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Posted On Friday, 07.01.2011 / 1:37 PM

By Compiled By - Staff / - Free Agency '11 Blog

Flames add to defense, ink Butler for two years

The Calgary Flames signed defenseman Chris Butler on Friday to a two-year contract worth a reported $2.5 million.

Butler, 24, played all three of his NHL seasons with the Buffalo Sabres, posting 5 goals and 31 assists in 155 games.

Calgary acquired Butler, a restricted free agent, along with Paul Bryon on a draft day trade with the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for Robyn Regehr, Ales Kotalik and Calgary’s second pick in the 2012 Entry Draft.
Posted On Friday, 07.01.2011 / 12:24 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - Free Agency '11 Blog

Kennedy, Pens agree to deal

While the Pittsburgh Penguins' chase for Jaromir Jagr continues, they apparently have found time to work on keeping one of their own players from reaching free agency.

Right wing Tyler Kennedy, who scored a career-high 21 goals last season, agreed to a two-year deal worth $4 million with the Penguins shortly before the start of the free agent signing period at noon. Kennedy would have become an unrestricted free agent if the deal was not reached.

Earlier in the day Friday,  Kennedy's agent, Steve Bartlett, had told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he was speaking with Penguins general manager Ray Shero, and felt a deal would get done to keep Kennedy in Pittsburgh.

"We're still working on it," Bartlett told the newspaper. "But I am optimistic that it will get done (Friday)."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
Posted On Friday, 07.01.2011 / 11:26 AM

By David Kalan - Staff Writer / - Free Agency '11 Blog

Defenseman crop gets even smaller

As a native of Canton, Mich., James Wisniewski is probably more of a Wolverines fan that a supporter of the Buckeyes, but with his newly christened six-year $33 million contract with Columbus, he might want to look into some season tickets for Ohio State. He can certainly afford it.

Wisniewski's signing takes another big name out of what had been a very deep group of free agent defensemen, but in the flurry to trade negotiating rights over the past few days, Wisniewski, Christian Ehrhoff, Steve Montador, Kevin Bieksa and Andrei Markov have all signed new deals to stay with their current teams or whichever team had acquired their rights. That means what was once a large pool of defensive free agent talent is now that much thinner.

The men who seem best positioned to be the most sought after blueliners on the market might now be Columbus' Jan Hejda or recent Stanley Cup champ Tomas Kaberle, whom the Bruins appear set to let go after making the big move to acquire him at this season's trade deadline.

Obviously that move paid off for Boston, but with many of the top defenseman locked up, it may be time for that move to pay off for Kaberle. Ed Jovanovski or Bryan McCabe could also be able to cash in with the thinner market, but Wisniewski's big deal may have taken the last of the big names out of the equation.
Posted On Friday, 07.01.2011 / 10:28 AM

By David Kalan - Staff Writer / - Free Agency '11 Blog

Some names hopping across the pond

The start of the NHL's free ageny signing period is just 90 minutes away, but that doesn't mean some players aren't making moves. Of course, these aren't your standard players inking deals in the hours before teams lose their negotiating rights.

Some, struggling to break into the NHL full time, are crossing the Atlantic in hopes of greener pastures.

Reports have begun to surface that the Swedish Elite League's HV71 has managed to pursuade Islanders forward Jesse Joensuu and Noah Welch, who spent most of this past year with the AHL's Chicago Wolves, to sign deals in Sweden.

Elsewhere, Canucks farmhand Sergei Shirokov is reportedly heading to the KHL while Hannu Toivonen, who has made appearances with the Bruins and Blues over the past few years, has decided to play goal for Malmo, also of the Swedish Elite League. Toivonen spent the last two seasons in the Blackhawks' system with the AHL's Rockford IceHogs.

Of course, when the clock hits noon and unrestricted free agency opens, deals involving NHL teams will finally begin to come through, and that's when the big names will start to fly around.

Sit tight. The fun is about to begin.
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