All week leading up to July 1, we’ll be profiling unrestricted free agents and speculating where they might end up.
Adrian Aucoin (D)
2011-12 cap hit: $2 million
Aucoin’s numbers have been going downhill since 2007-08, but they really plummeted last season — chronologically, his point totals have gone from 35 to 34 to 28 to 22 to just nine in 2011-12.
Not exactly what you’d call an ideal “contract year,” though he deserves some leeway because of injuries.
While his box score numbers keep declining, he’s still averaging more than 20 minutes per game on one of the best defensive teams in the NHL. (I’m not a big fan of plus/minus, but his agent would be wise to point to his +32 rating between the past two seasons.)
As for Aucoin’s future, there’s talk of him possibly retiring. That’s one option, and to be honest there aren’t many others if Phoenix doesn’t want him back. Perhaps with all the upheaval — Keith Yandle, Ray Whitney and Shane Doan could all be gone after this summer — the Coyotes might want to keep the aging, veteran presence around for another year.
If not, he could get a modest offer from a team looking for blueline depth, though that will likely require a downgrade from his $2 million salary.
More UFA spotlights
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.