Brenden Morrow

Listing five noteworthy September UFAs


Teemu Selanne has decided to stick around for one more season, Mikhail Grabovski has signed with the Washington Capitals, and it looks like Tomas Kaberle will play in the KHL. Even still, there are quite a few unrestricted free agents out there.

The reduced salary cap for the 2013-14 campaign has forced teams to make tough choices, but a lot of the players available now could potentially be had for bargain bin prices.

With that in mind, here are five noteworthy players that are still looking for work:

1) Ilya Bryzgalov — Obviously, his two season tenure with the Flyers left plenty to be desired, but he was also a dominant goaltender for years with the Phoenix Coyotes. At the age of 33, a comeback is certainly possible, especially if he can find work in a smaller market after struggling to adapt to life in Philadelphia. Finding a team looking for goaltending at this point is difficult, but if any netminder suffers a major injury during the preseason, Bryzgalov might get a phone call.

2) Brenden Morrow — Morrow isn’t an elite player offensively, but he is capable of playing a physical game and being a leader in the lockerroom. He’s 34 years old, so it’s reasonable to believe that he has some good hockey left in him. He’s the type of player that might have already gotten a job by now in a more free agent friendly market, but it would still be surprising if he ends up being unemployed when the regular season starts.

3) Damien Brunner — Even if the salary cap hadn’t decline significantly, teams would probably still be a bit unsure as to how to approach Brunner. He’s a 27 year old with just one shortened season of North American hockey under his belt. He was streaky during his time with the Detroit Red Wings, although when the dust settled he had an appealing 12 goals and 26 points in 44 games. Brunner reportedly was seeking a 2-3 year deal from Detroit worth $3 -3.5 million annually. That was too rich for the Red Wings, but he might find more suitors willing to take a chance on him if he’s willing to ink a one-year contract.

4) Ryan Whitney — In recent years, Whitney has suffered through more than his fair share of injuries. However, he had trouble getting playing time with the Edmonton Oilers last season when he was healthy and ended up spending some time in the press box. There was a time when Whitney was one of the better offensive defensemen in the game and at the age of 30, a comeback can’t be ruled out, but first he needs to find a team willing to give him an opportunity.

5) Vinny Prospal — Prospal will turn 39 before the 2013-14 campaign is over, but he’s shown that he’s still capable of producing at the NHL level. He led the offensively anemic Columbus Blue Jackets with 30 points in 48 games last season. He wanted to re-sign with the Blue Jackets, but it looks like the team had other plans. If he can’t find a suitor before the start of the season, then it could be the end of his 1,108 game NHL career.

Of course, this is just a sampling of the highlights and shouldn’t be regarded as a thorough list. For example, we didn’t even touch on Tim Thomas.

Report: Kings, Richards nearing settlement

Mike Richards
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The Los Angeles Kings and Mike Richards may be nearing a settlement in their dispute over Richards’ terminated contract, TSN’s Bob McKenzie is reporting.

You can read the report for all the details, but we’re sure curious about this part:

If a settlement is reached, there’s no word yet on what salary cap penalties the Kings would still face. There’s bound to be something, but not likely as onerous as the full value of Richards’ contract, which carries with it a cap hit of $5.75 million. If there’s a settlement, Richards would undoubtedly become a free agent though there’s no telling at this point what monies he would be entitled to from the Kings in a settlement.

The issue here is precedent, and what this case could set. The NHL and NHLPA can’t allow teams to escape onerous contracts through a back door, and many are adamant that that’s what the Kings were attempting to do in Richards’ case.

Bettman to players: Don’t screw up ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ with drugs

Gary Bettman
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The NHL wants to take an educational approach — not a punitive one — to deter its players from using illicit drugs like cocaine.

“My interest is not to go around punishing people,” Bettman told Sportsnet today.

“My interest is getting players to understand the consequences of doing something that could jeopardize this great, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that they’ve been given, to play in the NHL.”

While some players have expressed surprise at hearing that cocaine use is growing, the anecdotal evidence of substance abuse has been very much in the news, from Jarret Stoll‘s arrest to Mike Richards’ arrest to, more recently, Zack Kassian‘s placement in the NHL/NHLPA’s treatment program.

“We don’t have the unilateral right to do things here. We need the consent of the Players’ Association,” Bettman said. “It’s not about punishment. It’s about making sure we get it to stop.”

Related: Cocaine in the NHL: A concern, but not a crisis?