Tag: impending free agent

Brad Stuart

Brad Stuart’s future in Detroit is a bit hazy


Brad Stuart is a guy the Wings would like to re-sign in the offseason when he becomes an unrestricted free agent, but he might have other ideas.

Mlive.com’s Ansar Khan finds out from Stuart that he might want to go back to the west coast this summer when it comes time to figure out his future and family is at the heart of the matter.

“It is going to be a tough decision,” Stuart said. “It’s not going to be all based on hockey and what I want for my career. It’s going to be a little bit (about) family, which is important. Those are things I still have to kind of sort out, try to figure out what’s going to be best for everyone.”

Stuart’s family is in San Jose where he once played for the Sharks. Being on the road all the time as a player makes life hard. It’s even tougher when your family doesn’t call the city you’re playing in home.

There’s no doubt that Wings GM Ken Holland would love to keep Stuart in Detroit alongside Niklas Kronwall but if Stuart wants to be closer to his family, there’s not a lot a team can throw at a player to make them change their mind.

Should Stuart head west this summer, the Wings are facing a potentially franchise-altering change to their defensive corps with Nicklas Lidstrom possibly retiring as well. Losing two of your top four defensemen would hurt any team and would make the Wings even bigger players for someone like Ryan Suter should he become a free agent.

Columbus signs James Wisniewski to six-year, $33 million deal

James Wisniewski
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The Blue Jackets aren’t here to mess around this offseason. After acquiring Jeff Carter from Philadelphia, they dealt for the rights to Montreal defenseman James Wisniewski to see if they could lock down the power play useful blue liner. Today, the Jackets and GM Scott Howson were able nail down a monster deal for the six year NHL veteran signing him to a six-year, $33 million deal.

Wisniewski’s deal comes in at a cap hit of $5.5 million per year for the next six years and for a guy who had his first real offensive breakout season last year scoring ten goals and adding 41 assists, he’s cashing in when the market was ripest for him. With solid free agent defensive choices being minimal on the open market, Wisniewski’s stock was at its highest. The Blue Jackets knew this right away and set their sights on him acquiring his rights to negotiate with him. It paid off for Columbus and it has more than paid off now for Wisniewski as he’s one of the best paid blue liners in the league.

While that might be upsetting for some fans who might not believe he’s worth the money, the market dictates the price and for Wisniewski it works out great. Known for his physical game as well as his offensive touch as well, he’ll be an immediate asset for the Blue Jackets on the power play. Teamed up with Carter and Rick Nash the Jackets will look to improve their numbers on the man advantage in a big way. Last season the Jackets had the second worst power play in the NHL scoring at a 14% rate.

The pressure will now be on in a big way for the Blue Jackets. After years of mediocre play they’re going to have to find a way to make their mark in the Central Division this year and cut into Detroit and Chicago’s winning ways as well as dealing with a feisty Nashville team. With the two additions they’ve made, things are getting better faster for Columbus. They’ll have to hope coach Scott Arniel can help put things together in a big way to turn things around for the better in Ohio.

Canucks re-sign Sami Salo for one year, $2 million

Sami Salo

When Christian Ehrhoff had his rights traded to the Islanders and then to Buffalo where he ultimately signed a 10-year, $40 million deal, the Vancouver Canucks were going to have to do a little bit of upkeep to make sure their defense held strong.

Their way of handling things was to lock up one of their more productive guys on the blue line in Sami Salo. Salo signed a one year deal worth $2 million to stick around in Vancouver and provide the Canucks with a big shot from the point and an offensive threat.

Salo’s bugaboo is his ability to stay healthy. In his 12 seasons in the NHL with Ottawa and Vancouver, Salo has yet to play a full 82-game season. Last year he played in just 27 games in the regular season but saw action through the entire playoffs as well. When he does play he’s capable of producing 25-30 points in a season. That kind of production in Vancouver is more than helpful and with Ehrhoff gone, they’ll need him to stay healthy and help produce from the point.

Christian Ehrhoff turns down big offer from Islanders, will head to free agency

Christian Ehrhoff
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The Islanders took a chance yesterday when they acquired the rights to Canucks defenseman Christian Ehrhoff. Ehrhoff was set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and after the Isles failed to land both Paul Martin and Dan Hamhuis to play defense for them last year, GM Garth Snow took a shot at acquiring Ehrhoff’s rights ahead of July 1 to work out a deal with the German defenseman.

As it turns out, Ehrhoff seems dead set on becoming a free agent as he rejected the Islanders offer to sign with them (subscription required) and the two will part ways on Friday. Newsday’s Katie Strang reports that the Islanders made a significantly larger offer than the Canucks made for Ehrhoff (an offer similar to Kevin Bieksa’s five-year, $23 million offer) and Ehrhoff still said no.

With the premiere free agent options on defense being limited in the open market on Friday, Ehrhoff is poised to be the player most likely to cash in in a big way. The Islanders being a struggling team over the past few years but with reasons to hope big for the future, they still have to throw around heaps of cash to try and woo free agents to join them. Whether Ehrhoff was just determined to become a free agent or was flat out declining the Islanders we won’t know for sure until he signs.

When Ehrhoff becomes a free agent on Friday, any team will have the chance to sign him and while the Islanders could continue their support, Chris Botta of Islanders Point Blank says the team and Garth Snow should just turn their attention elsewhere.

He could always come back to the team over the weekend, but if the Islanders are smart, proud, confident and have learned anything, they should close the door and keep aiming higher. Much higher.

Oh well. ‘Twas a valiant try by Charles Wang, Garth Snow, Doug Weight and the Islanders. Ehrhoff, without question, would have made the Islanders a better team in 2011-12. Ehrhoff is also not the villain here. All he owed the Islanders were his ears. He listened. He has decided to consider his options with every team in the league and may possibly accept less money to sign elsewhere. Paul Martin…Dan Hamhuis…Christian Ehrhoff…Ryan Smyth…this is their prerogative.

But really now, big friggin’ whoop.

The Isles are poised to become a more dangerous team in the coming seasons and with the return of Mark Streit, Mike Mottau, and Mark Eaton from injury next year, their defense will be better. Adding that big free agent piece would’ve done wonders for them in the meantime, but winning games will help bring the names in eventually. It’s a set back for the Isles, but not a soul crusher. Garth Snow did his part to try and improve the team and it didn’t work out. He’ll find a way around this and do better.

Ehrhoff will get the deal from the team he’s looking for and surely teams like Detroit will be in the mix for his services. For how much money he ends up signing for remains to be the big question. There are teams out there looking to hit the salary floor that could back up the Brinks truck for Ehrhoff but if he’s convinced he wants to win a Stanley Cup with a proven team, he’ll have to likely set his salary aims a bit lower than what he could get.

Montreal trades rights to James Wisniewski to Columbus for 2012 draft pick

James Wisniewski

With the free agent market for top players getting thinner by the day, trading for a players rights ahead of July 1 is the new rage. We saw the Islanders do it yesterday for Christian Ehrhoff and the Flyers did it earlier in the summer for Ilya Bryzgalov, a deal that worked in their favor locking up the goalie for nine years.

With top defensemen being a tough find, the Columbus Blue Jackets got involved today acquiring the rights to James Wisniewski from Montreal in exchange for a seventh round pick in 2012. If the Blue Jackets sign Wisniewski that pick turns into a fifth round choice in 2012.

In Wisniewski you get a physical defenseman with some offensive game. Often known for his rough style of play, Wisniewski also offers a good shot form the point and a valuable guy to have on the power play. His issues come from his ability to take bad penalties and for the occasional turnover at the blue line. That said, he proved to be a good, tough player for Montreal and New York Islanders last season and is set up to become one of the better targets on July 1 for those in need of defense help.

Should Wisniewski stay in Columbus he’ll be a huge help to their power play which was beyond miserable last season clicking at a 14% rate, good for 29th in the league just ahead of Florida. With the addition of Jeff Carter and now the potential addition of Wisniewski along with Rick Nash, things are looking up in a big way for the Jackets.

GM Scott Howson will have to show Wisniewski the money, however, as he was set to cash in on July 1 no matter what. Howson said earlier this offseason that big things were coming for the Jackets. Perhaps this time around it wasn’t just marketing gone wrong in Columbus. Jackets fans sure hope so as the team has made the playoffs just once in franchise history back in 2009.  So far this offseason has given the fans a lot to be hopeful for, now they’ll have to hope there’s more to come and that coach Scott Arniel can make it all work.