- Josh Cooper at Puck Daddy14 mins ago
Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill didn’t identify goaltending as a major need as the NHL’s major transactional period continued with the beginning of unrestricted free agency Friday.
He still sees Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtnonen as the team’s netminders next season – and believes their roles will be even more important with a slightly condensed schedule.
Last season Niemi played 48 games and held a 2.67 goal-against average and .905 save percentage. Lehtonen had a 2.76 goal-against average and .906 save percentage in 43 games.
They were torched in the playoffs as the both finished with sub-.900 save percentages.
“Our goalies got us 50 wins last year and we’re looking forward – I think they’re going to be even better this year,” Nill said. “I think they learned a lot from it. One thing I’ve learned being in the Western Conference is it’s a grind. I think you saw it in the playoffs last year – it’s tough for one goalie to handle the whole load so we’re comfortable with our two-man system and we’re looking forward to our guys being even better next year and we’ll move forward from there.”
- Jen Neale at Puck Daddy1 hr ago
Not every signing is earth shattering on free agent day. Still the addition of less heralded players can mean the difference between winning and losing in the post-season; even though we may not know it right now.
Here’s a running list of some of the other signings on Free Agent Frenzy Friday with a quick rundown of the details you need to know. Plus we tap the brains of the bloggers and media alike in what this signing does – and in some cases, doesn’t – bring to the team that they joined.
[Ed. Note: We’ll update this post out Friday evening as the NHL contracts keep rolling in. Check out Puck Daddy for stories and features on the contracts rocking the hockey world.]
- Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy2 hrs ago
You’re not going to find too many sensible signings on the first day of free agency.
That’s just not the way it works.
But there are still relative deals to be found on July — Canada Day to some people! — and there were plenty of ’em made throughout the day. Depth deals, big splashes, two-way contracts, doesn’t matter. If it got reported before 5 p.m., you’ll find it below.
Let’s rank all 105 of ’em! (Caution: There are lots of AHL signings in the middle of the list because they are of little to no consequence):
105. Matt Martin to Toronto
Four years? Can’t wait to see the Smart Leafs fans try to talk themselves into not-hating this one. Never sign a fourth-line player for term. Period.
104. Steve Ott
Why not just burn $800,000 instead? At least that won’t make your hockey team worse. Just because you have the money to spend doesn’t mean you should.
103. Darren Helm to Detroit
Horrible contract. Don’t like the term or the money. Speed is a great thing to have, but separate this guy from Datsyuk and he’s not even a 30-point player or a possession driver. This contract is almost as bad as Abdelkader’s.
102. Jamie McGinn to Arizona
- Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy2 hrs ago
Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin hasn’t exactly earned the benefit of the doubt from his fan base this week, what with the controversial P.K. Subban trade and the heavy flirtation with franchise nemesis Milan Lucic as a free agent.
Then it was announced on Friday that the Canadiens had signed Alex Radulov, former member of the Nashville Predators and CSKA of the KHL, to a 1-year deal worth $5.75 million.
And eyes rolled.
Radulov has a reputation. It’s not a good one. There was the time he broke his contract with the Predators to leave for the KHL. There was the timehe hit a coach with a hockey stick. There was the time he came back to the NHL in a cameo appearance with the Predators in 2012, and then infamously broke curfew in the playoffs.
- Josh Cooper at Puck Daddy2 hrs ago
The San Jose Sharks have added some speed at forward as they retool to try to go one step further in the playoffs next year.
The defending Western Conference champions announced they added winger Mikkel Boedker to their deep group of forwards on a four-year $16 million contract.
Last season Boedker split time between the Arizona Coyotes and Colorado Avalanche and notched 51 points in 80 games played. This tied a career high for the 26-year-old Boedker, the eighth overall pick in the 2008 NHL Draft.
Boedker’s previous deal was for one year at $3.75 million.
Last postseason, the Sharks were beaten in the Stanley Cup Final by the Pittsburgh Penguins and their speed game. Boedker should help the Sharks combat such issues better moving forward.
“Mikkel’s tremendous speed is his best attribute and he has the ability to back off defenders with his combination of quickness and soft hands,” said general manager Doug Wilson in a statement released by the team. “His creativity and puck-handling abilities make him a threat in the transition game and he is a positive contributor in all three zones. We think he will thrive with our group and look forward to him joining our team.”
- Sean Leahy at Puck Daddy3 hrs ago
Jim Rutherford has had a pretty good couple of weeks.
He won a second Stanley Cup on June 12, was named General Manager of the Year at the NHL Awards on June 24 and today signed a three-year extension with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
All of that has been deserved after the job he did in the last year remodeling the Penguins following a first-round playoff exit in 2015. He acquired Phil Kessel last July 1 and replaced head coach Mike Johnston with Mike Sullivan in December following a disastrous start to the season. A few shrewd trades and a system overhaul later, and Pittsburgh brought home its fourth Cup.
After stepping down as Carolina Hurricanes in GM in 2014, Rutherford replaced Ray Shero in Pittsburgh weeks later. “I would suspect the term for me is probably two or three years here,” he said at the time. Has that plan changed? According to the Penguins, the new deal replaces his old one and runs through the 2018-19 season. Where does this leave the likes of assistant GMs Jason Botterill and Bill Guerin, who have served as his mentees?
- Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy4 hrs ago
Once in a while, you see a free agent leave a team and realize that the player and the team have become synonymous.
Such is the case with David Backes and the St. Louis Blues.
Backes was a career player for the Blues, through 727 games and 49 more in the postseason. But as his contract expired after last season, so did his time in St. Louis. Backes signed with the Boston Bruins for five years and $30 million on Friday.
It was an emotional goodbye.
— David Backes (@dbackes42) July 1, 2016
But couldn’t the sides come together? The Blues are taking one more run at it with coach Ken Hitchcock and most of the same cast that made the Western Conference Final last season.
Why not bring the captain back?
Because it wasn’t a question of next season, according to GM Doug Armstrong. It was a question of the fourth or fifth ones.
- Sean Leahy at Puck Daddy4 hrs ago
Thomas Vanek will move on to his fifth team in the last four seasons after signing a one-year, $2.6 million deal with the Detroit Red Wings.
The deal comes one week after the 32-year-old Vanek saw the final year of his deal with the Minnesota Wild bought out by the club.
Detroit was looking for help in their top six and feel they have with Fran Nielsen and now Vanek. Having another right-handed shot up front also helps as well.
Vanek’s stock, however, has fallen quite far the last several years. Once a guy you could pencil in for 25 goals and 60 points, he’s slowly declined. Following a solid 21-goal, 52 point campaign in 2014-15, his first in Minnesota, he found himself a healthy scratch at times last season with the Wild.
Why Detroit? Vanek told TSN he likes the setup the Red Wings have down the middle and it’s a fit where he feels he can succeed playing his game.
“I still know I can score goals in this league for a few more years,” he said.
- Josh Cooper at Puck Daddy4 hrs ago
The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed bruising energy forward Matt Martin to a four-year contract worth $10 million.
The 27-year-old Martin is coming off a four-year $4 million contract with the New York Islanders. In 438 career games, martin has 88 points and 680 penalty minutes – all with New York. Last season he set career highs with 10 goals and nine assists.
In 2015-16, Martin combined with Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck to create one of the more physical lines in the NHL.
“That’s why they’ve been together so long,” he said. “He doesn’t want to break them up. It’s a testament to them,” Islanders captain John Tavares said in a late March story from Newsday. “They bring a lot of energy. They’re physical. They’re hard on the other team, but they get the puck in the net. Casey’s had a great year. Cal has gone back to the way he can score . . . And Marty does what Marty does. He’s such a physical presence. Teams really feel him on the forecheck in front of the net.”
- Josh Cooper at Puck Daddy4 hrs ago
Defenseman Victor Hedman probably could have made more money on the open market if he hit unrestricted free agency in the summer.
The 25-year-old Hedman, who has one year left on a contract paying him $4 million, is one of the top all-around defenseman in the NHL – an imposing blend of size, speed and skill. Instead he opted for the comfort of Tampa and the ability to win with a ready-made contender.
On Friday, the Lightning announced Hedman had signed an eight-year $63 million extension that kicks in at the start of the 2017-18 season. It was the first day he was allowed to sign an extension with the team. This comes in at a salary cap hit of $7.875-milion per season.
“It’s a tough game, we have a successful team, it’s going to come down to numbers obviously with the cap it’s tough to keep the team together and for us to keep the team together it will maybe be a little bit of sacrifice but at the same time we play for a great organization,” Hedman said.