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2010 NHL Free Agency: No news on Ilya Kovalchuk just yet

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kovalchukjuly1.jpgWe are now six hours into the 2010 NHL free agency period and still nothing concrete on Ilya Kovalchuk — the supposed top free agent this summer.

All day long it’s looked like the Los Angeles Kings were the frontrunners on Kovalchuk, but over the past few hours things have slowed down a bit on the Kovalchuk to LA talk. Right now the Kings are working on trading for a defensemen after missing out on the top free agents, and now it seems their focus isn’t completely on Kovalchuk.

While there’s a number of teams in on the Kovalchuk negotiations, including the New Jersey Devils, even now it seems like the Kings are still the favorite destination for the Russian sniper. Yet the rush of rumors and whispers about the contract talks have certainly slowed, as Kovalchuk waits for the perfect deal to come along.

Word is he’s waiting on Los Angeles to make the offer he wants, although as of now their focus is on improving the defense.

2010 NHL Free Agency: Buffalo Sabres sign D Jordan Leopold

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Leopold.jpgThe Buffalo Sabres lost two defensemen via free agency, but managed to fill that void by signing free agent defenseman Jordan Leopold — who finished last season with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The financial terms haven’t been disclosed just yet, but it’s a three-year contract for another one of the more underrated defensemen on the market as more and more blueliners get big deals today.

Leopold has been a trade deadline piece the past two years, first going from Calgary to Florida in 2009, then heading from Florida to Pittsburgh this past spring.

While losing Lydman and Tallinder hurts, gaining Leopold should help the transition just a bit.

2010 NHL Free Agency: Chicago Blackhawks trade Andrew Ladd to Atlanta

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Thumbnail image for laddcelebrates.jpgThe Chicago Blackhawks continue to make moves in an effort to free up cap space, as they trade RFA Andrew Ladd to the Atlanta Thrashers in exchange for a draft pick and defensive prospect Ivan Vishnevskiy.

Ladd was given a qualifying offer by the Hawks late last week, but they just couldn’t afford to keep him given how tight their salary cap space has become.

In exchange, they acquire what should be a decent draft pick and what was once a promising prospect in Vishnevskiy.

As of right now, the Hawks have about $55 million locked up in 13 players, but it’s important to remember that thanks to player bonuses going onto next year’s cap they aren’t operating with the same high cap as everyone else.

More moves will have to be made. As of right now, the Hawks have lost several pieces of the depth that made them so great on their Stanley Cup run. This was expected however, especially after the moves Dale Tallon made last summer.

It’s a good thing they won the Cup when they did.

2010 NHL Free Agency: Atlanta Thrashers sign G Chris Mason

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Mason1.jpgChris Mason turned down a big contract with the St. Louis Blues, who then traded for Jaroslav Halak. Mason entered a crowded goaltending market and had to settle for a very cheap deal with the Atlanta Thrashers.

Mason signed a two-year contract with the Thrashers, worth $1.6 million for the first season and $2.1 million the second. This is a great deal for Atlanta, who get a top end goaltender for under $2 million per year, especially after it seems that they would be unable keep Johan Hedberg.

Once again, you wonder where this leaves Marty Turco and Evgeni Nabokov. At this rate, there’s no way that either goaltender makes more than $3-4 million next season and now there seems to be a sudden dearth of starting jobs available.

2010 NHL Free Agency: Dan Hamhuis signs with Vancouver Canucks

Hamhuis.jpgThe Vancouver Canucks are committed to improving their defensive corps this season and with several defensemen set to become UFA’s next summer, they are now set for the next few seasons. After acquiring Keith Ballard from the Florida Panthers, the Canucks have now won the Dan Hamhuis sweepstakes.

The Canucks were the frontrunners for Hamhuis for most of the day, however several teams jumped in on the talks and caused his price to raise just a bit.

Hamhuis signs a six-year contract worth $4.5 million per season, which is somewhat reasonable considering some of the contracts being thrown about today. The length is a bit interesting, but at $4.5 million that’s right in line with the market that’s been created today.

There’s also some thoughts that Hamhuis took a bit of a discount to go to Vancouver, where he’ll be the top defenseman and be regarded as a cornerstone for the franchise moving forward.