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Posted On Friday, 06.29.2012 / 3:40 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - NHL Free Agency 2012 blog

Wings coach Babcock ready to fly

Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock won't be sitting in an airport at noon ET on Sunday, but he's packed and ready to go if needed to help with any free agent recruiting.

"I'm in a position to fly wherever they want me to fly," Babcock told the NHL Network on Thursday from his home in Saskatchewan. "We're a work in progress, so we're talking each and every day about the moves that we're trying to make, and we kind of have an A Plan, a B Plan, a C Plan, and we've probably got even a D Plan. I'm just going to be ready to go."

With the retirement of Nicklas Lidstrom and the trade of Brad Stuart, the Red Wings are expected to be one of the top suitors for Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Suter. Or they could opt to add to their depth at forward from a group that includes the Devils' Zach Parise, the Coyotes' Shane Doan and Ray Whitney, the Capitals' Alexander Semin and the Flyers' Jaromir Jagr.

According to Capgeek.com, the Red Wings have more than $24 million in salary cap space.

"We're fortunate that there will be people on the market and we're going to have to improve our hockey club," Babcock said. "We were in a situation last year where we played $6 million under the cap on purpose to kind of be set up for going ahead and that's what we're trying to do to secure the best people that we can possibly secure and then go from there."

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Posted On Friday, 06.29.2012 / 2:32 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - NHL Free Agency 2012 blog

Devils re-sign fourth line, two others

One of the keys to the New Jersey Devils' run to the Stanley Cup Final was the play of their vaunted fourth line.

The Devils kept that line intact Friday by announcing they have signed Stephen Gionta, Ryan Carter and Steve Bernier to new contracts, as well as forward Cam Janssen and defenseman Peter Harrold.

Gionta, Carter and Bernier combined for 10 goals and 21 points during the playoffs, allowing Devils coach Peter DeBoer to roll four lines on a consistent basis and avoid having to tax stars like Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise.

Gionta, who spent the entire season in the AHL before he was recalled for the regular-season finale, had three goals and seven points. Carter scored five goals -- two of them game-winners -- and had seven points. Bernier added two goals and seven points.

Harrold also became a key component of the Devils' defense during the postseason, playing in 17 games and recording four assists. Janssen was a healthy scratch during the playoffs, but recorded one assist and 75 penalty minutes in 48 games during the regular season.

The (Bergen) Record reported Bernier signed a two-year contract with a cap hit of $775,000 while Janssen received a two-way contract worth $575,000 at the NHL level and $105,000 at the AHL level. Gionta's deal is reported to be for two years, a one-way NHL contract for $575,000 for the first season and a two-way contract for $600,000 for the second. Harrold'a deal reportedly will pay him $525,000.

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Posted On Friday, 06.29.2012 / 12:59 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - NHL Free Agency 2012 blog

Report: 'Canes to waive Joslin

TSN is reporting the Carolina Hurricanes have placed defenseman Derek Joslin on unconditional waivers for buyout or termination of his contract.

The 25-year-old blueliner had two goals and two assists in 44 NHL games. He also played four AHL games with the Charlotte Checkers.

A 2005 fifth-round pick of the Sharks, Joslin has four goals and 12 assists in 114 NHL games with the Sharks and Hurricanes.

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Posted On Friday, 06.29.2012 / 11:06 AM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - NHL Free Agency 2012 blog

Reports: Brodeur hires agent, Devils re-sign pair

According to a media report, New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur has hired an agent and could test the free-agent waters when the market opens for business at noon ET on July 1.

The (Bergen) Record's Tom Gulitti reported Friday that agent Pat Brisson confirmed in an e-mail an earlier report by TSN's Darren Dreger that Brodeur has hired him.

"It looks like he might be testing free agency on Sunday if a deal isn't reached by Sunday with the Devils," Brisson wrote in the e-mail.

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Posted On Friday, 06.29.2012 / 10:44 AM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - NHL Free Agency 2012 blog

Flames re-sign Sarich to two-year deal

The Calgary Flames on Friday signed defenseman Cory Sarich to a new two-year, $4 million contract. The move prevents Sarich from becoming an unrestricted free agent.

"Cory is a true competitor who plays the game the right way, with fire and grit," Flames GM Jay Feaster said. "He is capable of delivering the big hit and as such keeps opposing players honest. He eliminates time and space down low, he moves the puck well with a good first pass, he is one of the leaders in our room, and he is a well-liked and well-respected teammate. We are thrilled to have Cory back in the fold on a contract that fits within our plan and enables us to continue to improve our hockey team."

Sarich, 33, had a goal, six assists, a plus-1 rating and 66 penalty minutes in 62 games last season. He tied for second with 144 hits, and his 60 blocked shots were fifth.

Sarich had spent the previous five seasons with the Flames. He also has played with the Sabres and Lightning in 13 NHL seasons. In 887 games, he has 20 goals, 146 points and 1,035 penalty minutes, 10th among active defensemen.

The Sarich signing marks the second straight day the Flames have focused on their defense. They acquired the rights to impending free agent Dennis Wideman from the Washington Capitals on Thursday then signed him to a five-year contract.

"When we set about the process of improving our blue line we identified the need for a puck-mover who could play the point on the power play and help us offensively, and we also wanted a time-space eliminator who hits and competes and brings a sandpaper element to his game," Feaster said. "We took care of the first need [Thursday] by acquiring and signing Dennis Wideman, and we checked the box on the second need [Friday] by re-upping Cory Sarich."

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Posted On Thursday, 06.28.2012 / 5:16 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - NHL Free Agency 2012 blog

Gill re-signs with Predators

Defenseman Hal Gill has re-signed with the Nashville Predators, agreeing to a two-year, $4 million contract.

Gill had five assists and a plus-4 rating in 24 regular-season games in 2011-12 after being acquired by the Predators in a trade from the Montreal Canadiens to bolster Nashville's defensive-zone play and penalty-killing. He was hurt late in the season, however, and sat out the Predators' first-round playoff series against the Red Wings. He returned during the second round against the Coyotes, finishing with no points and a plus-2 rating.

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Posted On Thursday, 06.28.2012 / 4:03 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - NHL Free Agency 2012 blog

Report: Rask, Bruins agree on one-year deal

TSN is reporting impending restricted free agent Tuukka Rask and the Boston Bruins have agreed on a one-year, $3.5 million contract.

With Tim Thomas taking the 2012-13 season off, the move likely means Rask will be the Bruins' starting goaltender next season.

Rask went 11-8-3 in 23 games last season, with a 2.05 goals-against average and .929 save percentage. However, he suffered a season-ending groin injury in March.

Rask has started for the Bruins previously. In 2009-10, he went 22-12-5 with five shutouts, a 1.97 GAA and .937 save percentage in 45 games. That season, however, ended with him in net in the second round of the playoffs as the Philadelphia Flyers rallied from a 3-0 series deficit to beat the Bruins.

A 2005 first-round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Bruins acquired him in June 2006 in exchange for Andrew Raycroft. In 102 NHL games, all with the Bruins, Rask is 47-35-11 with 11 shutouts, a 2.20 GAA and .926 save percentage.

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Posted On Thursday, 06.28.2012 / 3:19 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - NHL Free Agency 2012 blog

Blue Jackets re-sign Nikitin

The Columbus Blue Jackets announced Thursday the team has re-signed defenseman Nikita Nikitin to a two-year, $4.3 million contract. The deal will pay the 26-year-old blueliner $1.8 million in 2012-13 and $2.5 million in 2013-14.

Had he not signed, Nikitin would have been a restricted free agent July 1.

Acquired from the St. Louis Blues on Nov. 10, 2011, Nikitin had seven goals and 32 points in 54 games; prior to the trade, he had no points in seven games.

"We were very pleased with the way Nikita played after joining us last season as he became a significant contributor on our blue line," Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson said. "He made tremendous strides this year and will continue to be an important part of what we believe is a very good group of defensemen."

A 2004 fifth-round pick of the Blues, Nikitin has eight goals and 33 assists in 102 games with the Blues and Blue Jackets.

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Posted On Thursday, 06.28.2012 / 3:01 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - NHL Free Agency 2012 blog

Jokinen done in Calgary?

Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun reported Thursday that the Calgary Flames would not be offering impending unrestricted free agent center Olli Jokinen a new contract.

Jokinen, 33, was second on the Flames last season with 61 points and third with 23 goals, his best output since he had 34 goals and 71 points in 2007-08. He also played all 82 games last season, including the 1,000th of his NHL career.

In 1,042 games with the Kings, Islanders, Panthers, Coyotes, Flames and Rangers, Jokinen has 292 goals and 683 points.

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Posted On Thursday, 06.28.2012 / 2:32 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - NHL Free Agency 2012 blog

Lee re-signs with Lightning

Defenseman Brian Lee has re-signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning, the team announced Thursday.

He was given a two-year, one-way contract that TSN reports is worth $2.3 million.

Tampa Bay acquired Lee from Ottawa in exchange for Matt Gilroy on Feb. 26. He played 20 games with the Lightning, recording eight assists and 17 shots on goal while averaging 17:05 in ice time per game.

Over the course of the 2011-12 season, Lee set career-highs for games played (55), assists (15) and points (16). He played the first 35 games with the Senators, who selected him in the first round (No. 9) of the 2005 NHL Draft.

Lee, 25, has played in 187 career games and has five goals and 31 points. He made his NHL debut during the 2007-08 season.

Lee played college hockey at the University of North Dakota and appeared in 82 games over two seasons. He twice represented the United States at the World Junior Championships.

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The old saying in hockey is 'weather the storm.' I put the notion in their heads that we don't want to weather the storm, we want to push just as hard and matched their work ethic. I thought our guys exceeded that in the first period.

— Edmonton Oilers coach Dallas Eakins after their loss to the Nashville Predators on Thursday
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