Author: Jason Brough

Bowman vows to keep Saad in Chicago ‘for years to come’

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Don’t bother putting an offer sheet in front of Brandon Saad.

That’s the message Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has been sending, with a little help from the media, to his counterparts around the league.

Moments after the ‘Hawks won the Stanley Cup on Monday, Bowman told reporters: “I just talked to [Saad] right after we won. We gave a hug and I said, ‘This is the first of many; we’re going to win a lot together.’ He gave me a big hug and said, ‘Let’s go.’ So, no, he’s going to be here. I don’t think he would want to leave after this scene here.”

Today, Bowman reiterated that message, all but guaranteeing he’d re-sign the 22-year-old pending restricted free agent who scored so many big goals for the ‘Hawks during these past playoffs:

While Saad wasn’t quite as certain as his GM, he clearly does want to be back:

In 2010, the ‘Hawks matched the four-year, $14 million offer sheet that defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson signed with San Jose. Chicago had the option to receive the Sharks’ first- and third-round draft picks in the 2011 draft as compensation. The decision to match ultimately led to the departure of free-agent goalie Antti Niemi (to San Jose, interestingly).

If the Blackhawks do end up signing Saad, they’ll likely need to trade at least one of their veteran forwards. Patrick Sharp and Bryan Bickell have each had their names come up in speculation.

It’s also not clear which, if any, pending unrestricted free agents will be back. Johnny Oduya, Antoine Vermette, Brad Richards, Andrew Desjardins and Michal Rozsival are all without contracts for next season.

Related: Let’s all remember why offer sheets are rarely signed

Reilly rules out Blue Jackets, who did ‘everything we could possibly do’

2014 NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Championship - Semifinals
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A couple of weeks ago, Mike Reilly said he was “still huge on Columbus.”

But apparently he was never “huge” enough to actually sign there. According to the Columbus Dispatch, the 21-year-old defenseman has ruled out inking a deal with the Blue Jackets.

From the newspaper:

Reilly’s agent, Pat Brisson, informed the Blue Jackets of the decision shortly after noon today.

“We did everything we could possibly do,” Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen told The Dispatch today. “From player development since we drafted him, to recruiting him — or whatever you would call it — over the last few months … it wasn’t enough.

The Jackets drafted Reilly 98th overall in 2011, before the Shattuck St. Mary’s product spent one year in the BCHL and three more at the University of Minnesota.

Reilly has reportedly narrowed his list to two or three teams. The Blackhawks and Wild are considered the favorites to sign the free agent.

Update:

Coyotes fire back at City of Glendale

Andrew Barroway
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The war of words between the Arizona Coyotes and the City of Glendale shows no sign of a ceasefire.

In response to yesterday’s statement from the city that it won’t fight its legal case through the media, Coyotes president, CEO & co-owner Anthony LeBlanc (via FOX Sports Arizona’s Craig Morgan) had this to say:

“I think the only line that was missing in their statement was after they vowed they wouldn’t be negotiating via the media, they should have added: ‘Now let us attempt to negotiate via the media.’ Something about a pot and a kettle comes to mind.”

Frankly, all this sniping is not the best look for either side. But hey, it’s good for page views. So thanks, we suppose.

The Coyotes have expressed confidence that the city’s case to cancel its lease with the hockey club will not hold up in court.

The city, meanwhile, has maintained that important details of its argument have yet to be revealed to the public. Phoenix Business Journal has more on that, in case you somehow haven’t got your fill of this story.

Related: City of Glendale to move forward with plans to end Coyotes arena agreement

If the Avs trade O’Reilly, they need to hit a home run

Ryan O'Reilly
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It’s not often that a talented 24-year-old center is expected to be traded. But that’s the case with Colorado’s Ryan O’Reilly, whose tenure with the Avalanche has been marked by contentious contract negotiations with the club.

Last summer, O’Reilly signed a two-year, $12 million deal that left the player a pending unrestricted free agent after 2015-16. If the Avs can’t re-sign him to an extension, they really have no other choice but to trade him, lest they lose him for nothing a la Paul Stastny.

Simply put, if the Avs do trade O’Reilly, they cannot afford to screw it up. Assuming Evgeni Malkin isn’t actually for sale, O’Reilly could well be the most valuable player on the offseason trade market. He’s three years younger than Toronto’s Phil Kessel, and centers are generally in higher demand than wingers.

What should be interesting to see is how much O’Reilly controls the process. After all, no team is going to pay a huge price to get a young player without some semblance of confidence that the player can be re-signed. (Remember when Garth Snow gambled on Thomas Vanek and lost?)

On top of that, there aren’t exactly a ton of teams with the assets to give the Avs what they need. Like, say, a good young defenseman.

So, for the Avs to trade O’Reilly, they’ll need to find a team that:

— Has confidence it can re-sign him;
— Has the cap space, both now and in the future;
— Has the right assets;
— Is willing to pay a big price.

Feel free to add your trade proposals in the comments section.

How ’bout a deal with the Leafs involving Jake Gardiner?

UFA of the Day: Martin St. Louis

New York Rangers v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game Four
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Check PHT every day until June 30 for a new pending unrestricted free agent of the day. Today’s UFA of the Day is…

Martin St. Louis

For the record, St. Louis is pondering retirement. He turns 40 tomorrow, and when the Rangers were eliminated, he said he needed time to “reflect” before making a decision.

If he does decide to keep playing, there will be demand for his services. Perhaps not from the cap-challenged Rangers, but even as one of the NHL’s oldest players, the undersized forward managed to score 21 goals with 31 assists in 2014-15. He can still contribute.

Of course, the biggest factor may not be which teams are interested, but rather, where St. Louis is willing to play. When he famously (infamously, if you’re a Lightning fan) forced his way out of Tampa Bay, he said, “It’s not like I’ve played a ton of playoff hockey in the last little while, and as you get older you want to get more kicks at the can.”

So, if he does sign somewhere, will it need to be with a Stanley Cup contender? Because if it does, that may eliminate a team like New Jersey, which has been cited as a potential landing spot due to its proximity to New York.

It’s possible St. Louis got his fill of kicks at the can with the Rangers. But if he didn’t, and assuming he wants to stay in the New York area for family reasons, there’ll be a pretty good team in Brooklyn next season. Just to throw that out there.

Click here for more UFAs.