Deadline for qualifying offers is today; Ladd, Niemi safe with Hawks

Today is the deadline for teams to give qualifying offers to their
restricted free agents, otherwise they become unrestricted free agents
on July 1.

This year, we’re expected a large number of RFA’s to
hit the open market this week as teams face some salary cap and roster

The qualifying offers are already starting to to pour
in, but teams have until 5 p.m. EDT today to get the offers filed with
the NHL. Not risking making the same mistake as last year, the Chicago
Blackhawks have already filed their offers for Andrew Ladd, Antti Niemi
and Niklas Hjalmarsson.

It was going to be interesting to see how
Chicago handled their RFA’s, and Stan Bowman has gone ahead and decided
he needed to keep the three RFA’s at the top of the Hawks’ list.

the RFA’s not receiving offers by teams are minor league players or
prospects. Sometimes, an NHL player isn’t tendered and hits the open
market and joins the pool of free agents. We’ll have that full list
available for you later tonight.

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    Ducks name Kesler alternate captain

    Ryan Kesler
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    For the second time in his career, Ryan Kesler is wearing an “A.”

    On Thursday, the Anaheim Ducks announced that Kesler would serve as one of the club’s alternate captains this season, taking over for Francois Beauchemin, who signed in Colorado this summer.

    With the move, Kesler joins Anaheim’s existing leadership group of captain Ryan Getzlaf, and alternate Corey Perry.

    “It’s an honor,” Kesler said, per the Ducks. “It’s special. I’m going to wear it with pride and lead by example.”

    As mentioned earlier, Kesler has some experience as an alternate — he wore an “A” in Vancouver from 2008-13, but had it removed prior to the start of the ’13-14 campaign.

    It’s not surprising Anaheim went in this direction. GM Bob Murray made a huge investment in Kesler this summer by inking the 31-year-old to a six-year, $41.25M extension.

    Diaz could leave Rangers for Europe

    Raphael Diaz, Mike Sislo
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    Could Raphael Diaz be on his way back to Switzerland?

    We’ll know in a month.

    Diaz, who lost out on the Rangers’ final blueline spot in training camp, has reported to the club’s AHL affiliate in Hartford but doesn’t seem pleased with his current situation, per the Post:

    The 29-year-old Diaz, who cleared waivers last Saturday after the Blueshirts opted to keep rookie Dylan McIlrath as the club’s seventh on the blue line, is interested in the European option if he is not in the NHL.

    The Blueshirts have told Diaz they will revisit the situation at the end of October, but have not promised to release him or assign him to a European team at that point.

    If Diaz, a Swiss native who represented Switzerland in the 2014 Olympics, does play in Europe during the season, he would have to go through waivers in order to return to the NHL.

    Diaz’s agent, Ritch Winter, told the Post that Diaz signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Rangers “to play with the Rangers.”

    And it’s understandable if Diaz — a journeyman offensive defenseman — isn’t happy with this situation.

    While some believe McIlrath earned his roster spot on merit, some think it’s because of his contract status. McIlrath, who’s only 23 and a former first-round pick, would’ve needed to clear waivers to go back to Hartford, and it’s believed he would’ve been claimed by another club.