Carolina Hurricanes

Report: Kopitar, Kings in ‘early stages of negotiations’ for extension

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Kings center Anze Kopitar is “in the early stages of negotiations for what will probably be a lengthy contract extension,” reports the Los Angeles Times.

Kopitar, along with Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos, headline the top pending unrestricted free agents of next summer. Also in that group are Eric Staal, Dustin Byfuglien, Ryan Kesler, Jakub Voracek, Brent Seabrook and Milan Lucic.

For the Kings, if Kopitar re-signs, it’ll be another long-term contract on the books. Los Angeles currently has seven players locked up through at least 2019-20.

Kopitar, 27, will almost certainly become the Kings’ highest cap hit. At present, that belongs to Drew Doughty, at $7 million through 2018-19.

Related: Toews, Bergeron, Kopitar are the Selke Trophy finalists

Report: Semin looking for a one-year deal, not interested in KHL

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Less than a week after being bought out by the Carolina Hurricanes, Alex Semin is looking to prove he still belongs in the NHL.

According to Igor Eronko of Sport-express.ru, Semin is looking for a one-year deal for next season. The 31-year-old isn’t considering a move to the KHL for the 2015-16 season.

Semin scored a career-low six goals and 19 points in 57 games with the Canes last season.

During the 2012-13 lockout Semin played 20 games with Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod of the KHL scoring seven goals and 10 assists.

Carolina placed Semin on unconditional waivers last Tuesday and bought him out. He will cost the Canes $2.3 million against the cap until 2020-21.

Report: Discuss: Where’s the best fit for Alex Semin?

Discuss: Where’s the best fit for Alex Semin?

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Alex Semin isn’t the only NHLer who’s been accused of wasting his God-given talent.

Two others — Phil Kessel and Zack Kassian — were traded yesterday. The latter vowed today to figure out in Montreal.

But Semin remains unsigned. Earlier this week, he was bought out by the Hurricanes, whose GM proceeded to say of the 31-year-old winger: “He did not have that high compete level, for whatever reason.”

He didn’t score many goals either. Just six of them in 57 games last season, while seeing his ice time fall to an average of 15:55, the lowest since his rookie campaign over a decade ago.

In 2009-10, Semin scored 40 goals for the Capitals. He has 238 tallies in 638 career NHL games.

Hence, his agent’s claim that there was immediate interest in his client.

For a cheap, short-term prove-it deal, signing Semin has the potential to pay off.

Maybe he joins a contending team, unlike Carolina, and rediscovers his enthusiasm.

Maybe he has a little more puck luck. His shooting percentage dipped to 6.5 percent last season, whereas his career rate is almost double that (12.8).

Maybe he’s a complete bust and at least he was cheap.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are still looking for a winger. Imagine Semin and Phil Kessel on the same team with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin?

The Florida Panthers could use a scoring winger, though there may be a concern about Semin’s attitude around all those talented young players.

The Devils need to score more.

Any other teams come to mind?

Shots fired! ‘Canes owner Karmanos rips into Jim Rutherford (Updated)

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Well, this is interesting.

Speaking with Raleigh-area media on Wednesday, Carolina owner and recent Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Peter Karmanos took several shots at Pittsburgh GM Jim Rutherford — the same Jim Rutherford that worked under Karmanos for 20 years as ‘Canes GM.

Per the Post-Gazette, the shots fired included:

• A stinging criticism of Rutherford’s cap and budget management, by way of heaping praise on Rutherford’s replacement, current Carolina GM Ron Francis.

“Ron is far more inclusive, so he’s asking a lot of questions and I give him my opinion. … He’s far more astute on the financial end of the game. Jim liked to talk about the fact that we’re a ‘budget team.’ I’m not sure what that ever meant. Every team has a budget. That means we had a budget until Jim needed a player, then I’d say, ‘OK,’ and we had a different budget.

“Ronnie is a no-nonsense guy when it comes to those kinds of contracts. He’s not worried that he might get criticized if his team doesn’t do as well as people think it should. So he doesn’t panic when it comes to signing players or worrying about that type of thing.”

More: Pens’ Rutherford to columnist: ‘You’re a (expletive) jerk’

• A reference to what shape Rutherford might have the Penguins in by the time their rumored sale is complete.

“Pittsburgh has no first-round picks anymore. They traded their first-round pick from the year before. They traded their first-round pick for this year, and now they’ve traded their first-round pick for next year.

“The guy’s trying to sell the team. … I think they’ll sell that team for between $700 and $800 million in Pittsburgh, and the cupboard will be pretty bare by that time.”

Karmanos, 72, also drew parallels between Rutherford’s ill-fated Alex Semin signing in Carolina — Francis bought out the remainder of Semin’s contract yesterday — and Wednesday’s big Phil Kessel trade, suggesting that Kessel may score as many goals (six) for the Pens as Semin did for the ‘Canes last season.

At this time, it’s probably worth noting that, in September of 2013, Karmanos fired his son, Jason, as Rutherford’s assistant GM in Carolina. Jason later landed as the VP of hockey operations in — you guessed it! — Pittsburgh, where he reconnected with Rutherford.

Updated: Rutherford and the Penguins organization have responded, sorta.

Related: Citing age, Karmanos sells OHL team — so when will he sell ‘Canes?

Here’s who’s left after Day 1 of free agency

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Well, the first day of NHL free agency is over, and some big names were crossed off the board (generally for surprisingly reasonable prices). Even so, there are quite a few significant players still looking for a new contract as of July 2.

Let’s take a look at some of the most noteworthy parties who are still looking for a dance partner.

Martin St. Louis (pictured) – At 40, the pint-sized winger is almost certainly limited to a short-term (probably one-year) deal. His production plummeted in 2014-15, so he likely relates to the likes of Justin Williams in not having a great contract year. Perhaps he’ll end up with a short, cheap deal that will be comparable to that of former teammate Brad Richards? Retirement is always a possibility, too.

Joel Ward – This has not been a great start for players who market themselves as “clutch guys.” Ward doesn’t believe in clutch, yet people who may fall under that perceived category – Antoine Vermette and Williams – either grabbed the same amount of money or less than they made before.

Seriously, Day 1 was weird.

Johnny Oduya – A veteran defenseman with a lot of desirable qualities, although he doesn’t possess the sort of offensive panache as someone like Mike Green. One would assume that his agent would try to use Francois Beauchemin (three years, $13.5 million) and Paul Martin (four years, $19.4 million) as comparables.

Cody Franson – How much did the trade to Nashville hurt his bargaining power? Still, he’s just 27 and already has two 30+ point seasons to his name (plus his possession numbers are solid). Plenty of teams could use defense, yet as you can see from this list, other quality choices might undercut his value a bit.

Christian Ehrhoff – Speaking of rough contract years, Ehrhoff’s was pretty much a disaster. Could he be a nice bargain? Perhaps he’ll opt for another one-year deal to drive up the price of a future contract …

Eric Fehr – He scored 19 goals this season and peaked with 21 in 2009-10. His only sabbatical from Washington (2011-12 with Winnipeg) went poorly, yet he could be a great sneaky pickup, perhaps for a contender?

Alexander Semin – One of the great mysteries of the market. He fits a theme of fading free agents: the once-terrifying sniper’s either like Dany Heatley in 2015 (done) or a resounding reclamation project.

Chris Stewart – Perennially disappointing, yet he almost scored 30 goals once and could be useful at the right price (and in the right situation).

Lubomir Visnovsky – As injury-prone as ever, yet his offensive skills could make him a nice depth find.

Marek Zidlicky – He is what he is: an aging and flawed blueliner who can still be a scoring asset.

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This isn’t a comprehensive list, but it represents some of the bigger remaining names. Which player(s) should your team swipe?