One of the best players to ever come out of Finland is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent this summer and while he’s in the twilight of his career, he still has a lot to give. Ducks GM Bob Murray is interested in re-signing him and it looks like a deal could get done. That’s right: Saku Koivu is open to inking an extension with the Anaheim Ducks. What, did you think I was talking about someone else?
While Koivu, who is third all-time among Finnish players in points, might not attract the same kind of attention as his countryman Teemu Selanne, he is still a decent secondary scorer and a valuable veteran presence.
“We’ve enjoyed it a lot,” Koivu said. ”Everything that we looked for has happened except the success in the playoffs. When you’re family’s happy, you feel comfortable. I don’t see a reason why I should go and look for something else.”
Koivu might be asked to accept a pay cut from the $2.5 million he made this season, but it sounds like the two sides could reach an agreement.
“Obviously it’s going to take a little bit of time for management to review what happened in the previous season and make a plan for next year,” Koivu said. “But I don’t see reason why it should take far into the summer.”
Ryan Smyth is coming off a five-year/$31.25 million contract and it’s safe to say he’ll be taking a sizable a pay cut next season. There’s a number of reasons for that, one being that Smyth already showed the Oilers’ his hand when he demanded to be traded to them before the start of the 2011-12 season so that he could finish his career with Edmonton.
“Yeah, I have painted myself into a corner, if you want to say that,” said Smyth. “I came back to this organization because of the history I have with it, but also the direction that they’re going … that said I still feel I have a lot to give.”
Of course, even if you shrug off his earlier comments or he decides that he’s willing to play for any team in the NHL, he’s not going to find another employer that’s willing to give him a $6.25 million annual cap hit. He was coming off back-to-back 36-goal seasons when he inked that deal and while he’s right when he says that he has something left to give, it’s not another season like that. At this stage of Smyth’s career, he’s more of a secondary scorer and veteran presence that can guide the Oilers’ young core.
That’s worth something to the Oilers, as evidenced by the fact that they’ve already offered him a two-year extension, but it appears that there’s still a gap between the two sides. Still, there’s plenty of time to work out a deal and if Smyth is adamant about staying with the Oilers, it doesn’t seem like that will be a problem.
When Devils captain Zach Parise said earlier this year he wasn’t going to negotiate a new contract during the season with the team, many New Jersey fans took it as a sign he’d be testing the free agent waters this summer. Since then, Parise has turned up his game and has the Devils cruising into the postseason.
As Rich Chere of the Star-Ledger finds out, it’s no coincidence that eliminating the distraction of talking about a new deal is helping Parise in a big way this season.
“I think at different times your mind wanders,” Parise said. “But I think my agents did a really good job kind of helping me through it. It can be hard. You go to Canadian cities and certain cities and that’s the first thing the media asks you about. So you have to be able to kind of block that part out.
“When you’re repeatedly asked about it, at times it can be hard to block it out. After a while I had to say I’m not going to answer questions about it any more. I think it’s gone the way I expected it to go.”
He’s blocked it all out just fine as he’s scored 28 goals and added 34 assists putting him third on the team in points behind Ilya Kovalchuk and Patrik Elias. While Parise tells Chere he’s not happy where his game has been the last few games, the Devils having three clutch scorers makes them a tough team to handle in the playoffs.
Zach Parise’s situation in New Jersey is a fascinating one. He’s the team captain and his contract is up after this season and would make him an unrestricted free agent if the Devils don’t sign him to an extension.
Things might be getting a bit more interesting for the Devils, however, as Mark Everson of the New York Post has a source saying that Parise doesn’t want to be distracted by contract talk with the playoffs approaching.
Parise, who brings a seven-game point streak into this afternoon’s visit by the Panthers, yesterday was silent regarding his upcoming contract. Before clamming up, however, he said he remains open to re-signing with the Devils during the season.
But sources say he’s “hockey first” right now, not wanting such a major distraction as negotiations, if possible. That means not discussing his contract status with the media, either.
“I’m not talking about that any more,” Parise said.
It’s a report from an anonymous source so keep that in mind before freaking out.
That said, if it proves to be true that Parise doesn’t want to talk contract with the Devils during the season, that makes the offseason a bit more daunting for the Devils. GM Lou Lamoriello would rather not have to trade his team’s superstar forward, but if negotiations go poorly he might have to before Parise hits free agency on July 1.
That’s a long way off and reports were always meant to be disproved.
The Dallas Stars won’t benefit from Jamie Benn’s presence on Tuesday, but ESPN Dallas’ Mark Stepneski reports that he should be able to take part in the 2012 NHL All-Star Game.
It looks like Benn will miss at least five games overall (including tomorrow’s match against the red-hot Anaheim Ducks) after undergoing an appendectomy.
Some might argue that Benn broke out in an abbreviated 2010-11 campaign, but Brad Richards’ departure has allowed him to shine in a heightened role. He earned the All-Star nod based on 42 points in 43 games, but that’s a good news/bad news proposition for the Dallas Stars since his entry-level deal expires after this season.
Stepneski reports that Benn and the Stars have discussed a new contract briefly but will wait until the end of this season to hash out his second contract. If the second half of his 2011-12 is anything like the first one, Benn’s next deal won’t be cheap.