Jagr to Philly; Richards looking for new NHL home
So much for this being an unattractive bunch of NHL free
While Dallas Stars center Brad Richards was considered the cream
of a small elite crop of players available on the open market,
dozens of other players reached deals Friday in the first few hours
of the shopping season.
”You saw quite a bit of money spent today,” Boston general
manager Peter Chiarelli said.
Teams had plenty of it, working under a new salary cap ceiling
of $64.3 million cap – a $4.9 million increase over last
As afternoon turned into night, the highly coveted Richards
still hadn’t cashed in and picked a new team to join. He was wooed
all day long while sitting in his agent’s office in Mississauga,
Ontario, welcoming some teams who made in-person pitches.
The New York Rangers and Toronto were considered to be the
favorites to eventually land him.
”We talked to the agent a few times,” said Philadelphia Flyers
general manager Paul Holmgren, who was busy with several other big
moves. ”I think they’re going to take their time, so we really
don’t know what they’re going to do. But we’re still looking.”
Columbus started the signing frenzy when it locked up defenseman
James Wisniewski with a six-year, $33 million deal an hour before
he would have become an unrestricted free agent. Columbus acquired
the exclusive negotiating rights to Wisniewski on Wednesday from
Montreal for a 2012 seventh-round draft pick.
”I’ve always used the term irrational exuberance of July 1 and
I think it might have exceeded that today, not just with dollars
but term,” San Jose GM Doug Wilson said. ”That just tells you
about supply and demand. That’s why we always try to be ahead of
the curve with what it is we want and go get it because under this
system everything comes with a cost.”
Wilson struck early to get the defenseman he wanted when he
acquired Brent Burns from Minnesota at last week’s draft in the big
deal that sent forward Devin Setoguchi to the Wild.
San Jose then filled two more needs, signing forward Michal
Handzus to a $5 million, two-year contract and defenseman Jim
Vandermeer to a $1 million, one-year deal.
Through Friday evening, there were unofficially about 70 new
deals reached during the first day of free agency. Of the 30 NHL
teams, 25 signed at least one player and 23 of those came to terms
with a player who was with a different team last season.
The biggest name to find a new home Friday was 39-year-old
Jaromir Jagr, who is returning to the NHL from Russia’s Kontinental
Hockey League after a three-season stint there following his time
with the Rangers.
All signs pointed to Jagr going back to the Pittsburgh Penguins,
the team he broke in with and won the Stanley Cup twice during his
early years with Mario Lemieux. But the Penguins pulled their
reported $2 million off the table Friday morning, and were joined
soon after when Detroit announced that it also was out of the
Soon after, the Philadelphia Flyers announced they came to terms
with the big forward on a one-year, $3.3 million contract. Jagr has
646 goals and 1,599 points in 18 NHL seasons.
”We made what we thought was a very fair contract offer to
Jaromir on Tuesday, based on his stated interest of returning to
the Penguins,” Pittsburgh general manager Ray Shero said. ”We
made our best offer from the start, given our salary-cap structure,
in an attempt to facilitate a deal.
”Jaromir is one of the greatest players in Penguins history,
and we wish him all the best.”
Maybe not too much, as Shero and the Penguins will have to face
Jagr six times in the already competitive Atlantic Division.
The addition of Jagr was just the latest step in the constant
makeover of the Flyers, who last week traded star forwards Mike
Richards and Jeff Carter. Philadelphia also grabbed gritty forward
Max Talbot away from the Penguins with a five-year deal worth $9
million and cut ties with fellow forwards Ville Leino and Kris
Jagr and Talbot can expect rough welcomes when they return to
Pittsburgh wearing the enemy orange and black.
”It’s going to be tough on us,” Talbot said. ”It was tough
for me to leave in the first place, as my heart has always been
with the Pittsburgh Penguins. But at the same time, it’s a new
challenge for me in Philly.
”I never thought I’d play for another team in my life. So, it’s
been a rough couple of weeks for me.”
The Penguins also lost rugged forward Mike Rupp who left for
another division rival, the New York Rangers, for three years and
$4.5 million. Pittsburgh recovered by re-signing forward Tyler
Kennedy for two years and $4 million, and added 36-year-old Steve
Sullivan, who left Nashville for a one-year, $1.5 million deal.
The Flyers tried to keep Leino, but with all the additions –
including the signing last week of goalie Ilya Bryzgalov to a
lucrative deal – they had to let him go. Leino, who had a
career-best 53 points last season, agreed to a six-year deal with
Buffalo worth $27 million.
Versteeg, acquired from Toronto at midseason, was traded to the
Florida Panthers for a conditional second-round draft pick in 2012
or 2013, and San Jose’s third-round pick in the 2012 draft.
It was a good day for defensemen, too.
Ed Jovanovski left Phoenix and signed with Florida, his original
team, for four years and $16.5 million; Sami Salo signed a
one-year, $2 million deal to stay with Vancouver; Cam Barker agreed
to a two-year, $2.25-million contract with Edmonton; Andy Greene
re-signed with New Jersey; Adam Pardy went from Calgary to Dallas
for two years and $4 million; and Andreas Lilja left the Anaheim
Ducks for Philadelphia.
The Ducks turned around and acquired defenseman Kurtis Foster
from Edmonton for defenseman Andy Sutton.
In other defensive shifts, Mike Commodore moved from Columbus to
Detroit; Roman Hamrlik went from Montreal to Washington on a
two-year, $7 million deal; and Sheldon Souray got out of minor
league exile and joined Dallas on a one-year deal worth $1.65
million after Edmonton sent him to Hershey of the AHL for all of
The Panthers were very active in addition to their moves to
acquire Versteeg and Jovanovski. Florida had money to spend to get
up to the new minimum payroll of $48.3 million, and signed veteran
goalie Jose Theodore, forwards Tomas Fleischmann, Scottie Upshall,
Sean Bergenheim and Marcel Goc and defenseman Nolan Yonkman.
Last week, the Panthers acquired defenseman Brian Campbell from
Chicago as they try to get back into the playoffs following 10
straight seasons on the postseason sidelines and 12 of 13. Panthers
general manager Dale Tallon created cap room by dealing away
veterans at the trade deadline. Now he is restocking.
”We’re committed to turning this around,” he said. ”It was
very painful last year to do what we had to do and now we want to
start to enjoy this process and see some success.”
The Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins signed 24-year-old
forward Benoit Pouliot away from Montreal, but lost key forward
Michael Ryder, who left for a two-year, $7 million deal with the
The Winnipeg Jets were fairly quiet during their return to free
agent shopping. The former Atlanta Thrashers signed defenseman
Derek Meech from Detroit but lost veteran forward Radek Dvorak to
In other notable moves, goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere left
Toronto for Colorado; Marco Sturm went to Vancouver from
Washington; Erik Cole signed a four-year, $18 million deal with
Montreal after a lengthy stint with the Carolina Hurricanes; Joel
Ward inked a four-year, $12 million that got him to leave Nashville
for Washington; Ben Eager moved up to Edmonton from San Jose for a
three-year, $3.3 million contract; and Raffi Torres said goodbye to
the Western Conference champion Canucks and agreed to a two-year
deal worth $3.5 million with the Phoenix Coyotes.
The Coyotes, however, lost forward Vernon Fiddler, a nine-year
veteran, who got a three-year, $5.4 million deal with Dallas.