Tag: unrestricted free agents

Zach Parise

Wild fans dream of adding Minnesota native Zach Parise


Just about any NHL fan base could probably be guilty of imagining how much of an impact pending unrestricted free agent Zach Parise could make on their team’s lineup.

Still, some likely have a little more reason to dream big – and Minnesota Wild fans are in that group.

As SBN Minnesota’s Bryan Reynolds points out, Parise is a Minnesota native and his father (and former NHL player) J.P. Parise said that he expects him to live in the State of Hockey after he retires.

Parise’s dad said that “fun” and other factors are important – not just money. Reynolds breaks down why the Wild would clamor to add him (and why they might fall short of certain standards, particularly fun).

No one at Hockey Wilderness put very high odds on either player coming to Minnesota, and no one was willing to say there was better than a one in three chance Parise suits up in Iron Range Red.

Still, Parise seems to be the main target. Suter might provide the stability the Wild blue line needs, but Parise is the ticket selling signing. Parise adds the scoring touch the Wild haven’t had since the departure of Marian Gaborik. Parise would put the fans in the seats, and then provide the excitement to get them right back out of them. And… he’s a good Minnesota boy. The Wild’s Joe Mauer.

There’s only one problem. The money is there. The winning and fun are not.

Parise could be the Wild’s Joe Mauer? I demand his appearance in cheesy dandruff control shampoo commercials, then.

(H/T to Puck Daddy.)

Fernando Pisani should embrace reality and accept a training camp tryout

Chicago Blackhawks v Vancouver Canucks

Confidence is a funny thing. While just about any hockey player probably grapples with fears and doubts from time to time, some combination of luck, courage, talent, hard work and confidence propelled them to the NHL level. Yet as pride and confidence might help a previously obscure player gain his 15 minutes of fame, those same thought processes can also be his undoing during times of uncertain employment. (Especially when good old-fashioned greed enters the picture.)

In most peoples’ eyes, five years isn’t a long time. The reality of professional sports, however, is a lot can change in five years. Just look at the career of Jonathan Cheechoo; he scored a league-leading 56 goals in the 2005-06 season but now finds himself mired in minor league irrelevance.

Such a predicament shouldn’t be lost on one-hit wonder Fernando Pisani. The marginal winger scored 14 goals and 18 points in 24 games during the 2006 playoffs for the Edmonton Oilers, becoming something of a folk hero in the process. That outburst ended up being a mirage, as he turned in rapidly decreasing numbers* with the Oilers after signing a four-year, $10 million on the heels of that outlier of a postseason run. That contract finally expired last summer, so the Chicago Blackhawks signed him for one year at the league minimum. They got what they paid for, too, as Pisani generated just 16 points in 60 regular season games and zero in three postseason contests.

Considering how far his career has fallen, you’d think Pisani would take what he can get. The 34 year old forward told Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal that he’s not interested in a training camp tryout or a sojourn in one of the European leagues, though.

“Going to camp (without a contract) isn’t a situation I want to be in. I’ll hang tough and see what happens in the next couple of weeks or so,” said Pisani, who has had his nose pressed up against the NHL glass for months, but nobody will let him in, or sign him.

“You never know what’ll happen in the summer. Early on, there were a lot of trades and action, but there hasn’t been much activity the last two or three weeks,” he said.


When asked if he might consider Europe, Pisani said: “No door is really closed.”

It’s perfectly fine that Pisani wants to handle this situation on his own terms, I’m just not sure he’s taking the right course of action. While he showed a willingness to kill penalties last season for Chicago (1:25 shorthanded minutes per game), Second City Hockey points out that he wasn’t a very effective penalty killer. He’s also been hounded by injuries, missing 155 regular season games since his magical playoff run in 2006.

If his last few seasons are an accurate portrayal of what he brings to the table, then Pisani is an aging winger with little upside and isn’t a particularly strong defensive player. My guess would be that his best chance to stick with an NHL team would be to change some minds in training camp – or better yet, have a hot string of preseason games – but the former Oilers forward looks primed to opt to hope for a break or two.

Then again, he got really lucky during one summer just five years ago, so maybe the bounces will go his way one more time.

* – Since signing that contract, Pisani scored 28 points in 2006-07, 22 in 07-08, 15 in 08-09 and 8 in 09-10 before departing for Chicago.

Chris Clark reportedly accepts tryout offer with Boston Bruins

Columbus Blue Jackets v Toronto Maple Leafs

It’s been a tough summer for a lot of the NHL’s fringe free agents. While many of those players have their flaws – and most have seen their best days – it’s still surprising to see that no one is willing to give the likes of John Madden or J.P. Dumont a shot.

Many of those fringe players have been forced to accept training camp tryout offers instead of actual contracts. Ray Emery will continue his fight to regain his footing in the NHL by attempting to make an impact with the Chicago Blackhawks this month. While some players have better chances than others to actually make the respective teams, the list goes on with Michael Nylander (Philadelphia), Jordan Hendry (Minnesota), Manny Legace (Vancouver), David Aebischer (Winnipeg) and more.

Kirk Luedeke passes along a New York Newsday report that veteran winger Chris Clark is expected to get his own tryout opportunity with the Boston Bruins. The 35-year-old right wing might have a chance to make the Bruins’ roster since the team could use another winger after Michael Ryder left town.

Clark spent the first six seasons of his NHL career with the Calgary Flames, where he was part of the team’s Cinderella run to the 2004 Stanley Cup finals. He then spent parts of five seasons with the Washington Capitals, where he scored 20 goals once and reached a career-high 30 in 2006-07, leading him to become the team’s captain. Injuries and a reduced role eventually prompted the Caps to trade him to Columbus in 2010, where he had limited success during the rest of the 2009-10 season and only played in 53 games last season.

So even though the Bruins have a slight need at forward, Clark is far from guaranteed a spot. He could be a moderate asset in Boston if he can stay healthy and produce at a moderate level, but the South Windsor, Connecticut native will need to impress in training camp to land a job.

Clark’s training camp will rank as one of many we’ll keep an eye on as the preseason approaches.

(H/T to Puck Daddy.)

Next summer shaping up to be a nightmare for Predators

Pekka Rinne

This has certainly been an interesting offseason for the Nashville Predators. They acquired the much-maligned Brett Lebda, they’ve wondered about Francis Bouillon’s concussion and availability for next season, and even unveiled new jerseys. But head and shoulders above all other stories have been the Shea Weber contract negotiations and subsequent salary arbitration hearings.

The negotiations came to a head when the independent arbitrator gave Weber the highest award in the history of NHL arbitration with a one-year deal worth $7.5 million. The deal is especially constricting for a team that already operates on a budget, but the money isn’t even the worst part of the deal for the Predators. Since Weber is set to become a restricted free agent again next season, each of the Predators “Big 3” are set to be free agents on July 1, 2012. This offseason is nothing compared to the impending fiasco for GM David Poile and the Predators next season.

Stu Hackel from Sports Illustrated knows these three impending contracts could change the way the Predators do business:

“It has not been Poile’s modus operandi with the Predators to make splashy big-name acquisitions, and the team’s fiscal restraints have played a deciding role in that. Now that they know what their salary structure looks like and can project what it might look like after re-upping Suter and Rinne, we’ll see whether it triggers a new era in Nashville or leaves them as a lower-spending team that may be forced to part with high-priced talent.”

Next season, Pekka Rinne is set to make $3.4 million in the last year of his contract before he becomes an unrestricted free agent. Likewise, defenseman Ryan Suter will make $3.5 in the last year of his deal before unrestricted free agency. Mix in Weber’s $7.5 million and the Predators have $14.4 million dedicated to three players next season. The Predators have never officially announced their payroll budget, but last season the Predators spent $50.9 against the salary cap. Barring any unforeseen changes to management or their organization strategy, it’s safe to assume they’ll be in the same ballpark for the immediate future.

The problem is that the $14.4 million for all three players is the good news. The bad news is that Weber is likely to get a similar type salary if he performs at the same level he’s established over the last two years. Pekka Rinne has been one of the best goaltenders in the NHL over the last three seasons and was finally rewarded with a Vezina nomination this year. His .930 save percentage and 2.12 goals against average put him among the league’s elite—and people are finally taking notice. With guys like Henrik Lundqvist, Cam Ward, Ryan Miller, and Niklas Backstrom all making over $6 million per season and Ilya Bryzgalov signing a 9-year deal worth $5.6 million per season, Rinne is in line for a sizeable raise.

In the same way, Ryan Suter has been outplaying his current 4-year, $14 million contract. Looking at his numbers, play on the ice, leadership, and importance to the Predators, Suter is also in for a big raise. At the 2010 Olympics, he showed the world that he was an elite player with or without his better-known defense partner. In fact, many at the games said that Suter was the best defenseman on the ice for Team USA. When he hits the unrestricted market, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get a contract in the Andrei Markov/James Wisniewski/Duncan Keith neighborhood. For those of you keeping track at home, that means he’ll be looking at an estimated cap hit around $5.5 million.

GM David Poile spoke about Ryan Suter and Pekka Rinne:

“They’re both unrestricted this year. All of our focus has been on Shea’s situation to this point. I would much prefer to get into training camp to get everybody there, to see how good our team is, to sit down with Shea again, Sutes and Pekka at the appropriate time and see how everybody thinks.”

Poile and the Predators will have their work cut out for them over the next 11 months. Not only do they have to worry about the three big name free agents in Weber, Rinne, and Suter, but they have other pieces that are also up for new contracts at season’s end. If the team decides to move away from Pekka Rinne, they’ll have to address pending restricted free agent Andres Lindback. The next blueliner set to take the next step in the NHL from Nashville’s defenseman factory is Jonathan Blum—who is a restricted free agent next season. Up front, they’ll have to deal with restricted free agents Sergei Kostitsyn, Blake Geoffrion, Cal O’Reilly, and Colin Wilson.

And we thought this offseason was interesting.

Detroit Red Wings officially announce Ty Conklin’s one-year contract

Ty Conklin
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As we speculated last night, the Detroit Red Wings will indeed roll with a familiar face as Jimmy Howard’s backup during the 2011-12 season. The team confirmed that they signed Ty Conklin to a one-year contract, although they didn’t disclose how much money he will make. Ansar Khan reports that it will be less than $1 million, so it sounds like Conklin will receive a little bit less than what’s been the going rate for experienced backups during this off-season.

Red Wings fans should be familiar with Conklin, who helped save the team’s 2008-09 season. Conklin was supposed to serve as Chris Osgood’s backup, but he played nearly half the campaign by going 25-11-2 with a .909 save percentage, 2.51 GAA and six shutouts in 40 games played.

The Red Wings needed to let Conklin go to make room for Jimmy Howard in 2009. This allowed Conklin to sign a two-year deal with the St. Louis Blues. He was fantastic in 2009-10 (10-10-2 with an outstanding .921 save percentage and 2.48 GAA in 26 games played) but had a dreadful 10-11 (8-8-4 with an abysmal .881 save percentage and 3.22 GAA in 25 GP). Obviously, the Red Wings are hoping they get the “good” Conklin instead of the 10-11 version this season.

Either way, if Howard is healthy, fans probably won’t see a ton of Conklin. Howard played in 63 games for two straight seasons, so it’s possible that Conklin will appear in the least amount of games since he played in just 16 during the 06-07 season.

The good news for Detroit is that they have flexibility because they also Joey MacDonald locked up to a two-way deal. They might need some strong play from whomever gets the nod in net (ideally Howard, of course) because their defense could go through a bit of a transitional period with Nicklas Lidstrom moving toward retirement, Brian Rafalski already there and some new pieces in place.