2010 NHL Free Agency: Phoenix Coyotes sign Eric Belanger to one-year, $750K deal

ericbelangersigns.jpgLast I checked, it seemed as if Eric Belanger was primed to return to the Washington Capitals, which was a logical choice since the team is a bit light on suitable centers. Those rumors have now been proven false, though, as sources including Renaud Lavoie indicate that Belanger signed a one-year, $750K deal with the Phoenix Coyotes today.

Here is more from the Coyotes’ team Web site, including a quote from GM Don Maloney.

Last season, the 6-foot-0, 189-pound Belanger played 77 games with Minnesota and Washington, recording a career high 41 points (15-26-41) and 32 penalty minutes. Belanger started the season with the Wild but was acquired by the Capitals on March 3, 2010.

“We are excited to have Eric join us here in Phoenix,” said Maloney. “He is a smart, quick, talented center who plays well on both sides of the puck. We had identified Eric early in the free agency period as someone who would be a great fit with us and feel fortunate we are able to bring him to the Coyotes organization.”

Belanger has scored 13 or more goals and registered 33 or more points in seven of his nine seasons in the NHL. He scored a career-high 17 goals with Los Angeles during the 2005-06 campaign and with Carolina and Atlanta in 2006-07.

Belanger won’t light the world on fire, but he has a nice mixture of skills, grit and savvy. He can play solid defense while chipping in a decent amount of offense, making him a quality pickup for a Coyotes team that made some positive moves this off-season.

I’m starting to come around to the mix of forwards in Phoenix, even if the team will still need to grind out wins next season. Belanger joins another veteran addition in Ray Whitney, along with returning forwards Lee Stempniak and Wojtek Wolski in addition to holdovers such as Shane Doan, Vernon Fiddler and Radim Vrbata. Again, this isn’t a group that will overwhelm you with talent, but I think Maloney is doing a solid job considering the financial constraints he must be working under.

Blues put Berglund on LTIR, use savings to sign Gomez

Scotte Gomez
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As was the case last season, Scott Gomez accepted a professional tryout offer because he went unsigned over the summer and once again he has used that opportunity to extend his career.

The St. Louis Blues announced that they have signed Gomez to a one-year contract. They didn’t disclose the financial terms, but it’s a two-way deal that comes with a base salary of $575K at the NHL level, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford.

In order to free up the space necessary to sign him, St. Louis moved Patrik Berglund to the long-term injured reserve list. Berglund had shoulder surgery in August and isn’t expected to be available until January.

Gomez, 35, is coming off of a resurgence campaign where he recorded 34 points in 58 games on a Devils’ team that finished near the bottom of the pack offensively. The two-time Stanley Cup champion will be bringing more than a 1,000 games worth of NHL experience to St. Louis.

He’s not the only veteran forward to make the team off of a PTO as the Blues signed Scottie Upshall on Monday.

NHL key dates for the 2015-16 season

Alex Ovechkin, John Tavares
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Nov. 10 —  NHL General Managers Meeting (Toronto)

At last year’s November meetings, the GMs decided to kill the dry scrape. But these meetings usually serve as a table-setter for the rest of the season. It’s the more in-depth meetings in March where the majority of things get decided.

Nov. 27 — NHL Thanksgiving Showdown: Rangers at Bruins

The first of 12 “NHL on NBC” games in 2015-16. Click here for the full list, including the games on NBCSN.

Dec. 7-8 — NHL Board of Governors Meeting (Pebble Beach)

This is where we could find out about expansion. Will both Las Vegas and Quebec City get the nod? Only one of them? Neither of them?

Jan. 1 — Winter Classic: Canadiens at Bruins

From Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. Please don’t make any “deflated pucks” jokes. You’re better than that.

Jan. 28-Feb. 1 — All-Star Break

This year’s festivities are being held in Nashville, which is a pretty fun town we hear. Skills competition on Saturday the 30th, game on Sunday the 31st. Over/under has been set at 25 goals and 60 percent effort.

Feb. 29 — NHL trade deadline

Leap day! Click here for a list of pending unrestricted free agents, a.k.a. potential rentals.

Mar. 14-16 — NHL General Managers Meeting (Boca Raton)

As mentioned, these are the more in-depth meetings where any recommendations are typically made. Last season, the GMs recommended 3-on-3 overtime and a coach’s challenge.

Apr. 9 — Last day of the regular season

All 30 teams in action on this Saturday. Playoffs begin four days later on Wednesday. Also, the draft lottery’s date is still to be determined, but should be held sometime around here.

June 18 — Last possible day for the Stanley Cup Final

Click here for PHT’s Cup picks.

June 24-25 — NHL draft

In Buffalo this year. Click here for Central Scouting’s “players to watch” list, led by Auston Matthews.

July 1 — Free agency begins

And then it’s summer.