Kukla's Korner Hockey
from E.J Hradek at ESPN,
If you hockey fans were looking for some wild spending, reminiscent of the good ol’ pre-lockout days, the opening day of free agency didn’t disappoint.
The big market teams, flush with an extra $6 million in cap space due to the new upper limit, were rockin’ and rollin’ on the first day of July. The Rangers, Flyers, Avalanche, Wings and Maple Leafs, as well as the champion Ducks, all made big-money pickups.
On the first day of free agency, fans around the league were either very happy (Rangers fans) or very sad (Sabres fans). It all depended on who you signed or who you lost. Happy or sad, fans should remember they don’t award the Cup in July. Or, at least, they don’t do that just yet.
from the Buffalo News,
The Buffalo Sabres lost them both. Black Sunday will go down as one of the most demoralizing days in franchise history. Gone in the span of about five hours were co-captains Daniel Briere and Chris Drury. The popular centers signed contracts to play elsewhere, leaving the Sabres with a vestige of their very soul….
“Looking at it from Buffalo’s perspective, I’m sure they’re not very happy [Briere and Drury] have left,” Rangers General Manager Glen Sather said. “But that’s the nature of the beast.
“We have to operate within the rules of the league and to the best of our abilities. I’ve seen players leave my teams before, and it’s a complicated and tricky time. You just have to face the facts you can’t always keep everyone.”
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
By contrast, the Leafs’ acquisition of Blake came at a relatively modest cost, an average of $4 million per season, and at 33 years of age, the Minnesotan is considerably longer in the tooth than the likes of Briere, Gomez and Drury.
A classic late bloomer, Blake had a career season last year in a contract season, and one always has to be suspicious (see Frank Thomas) of those kinds of efforts.
But Blake’s career numbers suggest that at worst he’ll be a consistent 22-28 goal scorer, which makes him the best scoring winger the Leafs own and nicely replaces the goals that will be lost by the departure of Jeff O’Neill.
Moreover, he’s got speed to burn, very helpful for a team that’s more plodding than quicksilver, he kills penalties effectively and dangerously, something lost when Mike Peca went down last season, and he brings a bit of sandpaper to the table as well.
from Greg Logan of Newsday,
The opening of the NHL free- agent market yesterday was more like a dispersal draft for the Islanders. After losing leading scorer Jason Blake, top-scoring defenseman Tom Poti and forwards Viktor Kozlov and Richard Zednik to more free-spending teams earlier in the day, they got the worst news of all at the end.
Ryan Smyth, who generated so much excitement after Islanders general manager Garth Snow acquired him from Edmonton at the trade deadline, spurned their five-year offer worth $32.5 million.
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
The Post has learned that Sather made an effort to keep Nylander from becoming a free agent yesterday morning, but that No. 92 was determined to test the market. When Nylander, who will turn 35 in October, received offers of four years at more than $20M, Sather declined to match.
From the moment the season ended in Eastern elimination by the Sabres, the Rangers had targeted Gomez and Drury - 2004 USA World Cup and 2006 USA Olympic teammates - as 1 and 1A to fill the second-line center hole.
more on the Rangers big day…
The Pittsburgh Penguins have signed defenceman Darryl Sydor to a two-year deal worth $5 million.
Update 1:34am ET:
Story originally just mentioned the Sydor signing, but TSN’s site has updated to include another name:
The Pittsburgh Penguins have signed winger Petr Sykora and defenceman Darryl Sydor to two-year deals.
From St.Louis Blues.com,
St. Louis Blues President John Davidson announced today the team has signed left wing Paul Kariya.
“We are excited to announce we have signed a world class hockey player as well as a first class person,” said Davidson. “Paul gives us instant scoring up front as well as bringing an entertaining brand of hockey to the St. Louis Blues.”
Update 11:55pm ET:
TSN reports it’s a 3-year deal. More details to come soon.
Update 1:09am ET:
Pointed out by a KK reader (thanks!) the previous TSN link has been updated to note Kariya’s new salary: 3 years for $18 million.
The Colorado Avalanche have signed Ryan Smyth to a five-year deal worth $31.25 million.
After playing his entire career with the Edmonton Oilers, Smyth was traded to the New York Islanders at the February trade deadline when the two sides were unable to reach a long-term contract. In return, the Oilers received prospects Ryan O’Marra, Robert Nilsson and the Islanders’ first-round pick in 2007.
Update 11:30pm ET:
Quotable Adrian Dater at the Denver Post: “...Smyth and Hannan might not make the Avs the best team in the league, but they definitely have the league’s two best mullets now.”
From The Tennessean,
Jed Ortmeyer, a 6-foot, 197-pound forward with the New York Rangers last year, has agreed to a two-year contract with the Predators.
The deal is worth $750,000 each season.
Ortmeyer had two goals and nine assists in 41 games last season.
from Allan Maki of the Globe and Mail,
Hey, can someone please explain how the Flyers are going to pay Daniel Brière $10-million (all figures U.S.) next season and how the Rangers were able to snap up two free-agent heavies, forwards Scott Gomez and Chris Drury?
Technically, we understand this can happen, and it did. Theoretically, though, we were led to believe the wicked ways of the NHL were as gone as Tie Domi. The Great Lockout was supposed to have corrected the league’s bad habits, made it a changed animal, the new it.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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