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Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov signs with Edmonton Oilers

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During his ten years in the NHL, Ilya Bryzgalov has played for the Ducks, Coyotes and Flyers. (Elsa/Getty Images)

During his ten years in the NHL, Ilya Bryzgalov has played for the Ducks, Coyotes and Flyers. (Elsa/Getty Images)

By Allan Muir

It’s official: Ilya Bryzgalov is coming in from — and into — the cold.

The Edmonton Oilers agreed to terms with the colorful free agent goaltender on Friday night. Terms weren’t announced, but multiple sources say it is a one-year note worth a pro-rated $3 million. If that’s the case, it’s a low-risk deal that makes sense for a team whose situation between the pipes almost certainly can’t get any worse.

Edmonton, currently in last place in the NHL’s Western Conference, has allowed a league-high 66 goals this season with Devan Dubnyk, Jason LaBarbera and Richard Bachman between the pipes. Dubnyk will stay on board to challenge Bryzgalov for ice time.

Bryzgalov went 19-17-3 with a 2.79 GAA and .900 save percentage last season for the Flyers, but the team decided he was an ill-fitting part and bought out of the final seven years of his nine-year, $51 million contract over the summer.

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  • Published On Nov 08, 2013
  • Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall pave way for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ $42 million deal

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    (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

    Injury-plagued, underachieving Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was the first-overall pick in 2011. (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    There was a good case to be made if the Edmonton Oilers had chosen to play short-term contract hardball with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

    His first two seasons have been marked by their share of blemishes. He’s had trouble finishing — just four goals last year — and he’s suffered through a career’s worth of injuries, missing 20 games his rookie year, followed by a shoulder problem that cut last season short and will keep him out of Edmonton’s lineup until November.

    It’s the sort of track record that affords a flinty general manager plenty of leeway over an already unleveraged RFA.

    But Nugent-Hopkins is also the sort of breathtaking talent whose immense promise demands to be considered on its own terms. His pedigree — he was the first-overall pick in 2011 — and his spectacularly appointed tool box project him as an elite, first-line center. Greatness has eluded him these first two years, but it won’t for much longer.

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  • Published On Sep 19, 2013
  • St. Louis Blues, Alex Pietrangelo agree on seven-year, $45.5 million deal

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    Alex Piestrangelo of the St. Louis Blues

    The work begins for Alex Pietrangelo now that his contract impasse with the Blues is over. (Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong was asked the other day why he and free agent defenseman Alex Pietrangelo couldn’t simply split the difference in their long-running contract dispute, forge a deal and get the player into camp with his teammates.

    Maybe the logic behind that question finally sank in.

    Armstrong announced this afternoon that he had come to an agreement with Pietrangelo on a deal that will pay the All-Star defender $45.5 million over seven years. That’s an average of $6.5 million per year — the middle ground between the player’s $7 million request and the team’s $6 million bottom line. It’s also identical to the deal Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson signed with the Ottawa Senators last summer.

    To get the big payday, Pietrangelo had to sign away three years of free agency, but that’s a minor giveback compared to what the Blues brought to the table. The team could have taken a hard line with the restricted free agent and used the leverage provided by the CBA to force him into a lower dough bridge contract. But Armstrong chose instead to make a bold statement of faith in Pietrangelo and what he means to the franchise, both now and down the road.

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  • Published On Sep 13, 2013
  • Report: Tim Thomas on verge of signing new deal with unspecified team

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    By Allan Muir

    Controversial goaltender Tim Thomas made it known earlier this summer that he was ready to end his year in the wilderness and return to the National Hockey League. The response was a sound he’d become familiar with during his exile in Colorado: crickets.

    To this point, there has been little interest expressed in the unrestricted free agent, but that may be about to change. According to ESPN’s Craig Custance, Thomas is in discussions with several teams and could sign with one soon, possibly later today.

    There’s no reason to dispute Custance’s reporting. He’s as good as they come in the business. Still, the landscape is such that there can’t be many teams willing, or able, to take on Thomas. So where would he land?

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  • Published On Sep 10, 2013
  • Report: Toronto Maple Leafs closing in on deal with Nazem Kadri

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    Nazem Kadri of the Toronto Maple Leafs

    Nazem Kadri won’t get everything he wants, but a bridge deal should be fairly close. (Andre Ringuette/Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    They’re not there yet, but it sounds like the Maple Leafs and RFA forward Nazem Kadri are finally speaking the same language in their long-running and combative contract talks.

    According to Bob MacKenzie, who was speaking on TSN Radio in Toronto this afternoon, the two sides are finally both talking about a two-year bridge contract. Kadri is looking at something around $7 million, while the Leafs are countering with $5.7 million. Still a bit of a gap there, but it’s getting closer. And after versatile — but far less impactful — Senators forward Colin Greening signed a short-term deal earlier today that averaged $2.65 million per season, it’s a good bet that the final number on Kadri’s deal will be nearer to the player’s position than to Toronto’s.

    Of course, every dollar Kadri gets out of the approximately $5 million that the Maple Leafs have left to spend under the cap is a dollar less that will be available for the club to sign fellow RFA Cody Franson. The sooner Kadri grabs his share, in other words, the better.

    Unless of course this is all a bluff to drive up the bidding in the KHL…

    HACKEL: How serious a threat is the KHL?

    MUIR: RFA’s finding they have no upper hand in talks


  • Published On Sep 09, 2013
  • Nazem Kadri, Derek Stepan and other NHL RFAs find they have no upper hand

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    Nazem Kadri of the Toronto Maple Leafs

    Nazem Kadri is learning he’s not worth quite as much to the Maple Leafs as he thinks he is. (Icon SMI)

    By Allan Muir

    Everyone wants the upper hand in life, but as Jerry Seinfeld keenly observed, hand is tough to get.

    And even when you believe you’ve got it, you probably don’t have nearly as much as you think.

    If Nazem Kadri hasn’t digested that mind vitamin just yet, he will very soon. So will Jared Cowen, Cody Hodgson, Marcus Johansson, Cody Franson and the rest of this year’s crop of high profile restricted free agents.

    These players may be on the verge of NHL stardom, but their hopes of cashing in big on their second contracts are quickly fading. With training camps starting next week and their talks at a standstill, their unwillingness to recognize when they’re beaten puts their start to the 2013-14 season in jeopardy.

    The key here is timing. And unfortunately for these players, theirs is lousy.

    The diminished salary cap hurts the pool of cash that teams are drawing from, and each new signing leaves an even smaller pile. There’s no club that’s willing to risk the draft picks and blowback that come with tendering an offer sheet. And the start of camp puts the RFAs and their demands on the back burner and allows other players a chance to step up and fill whatever holes their absences create.

    It’s a miserably perfect salary-depressing storm.

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  • Published On Sep 06, 2013
  • Devils sign RFA Adam Henrique to six-year, $24 million deal

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    Adam Henrique of the New Jersey Devils

    Adam Henrique cashed in nicely despite having a down season in 2013. (Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    It took a lot longer than expected — you can blame the change in ownership for that — but the Devils finally have come to terms with restricted free agent forward Adam Henrique.

    The deal, according to Sportsnet’s Shawn McKenzie, is for six years and $24 million.

    That’s decent change for a guy who followed up a 51-point Calder Trophy-finalist season in 2011-12 with a bum campaign that saw him score just 11 goals and 16 points in 42 games. New Jersey was willing to write last season off as the result of an injury-induced slow start.

    On a team that doesn’t have a lot of talent down the middle, Henrique is being counted on to handle a heavy load this season. He doesn’t have the offensive upside to be a No. 1 center, but he could hold down the second-line job while scoring 60-65 points and chipping in with a strong defensive effort. If he can deliver on those expectations, this will be a fair deal for both sides.

    As well as Henrique made out, the real winners of this deal might be the Maple Leafs’ Nazem Kadri and the Rangers’ Derek Stepan.

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  • Published On Aug 26, 2013
  • Fame or famine: What’s next for nine key remaining NHL free agents?

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    NHL free agent defenseman Ron Hainsey

    Ron Hainsey’s NHLPA role during the lockout may have cooled teams’ desires for his services. (Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    This time last summer, there wasn’t much interest in Michal Rozsival. The big defensemen had played well for the Coyotes during Phoenix’s run to the Western Conference finals in 2012, but coming off a contract that had a cap hit of $5 million, he was seen as too old, too limited. He was viewed as a Plan B type. As time passed, he became a Plan C.

    Rozsival lingered on the open market longer than most, his value diminishing with each passing day, before he finally signed a one-year, $2 million deal with the Blackhawks on Sept. 11, 2012.

    By that point, his signing rated little more than a couple of paragraphs in the Chicago papers. Rozsival was seen as an upgrade over No. 6 defenseman Sheldon Brookbank and insurance in case prospect Dylan Olsen wasn’t quite ready to make the jump to the NHL. But a free agent coup? Not at all.

    Rozsival was in and out of the lineup during the season, playing just 27 of 48 regular-season games as part of a bottom-end rotation. But when it came to crunch time in the playoffs, there he was, playing big minutes in key contests against the Kings and the Bruins. There may have been better signings last summer, but how many of them ended up with their names on the Stanley Cup?

    That’s just a reminder that in free-agency, it’s funny how things can work out. While most of the attention goes to the players who are signed early to big money and long term contracts, there are still some impact players to be had as the offseason slides from August into September.

    Of course, some UFAs are still floating on the market for a good reason. Here’s a look at some of the key names out there and what might lie ahead for each:

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  • Published On Aug 20, 2013
  • NHLPA: 14 players line up for the humiliation of salary arbitration

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    Toronto Maple Leafs’ defenseman Mark Fraser is one of 14 players set for arbitration. (Fred Kfoury/Icon SMI)

    By Allan Muir

    It takes a lot of guts for a player to ask for salary arbitration. Not everyone is up to the grueling process, during which a player’s value will be compared to that of a flaming pile of dung, a tiny mouse and, in extreme cases, Sean Avery.

    But still, some soldier on. And so the NHLPA has announced hearing dates for 14 players eligible for salary arbitration.

    The PA initially announced 21 players had chosen arbitration last week. Seven, including Winnipeg’s Eric Tangradi in the last hour have avoided the humiliation by coming to terms with their teams on a new deal. Four of the remaining players are members of the Winnipeg Jets.

    That should be a happy room next season.

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  • Published On Jul 16, 2013
  • Boston Bruins had no choice but to sign Tuukka Rask to monster deal

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    Boston Bruins' Tuukka Rask

    Tuukka Rask won 14 playoff games while posting a league-best .940 save percentage. (Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    It didn’t take long for the Boston Bruins to place their faith in Tuukka Rask.

    Just one year after Rask stepped into Tim Thomas’ skates and took over as the team’s No. 1 goaltender, Rask and the Bruins have agreed on an eight-year deal worth $56 million.

    The Average Annual Value of $7 million per year ties Rask with fellow Finn Pekka Rinne for the highest cap hit among goaltenders.

    And that has heads spinning.

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  • Published On Jul 10, 2013


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