For more information regarding our move, please read the two last post published below.

03 July 2007

2007 Free-Agent Frenzy Live-Blogging Event Part 3

WE'RE BACK FOR PART 3!

Also live-blogging: Battle of New York,
We Want it Bad

All righty, I know you guys were looking forward to having the wonderful BBeR take you through your Day 3 free agency live-blogging duties, but unfortunately you are stuck with me, Sherry for today. He has kindly asked me to fill in for him and I was happy to accept. Same format as always, however if you still want to talk hockey, you can send me an e-mail and I'd be happy to oblige. I'm usually the Senators guru but I'd love to talk to you about any other teams as well. If you're an Oilers or Islanders fan needing some comfort, I've got some Baileys and Ice Cream on stand-by.

DID I MISS SOMETHING?
If I did or if you just want to talk hockey, email me at saj.gunner@gmail.com


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4:00 pm - Of lesser note, the Tampa Bay Lightning have signed Mathieu Darche, formerly of the Sharks to a 1-year-deal, terms not disclosed.

Mathieu Darche (with Worchester)
76GP 35G 45A 80PTs +6 72PIM

Peter also e-mails us to tell us that Roy and Pitkanen have been added to their roster page so perhaps deals will be announced soon.

And on that note, I must take my leave from the office. Bethany should be in to accompany you for the next couple of hours. If not, I'll be back as soon as I can. Keep the comments and e-mails coming and I'll get to them as soon as they can!

Thanks so much for spending the day with me. Hope you guys aren't too frenzied from all the frenzy.

3:46 pm - Since things have slowed down in the past little bit, I thought I'd answer an e-mail from Jason about the state of hockey in general:


What do you think of the state of the NHL in general regarding player salaries? How will 7 year 42M$ and 8 year 52M$ affect the league long term?

The last two years have been better (I believe) than previous years, mostly because canadiens across the country missed watching hockey. A lot of the markets are still struggling, and there has been little word on what will happen to these teams.The lockout was due to the fact that players were making too much money. Here we are, a few years down the road, and GMs are still handging out massive amounts of money. Before the lockout, 7M$ was a LOT of money. Now it seems to be the going rate for a 1st line player. What the hell is wrong with the people running these teams? As the cap is tied into revenue, what happens if attendance drops over the next few seasons? If these longterm deals are the new trend, though I believe a few of these longterm deals are front loaded and their effect on cap will be diminishing over the years, that's a lot of money to have tied up in a few players (like NY, with Drury and Gomez). Are we expecting another lockout, as someone might have mentioned earlier?


Those are excellent concerns and good points. The truth is, the cap rise to $50.3 million concerns a lot of people who aren't GMs licking their chops at being able to blow their brains out on heavy contracts. It's been said before by myself that the new revenue rise is based on somewhat of a false economy. It's true, revenues have increased but it is due largely to teams across the league choosing to raise ticket prices as there has been a noticeable trend of declining attendance. Not to mention the fact that sales balloon when teams elect to have new uniforms, which a number of teams did last season.

We often kid that another lock-out is imminent but given that the CBA is set to expire in a couple of seasons, with the way things are going it looks like a bigger possibility. I would hate for it to happen, and the only answer to it I can see is that the $50.3 million cap will remain steady for the next little while. I wouldn't be surprised to see revenue rise next season with the new RBK Edge jerseys set to be released and people clamouring for new jerseys to buy. As of now, the front-loading of long-term contracts to me says that GMs aren't expecting the cap to rise in the same way it has been so the space they take up in the future will be less of a concern.

Jason also has this to add about the on-going Souray debate:

In regards to Peter's comment:

"ryder's going to salary arbitration? are one dimensional hockey players who score 95% of their goals vs andrew raycroft allowed to do that? with toskala in nets this year he should get less money than he got last year"

I'd say the same thing about Souray. He's a fairly one-dimensional player. Should he be making twice what Ryder is making because he plays D instead of wing?


Also, pmsin2 has sent us this link. He fears that Garth Snow may be having a nervous breakdown and has sent Mike Bossy to calm down the fans:

There comes a time in an organization when you have to stand up for what you believe. There comes a time also when fans have to believe in who is at the helm of that organization.

I don't think there is 1 fan who was not pleased to see the direction the Islanders took last year. There were ups and downs but I believe more ups than downs. Everyone was truly excited when Dubie performed his miracles toward the end of the season and helped us earn a playoff position. Everyone was truly excited when we really gave Buffalo a run for their money in the playoffs. Yes, we fell short but we all had the satisfaction that everything had been done to go as far as we could given the circumstances.

We believed that Garth made the right moves and that Ted got everything he could out of the players sitting in front of him on the bench and when he couldn't, well, those guys didn't play or received significantly less ice time. We believed that Garth and Ted had a plan for the future and weren't going to waiver from that plan.
...

There are others players who fit that mold. Garth asked us to be patient. Let's give Garth and Ted our support. Let's not succumb to panic or frustration. It's the easy thing to do. I truly believe that their thinking is the right long term approach to building a team that we will all be proud of. No one closed the books yesterday and no one has gone on vacation. Everyone is diligently working on doing the right thing for the organization and you, THE FANS.


Click the link to read the rest. It's heart-breaking...almost.


3:38 pm - The Columbus Blue Jackets have signed C Jiri Novotny:

The Columbus Blue Jackets have signed center Jiri Novotny to a two-year contract, club General Manager Scott Howson announced today. As is club policy, terms were not disclosed.

Novotny, 23, tallied 6-13-19 and 28 penalty minutes in 68 games as a rookie in 2006-07, splitting the season between Buffalo and Washington. He notched 6-7-13 and 26 penalty minutes in 50 games with the Sabres and 0-6-6 and two penalty minutes in 18 games after joining the Capitals on February 27 in a trade that also sent a first round pick in the 2007 Entry Draft to Washington for right wing Dainius Zubrus and defenseman Timo Helbling.

3:32 pm - A few minor Senators-related signings for you. They have signed former Penguin Matt Carkner and re-signed prospect Danny Bois. No terms are disclosed as of yet.


Matt Carkner (With Wilkes/Barre-Scranton)
75GP 6G 24A 30PTs +3 167PIM

Danny Bois (With Binghamton)
65GP 14G 13A 27PTs -25 153PIM

Michael also sent us this e-mail about the Isles and Rangers:

Two quick things. I am a Rangers fan who lives on Long Island.

  1. I think Snow has done a terrible job. I have to say though, I went to Isles games before Smyth and they had some serious issues with getting people to the games. It was embarrassing. After Smyth there was such a buzz around the team, and it woke a lot their fans up. So in retrospect it wasn’t a bad roll of the dice as nothing about him leaving was a forgone conclusion at that point, and your market rival was playing real well. That being said I think he has done an AWFUL job in the past three days. You cant just sit around waiting for the perfect deal. They’re the smallest of the three metro teams and their going to need take some chances again, if for nothing else then to keep the casual ticket holder from leaving. This is a baseball area and if people get used to not caring about the isles bc they’re not competitive it will be a while before they come back.
  2. If Im right the Rangers just signed Strudwick. That gives them 7 defensemen and Staal will likely come up this year. Sounds like someone is getting traded, maybe Malik? Souray is overrated. His +/- isn’t a fair indicator of talent but hes not worth the hype. I don’t know who started that rumor, but there is no way we can afford him.
I have to agree, that signing Smyth was a large gamble and I'm sure Snow was hanging onto some hope he would be able to re-sign him to a long-term deal as buying out Yashin was most likely a step in that direction. That being said, I am slightly being puzzled why he is sitting back and letting other GMs completely pillage his team.

I'm not too sure where the Souray rumour came from either and I suppose I would enjoy seeing it happen if only it would completely handicap the Rangers. But I'm not a Rangers fan so...

3:21 pm - My boredom is temporarily quashed as the Devils have signed Dainius Zubrus to a 6 year deal:

The New Jersey Devils have signed unrestricted free agent forward Dainius Zubrus to a 6-year contract, TFP has learned.

Zubrus, 29, split last season between the Washington Capitals and Buffalo Sabres and finished the year with 24 goals and 36 assists for 60 points.

Financial terms are not yet known.

In an act of "Whoa, that was fast", Zubrus has already been added to the Devil's Roster Page.
Erik, who tipped me off to the Zubrus signing has this to say about the Devils:

HUGE Devils fan here, but he is gunna have to do better than Zubrus to fill huge holes. I would like to see Fedotenko as well.

I'm sure Mad Lou has other tricks up his sleeve, don't you worry.

3:13 pm - Bethany has this question about the Blue Jackets:

do you think it would have been better for the Jackets to buy out Foote and Fedorov and have the extra cap space to perhaps sign one of the big names...or is it better to wait it out and then play the field next year?
Hmm...well, personally it's hard to say as I'm not too accustomed the situation going on in Columbus. I think as Fedorov is concerned, he's been proven difficult to motivate. His last season with the Jackets wasn't a complete disaster, but it's certainly was disappointing compared to what's expected of him. If the Jackets are serious about rebuilding, I would suggest buying out Fedorov and while Foote has been publically unhappy with his stay in Columbus, I feel like losing him would be losing an important leadership presence in the locker room.

This year's list of UFAs was very impressive, but the market has proven to be super competitive and if you look at the teams who did land the big names, they were all teams that had the financial resources to burn their cash. Next year's list of potential UFAs is also very impressive so I would suggest waiting for next year where you have a better sense of what direction this team is headed. Although there is always the risk of the potential free agents getting signed before the market opens.

Peter also has this to add about the Islanders:

they brought it upon themselves hiring a backup goalie no gm or agent really respects or has formed a relationship with to help sell team to other players. not to mention he traded 3 first round picks for 21 game rental.
long island is a beautiful area and living here myself I know that j blake had purchased a new house last year and was dying to stay here. d kasparaitis, one of the sutter brothers and pat lafontaine live here all year round.
the isles have a horrible contract with smg who owns all the stadium revenues after isles signed 30 year lease agreement with them over 20 years ago.

3:03 pm - The Ottawa Sun has Tom Preissing's reaction after signing with LA:

"We just weren't in the same ballpark," said Preissing from his Colorado home. "I pretty much knew things weren't going to work out there. I really wanted to go back to the West because I really know the conference.

"Los Angeles really stepped up to the plate and showed me that they wanted me. They put an offer on the table that we felt was strong. They're a team that's making the right steps to improve."

Yes, I can understand how a 300% salary raise demand might cause you guys to not be in the same ball park.

Peter sends us another e-mail and he sure doesn't spare the feelings of the Islanders!

Islander fans use to chant 1940.....I can see ten years from now rangers fans slowly starting 1983 chant, after all it's already been 24 years.....if isles put tent over coliseum and sold themselves as circus with snow the ring leader they might sell more tickets than as the hockey team they are posing to be now ...

2:55 pm - Josh has an e-mail about the Penguins:

Do you think the Pens did enough??? And how dose Paul Karya Go to St.Louis to play with a washed up over priced player than be on the #1 line with the best player in the NHL??????

I think the Penguins did themselves a huge favour by bringing back Roberts and also adding Sykora and Sydor. These are two veterans who have won before who can add some stability and maturity to a line-up that's still fairly young and inexperienced.

As for Paul Kariya, I would like to dismiss it as a money move but the truth is out of all of the bottom feeders, I would probably say the Blues are in the best position make the playoffs in perhaps 2 or so more seasons. Right now it smacks of money grubbing but then again, with some of the contracts being handed out, $6 million per year is looking like a bargain.

2:47 pm - Loyal reader pmins2 has this breaking news to pass along:

NEWS FLASH!!! Garth Snows scouts have discovered a hockey league that operates on the Planet Uranus, his sources tell him that these 4 legged, 3 armed creatures,uh, hockey players are extremely talented and guess what, there is a slew of UFA's that he is going to try and sign. However, Snow warns that we must be patient as several of these future NHL Stars have seen pictures of the Colliseum and may not want to play there. Stay tuned!

On a slow news day like this, I quite welcome this type of news.

Peter has some baseball talk and may be ready to sell his soul to the Rangers. Quick, Habs fans! Convince him otherwise! Don't let him fall to the dark side!

It's bad enough I am a suffering habs fan this week who was waiting for the big splash, I happen to be a yankees fan at the same time!!! what a year....you want to talk about payroll? 200 mill in toilet with most of it returning next year !! even though I am a ny'er for 31 years, I have always been a habs fan, might be easier for me to switch to rangers though...less frustrating than habs.....

He also has this to say about Ryder going into arbitration:

ryder's going to salary arbitration? are one dimensional hockey players who score 95% of their goals vs andrew raycroft allowed to do that? with toskala in nets this year he should get less money than he got last year...as for gainey being done shopping, bob we'll see you at the trading deadline when it's time to unload kovalev for a bowl of soup....

Oh yes, but what type of soup?

I don't think the hearings start until August so it's possible Gainey and Ryder can get a deal done before the arbitration hearing starts.


2:43 pm - According to RDS.ca, via Spector, the Habs are done their free agent shopping:

HABS DONE SHOPPING.

RDS. CA: reports Montreal Canadiens GM Bob Gainey said he had spent sufficient funds on unrestricted free agent players this summer. Gainey was rumoured to have interest in Alexei Yashin and Brendan Shanahan but he denied any plans to sign them, and also noted RFA forward Michael Ryder will be heading to salary arbitration.

It boggles the mind really, that there would still be teams that are interested in Yashin. He would be helpful to a team perhaps who need a more finesse player, but he is maddeningly inconsistent and not what the Habs needed. As for Shanahan, it's a pity that that they've decided not to try to sign him and that he'll most likely be returning to the Evil Empire.

2:34 pm - It's only been about 20 minutes but I have a rather short attention span. We're also still awaiting confirmation on the Rachnuek signing. So in order to fill the void of the GMs and agents obviously deciding to take their afternoon naps, I think we should get some activity going in the comments thread. Or you can e-mail me with whatever you want to talk about. We can talk about anything you want. Vernon Wells' two homers last night? The state of politics in the Middle East? What colour shoes I'm wearing? Anything, just send me an e-mail.

2:15 pm - Kuklas also has this update about the Michael Peca situation when he was on the Fan 590 this morning:

Michael Peca is on Fan590 in Toronto (Hockey Central Show) and said he can’t be held hostage by the Leafs. It is in their court to sign him but Peca would love to play with a very good friend of his, Jason Blake.

added 12:34pm, Peca feels disappointed the Leafs haven’t shown much interest in him as of today. Can’t really pinpoint what the problem is.
added 12:36pm, Hasn’t heard from the Sabres, but Buffalo is a great city and still a good team.
added 12:42pm, (from Alanah) Darren Dreger on ‘Leafs Lunch’ basically said that signing Peca is a cap problem (obviously) and Toronto wouldn’t consider it for over $1.5mil

2:12 pm - Once again, the trade news seem to be slowing down and we're still awaiting confirmation on the Karel Rachnuek to Jersey signing. We've learned that everything coming out of RDS should be approached with caution. And so should everything in a language that I don't understand and can therefore not translate accurately.

In any case, Peter has this to add about the Isles and Garth Snow:

he got ryan smyth for 3 first round picks, nobody was going to give up 3 first round picks for a 21 game rental unless they really needed him AND were legitimate cup contenders. the isles were not. horrible trade. EVERYONE knew smyth was going to go back to west coast AND it was going to cost big money to keep him. the dp signing was all wang.

2:05 pm - RDS, via Kuklas is reporting Karel Rachunek to the Devils for 1 year, $1.5 million. Nothing up on TSN or Sportsnet yet, hopefully confirmation will come soon.

1:56 pm - Peter has these questions about the Senators:

the way I figure it ottawa has about 44 mill after they sign emery, doesn't leave a lot of wiggle room after you sign remaining free agents to fill out roster. What's the plan in ottawa?

Murray has been actively trying to trade Martin Gerber ($3.7 mill), Joe Corvo ($2.5 mill) and Peter Schaefer ($1.7 mill). Murray has shown an interest to re-sign Mike Comrie, but he could be looking for anywhere between $3 - $5 million.

Murray would like to add a bigger D-man and a veteran. They are looking at Bill Guerin and Slava Kozlov very closely although if they are serious about Kozlov, they will most likely have to let Comrie walk.

He also has this to add about the Isles:
I was just taking a look at isles roster, appx 8 forwards under contract, does that mean 54 min's ice time per player this season? didn't snow get executive of year last year? what a joke.....this team really is a circus ! they should let the rangers rip out some of the seats from nassau coliseum add them to garden next season, one team is gonna need them the other really won't


I'm actually not too sure who won the executive honours last season. Admittedly, I do think Garth Snow did a good job last season with what he was given. He managed to get Ryan Smyth, and Rick DiPietro isn't looking too bad despite the initial ridiculousness of the contract. Newsday speculates that perhaps the old arena in Long Island may be the reason for the players' reluctance to sign there:

NEWSDAY: Greg Logan reports the Islanders ancient home arena is a possible turnoff for many unrestricted free agents. GM Garth Snow continues to work the phones to find replacements for Ryan Smyth, Alexei Yashin, Viktor Kozlov and Tom Poti, who all signed elsewhere as UFAs. Logan notes the club has plenty of cap space and a willingness to spend, and might also consider trade options to bolster its roster.


1:47 pm - Peter has this to say about the latest Canucks signing:

are the canucks really going to waste a locker room stall on brad isbister? this guy has played for 4 teams in 4 years up and down with stints in the minors also...they must need an extra stick boy or something, maybe a back up zamboni driver?

Well, Zamboni drivers aren't cheap these days!

1:39 pm - We have an e-mail from pmins2:

What teams have overspent or are over the cap that will now have to give up some roster players? Am I correct that these teams will not get fair value for these players making them a good target?

As far as I know, given that almost all teams have a lot of UFAs whom they no longer own the rights too, no team as of yet has overspent or are over the cap. There are some who are dangerously close like the Rangers, but nobody actually over. Teams are also allowed to be over the cap until the start of training camp.

If the team is over the cap, some other teams might perceive that as a desperation move if they have to trade roster players and may not get fair value for them yes. The other alternative is to offer their RFAs a qualifying offer so they will be handicapped by the cap and be forced to let them go.

We have another reader e-mail from a loyal, but anonymous reader:

Could you please explain the difference between Mathieu Schneider and Corey Schneider?

Excellent question, anonymous reader. The answer is simple:
One's a Schneidermayer, and the other is a Schnabourin.


Can YOU spot the difference


1:34 pm - Hot on the heels of the Schneider signing, the Canucks have also signed the following players:

Jason Jaffray, Greg Classen, Brad Moran, Brad Isbister, Byron Ritchie.

Byron Ritchie 06-07 Stats:
64 GP, 8 G,
6 A, 68 PIM

Brad Isbister
19 GP, 1 G,
4 A, 14 PIM

Brad Moran
3 GP, 0 G,
1 A, 2 PIM

As per club policy, no terms were disclosed although the contract length information may become available later.

1:29 pm - Fellow BBeR-er Bethany comes in with an update on a Canucks signing:

Canucks Sign Goaltender Cory Schneider
Vancouver Canucks Senior Vice-President and General Manager Dave Nonis announced today that the Canucks have signed goaltender Cory Schneider. In keeping with club policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

1:13 pm - We have a signing! Well an extension:
Preds sign Mason to two-year extension

The Nashville Predators have signed goaltender Chris Mason to a US$6-million, two-year contract extension.

Mason would have been an unrestricted free agent after next season. He will earn $3 million a year in the new deal after making $1.25 million next season.

The 31-year-old ranked second in the NHL with a .925 save percentage last season, tied for sixth with five shutouts and ranked 10th with a 2.35 goals-against average.

Mason challenged Vokoun for the number 1 position all last season and with Vokoun shipped out of town, it looks like Mason will be the one Nashville will be riding. Although with the obvious salary dump that's going on in Nashville, they may be riding up all the way to 10th in the division.

Peter also has this to add about the Habs' prospects:

The habs have PLENTY of talent in hamilton that if not this year will be ready to play next year or year after....of course we all know about carey price, the same carey price that when drafted gainey took abuse for.....he shut everyone up pretty quickly on that one.....there are a few forwards that have shown serious promise as of now....most notably kyle chiphura center, corey locke center, mikhail grabovski center, duncan milroy rw, matt d'agostini rw, jonathan ferland rw, andrei kostitsyn rw, ryan o'bourne defense, dan jancevski def.........I definitely believe at least two of the above mentioned can crack starting lineup this year for habs.....

1:05 pm - The Avs made a big splash in acquiring Ryan Smyth in the dying seconds of Day 1 free agency. Now, GM Francois Giguere says his focus will now be re-signing Marek Svatos:

Svatos has until Thursday to decide whether to go to salary arbitration and until July 15 to accept his $1.05 million qualifying offer, matching last season's salary.

"I'm sure we'll be talking," Avs GM Francois Giguere told the News. "As you can imagine, the last few days the priority was on the free-agent market. Through (assistant general manager) Greg Sherman, we've been in contact with his agent. We're definitely going to talk. I would expect we'll be able to get him done pretty quickly."

Meanwhile, asked if fans can expect any new faces on the roster any time soon, Giguere told the paper:

"It's tough to know what's next. Realistically, we'll probably have to let a few days go by and let the market settle down. We're at a point now where we're looking more at complementary players than impact players for our team."
Hot on the heels of what was the excitement of signing Sheldon Brookbanks, the Blue Jackets are also quietly shopping for a new d-man:

The paper reports the team has roughly $3.5 million to $5.5 million to spend and stay within their budget of $38 million to $40 million for the 2007-08 season.

While the team could pursue the likes of Mike Comrie or Dainius Zubrus, they are more likely to go after a center like Mike York.

On the blueline, Columbus could be eyeing the likes of David Tanabe, Vitaly Vishnevski, Janne Niinimaa, Danny Markov, Daniel Tjarnqvist, Ric Jackman and Ossi Vaananen.

12:54 pm - Richard wrote in with this e-mail:

What free agents are left that would add credibility to the team so that other free agents would come with the feeling that they could be part of a winning team?

Right now free agents are willing to take less money to go somewhere with talent on the roster.. In Montreal.. There are a list of good young players (so I hear) .. But what about credible players.. that are respected for their on-ice performance? I think that is why Briere and Smith didn't come… so who is left that can help on this angle?

Adding Yashin certainly won't help.. It's like another Kovalev. I fear we will always be in this position at trading deadlines until we can add some talent to the team. Who do we have that can call up the plays and convince them to join? Markov? Koivu?

I bet we would have had better options at other players if Briere had signed.

As somebody who has first-hand experience with Yashin, you're right if you want to make the team seem more appealing, Yashin may not be the best way to go. Nothing against the guy personally, but unfortunately he does come with a reputation.

I think perhaps a veteran who's won before will greatly benefit the Habs. They tried to sign Shanahan last off-season, and although he's stated he'd like to stay with the Rangers, it wouldn't hurt to try to kick at those tires again. There is also the persistent rumour of trading for one of the big 3 in Tampa, most notably Lecavalier because of the Hometown factor. The Lightning have a lot of money tied up in the big 3, whom as far as I know all have no-movement clauses.

12:34 pm - Apparently, the Rangers haven't forgotten there are other people on the team they should probably focus on signing, as their priority has turned to signing Lundqvist and Shanahan:


Shanahan, an unrestricted free agent, was heartened by the acquisitions of the two centermen and wants to return to the Rangers.

"Certainly, I've had enough people talking to me over the last 24 hours trying to pry me away or ask me if I'm done there," Shanahan told the Daily News. "But my feeling is: 'No, this is just what I wanted.'

"I'm so optimistic that I'm a part of this plan. Nothing that has happened has caught me by surprise. This is all very exciting for all the guys on our team. And I still call it, 'our team.'"

Lundqvist, a restricted free agent, was also impressed by the signings and believes his new deal will come shortly. His agent, Don Meehan, told the paper his client would not file for salary arbitration by Thursday's deadline.

"As for my situation, my agent is talking to the Rangers and I know they've been talking for a while," Lundqvist told the Daily News. "I don't know when they're going to finish the deal. But yeah, I think it's going the right way."


Say it with me now: Qualifying offer.

12:27 pm - I don't know whether to be comforted or disheartened that nothing has happened in my absence. Katherine writes with a question:

Any idea if there has been word that the Canes might be working on
anything else? It just seems a bit odd to many of us that with $2.3 mil
to spend, we only spend $800,000 of that on our third-line center.

The Canes may be interested in Mike Comrie if the Senators decide that they can't retain his services. Comrie's first choice is to return to Ottawa, but if the Senators can't make room for him, there are a number of teams interested in him, Carolina being one of them.

Jason sent us an e-mail weighing in on the Souray debate:

In regards to +/-, our two leading goal scorers (Souray and Ryder) are the two players with the worse +/- on the team. And the leader in +/-? Perezhogin... I think that pretty much sums up that argument (though I would also like to not that Komisarek, in my opinion our best Dman, was +7).
When I look at a defenseman, I usually look for a couple things. Responsible in his own end (no bad turn overs, not caught often out of position), protects the net (blocks shots, makes sure no one takes a run at the goalie) and competent (doesn't get undressed too often, hampers other teams trying to shoot without taking a penalty). Having watched a lot of games last year, I nicknamed Souray "patate" (potato for those of you that may be linguistically challenged), mostly because of his speed. Half the time I was getting at watching a hockey game, I was yelling at patate. A defenseman should NOT be a defensive liability. The fact that he can score 25 goals is a BONUS, but should not forgive his other misgivings. He was caught out of position a fair amount of times, did not have the ability to hamper the other players' ability to take shots at our net and took a lot of bad penalties (yes, so did Kovalev and Koivu, but I'm not talking about them now, and who really wants to keep Kovalev in MTL?).
He does do things well, Souray is a cannon. He can sit at the blue line a fire at the net, and I'm pretty sure some opposing netminders might actually be trying to get out of the way. Unfortunately, he appears to be about as fast as a cannon also. He's also a physical prensece on the ice and provides leadership when needed.
In regards to his salary demandes, take a look at his career. In the last 5 years, he's only had one season where he played 80 games and only had a positive +/- once. In his career, he's only had one season with more than 40 points, and it was this one. Is this a fluke year? Or is he stating that his career starts at 31? Who knows, but I"m not much of a gambler. Why not take a 5.5M contract? Does he really belive that he's a 7M dollar player? He's a very inconsistent dman with a good offensive season.

Peter, meanwhile sends us some updated Rangers number:
Rangers have following contracts:
jagr 8.36, straka 3.3, cullen 2.8, betts 615k, hollweg 500k, orr 525k, drury 7, gomez 7
d men
roszival 2.3, malik 2.5, pock 650k, tyutin 1.03, girardi 550k, mara 3.0
total is 37.33 with shanny, avery , ludqvist, rachunek, prucha, hossa all rfa's.....they only have 14 players under contract out of 25 man roster I don't see how they could sign souray......if he gets 5.5 mill that will take them to 42.83 ....still need to sign lundqvist to appx 3 mill , avery 2 mill, rachunek 1.5, prucha 550k which will take them to 50 mill and they are still short 6 players on roster......

12:01 pm - While I'm up, I may go grab some lunch while I'm at it. Be back in a jiffy lube! In the meantime, here is the latest e-mail from Peter talking about Hamrlik and the other needs of the Habs. Discuss!

Nothing against hamrlik but for that contract?, to respond to your comment that this is the teams needs right now, I agree AND disagree. A first line center who can score 35 plus goals is our FIRST need. Hence Gainey's attempts to go after briere and gomez, even the attempt to bring a winger like smyth in. He knows kovalev is unreliable up front. He knows without souray, bonk and johnson (the latter 2 I did not want back) that the special teams will be anemic this year. But at the same time the defense is not that great. Those who think Rivet was a loss for this team , think again, he was a below avg d man and the only reason he made it with habs as long as he did was because he was buddies with koivu.
Whoever signs souray gets a leader in clubhouse, a great teammate who will stand up for them on ice and a d man who can take your pp to top 5 in league with an avg cast around him. Let's face it last season's #1 pp unit around him wasn't that great.
Do you honeslty believe hamrlik is worth a four year deal at 5.5 per season? No.


11:52 am - I have consulted with personal accountant Vinny and she has this to say about the possibility of the Rangers signing Souray:

Let them sign souray :X HEHEHE my armchair GMness says that if they do so at anything more than five mil, they’re losing prucha they’re losing avery and unless shanahan signs for under 3 they’re losing shanahan too :D

SOMEONE GIVE LUNDQVIST AN OFFER SHEET :D

Since the signings are coming in rather slowly, I'm off to pretend that I actually do have a day-job for a couple of minutes. It's new music Tuesday at the station so I've got some entering to do. It is just coming up to the start of the work day in the West so something should be happening soon.

11:35 am - My fellow BBeR author waffledave has sent us the latest rumour from the grapevine:

My source is saying Souray may have signed, or is close to signing, with the Rangers.
If true, I would throw a bigtime offer sheet at Lundqvist right now...They'd be forced to match and be screwed over cap wise, otherwise lose Lundqvist who would be worth quite a bit in a trade.

To which I replied...
What kind of magic trickery is the Rangers going to pull to make everything fit under the cap?
Unless they got Souray at a MAJOR discount.

I agree with the last bit though, somebody tender Lundqvist, NOW.

That little rumour came in just after Peter sent us another impassioned case for Souray:

Fair, but wouldn't that same argument follow suit for all the forwards he plays on the pp with souray? IE kovalev, koivu, ryder?
let's compare souray to the recently signed hamrlik.....souray is scoring machine dman, hamrlik is not.....souray plays through injuries constantly, hamrlik is prone to the annual injury.....souray is not afraid to drop the gloves and defend a teammate, hamrlik is not....souray scored 50 more pts than hamrlik last year and kept our pp top 3 in league last year for most of season.....souray has hardest shot in league, hamrlik not even close.....souray is not as good as hamrlik defensively I will be first to admit, but do you think hamrlik will be as good defensively this year without d phaneuf next to him?
is he worth the money he is asking, no but was a guy in drury who has never scored 70 pts in a season worth 7 mill, was gomez a guy who has scored 20 goals in his career once worth 7 mill, was briere worth an 8 year contract ......are all these guys worth 7 and 8 year deals that will run them until their almost 40 with no trade clauses for any of them? no way!!! if schneider is worth 5.5 souray is worth well over 6.......

I for one, never believed Gomez and Drury were worth that kind of money despite the intangibles and obvious offensive upside that they bring. I do believe Hamrlik, even without Phaneuf can be better defensively than what Souray has to offer. And it does make much more sense to sign him for much cheaper than what the market dictates you pay Souray.

11:30 am - Darren Dreger over at TSN.ca has told us that the key in these new free agent contracts have been the length, just in case the 8-year and 7-year contracts given out didn't clue you in.

I have my own theory about it. Earl Sleek of Battle of California fame and I have always speculated that given the way the league is operating, another lockout is most likely [and sadly] imminent. So maybe the players just want to be sure they'll have steady employment once Apocalypse II ends.

11:19 am - Peter has sent us another e-mail about Souray:
Being that you don't get a plus for being on the ice when your team scores a pp goal, I think your point that souray's plus minus should be better for all the pp time he had was a moot point.....sheldon souray led the habs with 6 game winning goals last season... next best was koivu with 4......he was second on the team in scoring with 64 pts, second on the team with 23 min's plus ice time.....led the team in pim's.....habs fans who don't want this guy back because they THINK he is not worth it because of his plus minus on this team is nuts....I want to see who's going to be protecting huet after guys are crashing the net next season after he covers up a puck....streit? dandenault? our goalies are going to miss souray.....

That's true, but my point about the fact that he logs that much PP time isn't that his +/- should be higher because of goal scoring, but one might argue his +/- shouldn't be as low as it is since he does have so much time on the Power-Play where it's in no danger of deflating. I'm not saying that argument holds much weight, but it is something to consider.

I don't think his +/- is the biggest issue, he is still prone to defensive lapses and I understand that all d-men will have that problem, but there is the issue to consider of whether or not he's worth the type of money he's asking for. When you operate in a cap world, that's a very important factor to take into account.

11:06 am - Vesa Toskala is set to become a UFA next season and the [spit] Leafs are keen to sign him to an extension before then. According to The Fourth Period, he is currently thinking about the Leafs latest offer:
According to the Star, Toskala is believed to be reviewing a three-year, $9 million offer.

The 30-year-old was acquired, along with winger Mark Bell, from the San Jose Sharks for three draft picks on June 22.

Meanwhile, the Leafs have roughly $2 million left under the salary cap and appear to be eyeing wingers Bill Guerin and Dainius Zubrus
If the Maple Leafs obtain another forward via the free agency market, they will almost be forced to pull the trigger on a trade.

Leafs GM John Ferguson has acknowledged that he's been looking to make a few moves, but said on Monday that "nothing was imminent."
Don't do it Vesa! You still have time to save your soul!

In all seriousness, acquiring Toskala is a big improvement in net for the Leafs. However, their farm system is completely depleted and I can't even remember the last time they had a high draft pick in the first round. That being said, this is a team that has never conceded to being in the 'rebuilding' phase. They were only one point shy of making the playoffs last season, although that's not exactly setting the bar very high. With the signing of Blake, the Leafs too are almost pressed to the cap and it's important to leave yourself around $2 - $3 million in wiggle room for the trade deadline.

The addition of Jason Blake will benefit the Leafs' forward depth, but Mark Bell will have to be seen as a recovery project as he had a horrendous season in San Jose. If you can't make things happen with Jumbo Joe, you'll be in tough to make something happen with anybody else.

10:54 am - Brian has e-mailed us again and says:

If Andy Sutton is still available i would like to see him join our defensive corps, i think he would be a solid pickup for a reasonable price .

Andy Sutton:
2006-2007: 55GP 2G 14A 16PTs +6

Sutton is 32 and played for the Thrashers last season. He's a very good shutdown guy to have and also has a hard point-shot that could make up for losing Souray's bomb from the blue-line.

10:46 am - We have another e-mail from Peter, this time in regards to Sheldon Souray:

The outspoken member of habs last year, who called it as he saw it, on a game by game basis was souray....when their was a scrum on the ice, and one of our players needed defending souray was the first one their.....his plus minus is NOT indicative of his style of defense.....he lead d men in ice time by far, and was paired with d man who was not that good and constantly needed help on his side.....yes, he was undressed by spezza and at times broke down, lots of d men do...but when he played on a team who's offense was 44% special teams, can you really kill him for his plus minus? koivu was a - 21, ryder a -25, latandresse a -20, kovalev a -19,how come nobody is ripping them, koivu makes 4.75 per year no less......

I do agree that Souray has great leadership qualities and +/- isn't always indicative of a player's overall defensive ability but since Souray is seen as an 'elite defenseman', he will always be held to a higher standard, whether unfairly so or not. However, one might make the argument that since he does log so much PP-time, his +/- should be a lot better than it is. That being said though, everybody on the Habs had horrific +/- stats, so you could just say Souray was following what all the cool kids were doing.

10:34 am - Peter has sent us another e-mail after I posed a question about his goaltending chart and where that would leave The Expected Next One, Carey Price:

Price could definitely benefit from another year in the minors. But that is a catch 22.
If he comes up this year and takes over the number one spot from huet and the habs can somehow manage to dump huet to a team who could benefit from a starter like him, you could free up 2.75 mill in additional cap to have by the trading deadline. At the same time if price plays well it could deflect alot of the negative emotion fans have towards ufa's not wanting to come play in Montreal.
As for a d man that I would like to see signed by habs if possible, brad stuart is definitely a guy with upside.
Do the habs have an immediate need for a guy like Guerin, no, but from watching him in the past he along with smolinski could provide plenty of experience and veteran leadership to alot of the upcoming talent in habs system that will crack line up this year. I don't feel as though kovalev and koivu really are interested in doing those things.

1) I agree with Peter that Brad Stuart is definitely the most appealing defenseman left on my list as well.

2) As for Price, he makes an interesting point about him. We all know that he will most likely challenge for a spot on the big club during training camp, but no matter how talented goalies are, you always have to be careful when it comes to developing young talent. Many say that since Price won the MVP and the Calder Cup, all in his rookie year that there's nothing left for him to learn in the AHL. However, the one thing Halak does have over Price is actual experience playing in the big game. Goalies tend to not come into their prime until their late 20's and while it's safe to say that Price is well ahead of that learning curve, one has to always be careful when it comes to young talent. Particularly, in a market like Montreal where their players live in a fish-bowl.

3) Guerin will definitely add a lot to a team that could use leadership. I never expected Kovalev to embrace the leadership position, but that's actually the first where I've heard Koivu's leadership being called into question.

10:20 am - Many are surprised that highly touted defenseman Sheldon Souray continues to go unsigned. I, however am not so much as I always thought that he had a great scoring touch, but you don't want a d-man who has proven to be, well a defensive liability. The latest from Spector's Trade Rumours reports that despite his horrendous +/- last season, there are still many teams interested in his services:

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson reports high-scoring defenceman Sheldon Souray remains available on the UFA market but suggests the blueliner's -28 plus-minus rating may be scaring off potential suitors. The Devils, Bruins and Islanders could be interested in signing him.


Souray was an All-Star last season and is looking for a considerable pay-raise. There will be a team who will be desperate enough to give him the contract he wants but to me, he isn't really a $6 million, $7 million per year guy.

10:06 am - I apologize for what we in the media business call 'a slow news day'. Maybe my romantic notion of these agents frantically fielding phone calls and making last minute middle-of-the-night signings isn't as accurate as I thought it would be.

Peter writes in with this e-mail:

I have calculated that the habs still have some money to make another signing....the current players are under contract and the ones in parenthesis are rfa's who have been tendered offers and my assumption of what they will get......I know there are probably another 3 or so minor league contracts that will fill out 25 man roster so add those three players at 450k each and you have a total of appx 44 mill.....that leaves another 6 plus to spend.....we need another strong d man, that way we could always use streit as forward again and dump murray......and maybe that leaves enough for a guerin.........
higgins 1.5, koivu 4.75, (ryder 3)
kovalev 4.5, (plekanec 1)latendresse 850k,
begin 1.23, lapierre 563kkostitsyn sr. 612k,
smolinski 2, murray 625k, chipchura ? 450k
defensively
hamrlik 5.5, markov 5.75
komi 1.5, dandenault 1.75
bouillon 1.88, streit 600k
(gorges 1), minor leaguer 450k
goalies
huet 2.75
halak 500k

There is definitely a lot of interest in the services of Bill Guerin although his age may be a factor one should take into account. Have the Habs shown interest in acquiring Guerin? As for a big strong D-man, I would imagine the availability of them has dwindled a bit now that Scott Hannan has been signed with the Avs. So Habs fans, which available blue-liner would you like to see suit up for the Habs next year?

9:52 am - It looks like there may be a bit of a sweep-stakes for Slava Kozlov, as the Dallas Stars are also interested. Like the Senators, the Stars are also having Cap woes.

According to the Morning News, the Stars continue to pursue winger Slava Kozlov, who is a contract in excess of $4 million per season and is talking to several teams.

"We have one spot for a player who can make $4 million," [team President Jim] Lites said. "That's where we are."

To add to the team's potential cap woes, forwards Mike Ribeiro and Jussi Jokinen are expected to file for salary arbitration by Thursday's deadline.


9:44 am - Brian writes:
thanks for keeping us updated! Any word on Yashisn's status?

You're very welcome, Brian! As for Yashin, no word yet on his status although I can imagine his agent is trying his best to make a case for him. There was rumblings that he might be interested in returning to Ottawa but that was back when John Muckler was still employed by the Senators. I can't imagine a guy like Bryan Murray wanting to take him back. As reported by the Fourth Period, the Thrashers might take a run at him if they can't resign Slava Kozlov.

9:28 am - You'll have to bear with me as it is quite the slow morning, but short of doing a dance, I'll try my best to keep you guys entertained.

Also from the Fourth Period, the Bruins are trying to dump salary:

Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli confirmed this to the paper, leading to speculation that the team is trying to trade winger Glen Murray and his $4.15 million salary.

If the Bruins are unable to shed some salary, they'll likely remain quiet this summer.

The Bruins are believed to be interested in the likes of Bill Guerin, Brendan Shanahan and Karel Rachunek.


Despite the fact that Rangers GM Glen Sather totally blew his brains out signing Drury and Gomez on Day 1, he is apparently still trying to make an effort to sign Shanahan, and Shanny has expressed interest in staying with the Rangers. They're reporting he's willing to take a discount to stay, and TSN's Bob MacKenzie believes the Rangers can get him for cheap because of his age.

I'll have to consult with my personal accountant Vinny to confirm the Rangers' salary numbers and cap space to see just how screwed they really are.

Speaking of Bill Guerin, the Ottawa Senators are also trying to make room for him. They are still trying to shop Martin Gerber, Joe Corvo and Peter Schaefer to make some room. They are also interested in re-signing UFA Mike Comrie

The Senators are looking to trade a few of their players in an attempt to sign free agents, reports the Ottawa Sun.

According to the paper, the Sens would like to move winger Peter Schaefer, goalie Martin Gerber and defenseman Joe Corvo to make room for center Mike Comrie and possibly spend a little money elsewhere.

However, Comrie, an unrestricted free agent, is not sure how long he can wait for the team to clear salary cap space to sign him.

It's believed six teams -- Washington, Carolina, Los Angeles, Buffalo, Atlanta and the New York Islanders -- have shown an interest in Comrie.

The article also says the Senators were interested in Petr Sykora but he signed with the Pens. Before that, they were also interested in making a run at Paul Kariya, although as expected he stayed out west and decided to sign with the Blues [more of my opinion on this later. It's something close to: 'Why Paul, WHY?!']. The other name the Senators are interested in is Slava Kozlov, who is looking for a considerable pay-raise.

According to the paper, the Thrashers have offered Kozlov a three-year deal worth in between $10 million and $12 million.

However, with the likes of Paul Kariya signing in St. Louis to a three-year, $18 million deal, and Jason Blake inking a five-year, $20 million contract with Toronto, Kozlov's value has changed.

You hear that? Thanks a lot, Toronto.

If the Thrashers can't re-sign Kozlov, they might be interested in making a run with Alexei Yashin. I have no love for the Thrashers, but not even I would wish Yashin upon them. If Charles Wang can get a clue that he's a bad investment, surely the "brain trust" in Atlanta can? Right?

9:18 am - The Fourth Period is reporting that the Wild may be close to signing Sean Hill and Wes Walz:
Hill, 37, will sign a one-year, incentive-laden contract.

"We've definitely had talks and we're getting there, but at this point, I don't want to say anything more and jinx it," Hill told the Star-Tribune. "But things are moving along good and it's been very positive."

Meanwhile, the Pioneer Press reports that Wild have offered center Wes Walk a one-year contract.

Walz is expected to entertain other offers before making any decision about his future.


Is this the same Sean Hill that's been suspended for failing a drug test? Wouldn't that be a bit of a sunk cost? I suppose looking at some of these contracts that have been handed out, a more pressing question would be: "Have the GMs all lost their minds and forgotten there's a salary cap?'

9:10 am - Nothing as of yet to report as it is still quite early in the left coast. I have to say, last night's free agency frenzy ended on somewhat of a whimper as the last signing to come in was Sheldon Brookbank to the Columbus Bluejackets. Cross him off your wishlists, people!

7 fanatics have replied:

Bitchany said...

Hey now...Brookbank was signed on July 1!! Haha yeah be jealous!

Sherry said...

My bad, Bitchany. It didn't come through the Canadian media until yesterday, haha.

Oh yeah, I'm shakin' in my boots.

Bitchany said...

Haha I'm surprised it even went up there at all. We are kind of important I suppose.

Sherry said...

We are kind of important I suppose.

Well, duh! Of course you are.

Brookbank was one of the best d-men in the AHL this year. Hopefully he'll be able to adjust to the pro game.

Bitchany said...

I hope so too. He seems to be good defensively and offemsively also which is a plus. Cant wait to see him.

Sherry said...

Haha, I just can't wait for the season to start. Or for the Senators to actually do something.

Bitchany said...

I am right with you sister...October can't come soon enough.

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