible that realizing he may have to match a free market offer Lou Lamoriello reacted to that early moved some cap room today to ensure he could offer Martin enough to match any offer out there.

It's been a whirlwind day of emotions for Devils news with David Clarkson re-signing and the buyout's of Jay Pandolfo and Andrew Peters, but tomorrow should be just as exciting.  I just hope it's not disappointing.  Only about 18 hours to the free agency frenzy folks.  Get ready.

More from ILWT.


2010 Free Agency: What The Toronto Maple Leafs Need

From Pension Plan Puppets:

Clearly, the Leafs need to both find more goals and prevent goals. The latter has been addressed. The Leafs' horrible team defence will be buoyed by a healthy Mike Komisarek (who is hopefully done trying to earn his contract all in one shift), the addition of Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Dion Phaneuf, the emergence of Carl Gunnarsson* as well as having a healthy Jonas Gustavsson. I don't see any need to add more assets to the back end.

However, the Toronto Maple Leafs need to find goal scorers. After 4 seasons of being in the top 11 in scoring the Leafs' slumped to 25th in 2.56 goals per game. They have one legitimate offensive threat in Phil Kessel and only two players in Tyler Bozak and Nazem Kadri that have a decent-to-good chance of developing into top flight offensive threats.

* PDO-related sophomore slump notwithstanding

For a full primer on what the Leafs need beginning tomorrow, check out PPP.


Flyers Sign Michael Leighton To Two Year Deal, Likely As Backup

From Broad Street Hockey:

According to Rogers' Sportsnet, the Flyers have signed Michael Leighton to a two-year, $3.1 million deal. The move keeps him off of the free agent market tomorrow, and we should've expected this to come down at some point today.

It's a cap-friendly deal, as Leighton comes in at just about $1.5 million a season, but Leights gets a very nice raise from the 600k he made last season (and of which the Flyers paid about 30 cents).

Does this signing spell the end of the Flyers hopes of signing another goaltender in free agency? Not quite. The Flyers could still go after a free agent goalie to be their starter, buy out or trade Brian Boucher and have Leighton serve as their backup.

More at BSH.


2010 Free Agency: What The Philadelphia Flyers Need

From Broad Street Hockey:

Obviously, many of us believe the Flyers still need goaltending. Paul Holmgren clearly believes that as well, given his reported aggressiveness on the market this past weekend.

Also of need is a third defensive pairing. Oskars Bartulis is a suitable seventh defenseman and he's at the right price to fill that role, but we learned in the playoffs that after the top-four, there's a serious drop off. Obviously, no matter what happens, that drop off will always exist as long as the Flyers have such a great top four, but they need to go out in free agency and make it less steep of a fall.

Another winger would help things, too. As of now, it does appear that with Carcillo and Powe likely re-signing, the team is going to go with the same 12 forwards as they did last season, minus Asham. That said, they still could go after a winger to play either on the third line.

Keep in mind, after signing Carcillo and Powe (or even other free agents worth the same money, it doesn't matter, those are guys with pretty static salaries), that $10.6 million available will drop to somewhere around 9 or 9.5. After re-signing Coburn, it'll drop to somewhere around $6 million.

For a full primer on free agency from the Flyers perspective, visit BSH.


Devils Re-Sign David Clarkson For Three Years

Restricted free agent David Clarkson has re-signed with the New Jersey Devils. According to TSN, it's a three-year deal worth $2 million in the first year and $3 million in the last two, making the average cap hit about $2.66 million.

Our Devils blog, In Lou We Trust, has reaction. Here's one comment:

Tad bit more than we were figuring, but excellent news nonetheless.

I’m happy with that deal. That will keep him a Devil until he’s 29 and by then we should know what his ceiling is and if he’s worth keeping for “life” with a 4 or 5 year deal or trading what value he has.

Head to ILWT for more.


Testing The Market: Dan Hamhuis, Sergei Gonchar Appear Headed To Free Agency

Three teams have tried to sign him now, and at every point, Dan Hamhuis has made it clear that he wants to see the market on July 1. That's no different today. From Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

I maintain that a likely scenario — if Hamhuis does choose the Penguins — is him testing the market tomorrow and then accepting whatever offer the Penguins have made, assuming that offer remains on the table. For him to stay off the market at this point doesn't seem to make much sense.

Meanwhile, negotiations with Sergei Gonchar are still at an impasse. Gonchar and his agent, J.P. Barry, want a three year deal. The Pens are settled on a two-year deal. It doesn't appear either side will budge, as they haven't in the last week. From ESPN's Pierre LeBrun...

Latest on Gonchar from agent J.P. Barry: ``"We have nothing scheduled today so I have to assume we will be going to the market tomorrow."about 1:40 PM ET, Jun 30 via web


For more on the situation on the Penguins blueline, check out Pensburgh.


2010 Free Agency: What The Washington Capitals Need

From Japers' Rink:

The biggest concern has to be the hole the Capitals have at second line center.  None of the options within the organization - Brooks Laich, Marcus Johansson, Eric Belanger, and Tomas Fleischmann - are particularly appealing, and the team needs someone who, working with Alexander Semin, can give the Capitals a second elite scoring line.

A lesser, but still valid concern, is the team's defense.  Five of the team's six nightly defensive spots should be spoken for, and although the Caps will probably hold on to John Erskine and Tyler Sloan for depth purposes, neither is a good option for a sweater on a regular basis.  An NHL defenseman of any ilk, from top-pairing quality to third-pairing depth guy, would help and the team has enough flexibility to fashion a capable defense with just about any addition.  Who the team ultimately winds up with, be it via trade or free agency, will depend as much on the player's cap hit and the length of his contract as anything else.

For a full primer on the Caps as they prep for July 1, check Japers' Rink.


2010 Free Agency: What The Vancouver Canucks Need

From Nucks Misconduct:

By signing Cory Schneider earlier this month, Gills solidified the back-up role left vacant by the departing Raycroft. Schneider will continue to be talked about as trade bait, so if that happens, Vancouver will be on the lookout for another cheap back-up as they have none in the pipeline.

It's possible (likely?) that Kevin Bieksa becomes a cap victim as you can't pay $3.7 million for a guy in the 5th slot. If they move Juice, another defenseman will have to be found. Another mystery will be the troublesome Shane O'Brien who may take the team to arbitration and potentially earn himself a swift kick to the ass right out of town.

With Demitra & Wellwood leaving via UFA - and Bernier and Grabner hunkered down in Florida - the Canucks have no one destined for their third line. It's probable that the Chicago series forced Gillis to shop for size and better defensive coverage, so he'll try and use free agency to fill those holes. Vancouver also needs a fourth line pivot to replace the likely departure of Ryan Johnson. Should Vancouver run into cap troubles along the way (which they most certainly will), they'll looks towards a handful of their notable prospects - Cody Hodgson & Jordan Schroeder or maybe Anton Rodin & Sergei Shirokov - to fill the holes, though they do not bring the size and experience Gillis wants. Regardless, many are eager for Hodgson to crack the roster and he'll be given every chance to do so.

For a full primer on the Canucks situation heading into July 1, check Nucks Misconduct.


Jackets Claim Ethan Moreau Off Waivers

The Columbus Blue Jackets have claimed Ethan Moreau off waivers from the Edmonton Oilers. Our Jackets blog, The Cannon, has reaction:

... this is a great move. Look at the positives:

- He's a veteran leader, wearing the "C" in Edmonton last season. With a team as young as Columbus, he will be a huge asset in the locker room.

- He's in the final year of his contract, which is paying him only 1.75 mil. It's a 2 mil cap hit.

- In a checking role, he won't be relied on for offense, and he could focus on shutting down opposition forwards.

Check The Cannon for more. Our Oilers blog, The Copper & Blue, also has reaction, albeit quite succinct.


2010 NHL Free Agency: The Ilya Kovalchuk Sweepstakes And Other Storylines

While LeBron probably isn't going to the Canucks, there's still plenty of mayhem ahead on July 1 in the NHL. Here's a quick look at a few storylines as we prepare for the insanity that is the open of free agency in the NHL.

- Ilya Kovalchuk. It's rare that a player of number 17's caliber hits the market, and that makes this year pretty special. The big question for every team, though, is can we afford him? Jewels From The Crown addressed that concern:

I will take a different approach. Take a team's current cap hit, add in a very low estimate for any RFAs the team is generally thought to be re-signing (in the Kings' case, it's Richardson and Lewis), and then add in $8.5MM cap hit for Ilya Kovalchuk, and see where that gets you, cap-wise.

The teams in red are the ones who simply can't sign Kovalchuk because doing so puts them seriously over the cap. (My definition of "seriously over the cap" in this context is, "team has several players yet to sign to get to a full roster and zero dollars per player to do it with.")

Teams in orange would be foolish to try to add a Kovalchuk cap-hit to their rosters, but they could sort of almost just barely do it. The orange teams would be putting themselves in the position of having to fill out their roster with several players who make "minimum wage."

Teams in yellow can do it and will still have $1-2MM left over per player they need to sign. Teams in green have more than $2MM per player left to sign (or else would already have a full roster), and so are obviously in the best position of all the teams.

There's a chart, and it's fantastic.

- The goalie market: There are a lot of goalies looking for work, and there are only a handful of teams with openings at the position. Tampa, Philadelphia, San Jose are really the only teams in need of starting goaltending. The price, then, for these guys will be driven down and many goalies will have to look elsewhere for work.

- The defense market: On defense, the market is basically the complete opposite. You have a bunch of serviceable second and third pairing guys who are all due for raises, and with plenty of holes on NHL rosters, these guys will likely all pick up those spots and get their money.

- Dan Hamhuis: Perhaps the most coveted defenseman on the market, Hamhuis has had an interesting ride to the free agent market. In fact, he still might not get there, but after the Nashville Predators couldn't get an agreement with him, they shipped his rights to Philadelphia, where the Flyers couldn't come to terms with him either.

They wound up shipping him to their biggest rival in exchange for a third round pick, and now it appears that the Penguins won't be coming to a deal with him. It'll be fascinating to see if Hamhuis gets the $5 million he believes he is worth on the UFA market.

- Does anything happen at all? After the draft turned into a complete snooze-fest, it'll be interesting to see how much news actually comes out of the free agency period. Do the teams need to make up for lost moves at the draft, or is this just one of those years where nothing exciting happens?

We'll be updating all the news throughout the day and in the run up to 12 PM on Thursday. Stay tuned.

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