“I’ve got no guarantees here,” Sykora said today from the Czech Republic. “I have no contract here, so if I find the right place to play and most importantly for family and for my son to go to a U.S. school in Europe, then I’m probably going to stay here the whole season.”
This is the tough spot unsigned players have. If they sign a deal in Europe, there’s a good possibility they’ll have to stay there for the entire season. Most players that have already landed in foreign leagues are already under contract with an NHL team.
Guys like Sykora don’t have that option, meaning they’d have to wait long enough to see if there will even be an NHL season before deciding to go to Europe. Sykora says he wants to be playing before Christmas so he’ll be sweating it out until then hoping a new CBA can be done.
PHT Morning Skate: Where the Red Wings are reportedly interested in Bouwmeester
Speaking of the Red Wings, they’re reportedly talking to the Calgary Flames about the possibility of acquiring Jay Bouwmeester. (MLive.com)
Mark Spector weighs in on the ongoing CBA negotiations. Among other things, he thinks the notion that “both sides are doing everything they can to avoid a lockout” is a myth. (Sportsnet)
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said on Thursday that the owners don’t plan to play next year under the current CBA, which is set to expire on Sept. 15. Tampa Bay’s B.J. Crombeen categorized that as “something you don’t want to hear,” but he still seems optimistic. (Tampa Bay Times)
The New Jersey Devils might still re-sign Petr Sykora. (Tom Gulitti)
Christian Hanson, who signed a one-year, two-way deal with the Boston Bruins, says it’s “do or die time” for him. He’s 26 and has played in 42 NHL games. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
From July 16-Aug 16, we’ll be profiling all 30 NHL teams by recapping what they did this offseason and previewing their upcoming campaigns.
40-27-15, 95 points. Third in the Pacific Division, eighth in the Western Conference.
Defeated Vancouver (4-1) in the conference quarterfinals, St. Louis (4-0) in the semis, Phoenix (4-1) in the finals and New Jersey (4-2) in the Stanley Cup finals.
Scott Parse (UFA, still unsigned)
First round, 30th overall — LW Tanner Pearson (OHL Barrie)
While it might not seem like L.A. did much this offseason, GM Dean Lombardi made a plethora of moves to retain last year’s Cup-winning team — including a major one for Jonathan Quick.
The Conn Smythe winner received a 10-year, $58 million extension in late June, putting the Kings in the unique position of having four players under contract through 2019 (Quick, Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Drew Doughty.)
As such, the Kings will head into 2012-13 with a near-identical squad. The most notable change came behind the bench, where ex-Blues head coach Davis Payne was named as Darryl Sutter’s assistant, replacing Jamie Kompon (who signed on in Chicago.)
The Quick signing was soon followed by reports that backup goalie Jonathan Bernier — the 11th overall pick in 2006 — expected to be shipped out of Los Angeles. The highly-touted ‘tender has high pedigree (Bernier was named the AHL’s top goalie in 2009-10) and could net Lombardi a nice asset in a trade, which has to be tantalizing given the Kings have nearly $8 million in available cap space.
Other than Bernier, the Kings’ focus will be on trying to successfully defend the Stanley Cup for the first time since Detroit won back-to-backs in 1997-98. Rarely do teams return almost their entire Cup-winning rosters — consider the last three:
— Boston lost Tomas Kaberle, Michael Ryder and Mark Recchi.
— Chicago lost Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien, Kris Versteeg and Antti Niemi.
— Pittsburgh lost Hal Gill, Rob Scuderi, Miroslav Satan and Petr Sykora.
Have Your Say
Vote in our poll and let us know what you think of Los Angeles’ 2012-13 outlook in the comments section.
Not surprisingly, Shane Doan tops the list, but some other intriguing options remain. For example…
Petr Sykora: Played for peanuts last year in his return to the NHL following a season in Europe. The 35-year-old Devils winger proved he can still put the puck in the net, scoring 21 goals during the regular season. However, he struggled to produce during the playoffs, spending time in the press box as a healthy scratch. Sykora has said he wants to return to New Jersey, but so far hasn’t been able to reach a deal.
Kristian Huselius: The 33-year-old winger missed all but two games in 2011-12 – the first 25 he was recovering from pectoral surgery, the last 55 he sat out with a groin tear. Obviously his health is a considerable concern (groin injuries can be especially tough to heal), but Huselius is a six-time 20-goal scorer that could presumably be had for cheap. If he can pass a physical, it might be worth rolling the dice.
Tom Kostopoulos: Another 33-year-old, though a very different player than Huselius. Kostopolous is a tough bottom-six forward that played 81 games for the Flames last season, scoring four times and dishing out 124 hits. He’s not too bad with his fists either. Just ask Kevin Bieksa.
Players like that come with less than ideal pasts, but that’s what makes them so cheap in the first place. They might turn out to be the steals of the free agent period or wasted money — but it’s hard to call bargain bin signings true gambles given that the teams are only making short-term commitments at relatively low prices.
Here’s a list of some of the remaining unrestricted free agents that will likely be scooped up for similar contracts:
Andrei Kostitsyn — Obviously, the notion that the Nashville Predators could turn around Andrei Kostitsyn’s career like they did for his younger brother, Sergei Kostitsyn, didn’t work out.
Kostitsyn actually did have some on-ice success in Nashville, but that was drowned out by the curfew controversy.
Still, he has the potential to be a top-six forward next season.
Petr Sykora — Sykora was a pleasant surprise last season, earning a contract with the Devils out of training camp and scoring 21 goals and 44 points in 82 games.
He’ll turn 36 years old on Nov. 19, but he’s still a decent secondary scorer and capable of helping out with the man advantage. Plus, he’s played in 133 postseason contests and has been on two Stanley Cup winning teams, so he’s got the experience to help guide a younger team.
Carlo Colaiacovo — He’s only reached the 70-game milestone once and that was back in 2008-09. Colaiacovo can’t seem to get through a season without suffering a noteworthy injury and on top of that, he struggled last season with just 19 points in 64 contests.
Still, when he’s healthy he’s a top-four caliber defenseman and there are a lot of teams hungry for one of those. He’s still just 29 years old, so he’s got a lot of hockey left in him and it’s not hard to imagine him bouncing back. Maybe he’s holding out for a long-term contract, but if he can be had for a bargain bin price, then it would be hard to fault any team for grabbing him.