Author: Joe Yerdon

Bryan Little, Blake Wheeler

Jets GM focused on re-signing key three RFAs

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Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is spending his next two weeks looking to re-sign three key players ahead of arbitration.

Forwards Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler as well as defenseman Zach Bogosian could all wind up taking the team to an arbitrator but as Cheveldayoff tells Tim Campbell of the Winnipeg Free Press, he wants to make sure it doesn’t go that far.

“Our focus is on trying to come to deals with all of these players,” Cheveldayoff said. “We’ve been fortunate to come to deals with two of them (Eric Tangradi and Paul Postma, who also filed). We’re continuing talking.”

While they did take care of business with those two, the deals they’ll have to work out with the other three will be far more substantial. After all, Wheeler and Little are top-line players and Bogosian is a top-pair defenseman. These deals won’t come cheap.

As for the arbitration schedule, Little’s hearing would be up first on Wednesday, Wheeler on July 29, and Bogosian on August 2. Look at those as the default deadline for each player.

Flyers sign Couturier to two-year, $3.5 million extension

Sean Couturier

The Flyers announced they’ve signed forward Sean Couturier to a two-year extension worth $3.5 million with a very reasonable $1.75 million cap hit.

Couturier, 20, had one more year left on his entry-level deal with the team and rather than deal with possibly cranky negotiations next summer, the two sides came together now to get things done.

After a largely successful rookie season, Couturier came back to earth a bit last year with just four goals and 11 assists. As Philly’s third line center he’s found a niche as a defensive match-up player but while with Adirondack of the AHL during the lockout, he averaged nearly a point a game (28 points in 31 games). The Flyers would like to see the offense and defense balance out moving ahead.

Getting a deal done like this now helps sort of split the difference and gives him two more years to show he’s ready to cash in big.

Report: Gagner wants $5.5 million in arbitration from Oilers

Sam Gagner, Boyd Gordon

Sam Gagner is looking to cash in on arbitration in a big way.

TSN’s Darren Dreger reports the Oilers center is seeking $5.5 million from the Oilers should the two sides wind up in front of an arbitrator. CBC’s Elliotte Friedman reports the Oilers are seeking $3.5 million. Gagner’s hearing is scheduled for Monday.

Before you go bonkers over a guy who has never cracked 50 points in a season asking for so much money, just know it’s all part of the process. Arbitration is like exaggerated negotiating and Gagner is setting his target higher than he’s likely worth.

That said, he’s still just 23 years-old so his prime seasons may be about to begin. He’s coming off a one-year deal that paid $3.2 million and is obviously seeking a raise. If an arbitrator looks at things like King Solomon, a one-year deal of $4.3 million could wind up being what happens.

In case you’re wondering, if Gagner got what he’s asking for that wouldn’t be close to a record. Nashville’s Shea Weber won a $7.5 million decision just two summers ago.

Sharks, Coyotes to travel most miles next season

Patrick Marleau, Mike Smith

The release of the NHL schedule is an exciting day for fans, but it’s one where teams can look ahead to see how many miles they’ll be logging on the road. For some teams, that means spending a bit more time in airports than others.

Dirk Hoag of On The Forecheck released his annual report on how many miles each team will travel for the upcoming season and if you’re a Sharks player you might want to look away.

San Jose will travel the most of any team next year logging 57,612 miles. Phoenix was second with 52,633 and Colorado third with 49,007. For a frame of reference, the league average this year is 41,390.

Teams that don’t get to complain? Look no further than the tri-state area as the New York Rangers (29,839) and New York Islanders (29,933) are the only two teams with fewer than 30,000 miles to travel.

As for the teams who moved East, Detroit and Columbus are seeing a huge break in travel. The Red Wings will travel over 7,500 fewer miles this season while the Blue Jackets have over 6,200 fewer. Less time spent in airports is a great thing for any team.

As for back-to-back sets of games, New Jersey (22) and Carolina (20) can file their complaints as they’ve got the most in the league while Colorado, San Jose, and Winnipeg all have just 10 sets of back-to-back games.

Flames sign 2012 second-rounder Sieloff

Patrick Sieloff

Calgary ensured themselves of having some brand of defensive toughness in the future.

The Flames inked 2012 second-round pick, defenseman Patrick Sieloff, to his three-year entry-level deal. At 6’1″ 200 pounds, he’s already a strong, physical player for the Windsor Spitfires in the OHL and that’s something that appeals to GM Jay Feaster.

“Sieloff is an ‘old school’ style player and we welcome the edge he brings to his game,” he said. “We are very pleased to have him signed and look forward to seeing him in Penticton and at training camp.”

If his name sounds a little familiar to you perhaps it’s from his play for Team USA during their gold medal run at the 2013 World Junior Championships. In 45 games for Windsor, he had three goals and eight assists with 85 penalty minutes. A player with his kind of edge on the blue line might be useful in Calgary one day.