What about the rest of the NHL's free agents?

billguerin.jpgWhile we’re all consumed with what is going to transpire in the situation with Ilya Kovalchuk and the New Jersey Devils, there’s a host of other free agents out there feeling lonely and looking for a new home. One guy that might be off the market as soon as today is Alexander Frolov who is rumored to be close to signing a deal with the New York Rangers. The Globe And Mail’s James Mirtle got asking around about what’s going on with the other 84 unrestricted free agents on the market and why they haven’t landed jobs anywhere.

Unlike past seasons under the salary cap, when the majority of the established free agents signed contracts in the first week of July, this summer has seen a huge number of teams balk at the asking price for second- and third-line players.

In an informal poll Monday, agents around the league agreed the market for depth has eroded to the point where many general managers are unwilling to pay much more than the league minimum ($500,000) for the bottom eight to 10 players on their roster.

“So many teams are taking the position that they’re going to pay third- and fourth-line guys $1-million or less,” said Tacopina, who is getting calls daily from European clubs hoping to sign NHL-calibre players. “I think we’re going to see a watering down of talent in the league if it continues on this path.”

One of the holdups this summer has been Kovalchuk, who finally signed a contract with the New Jersey Devils last week, only to have the deal rejected by the NHL the next day. Once his status is finally resolved, many agents said they felt their clients will finally get closer looks from teams waiting out the market.

The monkey wrench in that thought, as Mirtle mentions after this, is that there just isn’t the kind of money out there to be had. In what’s mostly a down-ish off-season for free agents with just one really big prize to be had in Kovalchuk, many teams are finding that this is the summer of reckoning when it comes to their budgets. I’m sure the Bruins would love to add more scoring depth to their team that doesn’t have to come via trade. I don’t imagine that adding Colby Armstrong to their forward unit was the only move the Maple Leafs would’ve made in free agency if they could help it, but alas, there’s just no money to be had there.

As for the teams that are well below the salary floor and will need to add money to compete, they’ll do so, but it won’t happen right away. Not to mention that some teams are dealing with an internal salary cap that won’t let them wantonly add salary just to fill out ranks. It makes you think of the days without a salary cap where the line between the big spenders and the thrifty teams was definitive.

In this case, according to Cap Geek, you’ve got three teams under the salary floor of $43.4 million (Islanders, Avalanche, Thrashers) with the Predators just hovering above the line. There are seven other teams that are less than $5 million above the salary floor. Whether those teams are just waiting things out and looking to spend smart or if they’re done really poking around for the summer remains to be seen, but in cases like the Carolina Hurricanes, they’ve made it clear they’re not going much higher than where the salary floor is at.

If you’re a guy like Bill Guerin, Alexei Ponikarovsky or Paul Kariya and still waiting for a job… The harsh reality of life in the cap world is settling in and if you want to play in the NHL, dropping your demands to an acceptable level is what will have to be done to get another job. Taking a shot in the wallet and in your pride makes it twice as difficult.

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    NHL on NBCSN Doubleheader: Wild vs. ‘Hawks; Pens vs. Sharks

    Scott Darling, Charlie Coyle
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    NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2015-16 campaign tonight with a pair of interesting games. It all gets underway when the Chicago Blackhawks host the Minnesota Wild at 8:00 p.m. ET. If you want to watch the game online, you can do so here.

    The Wild come into this game having lost three in a row and six of their last seven games to close out the month of November.

    The good news for Minnesota is that Zach Parise returned to their lineup last Friday after missing eight games because of a knee injury.

    He has no points and minus-2 rating since coming back.

    Besides the two teams Parise’s played for (New Jersey and Minnesota), there isn’t a team in the league he’s produced less against than the ‘Hawks.

    The 31-year-old has three goals and seven points in 20 games against Chicago.

    The Blackhawks are off to an average start, but they’ve proven that they’re still tough to beat at home.

    Chicago is 8-2-1 at the United Center this season.

    This will be the Hawks’ first home game since Nov. 15. They closed out their six-game road trip with a 3-2 OT loss to the Kings on Saturday.

    Following that tilt, NBCSN will broadcast the late game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks at 10:30 p.m. ET. You can watch the game online by clicking here.

    The Penguins closed out the month of November with a pair of disappointing losses to the Blue Jackets (OT) and Oilers (SO).

    Pittsburgh hasn’t won a game in regulation since Nov. 19 when they defeated Colorado 4-3.

    You can’t blame Evgeni Malkin for the Penguins’ recent struggles.

    The 29-year-old has scored each of Pittsburgh’s last four goals and he has 10 points in his last three contests.

    November was very kind to the Sharks.

    The team set a new franchise record by sweeping a six-game road trip that saw them win in Detroit, Buffalo, Boston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Columbus.

    They lost their first game back home to Chicago, but they closed out the month with a 5-2 win over the Flames on Saturday.

    Sharks defenseman Brent Burns scored a pair of goals when these two teams met on Nov. 21. San Jose won that game by a score of 3-1.

    PHT Morning Skate: Legendary broadcaster Doc Emrick sits down with HBO Real Sports


    PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

    Legendary broadcaster Doc Emrick sat down with Andrea Kremer to discuss his 40 years in hockey. (Above)

    Watch as a group of people (including some former NHLers) take part in a pond hockey game on the Rocky Mountains. (Bardown)

    Check out Josh Jooris and Johnny Gaudreau‘s crib:

    Former NHL referee Kerry Fraser explains why Brad Marchand deserved a penalty for his collision with Henrik Lundqvist. (TSN)

    The EIHL’s Braehead Clan suited up in a kilt-like uniform.

    Today’s the day you can start voting for your 2016 NHL All-Stars. (NHL.com)

    The Panthers are healthy scratching Bolland, and he is their highest-paid forward, but they insist they’re not sending a message

    Dave Bolland, Derek Nansen
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    It feels like there’s a story brewing in Florida, where Dave Bolland — the team’s most-expensive forward, at $5.5 million a season — has been a healthy scratch for three consecutive games.

    But according to head coach Gerard Gallant, there’s nothing to see here. Move along.

    “There’s nothing to talk about,” Gallant said, per the Miami Herald. “He sat out, our team is playing well. There’s nothing more than that. We have to sit two guys and I like the way we’re playing. The next game is a different game. We may change something up, who knows.”

    Bolland had just one goal and five points in 18 games prior to getting parked in the press box. Well, technically he got dropped to the fourth line before hitting the press box, but you get the idea. He’s not exactly in Gallant’s good graces.

    Not helping Bolland’s case is the fact that, as Gallant pointed out, the club is playing pretty well without him. The Panthers have rebounded from a rough start to November by winning back-to-back games against the Islanders and Red Wings, which set them up nicely for the remainder of this current five-game road swing.

    Florida has games still to play in St. Louis, Nashville, Columbus and New Jersey. It’ll be interesting to see when — or, if — he draws back into the lineup.

    In closing, a reminder that Bolland’s in the second of a five-year, $27.5 million deal.

    Canucks rookie Virtanen exits with upper-body injury, won’t return


    After sitting out Friday’s game in Dallas, Vancouver’s Jake Virtanen had to be excited at drawing back in for tonight’s game against the Ducks.

    Unfortunately, the excitement didn’t last long.

    Virtanen suffered an upper-body injury after playing just 1:45 in the opening frame, and was ruled out of the contest during the intermission. It’s unclear exactly what happened, but it looks like Virtanen was injured on a hit by Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf.

    Virtanen didn’t take another shift following the incident, and Getzlaf was given a minor penalty on the play.

    While we don’t know what the injury is or it’s severity, losing Virtanen for any length of time would have ramifications for the Canucks and this year’s Canadian entry at the World Juniors. There has been talk of Virtanen possibly being released by the Canucks to participate in the tournament; last year, he was part of the team that captured gold in Montreal and Toronto.

    Virtanen has played in 18 games for the Canucks this year, scoring one goal and four points while averaging 10:17 TOI per night.