Buffalo Sabres v Montreal Canadiens

P.K. Subban and other free agents who need new deals


Budding defensive star P.K. Subban was quick to react to the lockout, but now he must bite his nails about another intense negotiation process: his own.

The restricted free agent needs a new contract before taking part in a hasty training camp in advance of an abbreviated season. He admitted to the Montreal Gazette’s Dave Stubbs that the Montreal Canadiens likely hold the leverage.

“The ball’s not in my court, it never has been,” Subban said. “(The ball’s) in the court of the franchise that’s been standing for 100-plus years. They must figure out whether they see me as a player who’s part of their future or not. I hope they do.”

That sounds like some tough talk, yet the 23-year-old blueliner also said all the right things about the team and the city.

“I love Montreal and I want to continue to grow my career there and become the player they need me to be to eventually hoist the Stanley Cup, which I hope happens sooner than later,” Subban said.

Participating in training camp probably wouldn’t hurt matters.

Subban isn’t alone, though. Here are some prominent players who need new deals, beginning with restricted free agents like Subban:

Notable RFAs without contracts (more here):

Jamie Benn
Ryan O’Reilly
Michael Del Zotto
Dmitry Kulikov
Cody Franson
Nick Palmieri

(Note: O’Reilly signed a two-year deal in the KHL during the lockout, but his potential overseas team said they wouldn’t stand in the way of an NHL contract.)

Notable unrestricted free agents (more here):

Tomas Holmstrom
Mike Knuble
Jason Arnott
Marco Sturm
Mike Commodore
Colin White
Jason Blake
Brian Rolston
Andrew Brunette
Daymond Langkow
Eric Fehr

(Some of these players might retire; Holmstrom seemed undecided when last asked.)

Goalie nods: Niemi expected for Stars against Penguins

Antti Niemi, Jonathan Toews
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Talk about getting thrown into the fire.

Antti Niemi is expected to be the starting goalie tonight in Dallas when his Stars host Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Niemi has, not surprisingly, been given the assignment over Kari Lehtonen, the latter of whom struggled badly during the preseason, allowing 15 goals on 84 shots.

Not that Niemi was razor sharp himself. He allowed eight goals on 65 shots, for a save percentage of .877.

Considering the Stars have a combined $10.4 million in cap space tied up in those two veteran netminders, it’s no wonder the number-one question facing the club is whether the goaltending has indeed been fixed.

We’ll start to find out tonight.

Marc-Andre Fleury will undoubtedly be in goal for Pittsburgh, though that hasn’t been confirmed.


Craig Anderson, the goalie the Senators decided to keep, versus Robin Lehner, the one they traded to the Sabres.

Cam Ward will start for Carolina when the Hurricanes visit the Predators, who will obviously go with Pekka Rinne. The consensus is that Eddie Lack will eventually supplant Ward as Carolina’s starter, but that apparently hasn’t happened yet.

Brian Elliott goes for the Blues versus Cam Talbot for the Oilers. Elliott was excellent in the preseason, stopping all but two of the 57 shots he faced, while Jake Allen allowed six goals on 60 shots.

Steve Mason for the Flyers versus Ben Bishop for the Lightning.

Ondrej Pavelec for Winnipeg versus Tuukka Rask for Boston.

Devan Dubnyk likely for the Wild versus Semyon Varlamov for the Avs.

Flyers want to prove doubters wrong

Jakub Voracek, Claude Giroux
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Jakub Voracek totally understands why nobody’s expecting much from the Philadelphia Flyers. When a team finishes 14 points out of the playoffs the year before, that’s typically going to be the case.

“We weren’t good enough last year, let’s face it,” Voracek told CSN Philly. 

So, no, it doesn’t upset him that the Flyers aren’t considered among the Stanley Cup favorites.

That being said, “it makes you feel you want to prove them wrong.”

The Flyers get going tonight with a tough game against the Lightning in Tampa Bay. They also play Saturday in Florida against the Panthers, before a rematch with the Panthers Monday in Philadelphia.

“My biggest concern would be getting off to a good start,” GM Ron Hextall said. “That’s one thing that we need to do.”

That’s something they didn’t do last year. In fact, they won just once in their first six games. By the end of November, they were 8-12-3 and in a big hole — one that proved too deep to climb out of.

Related: Flyers to start season with seven defensemen