Author: Ryan Dadoun

Mikael Backlund

Calgary locks up RFA Mikael Backlund

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The Flames announced that they have signed Mikael Backlund to an extension.

Calgary didn’t provide didn’t provide contract details, but it’s reportedly a three-year deal worth roughly $10.7 million, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and Roger Millions.

He would have become a restricted free agent this summer after completing his two-year, $3 million contract. By inking him to a three-year deal, Calgary has also gotten his first two seasons of UFA eligibility.

The 26-year-old center is coming off of a trying campaign as he missed roughly two months due to an abdominal injury that required surgery. When he was healthy he recorded 10 goals and 27 points in 52 contests. He also averaged 17:44 minutes per game, including time in both power play and shorthanded situations.

Since being taken with the 24th overall pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, he has scored 51 goals and 128 points in 298 career NHL games.

The Flames still have a number of restricted free agents to deal with this summer, including Lance Bouma and Paul Byron.

Burish clears waivers, setting stage for buyout

Adam Burish
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There were no takers for the final season of Adam Burish’s four-year, $7.4 million contract as he went unclaimed on waivers, per Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. The San Jose Sharks are now expected to buy him out.

This has been a long time coming as the Sharks previously waived him back in November and stuck in him the AHL after he cleared. He had a goal and three points in 20 games with San Jose followed by 19 points in 54 AHL contests.

Buying him out with save the Sharks roughly $1.2 million in cap space for the 2015-16 campaign, although it will cost them about $617K for 2016-17 when he would have otherwise been off the books anyways.

The 32-year-old forward has 60 points and 554 penalty minutes in 378 career games with Chicago, Dallas, and San Jose.

Report: Leafs’ Bernier hopes to secure long-term contract

Jonathan Bernier
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If goaltender Jonathan Bernier had his way, it sounds like he would sign a long-term deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs this summer, per the Toronto Sun. That might not be what happens though.

Bernier is a restricted free agent and the Leafs have opted for salary arbitration, so he will almost certainly be back. The question is if Toronto can sign him to a longer deal before an arbitrator has to make the call for both parties.

Settling on what’s fair value for Bernier might be difficult as he’s coming off of a down season where he posted a 2.87 GAA and .912 save percentage in 58 games. Toronto completely imploded in 2014-15 and nearly every player was dragged down in the process, so those numbers should be taken with a grain of salt. It might still be enough to give the Maple Leafs pause though.

Given that Bernier’s RFA status makes his negotiations less urgent, the Maple Leafs might not address this issue until they fill their GM vacancy. That’s not expected to happen before the draft.

It’s worth noting that Bernier is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent next summer, so if the Leafs do opt for a short-term deal and he bounces it, it could end up costing Toronto, especially seeing as the franchise is currently light on alternatives between the pipes.

UFA of the Day: Justin Williams

Los Angeles Kings v Dallas Stars
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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…

Justin Williams

If you look at his regular season numbers, Williams’ career has been fine, but hardly unique. But of course, Williams isn’t known for what he does in the regular season.

He is a three-time Stanley Cup champion that’s scored 30 goals and 78 points in 115 playoff games. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2014 and has been called Mr. Game 7 for scoring seven goals and 14 points in his seven career Game 7s, per ESPN.

That has to be balanced against the fact that he scored a comparatively lukewarm 18 goals and 41 points in 81 contests in 2014-15, but certainly any team that’s been struggling to live up to expectations in the playoffs would have to be intrigued by the possibility of signing Williams on the open market.

The Pittsburgh Penguins, for example, are looking to bolster their supporting cast as they try to capture a second Stanley Cup championship during the Sidney Crosby/Evgeni Malkin era.

That’s assuming of course that he doesn’t re-sign with the Kings first. Los Angeles doesn’t appear to have the cap space at the moment to re-sign him, although depending on what happens with Mike Richards in terms of a possible trade or buyout, that could change.

“At this point, I love L.A. If I re-sign here, great. I’ll be part of a great team moving forward,” Williams told Sportsnet.

“But if not, I’m going to try to restart my career somewhere else, turn the page and try to win as many hockey games as I can. I’m at a point in my career where it’s not all about money, it’s about winning for me.”

Click here for more UFAs.

Report: ‘No clear movement’ towards Kings trading Richards

Mike Richards
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The Los Angeles Kings have reportedly been shopping Mike Richards after his role with the team in 2014-15 declined to the point where he spent some time in the minors. The belief was that the Kings would have to include another asset to make any trade work, which isn’t surprising given that Richards has already previously cleared waivers, but either way it looks like a trade might not be in the cards.

Per LA Kings Insider:

I’m getting the strong feeling, through multiple channels, that there hasn’t been any clear movement, and no viable suitors have stepped forward at this time. Similar to the attempt to move the center near the trading deadline, there are simply no proposals that make any sense for the Kings as of this writing. Could that change? Sure, it could change. But don’t expect Richards back next year. He’s likely to be moved, either through a trade (which doesn’t appear to be materializing at this point), or via buy-out.

Even if Los Angeles were to include another asset in an effort to entice teams, Richards’ $5.75 million annual cap hit through 2019-20 would be a tough pill to swallow. Additionally, if he retires before the end of his contract, then there would be cap recapture penalties to consider.

Buying out Richards would save Los Angeles a little over $4.5 million in cap space for the 2015-16 campaign, but the Kings would be incurring a cap penalty from his buyout through 2024-25. At its height that penalty would climb to roughly $4.2 million for 2018-19 and 2019-20 before it drops to about $1.5 million annually for five seasons.

Report:

Lombardi: Mike Richards buyout ‘a possibility’