Zach Parise, Ryan Suter

Report: NHL looks to change free agent start date to July 10


ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that the NHL hopes to move the first day of free agency back from July 1 to July 10.

As LeBrun points out, the league believes that holding the event on July 1 (a Canadian holiday that’s also very close to the Fourth of July) robs the NHL of valuable offseason headlines.

On the other hand, it would take away more than a week of free agent negotiations from the players, as LeBrun discusses:

My suspicion is that the NHLPA would likely not look kindly on moving the start of free agency 10 days into July. Shortening the window for any of its free-agent members to find work isn’t that appealing to the union. At least it hasn’t been in the past when the league has brought up the notion.

Big free agents have developed a habit of waiting until after July 1 to sign whopping deals.

Ryan Suter and Zach Parise signed on July 4 this year. Brad Richards waited until the day after free agency kicked off in 2011 while Ilya Kovalchuk’s saga took most of the 2010 summer.

Would you rather the free agent frenzy move to July 10 or stay on its current, holiday-centric date?

Habs claim Byron off waivers from Flames

Paul Byron
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Montreal added some forward depth on Tuesday, acquiring diminutive forward Paul Byron off waivers from Calgary.

Byron, 26, is a veteran of nearly 150 career NHL games, most coming with the Flames. Despite fairly solid production over the last two years — 40 points in 104 games — he was exposed to waivers on Monday, along with fellow forward Mason Raymond.

(Calgary does have a logjam of players at forward, hence parting ways with Byron and Raymond.)

Byron can play both wing and center but, at 5-foot-7, 153 pounds, is one of the most undersized skaters in the league. Thankfully for him, Montreal has an affinity for undersized forwards, with the likes of Brendan Gallagher (5-foot-9, 184 pounds) and David Desharnais (5-foot-7, 174 pounds) already on the active roster.

Byron could also fill Zack Kassian‘s roster spot. Kassian is currently suspended without pay while undergoing Stage 2 of the NHL’s Substance Abuse program.

Isles claim goalie Berube off waivers

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Jaroslav Halak
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The New York Islanders have claimed goalie Jean-Francois Berube off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings, the club announced today.

Berube won the Calder Cup last season with AHL Manchester, but the 24-year-old has yet to appear in an NHL game.

That the Isles claimed Berube could be evidence that Jaroslav Halak will not be ready to start the season after all.

If that’s the case, Berube would back up Thomas Greiss, with Stephon Williams expected to go to the AHL.

The Isles open their regular season Friday at home versus the Blackhawks, then play the next day in Chicago.