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Free Agency 2010 Blog

Tuesday, 08.03.2010 / 9:00 AM / NHL Free Agency 2010

By NHL.com Staff

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Free Agency 2010 Blog

Modano headed to Red Wings
08.03.2010 / 9:00 a.m. (ET)

It appears as though veteran center Mike Modano will be heading home to possibly close out his career.

The Detroit Free Press reported late Monday night that Modano, who has spent the previous 20 seasons with the Stars' organization, is prepared to sign with the Detroit Red Wings.

ESPNDallas.com reported that the 40-year-old Modano will ink a one-year deal worth $1.25 million to be the team's third-line center on Thursday. Modano, born in Livonia, Mi., was the Minnesota North Stars first overall draft choice in 1988 and played four seasons there before spending the last 16 campaigns in Dallas.

The move will give Modano a chance to play near home since his parents live near Detroit.

"Big announcement Thursday," Modano told the Free Press in a text on Monday.

"I'm cautiously optimistic," Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland said. "When Mike was in Detroit a couple of weeks ago and spent time here, and in all the conversations I've had since with him and his agent, Mike Liut, I think they understand all the positives to coming to Detroit."

When Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk decided not to bring back Modano in June, the highest-scoring American-born player in NHL history began looking at his options. He was reportedly also interested in San Jose and Minnesota.

Modano has 557 goals, 802 assists and 1,359 points in 1,459 career games. He finished with a career-low 30 points in 59 games last season in Dallas, including 14 goals, while averaging 14:18 of ice time.

--Mike G. Morreale

Looking at the free-agent market
07.31.2010 / 10:50 a.m. ET

The weekend is finally here, and now marks a good time to look at who's still available in free agency.

Among the unrestricted players, Lee Stempniak (28 goals) and Maxim Afinogenov (24) seem to be the best available goal-scorers. Teemu Selanne, who had 27 goals and 48 points, likely will return to the Ducks if he decides to play another season.

Willie Mitchell and Kim Johnsson might be the best defensemen still on the open market, but both are dealing with injury histories and could be risky pick-ups. However, if healthy, both would be desirable players.

Marty Turco and Jose Theodore are solid veteran options in goal.

Our own Dan Rosen did a nice job examining the top remaining restricted free agents, a list that includes Canadiens goalie Carey Price, Blues defenseman Erik Johnson, Rangers defenseman Marc Staal and Ducks forward Bobby Ryan.

Keep checking NHL.com, as our staff will be all over any signings as they happen.

--
Adam Kimelman

Report: Islanders waive Witt
07.30.2010 / 4:11 p.m. ET

According to a report in Newsday, the New York Islanders have placed Brendan Witt on unconditional waivers with the intent of buying out the remainder of his contract.

The 35-year-old defenseman, a veteran of 14 NHL seasons, finished with 2 goals, 5 points and 45 penalty minutes in 42 games for the Islanders last season.

Witt sports career totals of 25 goals, 121 points and 1,424 penalty minutes in 890 regular-season games for the Capitals, Predators and Islanders. He has added 4 goals, 5 points and 44 penalty minutes in 41 playoff games.

-- Brian Hunter

One-year deal set for White, Flames
07.30.2010 / 11:31 a.m. ET

The Calgary Flames officially announced they have re-signed defenseman Ian White to a one-year deal. They didn't reveal terms, but the NHL Players' Association is reporting White will make $2,999,995 next season.

White split last season with the Maple Leafs and Flames, arriving in Calgary in the deal that sent Dion Phaneuf to Toronto. In 27 games with the Flames, he had 4 goals and 12 points.

On the season, he had 13 goals -- eighth among NHL defensemen -- and 38 points.

-- Adam Kimelman

Wheeler, Bruins make deal official
07.30.2010 / 10:32 a.m. ET

Blake Wheeler signed the one-year, $2.2 million contract he won in arbitration with the Boston Bruins.

"It is never a pleasant experience for either side to go to arbitration," said Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli. "However, as a manager, you know that the player will be under contract for the following year either way. We talked to Blake before and after the hearing and we are satisfied to have a good, young player under contract for another year."

Wheeler will have a conference call at 11 a.m. to express his feelings on the deal.

-- Adam Kimelman

Report: No arbitration for White, Flames
07.30.2010 / 10:02 a.m. ET

According to a tweet from the NHL Players' Association, the Calgary Flames and defenseman Ian White have agreed to a one-year contract, avoiding their arbitration hearing set for today.

The NHLPA is reporting the new deal will pay White $2,999,995 next season. White had 4 goals and 12 points in 27 games with the Flames after joining them from Toronto in the Dion Phaneuf deal.

-- Adam Kimelman

Report: Wheeler wins one-year deal
07.30.2010 / 9:21 a.m. ET

According to the Boston Globe, Blake Wheeler has won a one-year, $2.2 million contract in his arbitration hearing with the Boston Bruins. The report states Wheeler has yet to sign the deal, but that is considered a formality. The Globe also is reporting the Bruins have no plans on walking away from the decision.

"Blake and I are pleased with the decision," Matt Keator, Wheeler's agent, said in a statement. "It came in the range we expected given the common comparables presented by both sides. He is ready to go to camp and have a great season."

Wheeler had 18 goals and 38 points while playing all 82 regular-season games for the Bruins, and 6 points in 13 playoff games.

-- Adam Kimelman

Report: Two more years for Demers

07.29.2010 / 9:43 p.m. ET

Looks like Jason Demers can start getting more comfortable in San Jose.

The Sharks defenseman, who split time last season between San Jose and its AHL affiliate in Worcester, Mass., has reportedly signed a new two-year deal that will pay him $1.25 million annually. The signing was first reported by Brennan Klak of HendricksHockey.net.

Demers, 22, had 4 goals and 17 assists in 51 games for the Sharks and went 4-13-17 in 25 AHL contests. He also had a goal and 4 assists in 15 playoff games for the Sharks, who were swept by Chicago in the Western Conference Finals.

-- Brian Compton

Report: Kings sign Ponikarovsky

07.27.2010 / 2:55 p.m. ET

Looks like the Los Angeles Kings didn't waste much time finding a replacement for Alexander Frolov.

TSN's Darren Dreger is reporting the Kings have agreed to terms with unrestricted free agent Alexei Ponikarovsky, who finished up last season with the Pittsburgh Penguins after being dealt by the Toronto Maple Leafs. The 6-foot-4, 229-pound left wing went 2-7-9 in 16 games for the Pens after scoring 19 goals in 61 contests for the Leafs.

Ponikarovsky, who was scratched during the team's second-round playoff series against the Montreal Canadiensm, had a goal and 4 assists in 11 postseason contests.

Overall, the 30-year-old has 116 goals and 150 assists in 493 NHL games. He was drafted by the Leafs in the fourth round (No. 87) of the 1998 Entry Draft.

-- Brian Compton

Report: Isles sign Moulson
07.27.2010 / 10:15 a.m. ET

Newsday is reporting that the New York Islanders and Matt Moulson settled on a one-year contract just moments before an arbitration hearing was set to begin.

Moulson led the Isles with 30 goals last season, his first full campaign in the NHL. The 26-year-old spent the previous two seasons bouncing between the Los Angeles Kings and their AHL affiliate in Manchester, N.H.

The paper is reporting Moulson will be paid $2.45 million in 2010-11. He made $575,000 last season.

-- Brian Compton

Reports: Rangers to sign Frolov
07.26.2010 / 6:20 p.m. ET

According to several Internet reports, the New York Rangers are close to signing unrestricted free agent Alexander Frolov to a contract.

Yahoo! Sports' Russian correspondent, Dmitry Chesnokov, reported the news on Twitter, while other reports suggested the Los Angeles Kings, with whom Frolov has played his entire seven-year career, and the KHL remained options.

An official announcement is expected to come Tuesday.

Frolov, 28, is one of the top free agents remaining on the market. He finished last season with 19 goals and 51 points in 81 regular-season games, adding 1 goal and 4 points in a six-game playoff loss to the Canucks.

In 536 regular-season games for the Kings, Frolov has totals of 168 goals and 381 points. He recorded career highs of 35 goals and 71 points during the 2006-07 season.

-- Brian Hunter

Asham aiming for Philly
07.26.2010 / 1:40 p.m. ET

Arron Asham was a consistent third-line performer in Philadelphia the last two seasons, but with the Flyers investing their offseason money on defense, there doesn't seem to be a lot of room for him back in Philadelphia for the 2010-11 season.

Asham, an unrestricted free agent spending the summer at his home in Portage La Prairie, Man., told PortageOnline.com, the local newspaper's Web site, that the Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers have shown interest, but his first choice is to try to stay with the Flyers.

Asham had 10 goals and 24 points in 72 games with Philadelphia last season, generally playing on a line with youngsters Claude Giroux and James van Riemsdyk.

-- Adam Kimelman

Report: Raymond, Canucks settle
07.26.2010 / 11:10 a.m. ET

The Vancouver Canucks and Mason Raymond have agreed to a two-year deal, according to SportsNet.

Raymond, 24, appeared in all 82 games for the Canucks last season and had 25 goals and 28 assists. He also went 3-1-4 in 12 playoff contests.

-- Brian Compton

More changes for Lightning
07.23.2010 / 12:12 p.m. ET

Lightning GM Steve Yzerman is continuing to put his stamp on the organization, and on Friday he dismissed the Jim Johnson, who had split last season as an assistant coach for the Lightning and head coach of the team's AHL affiliate, the Norfolk Admirals.

Organizational goalie coach Cap Raeder also was let go, the team announced associate coach Rick Wilson, the lone holdover from former coach Rick Tocchet's staff, has been given permission to seek jobs elsewhere.

"We'd like to thank both Jim and Cap for their service to the Lightning and Admirals organizations," Yzerman said. "As we continued to the assess the coaching situations for the two teams, we elected to move in a different direction with both of these positions. We wish both men all the best as they move forward."

-- Adam Kimelman

Stars, Brunnstrom avoid arbitration
07.23.2010 / 10:29 a.m. ET

The Dallas Stars announced on Twitter this morning that they have avoided arbitration with restricted free agent Fabian Brunnstrom, as they signed the Swedish forward to a one-year, one-way contract worth $675,000.

Brunnstrom, 25, had 2 goals and 9 assists in 44 games for Dallas last season. He also went 1-4-5 in 8 games for the Texas Stars, the club's AHL affiliate.

Overall, he has 19 goals and 21 assists in 99 NHL games, all with the Stars.

-- Brian Compton

Niemi goes to arbitration in a week
07.22.2010 / 2:00 p.m. ET

The NHLPA earlier this week released the dates that players scheduled to go to salary arbitration will have their hearings. Already Jannik Hansen and Clarke MacArthur have gone through the process, and Atlanta refused to sign MacArthur at the $2.4 million ruled on by the arbitrator, making him an unrestricted free agent.

There are several notable names still on the list, including Chicago goalie Antti Niemi, Atlanta wing Andrew Ladd and Washington forward Tomas Fleischmann.

Niemi is scheduled to have his hearing on July 29. Should it get to that point, the hockey world will anxiously be waiting for a result.

With the Hawks pressed against the cap, fitting Niemi in is a major challenge for GM Stan Bowman. According to capgeek.com, Chicago already has to trim slightly $1 million off the cap to get down to the ceiling of $59.4 million for the 2010-11 season, and it has only 17 players signed.

Bowman has plenty of work to do, and it's possible that he might have to part ways with Niemi if the figure awarded is too high. He and Niemi's agent, Bill Zito, have publicly said they would like to have a deal in place before the arbitration hearing, but Niemi might think he'll get a more substantial raise on the $826,875 he made last season by going to arbitration.

Signing Niemi will be easier if the Blackhawks can stomach jettisoning goalie Cristobal Huetand his $5.625 cap hit to the American Hockey League. They would still have to pay him, but he wouldn't count against the salary cap, giving the Hawks some relief.

Ladd, who was sent out of Chicago because of the cap problems, is also scheduled to go to arbitration on July 29. He is looking to for a raise on the $1.65 million he made last season, when he helped the Hawks win the Stanley Cup and scored a career-high 17 goals.

It certainly would be strange if Atlanta GM Rick Dudley doesn't sign Ladd to whatever the arbitrator rules. Why would he trade for Ladd if he doesn't have the intention of signing him? Plus, the Thrashers are still well under the cap.

Fleischmann is also an interesting case. He's scheduled to go to his hearing on July 28. Odds are Washington will not sign him before the hearing, so Fleischmann's future with the Caps likely depends on what the arbitrator decides he's worth.

If it's too high, the Caps could say good-bye. It already appears they're prepared to go into the season with rookie Marcus Johansson as their second-line center, a position Fleischmann played for parts of last season.

The rest of the players and their arbitration hearing dates are as follows:

Fabian Brunnstrom (July 23), Mason Raymond (July 26), Matt Moulson (July 27), Blake Wheeler (July 27), Tim Kennedy (July 27), Anton Stralman (July 28), Ian White (July 30), Mark Fraser (July 30), Gilbert Brule (Aug. 3), James Wisniewski (Aug. 3), Ben Eager (Aug. 3), Jeff Deslauriers (Aug. 4) and Chris Campoli (Aug. 4).

-- Dan Rosen

Stralman likely for arbitration
07.22.2010 / 10:05 a.m. ET

According to the Columbus Post Dispatch, it appears defenseman Anton Stralman will be headed to arbitration.

Stralman is scheduled to go before the arbitrator next Wednesday and his agent, Marc Levine, told the Columbus Post Dispatch on Thursday that there is little likelihood that a deal will be reached before that time.

"Hopefully cooler heads will prevail, but we're ready to go to arbitration," Levine told the paper.

The Blue Jackets have never taken a player to arbitration in the history of the franchise.

"We'll see how it unfolds here," Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson said. "But we're prepared to go to arbitration."

The Blue Jackets can request that the arbitrator make a ruling on either a one- or two-year contract. If they choose one year, the team can walk away from the deal, allowing Stralman to become an unrestricted free agent. If they opt for the two-year option, the Blue Jackets can only walk away from the second year of the deal -- assuring Stralman would be in the fold for the upcoming season, but at the price decided by the arbitrator.

Stralman, 23 had 6 goals and 34 assists in 73 games last season, leading the Blue Jackets defensemen in scoring, and was third among blueliners in ice time at 20:39 per game. He was also a minus-17, the worst mark on the team.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Undisputed No. 1 again, Price ready to go
07.20.2010 / 3:15 p.m. ET

As much uncertainty as there must have been for Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price this past season, splitting time with Jaroslav Halak and eventually watching as Halak claimed the No. 1 job down the stretch and into the playoffs, Price now has the luxury of knowing he's the man in net heading into the 2010-11 campaign.

Price even sounded relaxed when discussing his ongoing contract negotiations with the Tri-City Herald.

"You know how I am, roll as you go," Price said. "I'm a restricted free agent, it's pretty much wait and see and come to an agreement that is fair to both sides."

It might seem hard to believe, but Price is still just 22 years old (he'll turn 23 before the start of the season). He burst onto the scene in 2007-08 with a 24-12-3 record, 2.56 goals-against average and .920 save percentage, leading many Habs fans to coronate him as the next Patrick Roy.

Price had his struggles in the playoffs, however, and spent much of the past two seasons dueling Halak for playing time. Even though he was relegated to one start and three relief appearances in the Canadiens' surprise run to the Eastern Conference Finals this past season, he still had a great time.

"It was pretty fun," Price told the newspaper. "When you get in the playoffs and get on a run, everyone is pulling on the same rope. I think what made the difference was everyone was enjoying themselves. When you get on a roll like we did last season, everyone was excited. It's an electrifying city."

And it will once again belong to Price, who no longer has the need to look over his shoulder any time he has a poor game. The Canadiens brought in Alex Auld to serve as his backup. While certainly a capable netminder, the 29-year-old journeyman only played in 24 games last season while splitting time with the Stars and Rangers.

"It's going to be a bit of a different look," Price said. "There's always been another guy to share the load with. Alex is a pretty good goaltender. I don't really know him, but I'm looking forward to going back and meeting him."

-- Brian Hunter

Waiting on Modano
07.20.2010 / 10:50 a.m. ET

While Detroit coach Mike Babcock told NHL.com's Dan Rosen that it's only a matter of time before unrestricted free agent Mike Modano signs with the Detroit Red Wings, the player has his own timetable.

On Monday, Modano, 40, told Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press that he won't make a decision until early August, when he is scheduled to begin his skating program.

Modano, the highest-scoring American-born player, will hit the ice on Aug. 5 and believes he will make a decision soon after, depending on how he feels on skates.

Detroit, Minnesota and San Jose have all made offers for his services, Modano confirmed.

The Red Wings are believed to have offered a one-year deal for $1.25 million to lure the hometown boy to play another year. If he does sign, it is believed he would center the third line between Dan Cleary and Jiri Hudler.

Modano's indecision likely leaves restricted free agents Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm in a holding pattern as their playing time will be affected by Modano's decision.

But, GM Ken Holland is adamant that both players will be in the fold, no matter what Modano decides.

"They won't be traded," he said. "They'll be on the team next year."

-- Shawn P. Roarke

Rolston reacts
07.19.2010 / 3:06 p.m. ET

Signing Ilya Kovalchuk doesn't bring an end to the Devils' offseason moves. Lou Lamoriello will now have to shed some salary in order to fit No. 17 under the salary cap for the upcoming season. Teams are allowed to exceed the cap by up to 10 percent during the offseason, but it's likely now a higher-priced veteran will find himself somewhere other than New Jersey by the time Oct. 7 rolls around.

One prime candidate to be moved is Brian Rolston, who has two years remaining on his contract at an annual $5,062,500 cap hit. Rolston was brought back to the Devils prior to the 2008-09 season following three straight 30-goal seasons with the Wild, but he's managed just 35 goals and 69 points in 144 games for the team that originally drafted him in the first round in 1991.

"Who knows what’s going to happen? But, at this point, I think that I am (going to remain a Devil)," Rolston told Tom Guiliti of the Bergen Record. "This is a business and things happens, so I don't know. Anything could happen with me. Something could happen with me. Who knows? But, at this point, I'm enjoying my summer and letting the cards fall where they may."

Even if the Devils found a willing taker, Rolston would have to waive a no-trade clause in order for a deal to be completed.

"I think if we come to that situation, that's something that I'm going to have to think about. At this point, I haven't had to make that decision," he said.

Whether he stays or goes, Rolston made it clear that he supported the Devils' decision to go after Kovalchuk with a big-money contract.

"I think it's great. I think it's going to be good for the team. I think it's good for the organization," he told Rich Chere of the Newark Star-Ledger. "I'm happy for him. He's a good kid. I don't know what he got, but he's a heck of a talented player."

-- Brian Hunter

Kovalchuk staying put with Devils
07.19.2010 / 11:50 a.m. ET

New Jersey got its man after all.

After a twist-filled script that lasted the better part of three weeks, Ilya Kovalchuk wrapped up hockey's version of a summer blockbuster by signing a surprising deal with the New Jersey Devils on Monday.

The deal was announced by the team's Twitter feed at 11:45 a.m.

Kovalchuk was the biggest unrestricted free agent on the market this summer, and he was heavily courted by several teams before the Kings and the New Jersey Devils took center stage. Kovalchuk finished the 2009-10 season with the Devils after arriving in a block-buster deal at this year's trade deadline. 

But, in the end, New Jersey was able to outlast the Los Angeles Kings, who were believed to be the frontrunner after making several offers and hosting the Russian star in a recruiting visit last week.

-- Shawn P. Roarke

Agent: Kovalchuk to sign today
07.19.2010 / 11:25 a.m. ET

It appears that the wait for Ilya Kovalchuk's free-agent decision may soon be complete.

Kovalchuk's agent, Jay Grossman, took to Twitter Monday morning and tweeted the following:

"Ilya Kovalchuk will make his decision today (for sure, this time!)."

Grossman made a similar statement on Twitter late in the first week of free agency, but Kovalchuk did not sign and the wait for his destination has entered its third week.

The New Jersey Devils, Kovalchuk's team after he was obtained at the trade deadline this spring, and the Los Angeles Kings are believed to be the two primary bidders for the Russian winger's services. There have been several reports that SKA St. Petersburg in the KHL was also in the mix for a while.

But, now it seems that the Kings -- who are a young team on the rise -- have won the Kovalchuk sweepstakes for the high-scoring winger.

Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times reported during the weekend that the Kings and player are down to working on items like no-trade and no-movement clauses, suggesting that length and term of the new contract have already been set.

-- Shawn P. Roarke

Is Kovy-Kings getting closer?
07.16.2010 / 09:05 p.m. ET

The romance between Ilya Kovalchuk and the Los Angeles Kings may finally be about to result in a long-term marriage.

Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times says there's no deal yet, but the sides are down to working on items like no-trade and no-movement clauses. That's the type of item you usually work on after the money and years (likely big numbers in both areas) have been worked out.

Rich Hammond of LA Kings Insider on the team's website notes that team governor Tim Leiweke is in Europe on business, which means there might not be a deal in hand yet. But he also says the two sides are close enough that "it's starting to look like it could happen at any time."

--John Kreiser

Lukowich back with Stars
07.16.2010 / 12:05 p.m. ET

Veteran defenseman Brad Lukowich has resurfaced with the Dallas Stars, the team with which he began his NHL career, according to TSN reports.

Lukowich, who turns 34 next month, played in 13 games for the Canucks last season. He had a goal, an assist and a plus-5 rating.

In 12 NHL seasons with the Stars, Lightning, Islanders, Devils, Sharks and Canucks, the stay-at-home blueliner has career totals of 23 goals, 113 points, 369 penalty minutes and a plus-43 rating in 653 regular-season games.

Lukowich, who won a Stanley Cup in 2004 with Tampa Bay, also has 1 goal, 6 points and a plus-10 rating in 71 career playoff games.

-- Brian Hunter

Demitra departing
07.16.2010 / 12:00 p.m. ET

Pavol Demitra reportedly won't be back in the NHL this coming season, as sources say the veteran forward has signed a one-year deal with Yaroslavl of the Kontinental Hockey League.

Demitra was limited to just 28 regular-season games this past season for the Vancouver Canucks, registering 3 goals and 16 points. He did have a strong Olympic Games for Slovakia and added 2 goals and 6 points in 11 playoff games for the Canucks.

Demitra has career totals of 304 goals and 768 points in 847 NHL games with the Senators, Blues, Kings, Wild and Canucks.

-- Brian Hunter

Leafs bolster depth with AHL vets
07.15.2010 / 2:08 p.m. ET

Toronto built on its organizational depth Thursday by signing three players, including forwards Mike Zigomanis and Joey Crabb as well as defenseman Danny Richmond. Combined the trio has played in 267 NHL games.

Zigomanis is the most experienced of the three with 189 NHL games behind him. The 29-year-old journeyman has played for Carolina, St. Louis, Phoenix and Pittsburgh. He last played in the NHL in 2008-09 when he suited up in 22 games for the Penguins. Zigomanis, who has 39 points as an NHLer, split last season between the AHL and the Swedish Elite League. He played a full NHL season, 75 games, with the Coyotes in 2006-07.

Crabb had 53 points for the Chicago Wolves in the AHL last season. He had nine points in 29 games with the Atlanta Thrashers in 2008-09.

Richmond split his 2009-10 season in the AHL between Peoria and Rockford. Only 25, he has 49 games of NHL experience between the Carolina Hurricanes and Chicago Blackhawks, but he hasn't played an NHL game since Jan. 8, 2008. He has 3 assists and 75 penalty minutes.

"These players add significant depth to our organization," Dave Poulin, the Leafs' Vice President of Hockey Operations, said in a statement. "They all have experience at the NHL level and will provide strong leadership for our young prospects."

-- Dan Rosen

Hawks turn attention to Niemi
07.15.2010 / 9:32 a.m. ET

With defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson now in the fold after the club matched an offer sheet from the San Jose Sharks, goalie Antti Niemi is the next target on the radar of Chicago GM Stan Bowman.

The hero of Chicago's run to the 2010 Stanley Cup title is an unrestricted free agent. He filed for arbitration earlier this month and his hearing is scheduled for July 29.
But, it appears there is a good possibility that Niemi will be in the fold before his case ever comes before the arbitrator. Bill Zito, Niemi's agent, said Wednesday that he would like to get a deal done with the team sooner rather than later.

"There are a number of different ways to go and I guess it's up to Stan and I to try and find something that makes sense for everybody," Zito said Wednesday on "The Mully & Hanley Show" on WSCR-AM 670, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune. "Antti would like to stay and like to be a part of this thing and I guess the onus is on us to figure out a way to do it."

Both sides agree that Niemi deserves a raise on the $827,000 salary the goalie pulled in last season, but the question remains on how best to make that happen. The Hawks are hard against the salary cap and have already had to shed considerable salary -- through a number of trades -- so they do not have as much flexibility as they would like in dealing with Niemi.

Also, on Thursday, there were reports coming out of Chicago that the club had agreed to terms with forward Jack Skille on a new one-year deal. Skille, who spent most of last season in the AHL, is one of Chicago's top prospects and is believed to have a good chance of making the parent club this fall.

-- Shawn P. Roarke

Wild re-sign Harding
07.14.2010 / 4:55 p.m. ET

The Minnesota Wild re-signed an important part of their goaltending tandem Wednesday by agreeing to a one-year contract with Josh Harding.

The 26-year-old Harding has served as a backup to Niklas Backstrom during parts of five seasons in the NHL, posting a career record of 28-39-4 with a 2.66 goals-against average and .915 save percentage.

Harding, a second-round pick by Minnesota in 2002, went 9-12-0 with a 3.05 GAA and .905 save percentage last season. He posted career highs of 11 wins and 29 games played during the 2007-08 season.

-- Brian Hunter

Gagne on way out?
07.14.2010 / 11:45 a.m. ET

According to ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun, the agent for Philadelphia Flyers forward Simon Gagne has been given permission to talk to other teams about a possible trade, although he also reports no trade has been made.

Gagne has a no-trade clause, but with the team struggling for cap space and Gagne holding a $5.25 million cap number for 2010-11, his leaving becomes something that would help the Flyers.

Philadelphia just signed Nikolai Zherdev -- ostensibly Gagne's replacement -- and restricted free agent Daniel Carcillo, and would like to free up money to re-sign restricted free agent forward Darroll Powe and add a veteran goalie like Marty Turco.

Gagne, a two-time 40-goal scorer, is in the last year of his contract. Health has been an issue with the 10-year veteran in the past, but he had 40 points in 58 games last season, and in 2008-09, when he played 79 games, he had 34 goals, 74 points and a plus-21 rating.

-- Adam Kimelman

Back to the drawing board?
07.14.2010 / 12:05 a.m. ET

Ilya Kovalchuk and the Los Angeles Kings apparently still can't reach a deal -- at least not yet

Helene Elliott of the L.A. Times said via Twitter late Tuesday that Kovalchuk left Los Angeles on Tuesday without a deal. His agent, Jay Grossman, reportedly stayed for a while to talk with GM Dean Lombardi but has also left.

The Kings, who've dropped out twice only to return to the process, aren't saying anything.

And so Day 14 of the Kovalchuk Watch begins.

--John Kreiser

An ominous silence in L.A.?
07.13.2010 / 9:18 p.m. ET

The silence out of Los Angeles is deafening.

While Kings writer Rich Hammond reports that the team is maintaining its silence concerning Ilya Kovalchuk, Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times said via Twitter that the deal may be dead, "this time for good." The holdup, she reports, is money.

--John Kreiser

Still quiet in L.A.
07.13.2010 / 4:18 p.m. ET

Looks like this day will end without an Ilya Kovalchuk signing in Los Angeles.

Kings writer Rich Hammond just reported that he fully expects a 14th day to arrive in the Kovalchuk saga, as the Russian sniper remains on the market. GM Dean Lombardi also continued his silence today, refusing to comment.

Stay tuned.

-- Brian Compton

Elias stumping for Kovy
07.13.2010 / 2:34 p.m. ET

Count New Jersey Devils forward Patrik Elias among those watching very closely where Ilya Kovalchuk will sign -- at some point -- this summer.

Elias told NHL.com's Mike Morreale that he sent Kovalchuk a text message last week when it seemed like Kovalchuk was leaning toward taking a reported offer from the Devils valued at $60 million over seven years.

"I texted him a couple of days ago, but got no response," Elias told Morreale. "I think he's getting a lot of those. I just told him I heard he was coming back and that I hoped it was true and that was it. I didn't get any response."

There's more in the story, including Elias thinking back to his days as an unrestricted free agent, and said even he's surprised about Kovalchuk taking this long to pick a team.

"Only he knows what might be the reasons why he hasn't signed anywhere yet," he said. "I read what you guys write. There have been offers -- who knows what the reasons are. He's going to make a decision that's right for him, for whatever reasons. Obviously, not only the hockey reasons but everybody has different perspectives and different things to achieve with a new team. I stayed here four years ago because we were always winning and we always got a chance to play in the playoffs. I think that's what it's all about."

-- Adam Kimelman

Modano may not end up in Detroit
07.13.2010 / 11:59 a.m. ET

It seemed like a perfect fit, but the chances of Mike Modano signing with the Detroit Red Wings suddenly appear slim.

According to the Detroit News, the offer the Red Wings gave Modano might not be enough to entice the Michigan native to head to Motown. Detroit currently has 20 players under contract at a total of $55.7 million, but still has to sign restricted free agents Derek Meech, Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm.

"We made an offer, we made our pitch," Wings GM Ken Holland told the paper. "But this being a cap world, we've made lots of commitments. We don't have a lot of wiggle room.

"We would love to have Mike join us, but we only have a certain amount to spend."

Other teams reportedly interested in Modano's services are Minnesota, San Jose and Anaheim.

-- Brian Compton

Dubnyk to re-sign
07.13.2010 / 9:39 a.m. ET

Devan Dubnyk, the Edmonton Oilers' 2004 first-round pick who made his NHL debut last season, reportedly will have his new contract with the team announced today.

TSN is reporting Dubnyk, a restricted free agent, has agreed to a two-year, one-way contract that will pay him $800,000 annually.

The 14th pick of the 2004 Entry Draft, Dubnyk went 4-10-2 with 3.57 goals-against average and .897 save percentage. He split time with Jeff Deslauriers, but started -- and won -- the Oilers' last two games of the regular season.

-- Adam Kimelman

All quiet on the Kovalchuk front
07.12.2010 / 11:52 p.m. ET

It looks like the Ilya Kovalchuk saga will go on for at least another day.

Kovalchuk and agent Jay Grossman were in Los Angeles on Monday for meetings with the Kings, hope to get the sniper to sign on the dotted line. But according to Rich Hammond of Kings Insider, the Kings thus far have declined comment about the meetings.

ESPN's Pierre LeBrun also reports via Twitter that Kings GM Dean Lombardi had no comment about Monday's meetings with Kovalchuk's camp.

--John Kreiser

Kings continue to recruit Kovalchuk
07.12.2010 / 3:42 p.m. ET

Ilya Kovalchuk and agent Jay Grossman are in Los Angeles, which hopes to get the sniper to sign on the dotted line in the next day or so.

Kings reporter Rich Hammond reports that no deal is in place, nor is a press conference scheduled, but at least discussions can be had with GM Dean Lombardi face-to-face. Hammond also correctly points out that it's rare that an NHL free agent visits a city before signing a contract.

It's unknown if a deal will be struck before the end of the day, but the fact that Kovalchuk is in L.A. is a very good sign for Kings fans.

-- Brian Compton

Blackhawks match Sharks' offer for Hjalmarsson
07.12.2010 / 3:26 p.m. ET

Chicago Blackhawks General Manager Stan Bowman wasted little time in matching the San Jose Sharks' offer to restricted free agent defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson.

Three days after the Sharks presented the 23-year-old defenseman with a four-year, $14-million offer, the defending Stanley Cup champions equaled the contract. If the Hawks didn't match the Sharks' offer by Friday, they would have received San Jose's first- and third-round picks in the 2011 Entry Draft as compensation.

The Blackhawks have been paying the price for winning a championship, shedding salary by trading players such as Dustin Byfuglien to Atlanta and Kris Versteeg to Toronto in an attempt to get under the salary cap for the 2010-11 campaign.

Hjalmarsson, paired mostly with Brian Campbell throughout Chicago's run to the Cup, played  a major role in helping the Blackhawks sweep the Sharks in the Western Conference Final before disposing of the Philadelphia Flyers to win the Stanley Cup in six games. In his first full NHL season, he had 2 goals, 17 points and a plus-9 rating in 77 regular-season games. He then added 1 goal and 7 assists in the playoffs, including 2 assists against the Sharks, while averaging just over 21 minutes of ice time per game.

A fourth-round selection by the Blackhawks in the 2005 Entry Draft, the 6-foot-3, 205-pounder has 3 goals and 21 points in 111 regular-season games and 1 goal and 9 points in 39 playoff games.

-- Mike G. Morreale

Lamoriello on Kovy: "Everything is the same as it was!"
07.12.2010 / 1:17 p.m. ET

The New Jersey Devils might have kicked off their rookie camp on Monday at their practice rink at Prudential Center, but the hot topic of discussion was, of course, Ilya Kovalchuk.

Devils General Manager Lou Lamoriello was asked if anything has changed since his contract offer and Kovalchuk's recent trip out west to visit with the Los Angeles Kings.

"Everything is the same as it was the last three or four days," Lamoriello said. "I don't have anything to add to that."

When asked if he believes Kovalchuk wants to be a Devil, Lamoriello responded, "As I said, I have nothing to add to that."

Lamoriello was also asked if negotiations had begun with Zach Parise, who becomes a restricted free agent at the conclusion of the 2010-11 campaign.

He told Rich Chere of the The Star-Ledger: "We'll see. We'll certainly try to get that done as quickly as possible."

--Mike G. Morreale

Kovalchuk visiting L.A.
07.11.10 /7:40 PM ET

Ilya Kovalchuk is on his way Los Angeles, although he isn't a member of the Kings just yet.

According to TSN and the NHL Network's Darren Dreger, the unrestricted free agent is visiting Southern California for some face-to-face negotiations with Kings GM Dean Lombardi. Rumors are also swirling that a deal is already in place and will be announced tomorrow, but Lombardi told TSN's Bob McKenzie that it's "utterly false."

If the Kings are finally able to land Kovalchuk, who has 338 goals in 621  NHL games, they would instantly become Stanley Cup contenders.


-- Brian Compton

Ducks: Ryan won't be traded
07.10.10 /1:35 PM ET

Bobby Ryan may be a restricted free agent, but don't expect the highly-skilled winger to be changing addresses any time soon.

TSN's Darren Dreger tweeted earlier today that Ducks GM Bob Murray wants to put an end to any trade speculation revolving the 23-year-old, who had a career-high 35 goals for Anaheim last season.

Ryan, a Cherry Hill, N.J., native, counted $765,000 against the salary cap last season and will likely receive a hefty raise this summer.  As of now, the Ducks have roughly $16 million in cap space. Defenseman James Wisniewski, who made $2.8 million last season ,is also a restricted free agent.

-- Brian Compton

Zherdev returns
07.09.10 /5:04 PM ET

Following a season in Russia, forward Nikolai Zherdev is back in the National Hockey League -- and the Atlantic Division.

Zherdev, a member of the New York Rangers during the 2008-09 season, signed a one-year deal Friday with their rivals and the defending Eastern Conference champions, the Philadelphia Flyers.

Zherdev recorded 23 goals in his lone season with the Blueshirts, but was held scoreless in a seven-game first-round loss to the Capitals in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He scored as many as 27 goals and 61 points in a single season while with the Columbus Blue Jackets, and is still only 25-years-old, so the Flyers now have another talented young player up front.

-- Brian Hunter

Sharks sign Hawks' Hjalmarsson
07.09.10 /12:44 PM ET

The San Jose Sharks have become the first team this summer to sign a restricted free agent to an offer sheet. According to a report on TSN, they Sharks have signed Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson to a four-year, $14 million contract.

The Blackhawks have seven days to match the offer. If they choose not to match, they will receive the Sharks' first- and third-round 2011 draft picks.

Stay close to NHL.com for more on this story.

-- Adam Kimelman

Defensemen Girardi, Stuart re-sign
07.09.10 /11:41 AM ET

A pair of defensemen re-signed Friday with the teams they have spent their entire careers with, as Dan Girardi agreed with the New York Rangers while Mark Stuart will return to the Boston Bruins.

Girardi, 26, played in all 82 games for the Rangers last season, putting up 6 goals and 24 points. The 6-2, 215-pounder has skated in 280 career NHL games with the Rangers, registering 20 goals and 60 assists for 80 points.

The 26-year-old Stuart played in 56 games for Boston last season, registering 2 goals and 7 points. Stuart is a veteran of 252 NHL regular season games and has compiled 12 goals, 35 points and 261 penalty minutes.

-- Brian Hunter

Flyers considering waiving Gagne?
07.09.10 /10:21 AM ET

Could the Flyers consider waiving Simon Gagne if they can't find a trade partner? According to TSN's Darren Dreger, a few NHL executives he's spoken with believe that's an option Philadelphia will use if they can't move Gagne in the next few days.

The Flyers need to clear salary cap space to officially sign Nikolai Zherdev, a free agent forward who spent last season playing in Russia. Gagne is due $5.25 million for the 2010-11 season, the last year of his contract.

Gagne, however, has a no-trade clause, and despite reports from the Philadelphia media that he has waived that clause, Gagne told RDS he has done no such thing.

"I have a no-trade clause and I didn't waive it," Gagne told RDS. "The Flyers have a salary cap problem, and I'm a player that is on the tail end of his contract, with still a year to complete. The next few days may help us to see what's going to happen for me."

Gagne has spent all 10 of his NHL seasons in Philadelphia, but major injuries two of the last three seasons have limited him to just 162 of 246 possible games. Last season, he played just 58 games but had 40 points, and in the playoffs he scored the winning goals in Games 4 and 7 of their historic second-round comeback against the Boston Bruins, and in 19 games he had 9 goals and 12 points, the best playoff numbers of his career.

If healthy, Gagne has proven he can still be a solid scoring option for a team in need of a top-six left wing. Staying healthy, though, has been an issue.

Beside signing Zherdev, the Flyers hope to open enough cap space to sign restricted free agent forwards Daniel Carcillo and Darroll Powe, and possibly a veteran goaltender like Marty Turco.

-- Adam Kimelman

Capitals re-sign Fehr
07.08.10 /4:00 PM ET

Eric Fehr, whose offensive production improved dramatically in his second full NHL season, has re-signed with the Washington Capitals, inking a two-year contract.

The 24-year-old forward nearly doubled his goal total, scoring 21 times and finishing with 39 points and a plus-18 rating. Fehr also added 3 goals in the first-round series loss to Montreal. The previous season, he registered 12 goals and 25 points.

Fehr originally debuted with the Capitals during the 2005-06 season and has 36 goals and 73 points in 178 career NHL games over parts of five seasons with the club that made him the 18th pick of the 2003 Entry Draft.

-- Brian Hunter

Reports: Flyers, Zherdev close
07.08.10 /2:35 PM ET

According to several reports out of Philadelphia, the Flyers are close to signing Ukranian free agent forward Nikolai Zherdev.

Zherdev, 25, played in Russia, with Atlant Mystishchi, this past season after the New York Rangers walked away from his arbitration deal last summer.

In his last NHL season, Zherdev had 23 goals and 58 points in 82 games. Zherdev also played four seasons with Columbus, which drafted him No. 4 in the 2003 Entry Draft. In those five NHL seasons, Zherdev has 99 goals and 239 points in 365 games.

Boston and Buffalo have also reportedly looked into signing Zherdev, but the Flyers appear to be in the lead.

Philadelphia has been one of the busiest teams this summer, trading for defenseman Andrej Meszaros and signing Jody Shelley and Sean O'Donnell through free agency. But, the club would likely have to make another move to get Zherdev's contract under the cap.

The most likely candidate remains Simon Gagne, who is due more than $5 million in the last year of his deal with the club. Plus, the team still needs to sign restricted free agents Darroll Powe and Daniel Carcillo.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Kings out of Kovalchuk sweepstakes again
07.08.10 / 9:07 AM ET

It appears the Kings have found themselves out of the Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes again almost as quickly as they had re-entered talks on Wednesday.

By the close of business that day, Los Angeles said "thanks, but no thanks" to the high-scoring Russian. Kovalchuk's agent had "re-engaged," in the words of GM Dean Lombardi, the Kings with a counter proposal Wednesday afternoon. The Kings had walked away from the negotiating table almost 72 hours earlier.

But, after team management crunched the numbers in the new proposal, the harsh reality that they would have to pass on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity -- for the final time, likely -- became apparent.

In their opinion, the Kings could not sign the two-time, 50-goal scorer to a long-term deal and still leave open cap space to retain the young players counted upon to be the franchise cornerstone's in Lombardi's vision of the future.

"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, told Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times. "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."

--Shawn P. Roarke

Afternoon roundup
07.07.10 /6:00 PM ET

While there's still no movement as far as Ilya Kovalchuk goes, NHL teams continue to re-sign their own players and add new parts.

Joe Corvo, once a valuable member of the Carolina Hurricanes' blue line before getting dealt to the Capitals at last season's trade deadline, is going back there with a new two-year contract.

Washington, meanwhile, made sure Jeff Schultz won't be playing anywhere other than the nation's capital for the foreseeable future. The NHL's leader in plus/minus this past season at an astonishing plus-50 agreed to a four-year contract. At the tender age of 24, he's already plus-80 for his career.

The Buffalo Sabres no longer need to worry about a backup goalie for Ryan Miller -- they brought back the one they already had, giving Patrick Lalime a new one-year deal. Lalime picked up his 200th NHL win last season.

Eric Boulton will continue to make sure opponents don't take liberties with the Atlanta Thrashers' top players, as he re-signed.

The Colorado Avalanche signed restricted free agent Brandon Yip to a two-year contract. Yip came up during the 2009-10 season and, along with fellow rookies Matt Duchene and Ryan O'Reilly, was part of an infusion of youth that helped the team get back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Avalanche also added Ben Walter, who has had cups of coffee with the Devils, Islanders and Bruins.

-- Brian Hunter

Penguins add Hutchinson
07.07.10 / 2:56 PM ET

Veteran defenseman Andrew Hutchinson has agreed to terms on a two-way contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The one-year deal would pay the 30-year-old $500,000 if he sticks with the NHL squad.

Hutchinson last played in the NHL during the 2008-09 season, a combined 40 games with the Dallas Stars and Tampa Bay Lightning. He registered 2 goals and 5 points.

Hutchinson broke into the League as a member of the Nashville Predators during the 2003-04 season and also played parts of two seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes. In 135 NHL games, he has 12 goals and 38 points.

-- Brian Hunter

Report: Caps re-sign Schultz
07.07.10 / 12:56 PM ET

According to reports from TSN and the Washington Post, the Capitals have re-signed restricted free agent Jeff Schultz, who had filed for salary arbitration. TSN is reporting the four-year deal is worth $11 million

According to the Post, the team is expected to make a formal announcement this afternoon.

Schultz, 24, was a League-leading plus-50 last-season, playing alongside Norris Trophy finalist Mike Green. He also had 3 goals and 20 assists in 73 games.

Also, Michael Nylander was placed on waivers, according to the Post. It seems the Caps hope that someone will pick up the veteran center, whose cap hit ($4.875 million) is greater than his slary ($3 million).

--Shawn P. Roarke

Kings re-enter Kovalchuk fray
07.07.10 / 12:42 PM ET

The Ilya Kovalchuk situation remains on hold with New Jersey, according to the Bergen Record's Tom Gulitti. But, reports Wednesday afternoon suggest that the Devils may once again have competition from the Los Angeles Kings.

Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday on her Twitter feed that Kings GM Dean Lombardi said his team and the Russian are "re-engaged" in contract talks. According to Elliott's report, Kovalchuk is expected to make a counter-offer to the Kings, who pulled out of the bidding Monday when Kovalchuk turned down another offer from the team. Reports at that time suggested he was looking for $10 million a year for 10 years.

To make matters even more interesting, there have been several reports that Kovalchuk is being wooed by SKA St. Petersburg in the KHL.

The Devils are also clearly trying to retain the prolific winger, who was obtained in a trade deadline acquisition from the Atlanta Thrashers.

In fact, according to Gulitti, the Devils are holding off on other free-agent business until they sort out the Kovalchuk situation.

A prime example seems to be defenseman Mike Mottau, who has expressed interest in re-upping with the Devils.

“That’s one of the possibilities,” Mottau told Gulitti of his future with the Devils being impacted by Kovalchuk. “But there’s been a number of teams interested. I’m in that secondary market that really hasn’t popped, yet. So, it’s kind of a wait-and-see type thing for a couple things to move. There are a couple of moving parts and then I think I should be able to have a clearer picture on my future.”

New Jersey is trying to maintain its current $4 million cushion when it comes to the salary cap to have the most flexibility if the opportunity to get a Kovalchuk deal done arises. Hence the hesitation to sign other players at this time.

Mottau told Gulitti he has heard from the Devils since he became an unrestricted free agent at noon on July 1, but they have yet to make a contract offer. Even after signing defensemen Henrik Tallindeer and Anton Volchenkov last Thursday, Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello has expressed interest in re-signing Mottau if the term and compensation fit into the team's overall plan.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Sabres sign R. Niedermayer
07.07.10 / 12:06 PM ET

According to several reports, Rob Niedermayer has agreed to a one-year deal with the Buffalo Sabres

Niedermayer, 35, had 22 points and was a plus-3 for the New Jersey Devils this past season. For his career, he has played 1,082 NHL games, scoring 450 points. Buffalo is Niedermayer's fifth NHL stop in a career that began with Florida in 1993.

He will be a lower-line center for the Sabres, provide grit, toughness and some scoring ability to the Sabres.

According to multiple reports out of Pittsburgh, Niedermayer was on the Penguins' radar, as well. It is believed he was being considered to fill a third-line center role there.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Canadiens to part ways with Fischer
07.07.10 / 9:49 AM ET

Canadiens GM Pierre Gauthier spoke Tuesday at the opening of Montreal's summer evaluation camp and provided several free agent updates.

Most shockingly, he said his club had no intention of signing David Fischer, the team's first-round pick in 2006.

"We've advised his representative that we probably won't make him an offer and he'll become an unrestricted free agent on Aug. 15," Gauthier said. "We reserve the right to change our mind on that, but it looks like that's what's going to happen."

If Fischer is not signed, Montreal will receive a compensatory pick in the 2011 Entry Draft. According to reports, that pick would be No. 20 in the second round as Fischer was slected at No. 20 in the first round of the 2006 Entry Draft.

Gauthier also acknowledged that the Canadiens hold no interest in bringing back unrestricted free agents Glen Metropolit and Dominic Moore

"It's unfortunate because a lot of these guys contributed to our team, but between the young players moving up and the acquisitions we made in the off-season, and of course the game that we all play with the (salary) cap, we came to those decisions," he said.

Moore has been linked with Pittsburgh, who could be in the market for a No. 3 center if they go ahead with plans to move either Jordan Staal or Evgeni Malkin to the wing.

Finally, Gauthier said negotiations were in process with restricted free agents Carey Price and Maxim Lapierre. Price is Montreal's undisputed No. 1 goalie after the trade of Jaroslav Halak, who signed a four-year, $18 million deal with St. Louis on Tuesday.

"We'll see how it evolves (with Price)," he said. "Sometimes it takes longer than other cases, but we'll come to a conclusion some time before training camp, I'm confident of that."

--Shawn P. Roarke

Kostitsyn in with Predators
07.06.10 / 5:02 PM ET

Forward Sergei Kostitsyn, acquired by the Nashville Predators last month, signed a one-year, $550,000 contract Wednesday.

Kostitsyn, a restricted free agent, had come over in exchange for forward Dustin Boyd and goaltender Dan Ellis.

Kostitsyn had 7 goals and 11 assists in 47 games with the Canadiens, his third NHL season.

-- Adam Kimelman

Caps ink Gordon
07.06.10 / 4:34 PM ET

The Washington Capitals have signed center/right wing Boyd Gordon to a one-year contract, vice president and general manager George McPhee announced Tuesday

Gordon, who battled injuries this past season, is a versatile forward for the Caps, especially as the only right-handed center. He is a key faceoff man and also does big work on the penalty kill. He had four goals and six assists in 36 games.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Busy day for Blues
07.06.10 / 2:36 PM ET

Not only did St. Louis make a big splash by signing Jaroslav Halak, which John McGourty details on NHL.com, but they also signed rugged forward Cam Janssen to a one-year deal.

Janssen, who joined the Blues in 2008, had a career-high 190 penalty minutes while appearing 43 games with St. Louis last year.

"St. Louis is my home and always will be," said Janssen. "We have a great group of guys and I’m looking forward to start the season."

The Blues were happy to get Janssen under contract before he went to arbitration later this month.

"Cam has been a tremendous teammate and we’re happy to have him back for another season," said GM Doug Armstrong.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Blues get their man
07.06.10 / 1:33 PM ET

The St. Louis Blues have signed goaltender Jaroslav Halak to a four-year contract that will pay him a reported $15 million -- a total of $3.75 million against the salary cap. Not bad for a  goalie the Blues hope can at least replicate what he did last season for the Montreal -- leading them to the conference finals.

"Jaroslav will be a big help for our organization moving forward," said Blues GM Doug Armstrong. "He has made a great commitment to the Blues as he enters the prime of his career."

"I've been looking forward to playing in St. Louis ever since the trade was announced," said Halak. "I believe in my abilities and hope to do some good things for the Blues."

-- Adam Kimelman

Kovalchuk situation remains "status quo"
07.06.10 / 10:04 AM ET

General Manager Lou Lamoriello continues to reveal little about his team's pursuit of unrestericted free agent Ilya Kovalchuk, despite reports that his Neww Jersey Devils have emerged as front-runners for the services of the dynamic Russian winger.

"Everything is status quo," he told Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record. "There is nothing to comment on."

While there appears to be interest in Kovalchuk rejoining the Devils the team he joined from Atlanta at this past season's trrade deadline, there are questions about whether Kovalchuk's new deal can fit under the Devils salary cap.

"There's enough there," Lamoriello told Gulitti. "Don't worry about my cap."

--Shawn P. Roarke

Modano says Wings gunning for him
07.05.10 / 02:52 PM ET

Former Dallas superstar Mike Modano told ESPNDallas.com Monday that the Detroit Red Wings are after him but he's not quite sure if he wants to play another NHL season.

"They're selling it pretty hard," Modano told the Web site. "Having a team like Detroit really interested in me is flattering. I could have some fun playing with some great players and a great organization. There's a lot of upside to it. But for me, I need to figure out in my head what I want to do."

Modano will certainly not be going back to Dallas. That much was crystallized last week when GM Joe Nieuwendyk publically stated he would not be offering the 40-year-old center a new contract. Modano played 20 seasons for the franchise dating back to its days in Minnesota.

"He's a local boy, a (future) Hall of Famer, yeah, I'm interested," Detroit GM Ken Holland told the Detroit Free Press last week. "We've had good success through the years in getting the most out of players that are nearing the end."

--Dan Rosen

Kovalchuk to Devils?
07.05.10 / 01:17 PM ET

Ilya Kovalchuk's North American agent, Jay Grossman, broke the news on Twitter early Monday afternoon that his client would make his decision final today. The New York Post is reporting that according to one source the Devils "have the inside track" to sign Kovalchuk to sign a six-year, $60 million contract.

Kovalchuk finished the 2009-10 season with the Devils, scoring 10 goals and dishing out 17 assists over 27 games. He added 2 goals and 4 assists in five playoff games.

The only other two teams that have reportedly shown an interest in signing Kovalchuk, the prize of the 2010 free agent class, are the Kings and Islanders.

Kings GM Dean Lombardi confirmed Sunday night to the Los Angeles Times that he was dropping out of the Kovalchuk sweepstakes after having a contract offer turned down. The Islanders were reportedly offering 10 years at $100 million, but the Post is saying that offer has never been formally given to Kovalchuk's camp.

We're in wait and see mode on Kovalchuk now, but all reports indicate he'll be signing today. So, stay tuned.

--Dan Rosen

Kovy says no to L.A.
07.04.10 / 07:03 PM ET

Ilya Kovalchuk has reportedly said no to the Los Angeles Kings.

The Los Angeles Times reported Sunday that Kings GM Dean Lombardi has struck out in the sweepstakes to land Kovalchuk, the prize of the 2010 free agent class who has scored 40 goals in seven straight seasons.

The Times said Kovalchuk has told Lombardi he will not be coming to L.A.

"We took our best shot to meet his needs and the team's," Lombardi said in an e-mail to the Times.

The report said Lombardi wouldn't elaborate on why Kovalchuk has said no to the Kings, but it was pretty clear that the team is out of the running.

The New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders are reportedly very interested in signing the Russian sniper, who is said to be seeking a contract in the neighborhood of 10 years and $100 million.

Kovalchuk finished the 2009-10 season with the Devils, scoring 27 points in 27 games after getting traded to the Garden State from the Atlanta Thrashers.

The interest from the Islanders started to perk up Friday night when reports surfaced that the team had offered him 10 years at $10 million per season. Isles GM Garth Snow has only confirmed that he's had initial discussions with Kovalchuk's camp.

--Dan Rosen

Kovalchuk sweepstakes hit standstill
07.03.10 / 06:09 PM ET

After a flurry of reports kept us all entertained Friday night, news on Ilya Kovalchuk and where he'll sign has been eerily quiet all day Saturday.

Katie Strang, the Islanders' beat writer for Newsday, recently blogged that she doesn't expect the team to make any move on Kovalchuk today or possibly all weekend. Strang reached GM Garth Snow by phone.

"I'm not going to repeat this everyday," Snow told Strang. "I've had a conversation with his agent and I'll leave it at that."
 
There has also been zero news out of Los Angeles or New Jersey when it comes to Kovalchuk. The Kings, Devils and Islanders are reportedly the three teams in the running for the superstar left wing who has scored 40 goals in seven straight seasons.

If news breaks tonight, NHL.com will be on top of it. But, judging from what we're hearing and reading, don't hold your breath.

--Dan Rosen

Isles make push to land Kovakchuk
07.03.10 / 02:34 AM ET

Don't look now, but Ilya Kovalchuk could be headed to Long Island.

Isles GM Garth Snow confirmed to both Newsday and ESPN.com that he contacted Kovalchuk's representatives and the Los Angeles Times, citing the ever-popular "source who is familiar with the situation but isn't authorized to speak about it publicly" is reporting that the Isles could make an offer worth $10 million a year for 10 years.

The Islanders, who are currently well below the salary cap floor, have plenty of room to fit such a contract. Luring a proven scorer such as Kovalchuk not only would give a huge boost to the rebuilding Isles -- picture Kovy playing on the wing with John Tavares in the middle -- but there's the possibility that bringing one of the NHL's top stars to the Island could give a boost to owner Charles Wang's hopes for a new or remodeled Nassau Coliseum.

Should Kovalchuk join the Isles, it would be an interesting closing of a circle. The Isles finished last in 2000-01, but lost the draft lottery to Atlanta -- which used the No. 1 pick on Kovalchuk, who had passed Jason Spezza in the draft ratings. Then Isles-GM Mike Milbury opted to deal the No. 2 pick to Ottawa as part of a package for Alexei Yashin -- a deal that didn't turn out the way the Isles had hoped. Had the Isles retained the No. 1 pick after the lottery, Milbury likely would have kept it and taken Kovy.

The Times notes that losing Kovalchuk to the Isles would be another blow to the Kings, who missed out on the s binge on defenseman during the opening hours of free agency. The Kings tried to get Paul Martin and Dan Hamhuis, both of whom went elsewhere. L.A. has enough cap space to sign Kovalchuk to a long-term, big-bucks contract and was regarded as the former Atlanta Thrasher's most likely landing point.

To put it mildly, Long Island hasn't been a prime destination for top free agents. Should Kovalchuk come to the Isles, it will be interesting to see if that attitude changes.

--John Kreiser

Isles in on Kovalchuk?
07.02.10 / 10:28 PM ET

The New York Islanders are very much involved in the Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes, according to numerous reports.

First tweeted by Darren Dreger, the Isles could be on the verge of offering a "mega millions, mega year pitch" to Kovalchuk, who has 338 goals in 621 NHL games. Kovalchuk, 27, hasn't scored fewer than 41 goals since the 2002-03 season, when he had 38 tallies for the Atlanta Thrashers.

Dreger cited a source who claims the Islanders could be offering Kovalchuk $100 million over 10 years.

Should be a very interesting weekend. Stay tuned.

-- Brian Compton

All's quiet in L.A.
07.02.10 / 10:07 PM ET

For those anxiously awaiting an Ilya Kovalchuk signing in Los Angeles, it doesn't look like it's going to happen tonight.

Via a team spokesperson, here is the latest from Kings GM Dean Lombardi:

"We have been, and continue to work on a number of different scenarios. We do not anticipate any resolution tonight. If something changes, we will let you know."

We appreciate it, Dean.

-- Brian Compton

Kulemin re-signs with Leafs
07.02.10 / 7:20 PM ET

As expected, the Toronto Maple Leafs have re-signed forward Nikolai Kulemin to a two-year deal.

Kulemin, who was a restricted free agent, appeared in 78 games last season. The 23-year-old had 16 goals, 20 assists and 16 penalty minutes for the Leafs.

In 151 NHL games, Kulemin has 31 goals, 36 assists and 34 penalty minutes. He was selected by the Maple Leafs in the second round (No. 44) of the 2006 Entry Draft.

-- Brian Compton

Pair of Avs staying put
07.02.10 / 6:39 PM ET

The Colorado Avalanche have signed defenseman Kyle Quincey and forward Daniel Winnik to two-year contracts, the team just announced.

Quincey appeared in 79 games for the Avalanche last season and paced the club with an average of 23:36 in ice time per contest. He had 6 goals and 23 assists. He's just 24 years old.

Winnik, 25, had 4 goals and 15 assists in 74 games with the Phoenix Coyotes last season. Colorado acquired his rights last Monday from Phoenix in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick in 2012.

"We are pleased to have Kyle and Daniel under contract," Avs GM Greg Sherman said. "Kyle was a big part of our defense last season and we expect him to continue in that role. We are counting on Daniel to be an important part of our team."

-- Brian Compton

Lombardi's a Pred
07.02.10 / 5:05 PM ET

Attention, shoppers: Cross Matthew Lombardi off your wish list.

St. Louis Blues color commentator Darren Pang is reporting the highly-talented center has agreed to a three-year deal with the Nashville Predators worth a reported $10.5 million.

Lombardi, 28, had 19 goals and 34 assists for the Phoenix Coyotes last season, helping the team reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2002. He also had a goal and five assists in six postseason games.

-- Brian Compton

Konopka joins Isles
07.02.10 / 4:54 PM ET

Looking to add some desperately-needed toughness, the Islanders signed center Zenon Konopka to a one-year deal.

Konopka, 29, had 2 goals and 3 assists in 74 games for the Tampa Bay Lightning last season. He also had 265 penalty minutes, tops in the NHL.

The Islanders also officially announced the Parenteau signing.

"To add both Pierre and Zenon puts a tremendous amount of skill and grit into our lineup," Isles GM Garth Snow said. "Pierre has been one of the top scorers in the AHL the past two seasons and showed he can play in the NHL in his time with the Rangers this season. Konopka is a high character guy that will do anything to help our team win and adds an intimidating factor into our lineup."

-- Brian Compton

Ebbett heading to Phoenix
07.02.10 / 4:33 PM ET

The Phoenix Coyotes have just made another signing, as they agreed to terms with forward Andrew Ebbett on a one-year contract.

The 27-year-old had 9 goals and 6 assists in 61 games last season with Anaheim, Chicago and Minnesota. He appeared in two games for the Ducks before the Blackhawks claimed him off waivers on Oct. 17, 2009. He was placed on waivers again after playing 10 games for Chicago and was claimed by the Wild.

-- Brian Compton

Islanders enter fray with signing of Eaton
07.02.10 / 2:08 PM ET

Just minutes after the Panthers jumped into free agency for the first time, signing Chris Higgins to a one-year deal, the New York Islanders followed suit.

Defenseman Mark Eaton, signing for two years, became their first free-agent acquisition of the summer Friday afternoon, according to reports.

Eaton, a solid stay-at-home guy, became excess to needs in Pittsburgh, his former home, when that club signed both Zbynek Michalek and Paul Martin during an action-packed Thursday afternoon.

The 33-year-old was with the Penguins for the past four years and had 3 goals and 16 points last season while finishing a plus-5. He played nearly 20 minutes a game on a blue line that was dominated by Sergei Gonchar and Brooks Orpik.

A few minutes after that, the Islanders pounced again, signing Milan Jurcina and PA Parenteau to one-year deals.

-- Shawn P. Roarke

GM Sutter defends Jokinen, Tanguay signings
07.02.10 / 1:52 PM ET

Calgary GM Darryl Sutter defended Thursday's signings of Olli Jokinen and Alex Tanguay during a much-anticipated presser Thursday morning.

NHL.com's Dave Lozo listened in to the festivities and has a great look at Sutter's rationale for the moves, which were met by a good deal of skepticism yesterday.

It seems that Sutter believes that Jokinen will be a far better investment at $3 million  a year than he was with the $5million price tag he carried last year when he was pawned off to the Rangers at the deadline. Sutter also believes that the addition of Tanguay will also help Jokinen -- and linemate Jarome Iginla -- find another level offensively.

"If we didn't believe in him, we wouldn't do it," Sutter said of Jokinen. "He had 35 assists last year. Although, if he scored 10 more goals ... when we traded Olli, I said at that time and it doesn't change, he probably took a lot of heat for all our performances, and he was the wrong guy. He's all-in. Those two kids are so excited about it. It's awesome."

If you want to read more, check out Lozo's take.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Higgins lands in Florida
07.02.10 / 1:40 PM ET

After a quiet first day of free agency, it appears that Florida has entered the fray.

Several sources, led by Kevin Allen at USA Today, are reporting that free-agent forward Chris Higgins has signed a one-year deal with the Panthers. Higgins is being brought in to provide some the scoring punch up front that disappeared with the trade of Nathan Horton to Boston.

Higgins, 27, scored just 8 goals and 9 assists last season, splitting time between the New York Rangers and the Calgary Flames. Higgins went to Calgary at the trade deadline as part of the Olli Jokinen deal.

Higgins also struggled in 2008-09, scoring just 12 goals with Montreal before an off-season trade to the Rangers. But, in the three previous seasons, he put up 72 goals and definitely has the skill set to put up at least 20 goals.

GM Dale Tallon is clearly hoping that Higgins can re-find his form for the Panthers this season.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Oilers address defense again
07.02.10 / 12:23 PM ET

Edmonton said its blue line would be its biggest area for improvement this off-season. As such, they have used free agency to address the weakness.

Thursday, they made a big splash, signing the highly underrated Kurtis Forster to a free-agent deal. Friday, the process continued as reports suggest the club has signed veteran Jason Strudwick and farmhand Richard Petiot.

Strudwick, 34, is a classic stay-at-home defender who has played for the Oilers for the past two years. He has compiled 2 goals and 13 assists during that 143-game tenure and was also a minus-22. Petiot, 27, has 13 games of NHL experience, most recently an 11-game stint with Tampa Bay in 2008-09. He played last season with Rockford (AHL) and had 8 goals and 37 points in 80 games.

On a related note, Mark Spector of Sportsnet.ca is reporting that veteran defenseman Sheldon Souray has been waived by the club. Edmonton was hoping to find a trade partner for Souray, who asked out from the club this past season.

But, it appears that did not happen and now Edmonton may be hoping that another NHL team claims Souray on re-entry waivers, thereby assuming half of his cap hit.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Leonsis blogs Caps free-agent blueprint
07.02.10 / 12:13 PM ET

There was genuine shock in some quarters that Washington was one of 10 NHL teams that did not jump into the free-agent frenzy as it unfolded Thursday. The Caps, however, did get backup goalie Danny Sabourin on Friday.

But, many fans expected the Caps to be more proactive, especially after a first-round loss to Montreal in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs. After all, Washington could have used some defensive depth for sure, even if it was not interested in other upgrades.

Yet, in his latest blog entry, Capitals owner Ted Leonsis says Washington is following a plan that has been clearly laid out for some time. Leonsis also own the NBA's Wizards and says both teams need to build in ways that don't depend on free agency.

"We have been truthful to our fan bases on our plans — about how we view free agency, and how we intend to rebuild the Wizards and get the Capitals to the next step of excellence," Leonsis wroite. "I know some folks don’t agree with the plans. Time will tell who is right and who is not right, but to be surprised (as some fans are) that we aren’t making a big splash in free agency, is incomprehensible to me. We have been very straight forward with our plans and strategy."

--Shawn P. Roarke

Anaheim's Murray discusses Ryan situation
07.02.10 / 10:30 AM ET

While all the focus has been on the unrestricted free agents on the market, there are some pretty interesting restricted free agent cases that should share the headlines.

The one involving Bobby Ryan in Anaheim might be the most interesting of all. Anaheim GM Bob Murray went public about negotiations Thursday, saying that Ryan had passed on a five-year deal that would have paid him $5 million per season. Ryan also passed on a four-year deal for slightly less money per season, according to Murray.

"We increased our offer yesterday on Bobby Ryan," Murray said. "We went to five years at $5 million a year. I’m thinking after what I heard him say last week that that would be very close. We also offered a four-year deal at a lower number and they flat out turned that down as quick as you can say it."

Murray hinted that he is ready to play hardball with the youngster, who has scored 66 goals in his two full seasons in the NHL.

"Basically, that situation is nowhere. As you recall, Bobby stated that he would like to be just under (Ryan) Getzlaf and (Corey) Perry. Well, five at five is just under those guys."

Murray also said he is not sure what will happen with unrestricted free agent Teemu Selanne. The Finnish Flash, by most accounts, was expected to retire this summer. But, Thursday's signing of Selanne's close friend, Saku Koivu, by Anaheim may have opened the door slightly for Selanne to return, as well.

"I still think Teemu is thinking," Murray said. "Obviously, they have the same agent. We’ll see what the next couple of days bring."

--Shawn P. Roarke

Lightning strike on Kubina
07.02.10 / 9:47 AM ET

Steve Yzerman hasn't slowed doing during his first crack at free agency.

According to several reports, the first-year Lightning GM snagged Pavel Kubina, the top defensemen still on the market.

That bold stroke comes less than 24 hours after Yzerman traded defenseman Andrej Meszaros to the Philadelphia Flyers for a 2012 second-round pick. Also on Thursday, Yzerman signed Martin St. Louis to a long-term extension and signed free-agent goalie Dan Ellis to battle incumbent Mike Smith for the team's starting goalie job.

--Shawn P. Roarke

What's on tap
07.02.10 / 9:36 AM ET

There are still some pretty big names on the free-agent shopping list, so Friday could be a busy day, as well.

Obviously, none of those names are bigger than Ilya Kovalchuk, the prize of this year's free-agent pool. Reports suggest that the Los Angeles Kings remain the front-runners in the Kovalchuk sweepstakes, New Jersey has expressed in interest in re-signing the high-scoring forward, as well. Other reports have suggested several other teams have gotten involved in the bidding as well.

Pavel Kubina remains the biggest blue line prize on the shelves after a run on defensemen dominated the Day 1 activity. Atlanta has expressed interest in re-signing the defenseman, but he has also garnered interest from several other teams that missed out on Thursday's feeding frenzy.

Up front, Matthew Lombardi will be a player to keep an eye on. After Kovalchuk, he is the highest scoring forward left on the board.

And, as we mentioned, there are plenty of goalies on the market, but there seems to be little interest from the teams.

There has also been hot news on the trade front. Several reports, most notably out of the Columbus Dispatch, suggest that the Blue Jackets are interested in either Kevin Bieksa or Christian Ehroff. One of those two defensemen became available with Thursday's signing of Dan Hamhuis in Vancouver. The asking price is believed to be Nikita Filatov.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Back to the grind
07.02.10 / 9:19 AM ET

Welcome back to the Free Agency 2010 Blog. My good friend, Brian Compton, held the fort admirably last night, but I'm back at it this morning.

There's not much to update, although the Washington Capitals did re-sign Dany Sabourin to a free-agent deal Thursday night. Most likely, though, Sabourin will start the season in the American Hockey League as George McPhee's stated plan is to go with youngsters Semyon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth to start the 2010-11 season.

There remain a ton of quality backups on the market, as well as some pretty decent No. 1 goalies looking for work. Evgeni Markov, Marty Turco and Jose Theodore headline the latter group.

It will be interesting to see how the goalie situation plays out in the coming days.

--Shawn P. Roarke

That's a wrap
07.01.10 / 11:29 PM ET

It appears we've had our last signing of the night, which came roughly two hours ago when John Scott agreed to a two-year deal with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Things will likely heat up again in the morning, when we may find out the destinations of forwards such as Ilya Kovalchuk, Matthew Lombardi and Alexander Frolov.

It was a wild day today, as close to $300 million was shelled out to more than 40 players. Here are our top three signings of the day:

Goalie -- Chris Mason, Atlanta. Tremendous work by GM Rick Dudley, who signed Mason to a two-year contract worth a manageable $3.7 million. Mason will give Ondrej Pavelec a run for his money for the No. 1 job.

Defense -- Zbynek Michalek, Pittsburgh. Highly underrated, although he was certainly compensated for his play with the Phoenix Coyotes last season. Michalek, 27, signed a five-year, $20 million contract with the 2009 Stanley Cup champs. Paul Martin joined the Pens shortly after the Michalek signing, giving the Pens a frightening 1-2-3 punch on the blue line, as they're joined by Brooks Orpik.

Forward -- Ray Whitney, Phoenix. He may be 38 years old, but Whitney is still capable of providing plenty of offense and is tremendous in the dressing room. The veteran winger signed a two-year deal with the Coyotes worth $6 million. He had 21 goals and 37 assists for Carolina last season.

-- Brian Compton

Nystrom to Minnesota
07.01.10 / 7:54 PM ET

Eric Nystrom won't be playing hockey on his native Long Island after all.

Nystrom, the son of former New York Islanders forward Bob Nystrom, has signed with the Minnesota Wild, TSN is reporting.

Nystrom, 27, reportedly signed a three-year deal with the Wild that will pay him $1.4 million annually. He had 11 goals and 8 assists last season for the Calgary Flames, who drafted him in the first round (No. 10) in 2002.

-- Brian Compton

Handing over the reins
07.01.10 / 7:18 PM ET

Well boys and girls, it has been a fun afternoon's descent into evening. But it is now time to call it a day. But fear not, this blog remains in very capable hands, as NHL.com's crack night crew takes control, led by Brian Compton.

Compton just got off the phone with the people in Calgary and I am sure he will have some insight on the Olli Jokinen signing fairly soon. Then, he will keep you up to date with all the other moves made tonight. I'll be back at it in the morning and hope you can all join me again then for what should be an intriguing day-after discussion.

-- Shawn P. Roarke

Assessment time
07.01.10 / 6:51 PM ET

What a busy afternoon we have had here. As day turns into dusk, let's take a minute to assess what has happened on a wild first afternoon of free agency in the NHL.

As expected defensemen ruled the day. Sergei Gonchar set the dominoes in motion, spurning the Pittsburgh Penguins to sign a three-year deal with the Ottawa Senators. After that, it became a run on defensemen that was stunning in its quickness and breadth. In fact, here is a summary of who was moved and where:

Anton Volchenvov, New Jersey
Henrik Tallinder, New Jersey
Jordan Leopold, Buffalo
Paul Martin, Pittsburgh
Zbynek Michalek, Pittsburgh
Kurtis Foster, Edmonton
Toni Lydman, Anaheim
Derek Morris, Phoenix
Sean O'Donnell, Philadelphia
Braydon Coburn, Philadelphia
Dan Hamhuis, Vancouver

It was also an interesting day among goalies as intrigue started just minutes after the noon opener arrived and Martin Biron announced that he was the new backup for the New York Rangers. It ended with Antero Niitymaki being the big winner, moving from a part-time role in Tampa Bay to the starter in San Jose, at least for now. Here are the other goalie moves:

Dan Ellis, Tampa Bay
Chris Mason, Atlanta
Alex Auld, Montreal

It was also rumored that Johan Hedberg had signed on to be a backup to Martin Brodeur in New Jersey, meaning Marty Turco and Evgeni Nabokov remain unemployed with NHL jobs become more and More scarce by the day.

Up front, it was a quiet day, except for a few notable exceptions -- especially in Calgary. The Flames got everyone's tongue's wagons by going back to the past to sign forwards Olli Jokinen and Alex Tanguay (to a one-year deal) -- decisions that will cause debate throughout the summer, but should help the Flames' offense.
Here are the other forwards that signed Thursday:

Saku Koivu, Anaheim
Jeff Tambellini, Vancouver
Colby Armstrong, Toronto
Jon Matsumoto, Carolina
Mitch Fritz, Tampa Bay
Derek Boogard, New York Rangers
Vinny Prospal, New York Rangers
Vladimir Sobotka, St. Louis
Alex Steen, St. Louis
Jody Shelly, Philadelphia
Joel Perrault, Vancouver
Manny Malhotra, Vancouver
Jesse Winchester, Ottawa
Erik Christensen, New York Rangers
Ray Whitney, Phoenix

-- Shawn P. Roarke

Buffalo stops the bleeding at D
07.01.10 / 5:04 PM ET

As we mentioned earlier in this blog, Buffalo was in dire straights on the blue line after watching its top two veterans -- Henrik Tallinder and Toni Lydman -- walk away as unrestricted free agents.

But the Sabres stemmed the tide a bit late in the day, announcing they had obtained Jordan Leopold, a puck-moving defender that finished last season with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Unfortunately, a concussion at the end of the season limited Leopold's productivity as the Penguins fell short of defending the Stanley Cup.

In a perfect world, Buffalo would love to add another veteran defenseman, but there is no guarantee that it will happen. Pavel Kubina and Willie Mitchell, who is battling concussion problems of his own, are the two most desirable D left on the open market.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Jokinen gets second chance
07.01.10 / 5:04 PM ET

Most everyone wants a second chance. Olli Jokinen, though, probably didn't think he would get one in Calgary after his first run came to an unsatisfying conclusion last season when he was dealt to the New York Rangers at the trade deadline.

But he received the unexpected opportunity Thursday when the Flames pounced and signed Jokinen for two seasons, continuing the welcome-back theme that permeated the Saddledome throughout the day. Earlier Thursday, Calgary welcomed back Alex Tanguay, who signed a one-year contract.

Jokinen had just 11 goals and 35 points in 56 games with Calgary last season before he was dealt to the Rangers. With New York, Jokinen had just 4 goals and 15 points in 26 games. His missed penalty shot in the final game of the regular season, against Philadelphia, played a large part in the Rangers missing the playoffs at the eXpense of the Flyers, who made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Chicago continues post-Cup breakup
07.01.10 / 4:47 PM ET

There may not be enough Chicago players from the team that won the Stanley Cup in June around by the time September arrives to worry about a championship hangover.

According to reports, the dismantling of the Blackhawks continued Thursday when Andrew Ladd was moved to Atlanta in exchange for Ivan Vishnevskiy and a second-round pick. Ladd played in the final few games of the Stanley cup Final despite suffering a fractured shoulder.

The loss of Ladd comes less than 24 hours after Chicago GM Stan Bowman moved high-scoring, young forward Kris Versteeg to Toronto for three prospects.

By the way, if you want to hear what Versteeg thinks of that deal, our Dave Lozo caught up with Versteeg Thursday afternoon.

Chicago also made an earlier deal with Atlanta, sending playoff hero Dustin Byfuglien, tough guy Ben Eager and defenseman Brent Sopel to the Thrashers.

It remains to be seen if Bowman has now chopped enough salary to comfortably get under the cap for next season.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Goalie carousel still spinning
07.01.10 / 4:38 PM ET

While the dizzying movement of defensemen across the League's landscape has been compelling, so too has been the changing face of goaltending across the League.

According to reports, Chris Mason is the latest goalie to not be left without a chair when the free-agent music stops. Mason, late of the St. Louis Blues, signed a two-year deal to be Atlanta's starting goalie. He was displaced with the Blues when that team made a bold move two weeks ago to obtain Jaroslav Halak from Montreal to be their starter.

Earlier Thursday, the Canadiens hired Alex Auld to back up Carey Price. Also, martin Biron left the islanders to join the Rangers as a backup to Henrik Lundqvist. In Tampa Bay, Antero Niittymaki left the Lightning for a chance at the starting job in San Jose, so Dan Ellis, late of Nashville, signed to battle it out with Mike Smith for starts in Tampa Bay.

Did I miss anybody? I don't think so. But that means that both Evgeni Nabokov and Marty Turco are still looking for jobs. It should be an interesting few days for both, to say the very least.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Miss a minute, miss a lot, Part II
07.01.10 / 4:08 PM ET

Scratch my closing thesis on the last post. While I was typing that Dan Hamhuis and Anton Volchenkov were the two biggest defensemen remaining, both came off the board in bold strokes.

According to reports, Vancouver swooped in and signed Hamhuis to a long-term deal, doing something that neither Nashville, Philadelphia nor Pittsburgh could do in the past two weeks. Each of those teams held his rights at some point during the past 14 days.

As for Volchenkov, it appears his new home will be in New Jersey, alongside fello import Henrik Tallinder, who was with Buffalo before Thursday's signing.

With the addition of the shot-blocking Volchenkov and the all-round solid Tallinder, Lamoriello has addressed the shortcomings caused by the defection of Paul Martin to Pittsburgh. But he has also used some serious cap space in doing so, making it harder to find the room to re-sign Ilya Kovalchuk, the premier free agent on this year's market.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Miss a minute, miss a lot
07.01.10 / 4:08 PM ET

Man, this is some serious business. I got up to get a quick drink of water and stop to chat about some travel details and by the time I got back to my desk 10 minutes later I had missed a pair of big signings.

The dominoes are certainly falling on the blue line.

Coming to grips that Paul Martin was no longer in their fold, the new Jersey Devils made a quick move to make sure they weren't left without a veteran, two-way defender. According to reports, that player is Buffalo's Henrik Tallinder, who signed a four-year deal with the Devils.

Tallinder is a solid vet that should dissipate some of the sting from losing the younger, more-skilled Martin, but is it enough?

At the same time that Tallinder was wiped off the board, Edmonton claimed Kurtis Forster, who had been with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Foster, it seems, will replace Sheldon Souray, who is on the market, but may not be moved anytime soon. Foster had 42 points (8 goals and 34 assists) in 71 games.

Now, it appears that Buffalo will need to make a move after losing its top-two defenders -- Lydman and Tallinder.

Anton Volchenkov and Dan Hamhuis are the biggest free agents left on the market.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Whitney finds home in desert
07.01.10 / 3:38 PM ET

Thursday has been mostly about defensemen, but the move of forward Ray Whitney scores some points for the guys that score goals.

Whitney, 38, scored 21 goals last season and has topped 20 goal for four-straight seasons. Plus, he is a Stanley Cup winner that will provide more veteran leadership on a team that iks becoming a playoff threat.

The move is the second by Phoenix on Thursday. Earlier in the day, the Coyotes signed defenseman Derek Morris to a four-year deal, in part to help replace the loss of solid defenseman Zbynek Michalek, who signed a long-term Deal with the Penguins.

Whitney's deal is considered an over-35 deal in CBA terms, meaning that Phoenix is on the hook for the full length (two years) and term of the deal, no matter what happens to Whitney during the live of the contract. It was the third over-35 deal signed Thursday. Sergei Gonchar's deal in Ottawa and Sean O'Donnell's one-year deal in Philadelphia are the other two.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Defense refuses to rest
07.01.10 / 3:08 PM ET

Defensemen continue to move at an impressive clip in the opening hours of free agency 2010. Toni Lydman, late of the Buffalo Sabres, is now an Anaheim Duck, as reports having him signing a three-year deal to go out West.

Lydman, 32, had 20 points for Buffalo last season and is a good all-round defender with a smooth skating stride that will play well in the more wide-open Western Conference. Last season, with Buffalo, he played almost 19 minutes a game. He also played for Finland in the 2010 Olympics.

This could be a very solid move for the Ducks, who are looking to replace the retired Scott Niedermayer. Lydman will make That project just a tad easier.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Martin a Pen, too
07.01.10 / 2:55 PM ET

Pittsburgh now has a top-3 on its blue line to rival any in the League. Holdover Brooks Orpik is joined by free-agent signings Zbynek Michalek and Paul Martin, who, according to reports, just signed a five-year deal with the Pens.

Martin, a smooth-skating, puck-moving defenseman who is fundamentally sound in his own end, will really help Pittsburgh's stated goal to get better in its own end, while also erasing some of the sting left over from losing Sergei Gonchar, who signed with Ottawa earlier today.

But it also leaves a ton of questions.

First of all, is Mark Eaton done in Pittsburgh? With the two new defensemen on the board, Eaton falls to No. 5 on the blue line depth chart. Will Ray Shero be able to fit Eaton under a cap that has suddenly become somewhat restrictive?

But, more interestingly, what will the New Jersey Devils do? GM Lou Lamoriello worked extremely hard to keep his homegrown defenseman in the fold, but could not pull it off. Now, he has a serious hole on his blue line. Kurtis Forster and Dan Hamhuis are the biggest defense names still on the market, but neither is of Martin's caliber.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Playing catch up
07.01.10 / 2:30 PM ET

Dang, it's been a wild and wonderful afternoon. Action is coming so fast and furious, I haven't stopped typing since 11:30 a.m. For those that have seen me type -- or heard the reports -- you know that is bad news for my cubicle neighbors.

Fortunately, they are all too busy to compalin about all the racket. In fact, the NHL.com crew is working harder than I, it seems, in tracking all the action that has already taken place.

Adam Kimelman has all the details on a very busy day so far in Philadelphia, which has seen them bring in three defensemen and a fourth-line forward less than 24 hours after re-signing goalie Michael Leighton.

John McGourty lays out the idea behind Manny Malhotra's three-year contract with Vancouver.

Antero Niitymaki signed with San Jose, earning a shot to take over the No. 1 role left vacant with the parting of ways with Evgeni Nabokov. Mike Morreale has all the details.

Dan Rosen, meanwhile, has details on the two biggest defensemen signings of the day: Sergei Gonchar to Ottawa and Zbynek Michalek to Pittsburgh, moves that are intertwined, as you will see.

Rosen also has the latest on Colby Armstrong's big-ticket move to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

McGourty explains a pair of St. Louis moves involving Alex Steen and Vladimir Sobotka.

Speaking of St. Louis, Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis assured his future by signing a long-term extension, as explaiend by Kimelman.

Rosen started things off almost 150 minutes ago when he reported on the first move of the day, Martin Biron's signing with the New York Rangers.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Defense carries the day
07.01.10 / 2:16 PM ET

Free agent center Manny Malhorta hit the jackpot according to several reports, reportedly signing a three-year deal for more than $7 million; a deal that also features a no-trade clause.

While that raised some eyebrows because of Malhorta's lack of offensive production -- he had 33 points for Sharks last season and has never topped 35 -- Malhotra's true value leads in his defensive prowess.

Malhotra is a great faceoff man and can also kill penalties. Combined with ryan kesler, Malhotra should help make the Canucks one of the most defensively sound teams in the League

-- Shawn P. Roarke

Toronto swoops
07.01.10 / 1:50 PM ET

You knew it wouldn't be long before Toronto GM Brian Burke dipped his toes into the free-agent pool. And it wasn't.

Less than two hours after business opened, Burke had his man -- opening some eyes around the League by giving Colby Armstrong, formerly of Atlanta, a three-year deal, according to several reports.

Armstrong, one of the most-liked players in hockey, is a Burke-type player. He is good in the room and conscientious on the ice. He also brings a fair amount of truculence and testosterone to the equations, traits that Burke craves from his pLayers.

But the 27-year-old RW has never topped 40 points since joining the League with Pittsburgh in 2005, when he put up 40 points in just 47 games. Last season, with Atlanta, he had 15 goals and 14 assists in 79 games.

--Shawn P. Roarke

St. Louis signs long-term
07.01.10 / 1:18 PM ET

While he wasn't a free agent -- that would not have happened until next year -- the Tampa Bay Lightning made sure that Martin St. Louis did not get a taste of freedom, signing their star forward to a four-year extension.

"Today is a great day for the Lightning organization," new GM Steve Yzerman said. "Marty means so much to this franchise, both on and off the ice. His hard work and dedication are unsurpassed and we are thrilled that he will finish his career here in Tampa Bay."

St. Louis, 5-foot-9, 177 pounds, is the Lightning’s all-time leader in shorthanded goals with 28 and has 263 goals and 396 assists. St. Louis is also the franchise leader in playoff goals with 23, points with 48, overtime game-winners with three and plus/minus with a plus-18.  He is tied for the Tampa Bay all-time playoff lead for games played with 45 and game-winning goals with 7.

Earlier in the day, Tampa Bay freed up some cap room by trading defenseman Andrej Meszaros to the Philadelphia Flyers for a second-round pick in 2012.

For more on the St. Louis extension, check out the team release.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Penguins recover
07.01.10 / 1:18 PM ET

While the loss of Sergei Gonchar, who signed with Ottawa early in the day, may have been tough to swallow. Pittsburgh's Ray Shero did not spend too much time sulking.

Less than an hour after Gonchar became the first big-ticket free agent to find a new home, Shero pried Zbynek Michalek away from the Phoenix Coyotes by offering up a five-year deal.

According to reports, Phoenix did all it could to keep the shot-blocking physical defenseman in negotiations that went right down to the noon ET deadline. But when that failed, Pittsburgh was not shy about jumping into the breach.

While Michalek does not have the offensive skills possessed by Gonchar, he is one of the most underrated defenseman on the market. The 27-year-old had just 17 points last season, but was a plus-5 with 156 blocked shots and 80 hits.

--Shawn P. Roarke

What a first hour
07.01.10 / 1:00 PM ET

Clearly, the change in start time from 12 a.m. to 12 p.m. on July 1 has not had an effect on the excitement of free agency's first day.

The first 60 minutes have brought exciting news and the promise of more to come.

Ottawa blew everyone away with its aggressive move for Sergei Gonchar, while Philly went heavy on D, making a trade and a resigning.

Calgary went against the grain and got Alex Tanguay under contract for one year, hoping he can recapture the form he had in his first go-round with the Flames when he set his career high for points.

The Rangers, meanwhile, got the backup goalie it craved with free agency's first move Thursday and later added depth at center by re-signing Erik Christensen.

Boston re-signed depth forward Daniel Paille and Carolina welcome defenseman Anton Babchuck back into the fold after a one-year walk-about in the KHL.

Not bad for 60 minutes of action.

Plus, hot and heavy rumors that Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay are in a bidding war for Paul Martin and that Calgary and Boston are trying to find a fit to move Marc Savard out WEst have fans salivating as to what is to come.

And, let's not forget that Ilya Kovalchuk, the premier free agent on the board, has not even come into play yet.

-- Shawn P. Roarke

Calgary rolls dice with Tanguay
07.01.10 / 12:50 PM ET

Alex Tanguay is now a member of the Calgary Flames once again. Tanguay signed a one-year deal with the club that also boasts a no-movement clause, according to several sources.

Tanguay was a member of the Flames from 2006-08 and scored 40 goals and 139 points during his two-year tenure there. Since, he has managed 26 goals and 78 points in one-year stops with Montreal and Tampa Bay.

The 30-year winger has 203 goals and 617 points in 739 regular-season games.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Atlantic Division grabs headlines
07.01.10 / 12:38 PM ET

While Ottawa has made the biggest signing so far, nabbing premier defenseman Sergei Gonchar, a pair of Atlantic Division teams -- the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers -- have done the most to address holes.

The Rangers needed a backup goalie and help up the middle. They got both by signing Marty Biron just seconds after free agency opened and then followed up by re-signing center Erik Christiansen, who proved to be a revelation as a pickup during last season.

Philadelphia, meanwhile, made sure its defense heading into the 2010-11 season is second to none, adding Andrej Meszaros through trade and then re-signing its own Braydon Coburn to a new two-year deal.

The Flyers also re-signed goalie Michael Leighton on Wednesday.

-- Shawn P. Roarke

Surprise home for Gonchar
07.01.10 / 12:21 PM ET

Pittsburgh's loss appears to be Ottawa's gain.

The Penguins tried desperately to sign Sergei Gonchar to a new deal, but were hesitant to go three years on term. Ottawa had no such hesitation, offering the Russian a three-year deal and a no-trade clause, according to reports.

Gonchar, 36, will run Ottawa's power play and provide leadership. The Senators certainly have an inkling of all that Gonchar can do after watching him up-close and personal during a six-game loss in the first round of the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

--Shawn P. Roarke

That was fast
07.01.10 / 12:00 PM ET

So much for waiting. It appears, according to TSN, that Marty Biron is the first domino to fall. The affable Biron, who has a ton of experience as a backup, signed with the New York Rangers in the first few minutes after free agency opened.

He will be the backup to Henrik Lundqvist and will be expected to play from 15 to 20 games to lighten the load on the No. 1 guy. Biron went 9-14 with a 3.27 GAA last season for the Islanders.

It is believed he signed a two-year deal with the Rangers for a little less than $1 million per year.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Opening bell
07.01.10 / 12:00 PM ET

And, we're off.

The clock has struck noon and the League is open for free-agent business.

Who will be the first pLayer to go? Will it be flashy forward Ilya Kovalchuk or will it be a defenseman like Sergei Gonchar or Paul Martin. Could a goalie -- in what is a very deep free agent pool -- jump to the head of the line?

We shouldn't have to wait long.

-- Shawn P. Roarke

Away we go!
07.01.10 / 11:45 AM ET

Happy Dominion Day! And, welcome to NHL.com's live blog covering the opening of free agency.

The NHL.com gang is ready for a big day today. In celebration of the Canadian holiday, they have been sugared up with some Tim Horton's donuts and are ready to rock and roll on all the news that will come out of this first day of free agency.

It's already been busy as teams try to shore up their lineups in anticipation of business opening at noon today.

Late last night, Chicago continued its makeover of the Cup-winning team, shipping Kris Versteeg off to Toronto for three prospects, including the ever-intriguing Viktor Stalberg, who has shown hints of being an elite-level scorer.

Minnesota also made a late-night move, according to reports. The team inked Guillaume Latendresse to a new two-year deal worth $5 million. By making this deal on the eve of free agency Minnesota has a better idea of what funds it has to play when bidding on free agents opens later today. Not only that, but they locked up a revelation in Minnesota for the next two seasons.

Latendresse was obtain in season last year in a trade will Montreal and immediately blossomed with the Wild, scoring 25 goals and 12 assists in 55 games after arriving in the Western Conference.

More moves will likely come this morning as teams are desperately trying to hold on to potential UFAs before they hit the open market. Judging the market, there could be several successful last-ditch efforts on the horizon.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Quote of the Day

It's really exciting. I'm pretty sure that when I play my first game I'm going to be emotional. To be back on the ice playing a game, being in game situations, with all the routines and rituals I do before games and during the game, I feel like I'm going to be emotional. I'm going to be really happy.

— Montreal Canadiens forward Tim Bozon on playing for the first time since his life-threaning illness