Every day until June 30, we’ll write about a pending unrestricted free agent. Today’s UFA of the Day is…
He just turned 37 years old, but he can still contribute. The veteran of over 1,000 NHL games had six goals and 25 assists in 82 games last season, and his puck-moving ability is in high demand.
It’s unlikely he’ll be back in Florida — not after the Panthers gave the younger Keith Yandle a five-year deal worth almost $45 million.
It’s since been reported he has “serious interest” in returning to Chicago, his last stop before being traded to Florida. But even if that’s true, the Blackhawks are going to have enough trouble re-signing Andrew Shaw. Fitting Campbell under the $73 million salary cap would take some real creativity from GM Stan Bowman.
If not Chicago, what about a return to Buffalo? The Sabres are in the market for a left-shot d-man, although they’d prefer a young one, and Campbell isn’t that.
Then what about the Boston Bruins? They’re desperate to add a “transitional” defenseman, and now Yandle and Alex Goligoski are off the board. Perhaps the B’s would prefer a younger, right-shooting option like Kevin Shattenkirk, but that would cost them significantly more than money.
Whichever teams end up pursuing Campbell — and there will probably be a few — his age will be a factor in negotiations. Of the 174 defensemen that played at least 50 NHL games in 2015-16, only seven of them were older than he was. And that short list will get even shorter next year.
To be fair, Campbell has been remarkably durable; the last game he missed was all the way back in 2011. He’s not the most physical defender, so that helps him stay healthy. But he’s human, and with age comes decline. A two-year deal might work out okay. Anything more could be pushing it.
Click here for all our 2016 UFA profiles.
You’d think they’d appreciate the additional time to make such a big decision.
You’d think they’d prefer it to the old method, where they were often given mere minutes to choose where they were going to spend the next few years of their lives.
But according to agent Allen Walsh, the six-day interview period for unrestricted free agents is actually a bad thing for players.
“Now there’s no time pressure on the teams to make those decisions,” Walsh told TSN 690 radio, per Today’s Slapshot. “They start and they’ve got five days. By June 28th, they’re either looking good on Plan A, or they’ve gone to Plan B and they’re exploring Plan C. But by the time they mosey on down to July 1, everything is pretty much set.
“With that 10 minutes or five minutes being under the gun to make a decision, having three or four teams on hold with the lights flashing. And you’re talking to one, and you put him on hold and go to the next one, and you put him on hold and go to the next one.
“And it’s like, ‘Hey, I’ve got three teams on hold. We’re making a decision in the next 30 seconds. What’s your number? What’s your best number?’And being able to do that is gone, and it gives teams a tremendous advantage over the players that impacts, in my opinion, dramatically how free agency plays out on July 1.”
It’s an interesting perspective, and last year’s July 1 was noted for the restraint that general managers showed.
This year’s interview period starts Saturday.
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If the NHL is going to succeed in Las Vegas, it won’t be with half of T-Mobile Arena filled with fans of the visiting team.
“We are going to get our local residents to be our supporters,” the expansion franchise’s owner, Bill Foley, told the Las Vegas Sun. “They are the ones who are going to come to watch us play hockey.”
Foley had previously joked to ESPN, “I don’t want to see everyone in the stands with a Canucks jersey on. I’m not trying to promote the Red Wings.”
Now, that doesn’t mean there won’t be a strong contingent of opposition fans at a lot of games. Las Vegas is a tourism mecca. Last year, over 40 million visited.
But prior to yesterday’s big announcement, Las Vegas was also the largest market in the United States without a major-league team. In terms of population, its metropolitan area is about the same size of Columbus, a bit bigger than Nashville.
“What hockey will do for Las Vegas is give it an identity that is unto itself, as opposed to the Strip,” said Foley, per Sportsnet. “Because really the local residents aren’t about the Strip.”
The question now is whether the locals are about the NHL.
A few weeks ago, Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos predicted the Stanley Cup Final would be the last series for Evgeni Malkin in a Pittsburgh Penguins uniform.
The prediction got a fair bit of attention at the time, but then everyone’s focus turned to the games. Malkin had a frustrating start against the Sharks, failing to register a point in the first three contests, but he came up big in Game 4 and Pittsburgh went on to win in six.
In the end, it was the Penguins’ ability to deploy Sidney Crosby on one line, Malkin on another, and Phil Kessel on still another that gave their opponents so much trouble. Malkin finished with six goals and 12 assists in 23 playoff games. He didn’t win the Conn Smythe like he did in 2009, but he was a major contributor all the same.
Hence, the disbelief after Newsday’s Steve Zipay tweeted the following today:
So according to what Zipay was hearing, not only might the Penguins trade their Russian superstar with the $9.5 million cap hit, they might trade him to one of the most cap-strapped teams in the NHL?
It all seemed a tad far-fetched.
Enter the Chicago Tribune’s Chris Hine to calm things down, sort of:
So for now, we’ll leave it at that. Just one of the many crazy possibilities that could happen, but probably won’t. (Unless it does!)
Malkin, 29, is signed through 2021-22. He also has a no-movement clause, according to generalfanager.com.
Vincent Lecavalier — after 1,212 NHL games and one Stanley Cup title — has retired.
“As I publicly announced at the time I was traded to the Los Angeles Kings, the 2015/16 season would be my last in the NHL,” the 36-year-old said in a statement. “I recently informed the Kings that I am stepping away from the game and will no longer play professional hockey. It is my desire and intention to retire.”
The Tampa Bay Lightning made Lecavalier the first overall pick in 1998. He won the Cup with them in 2004. He added a Rocket Richard Trophy in 2007 when he led the NHL with 52 goals.
But his production started to wane as he got into his late 20s, to the point he was left off Team Canada’s 2010 Olympic squad. In the summer of 2013, his contract was bought out by the Lightning. He then signed with the Flyers, intending to play for head coach Peter Laviolette, only for Laviolette to be fired three games into the 2013-14 season. It was not a good match between Lecavalier and the new coach, Craig Berube.
The Kings acquired Lecavalier, along with defenseman Luke Schenn, in January. They made the trade with the understanding that Lecavalier would retire this summer so that they would not be stuck with his contract, which prior to its termination ran through 2017-18 for a cap hit of $4.5 million.
“Hockey has provided me so much in my lifetime but requires an incredible commitment,” said Lecavalier. “It is now time for me to devote more time to my family.”