Arbitration time is nearly done, so there’s been quite a bit of activity happening around the league. In today’s round-up, the Flames and Ian White beat the hangman, Frolov and Poni find new homes, and the Coyotes, well, who’s surprised by that nonsense anymore?
Away from the rink, the club avoided a hearing this morning by signing Ian White to a one year, 2.999M deal. It’s likely a fair deal for the two sides, smack in the middle of their comparables, which is probably good for the club. There will be more reaction throughout the weekend, I’m sure. The club is officially over the cap, so a couple of pricey bodies(Staios, Kotalik) now have to go without question, although Jay Feaster advised during his media availability earlier today that the club expects Kotalik in camp.
Kent and Pat have been keeping us up to date on activities from the development camp. As always with these events, it’s hard to get any sort of handle on players without scrimmages, but it is the one time where the club can talk about skill development to its youngsters without any looming game pressure.
Alexander Frolov switched coasts this week, agreeing to terms with the Rangers on a one year, 3M deal. That’s likely to be very good value for the Rags. I do agree with Ryan Lambert’s sentiment that his value was driven down because of his rocky relationship with Kings’ management, but the guy’s a good player, and again, for all the talk about Russians bailing out in droves for the KHL, here’s another one that stuck around in the face of a soft UFA market.
Alexei Ponikarovsky is headed the other direction, as he inked a 3.2M contract with Los Angeles. I’m not really sure what L.A. is up to with this move. I like Poni as a player, but he’s just OK. Frolov’s younger, and he’s spent most of his career playing first rank competition. Poni seems like a second liner for life, so the Rangers got the better player in the end, IMO.
One Russian who has headed home is Denis Grebeshkov. He signed this week with the KHL, after being rebuffed in his attempts to return to Nashville. This is a case where a player had a good year, got a juicy paycheque, and then found out that teams around the league never thought he was really worth that sort of money. It happens, and he’s young enough that a year or two in the K might not kill his long-term value.
Plenty of other teams managed what the Flames did with White, signing their RFAs before arbitration. Of the 22 players scheduled for arbitration to this point, only 5 have actually made it to a hearing. Notables avoiding the arbiter this week include Mason Raymond, Matt Moulson. Tomas Fleischmann, Anton Stralman and Andrew Ladd, and of the three players with potential hearings remaining after the White deal, only James Wisniewski seemed headed toward anything financially significant or potentially contentious. Of course, as of this evening, he’s no longer Anaheim’s problem. The Ducks moved the rearguard for a conditional third rounder to the Islanders, which is an astonishingly low price for an actual top-four Dman, arbitration eligible or not. Wisniewski signed a one year, 3.25M deal with the Ducks as a precondition of today’s trade. Chris Campoli also came to terms with the Sens this afternoon, so only Jeff Deslauriers is left with a hearing date intact.
As for the newly signed, the Fleischmann deal looks to me as one that might well end up being a touch high, since his numbers were pretty inflated by a 103.3 PDO. His ZS was bang on 50%, so being slightly out-shot while playing for a good Caps team doesn’t exactly lead one to believe he’s driving results.
Three players did go to a hearing in the last couple of days, and with their precarious cap situation in mind, the Hawks’ inability to sign Antti Niemi to a cheap deal might force them to look for a new goalie next week. If the award is in the 2.5-3M range, the Hawks might well choose to walk, sign a Turco or Theodore for cheap, and move on. There are rumours suggesting that the Hawks are already making provisional plans for that very eventuality, in fact. If the Hawks decline the award, I have a suspicion that Niemi, like Clarke MacArthur this year and Zherdev last summer, might find that other teams won’t come near that price when offering a UFA deal.
Blake Wheeler got a sizable contract from his hearing, receiving a 2.2M award. That puts the Bruins 2.187M over the cap with Tyler Seguin unsigned. Someone has to go, but again, as we’ve seen around these parts this off-season, unloading a big-ticket vet has been a fruitless endeavor thus far. I can’t see many teams lining up for Michael Ryder or Tim Thomas, so that probably leaves Marc Savard as most likely to get the heave-ho if he’ll waive his NTC.
The Kovalchuk contract will apparently get a final going-over, as the league and NHLPA have agreed on an arbiter for the case, with a potential ruling by next week. Our great national nightmare will finally end, or something along those lines. One other contract of note happened this afternoon, as Steve Yzerman continued his pattern of bargain-shopping when he added Dominic Moore for a pretty reasonable rate.
I mentioned a couple of weeks back that I wouldn’t be shocked if the Stars resolved their ownership status before the Coyotes managed the same feat, and news from the desert this week has done nothing to change my mind. I’m not cheering for Glendale to lose the club, even though it’s quite possible that the relocated entity would be about a 25 minute drive from my front door. I will just say that at some point, it would be nice if the ‘Yotes had ownership capable of managing the financial commitments required of a NHL team.
That’s all for this week. Enjoy the long weekend, wherever you might find yourself.