Blog: Free-agency period is open
The free-agency period opened at noon ET Wednesday, and our experts weigh in on where players are going and what the moves mean. Be sure to keep checking in for all the updates:
Russo (12:30 a.m. ET): One last, last post from us ...
An update on the names still out there from Burnside's list of the top free agents -- Koivu, Kovalev, Sundin, Afinogenov, Lang, Tanguay, Scuderi, Chelios, Beauchemin, Schneider, Biron, Fernandez, Clemmensen.
LeBrun (12:10 a.m. ET): Our last post of the day/night ...
A trade to the Edmonton Oilers that was completed Tuesday night could not go through until Heatley decided whether to waive his no-movement clause. The original deal would have seen Heatley go to Edmonton in exchange for forwards Dustin Penner and Andrew Cogliano and defenseman Ladislav Smid.
"No decision tonight," a source in Heatley's camp told ESPN.com at 12:06 a.m. ET.
So what now?
Senators GM Bryan Murray had said all along he wasn't interested in moving Heatley after having paid him the $4 million bonus that kicked in at midnight ET tonight.
We'll see what he has to say when the sun rises Thursday.
Heatley met with Edmonton Oilers president Kevin Lowe and GM Steve Tambellini in his offseason home of Kelowna, British Columbia, earlier Wednesday night, but the sales pitch didn't produce an immediate result.
Russo (midnight ET): It's midnight, do you know where Dany Heatley will land?
LeBrun (11:35 p.m. ET): Here are the details of Havlat's deal with Minny:
2009-10 -- $4 million
2010-11 -- $5 million
2011-12 -- $5 million
2012-13 -- $5 million
2013-14 -- $5 million
2014-15 -- $6 million
LeBrun (11:15 p.m. ET): Dany Heatley is done meeting with Edmonton Oilers president Kevin Lowe and GM Steve Tambellini and is now mulling over his decision with his family in Kelowna. The clock is ticking toward midnight ET, when the Ottawa Senators will be on the hook for his $4 million bonus (they don't want to deal him after that). Stay tuned.
LeBrun (11:05 p.m. ET): A source told ESPN.com Havlat has agreed to a $30 million, six-year deal with the Wild.
LeBrun (11 p.m. ET): An update on the Martin Havlat tip I got half an hour ago. A source close to the situation told ESPN.com the star free-agent winger has indeed agreed in principle to a deal with the Minnesota Wild.
More to come as we get more details.
LeBrun (10:28 p.m. ET): I'm hearing Martin Havlat may sign with Minnesota, but it's not done yet. Stay tuned.
LeBrun (10:25 p.m. ET): Here are the details of Mike Cammalleri's deal with Montreal:
2009-10 -- $5 million
2010-11 -- $5 million
2011-12 -- $6 million
2012-13 -- $7 million
2013-14 -- $7 million
LeBrun (10 p.m. ET): The drama continues to intensify in the Dany Heatley trade saga.
A source close to the situation told ESPN.com that Heatley is meeting as we type with Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz, team president Kevin Lowe and GM Steve Tambellini in Kelowna, British Columbia (where Heatley resides in the offseason).
The Oilers' brass is attempting to convince Heatley to join the Oilers. The team has had a trade in place with the Ottawa Senators since Tuesday night, but Heatley has yet to waive his no-movement clause.
Heatley, who asked for a trade out of Ottawa in early June, must decide by midnight ET, when a $4 million bonus must be paid to him. The Senators don't want to pay the bonus and then trade him.
LeBrun (9:50 p.m. ET): Here is the breakdown of the Hossa contract:
2009-10 -- $7.9 million
2010-11 -- $7.9 million
2011-12 -- $7.9 million
2012-13 -- $7.9 million
2013-14 -- $7.9 million
2014-15 -- $7.9 million
2015-16 -- $7.9 million
2016-17 -- $4 million
2017-18 -- $1 million
2018-19 -- $1 million
2019-20 -- $750,000
2020-21 -- $750,000
LeBrun (9:20 p.m. ET): The Chicago Blackhawks lost checking center Samuel Pahlsson to free agency Wednesday, but replaced him hours later with veteran forward and former Selke Trophy winner John Madden. The Hawks signed Madden to a one-year deal worth $2.75 million.
LeBrun (9:06 p.m. ET):
The Ottawa Senators were able to keep a key free agent Wednesday, re-signing gritty winger Chris Neil to a four-year, $8 million contract. Neil garnered interest from other NHL teams on the open market, including the New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs, but decided to stay with the Sens.
LeBrun (8:42 p.m. ET): A team source has confirmed to ESPN.com that Brian Gionta has agreed to a five-year deal with Montreal.
LeBrun (8:30 p.m. ET): Marian Gaborik has landed in the Big Apple. The star winger has agreed to a five-year contract with the New York Rangers, a source told ESPN.com, leaving the Minnesota Wild via free agency. The Rangers were able to afford Gaborik after trading Scott Gomez to Montreal on Tuesday. Gaborik's deal is $37.5 million total for an average of $7.5 million per year.
Russo (7:45 p.m. ET): Names still out there from Burnside's top free-agents lists -- Havlat, Gaborik, Sundin, Koivu, Kovalev, Afinogenov, Lang, Tanguay, Gionta, Scuderi, Chelios, Beauchemin, Schneider, Biron, Fernandez, Clemmensen.
LeBrun (7:30 p.m. ET): Steve Sullivan never really wanted to leave Nashville, so he got his wish Wednesday, signing a two-year deal with the Predators for $7.5 million.
"The family is very comfortable in Nashville, my kids, it's pretty much all they know," Sullivan told ESPN.com tonight from his Northern Ontario home in Timmins. "Not having to pick them up and move them and changing schools and all that -- the next couple of years will be good."
It took a lot of back-and-forth in negotiations and Sullivan hitting the free-agent market before the Predators got it done.
"My situation is very unique with my back," said Sullivan, who returned this past season after missing two years with a severe back injury. "So we had to find out what the market was. I think it's only fair for both sides.
"A handful of teams were interested, but, in the end, it didn't make sense to leave for what the difference was."
Given what Sullivan has been through in his amazing comeback and the way the Preds stuck by him, I'm happy to see this work out for both sides.
Burnside (7:25 p.m. ET): Michael Cammalleri grew up in the Toronto area as a Toronto Maple Leafs fan. He was even courted by them and the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday. But the forward is headed into the perhaps the deepest, brightest fishbowl on the NHL landscape: Montreal.
"I'm pretty aware of it," Cammalleri said late this afternoon of the pressure after he'd signed a five-year deal worth $30 million.
He said playing in Calgary for a year gave him a good taste of what it means to play in a Canadian NHL market, although he acknowledged his French isn't too good -- right now.
"I'm going to work on it," he told ESPN.com.
"Hockey's the ultimate team game," Cammalleri said. "We're all going to need each other."
Cammalleri's agent, Ian Pulver, said the Canadiens made a push for the talented forward's services right out of the gate Wednesday, but were joined by Ottawa and Toronto.
Pulver said Cammalleri will embrace the pressure of playing in Montreal, where the Habs are coming off a tumultuous season with a bevy of problems on and off the ice, including allegations of player ties to convicted felons, the benching of star Alexei Kovalev and the firing of coach Guy Carbonneau.
"He's seeking the pressure," Pulver told ESPN.com.
Good thing, because he's come to the right spot for pressure.
At an average of $2.65 million per season, I think that's a bargain for a Selke Trophy-type player.
"Center ice has been a position of weakness for us," Jackets GM Scott Howson told ESPN.com tonight. "To have a player of that ability and pedigree ... He can play against top players and we needed that. He can play against anybody."
BURNSIDE'S INSTANT ANALYSIS ON HABS' SIGNINGS: We knew the Montreal Canadiens were going to have a distinctly different look next season, and that look began to take focus through a day of dramatic moves by GM Bob Gainey.
After acquiring skilled, playmaking center Scott Gomez in a trade with the New York Rangers on Tuesday night, Gainey added free agent Mike Cammalleri, the sniper on the wing Gainey coveted who had 39 goals last season for the Flames. Whether he lines up with Gomez or Tomas Plekanec, there is no reason to think Cammalleri won't once again reach those kinds of goal totals.
Faced with the prospect of losing physical blueliner Mike Komisarek, now a Toronto Maple Leaf, Gainey added Hal Gill, fresh off his stint with the Stanley Cup-champion Pittsburgh Penguins, and underappreciated Jaroslav Spacek from the Buffalo Sabres.
With Andrei Markov and Roman Hamrlik and defensive-minded coach Jacques Martin behind the bench, the Habs' defense has the potential to be much-improved after finishing 21st in the league in goals allowed per game in 2008-09.
What remains to be seen is whether Gainey has an appetite to try to return either Alexei Kovalev, rumored to be close to a deal with the Habs, or third-line center Robert Lang, who played so well for the Canadiens before being injured last season.
Whether all of these moving parts can produce a result that will help erase the stain of disappointment from this past tumultuous season remains to be seen, but Gainey has taken a big step forward in reconfiguring his troubled squad.
For those keeping score at home, especially in markets like Minnesota, New York, Edmonton and Los Angeles, Cammalleri counts as yet another top-level offensive player now off the market. Tick, tick, tick.
LeBrun (6:20 p.m. ET): Ian Laperriere has found a new home. The scrappy veteran has signed a three-year deal worth $3.5 million with the Philadelphia Flyers. He left the Colorado Avalanche as an unrestricted free agent.
LeBrun (6:05 p.m. ET): Brian Burke has landed his biggest fish since becoming GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs, as he lured hard-nosed defenseman Mike Komisarek from the rival Montreal Canadiens. Komisarek signed for $22.5 million over five years -- an average of $4.5 million per year.
Burnside and LeBrun (6 p.m. ET): The Habs have come to terms on a five-year deal, $30 million deal with free agent winger Michael Cammalleri. The deal is worth $6 million annually.
LeBrun and Burnside (5:50 p.m. ET): The Atlanta Thrashers have acquired veteran defenseman Pavel Kubina and Tim Stapleton from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for Colin Stuart and Garnet Exelby. Kubina has one year left on his deal at $5 million.
LeBrun (5:40 p.m. ET): The Montreal Canadiens have signed the human octopus, Hal Gill. The behemoth of a blueliner leaves the Stanley Cup-champion Pittsburgh Penguins for a two-year $4.5 million deal with the Habs.
LeBrun (5:25 p.m. ET): Here's what I'm hearing on Rob Scuderi. I'm told "4-5 teams" are in the hunt for the solid free-agent blueliner. I'm told the Pittsburgh Penguins will hear again from their camp as a courtesy, but it's unlikely the team will have enough cap space to match.
LeBrun (5:05 p.m. ET): Here's the latest on the Dany Heatley situation.
As of 5 p.m. ET, the Ottawa Senators still hadn't heard from the Heatley camp. The deadline of sorts is midnight ET, when the Sens would have to shell out a $4 million bonus to Heatley and they obviously don't want to be on the hook for that.
As I reported this morning, the Heatley camp believes it never said "no" to the trade; it simply wanted more time to think about the trade after it was proposed Tuesday night. It's believed Heatley would rather go to the New York Rangers, but there is no trade offer on the table from the Blueshirts at this point.
Burnside (5 p.m. ET): Chicago GM Dale Tallon recalls the feelings that used to accompany free agency in Chicago: dejection.
Even if he overpaid, he couldn't get players to come and play in Chicago since the reputation of the Original Six franchise was so badly tattered. Needless to say dejection has been replaced with something akin to elation for Tallon and the resurgent Blackhawks.
"It's been a phenomenal turnaround," Tallon told ESPN.com on Wednesday afternoon. "We've become a destination now."
Regardless of Hossa's shortcomings during the playoffs -- and they were significant -- he remains one of the best two-way players in the game. His durability and strength with the puck make him a more attractive asset than Havlat and his quiet personality will fit in nicely with the upbeat, youthful Hawks.
"He's a real solid citizen," Tallon said. "Everything fell into place."
Even though Hossa's cap hit of $5.2 million is more than manageable (he made $7.45 million during his one-year stay in Detroit), Tallon will still have his hands full maintaining his core of young talent, including Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. But he said those issues were still going to confront the team regardless of whether they signed Hossa or not.
"Regardless of today, we're going to have those issues going forward," he said.
What was more important was taking the team forward after a huge year, on and off the ice.
"Sure, we had a good year, but we want to make sure we get better."
Adding a player of Hossa's pedigree all but guarantees that goal will be met next season.
LeBrun (4:55 p.m. ET): If you thought $3.83 million a year was a little high for Jaroslav Spacek, consider what a source just told me a few minutes ago -- that UFA blueliner Francois Beauchemin had an offer for $4.5 million per year on the table. The source didn't know from which team. But again, the value of puck-moving blueliners is as high as ever. I know the Anaheim Ducks would love to have Beauchemin back, but anything north of $4 million is too rich for them.
A few more details on the Hossa signing, too:
Once contract talks broke up with free-agent winger Martin Havlat, the Hawks quickly turned their attention to Hossa, who bolted from the Red Wings after one season. Detroit and Hossa were negotiating to the end, but couldn't come to an agreement. Havlat and the Hawks had been in talks throughout the season and were close on a long-term deal but never finished it off. The Hawks only offered Havlat a one-year deal over the past week.
BURNSIDE'S INSTANT ANALYSIS ON KHABIBULIN SIGNING: It didn't take long for the Edmonton Oilers to replace veteran netminder Dwayne Roloson, who bolted for Long Island on Wednesday, as they locked up former Stanley Cup champion Nikolai Khabibulin after the free agent couldn't come to an agreement with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Khabibulin, who battled inconsistency and injury during his four seasons in Chicago, had a strong 2008-09 campaign for the Blackhawks, leading them to the Western Conference finals for the first time since 1996.
The Oilers may finally be set in goal, but they still lack the impact scorer they've coveted for the past couple of seasons. Another former target, Marian Hossa, signed a 12-year deal with Chicago earlier this afternoon as top players continue to leave the market.
If the Oilers can complete the deal for Dany Heatley that stalled late Tuesday night, they will be in a much better position than when they finished the regular season -- with a proven scorer and a solid number-one netminder. But there's still work to be done in the Oil Patch.
LeBrun (4:30 p.m. ET): Two quick thoughts:
1. A source tells me the Montreal Canadiens were on the phone with Jaroslav Spacek's people at 12:01 p.m. ET, and right off the hop, they offered him three years. They weren't kidding around. The money didn't get to $11.5 million until other teams also jumped in. Two other teams also offered three years. We're told the Buffalo Sabres didn't budge from their one-year offer. The money and term may surprise people, but it shows you how much NHL clubs regard, more than ever, the skill of puck-moving blueliners and Spacek is a very good one.
2. Interesting to see Erik Cole stay in Carolina after failing to re-sign before the start of free agency. I think what you saw was a player get a reality check on the open market and realize he was best to stay where he's played his best hockey. He signed for $2.8 million next season and $3 million in 2010-11 -- a pay cut from the $4 million he made this past season.
LeBrun (4:20 p.m. ET): The Edmonton Oilers have plugged their hole in goal. But it cost them. A lot. Nikolai Khabibulin signed a four-year, $15 million deal with the Oilers, leaving the Chicago Blackhawks via free agency.
LeBrun (4:15 p.m. ET): The Montreal Canadiens have added veteran blueliner Jaroslav Spacek to their fold, signing the Czech native to a three-year deal worth $11.5 million. The Habs needed to replace the loss of free-agent blueliner Mike Komisarek.
BURNSIDE'S INSTANT ANALYSIS ON KNUBLE SIGNING: How close were the Washington Capitals to being a Stanley Cup finalist, maybe even Cup winner, this past spring? Were they Mike Knuble close? We all know the Caps blew a 2-0 series lead against Pittsburgh and then couldn't close the deal in Game 7 on home ice against the eventual Stanley Cup champs.
Did the Caps lack a calming voice in the locker room and a commanding presence on the ice when it mattered most? If so, Washington is a better team today having added veteran winger Mike Knuble, who will turn 37 on July 4.
In the same way Bill Guerin helped provide ballast to a young and talented Penguins team en route to a Cup in June, Knuble has the potential to be a productive member of the potent Caps lineup (he had 27 goals last season with Philly and has six straight seasons with 20-plus goals) while adding a no-nonsense personality to the locker room.
Knuble helped guide the Philadelphia Flyers to the Eastern Conference finals two seasons ago and was a member of the U.S. Olympic team in 2006. He didn't fit with the Flyers' economic plans, especially after they added Chris Pronger at the draft.
The Caps lost a couple of veteran pieces up front when Sergei Fedorov signed in Russia, while Viktor Kozlov is out of the picture. Now if only the Caps could take care of the millstone that is the Michael Nylander contract (he has two years left on a four-year deal worth $19.5 million).
Scott Burnside (4:05 p.m. ET): Winger Mike Knuble has signed a two-year deal with the Washington Capitals with an annual cap hit of $2.8 million.
LeBrun (3:40 p.m. ET): An update on Alexei Kovalev.
"Not close to a deal," his agent Scott Greenspun said via e-mail.
LeBrun (3:40 p.m. ET): Further to E.J.'s note on Khabibulin, a source close to the situation told me the Oilers are indeed "in the mix" with a couple of other teams.
LeBrun (3:35 p.m. ET): It's not a signing that will get much attention, but Greg Sherman's first dip into the free-agent pool was a good one.
The Colorado Avalanche GM inked veteran goalie Craig Anderson to a two-year deal worth $3.625 million ($1.5 million/$2.125 million) Wednesday. I believe Anderson is an underrated netminder who is indeed an upgrade from Peter Budaj in Denver. Florida Panthers coach Peter DeBoer did not hesitate to put Anderson in goal over highly paid starter Tomas Vokoun last season for big games.
LeBrun (3:25 p.m. ET): Got a note from Mike Komisarek's agent, Matt Keator. Plenty of teams in the mix and Keator is carefully looking at the right fit for the free-agent defenseman.
E.J. Hradek (3:20 p.m. ET): I'm hearing the Edmonton Oilers are hot and heavy for Nikolai Khabibulin. Stay tuned.
LeBrun (3:15 p.m. ET): Scott Niedermayer isn't going anywhere. The Anaheim Ducks have re-signed their captain to a one-year deal worth $6 million plus bonuses, a source told ESPN.com. There had been rumblings that perhaps Niedermayer would look elsewhere, but he has stayed put. Niedermayer announced his return for next season last week after wrestling with the decision over his playing future.
Burnside (3:10 p.m. ET): Interesting signing by the New York Islanders, as they bring in veteran netminder Dwayne Roloson on a two-year, $5 million deal after Roloson couldn't come to an agreement with the Edmonton Oilers.
Roloson was an afterthought at the start of last season, but played in 63 games and was the catalyst for a spirited Edmonton charge that just fell short of the playoffs. He's 39, but looked like he was significantly younger, which begs the question -- what will his role be on Long Island?
Former first overall draft pick Rick DiPietro is locked up until the cows come home (he signed a 15-year deal in 2006) but has been plagued by injury, and there seem to be some questions as to whether he will be ready for training camp. He was also not invited to the U.S. Olympic orientation camp in part because of health concerns.
If DiPietro isn't ready or isn't ready to shoulder a full load, watch for Roloson to play a significant role for the rebuilding Isles.
LeBrun (3:05 p.m. ET): Here are the final Hossa numbers: $62.8 million over 12 years, an average of $5.233 million a year.
Burnside (3 p.m. ET) The Oilers will now be looking at one of the few free-agent netminders available as they scramble to find a replacement for Roloson. With Craig Anderson signing in Denver, will the Oil take a gamble on Nikolai Khabibulin? Or if they think prospect Jeff Drouins-Deslauriers is ready to take a bigger bite of the goaltending job, will they look for a backup with experience, like Scott Clemmensen, Kevin Weekes or Manny Legace?
LeBrun (2:55 p.m. ET): Dwayne Roloson has found a new home. The veteran netminder has left the Edmonton Oilers via free agency and signed a two-year, $5 million deal with the New York Islanders. Not sure what that says of the future of oft-injured goalie Rick DiPietro.
LeBrun (2:52 p.m. ET): Just got a note from a source involved in the trade talks between Atlanta and Toronto over blueliner Pavel Kubina, saying the deal still wasn't done. Stay tuned.
LeBrun (2:45 p.m. ET): The Rangers recouped their toughness in a hurry Wednesday. After losing Colton Orr to the Toronto Maple Leafs, New York replaced him with veteran heavyweight Donald Brashear, a source told ESPN.com. Brashear left Washington as an unrestricted free agent.
BURNSIDE'S INSTANT ANALYSIS ON HOSSA SIGNING: For the second straight year, Chicago GM Dale Tallon brought home the goods on the first day of free agency.
With money in short supply in Detroit, top free-agent forward Marian Hossa signed a 12-year deal with Central Division-foe Chicago that will cost the Hawks an average of $5.2 million annually.
Hossa was a key figure in the Wings' five-game series victory over Chicago in the Western Conference finals this past spring. Now, he'll be asked to help get the Blackhawks over the hump as they chase their first Stanley Cup since 1961.
A year ago, Tallon landed top defenseman Brian Campbell and top free-agent netminder Cristobal Huet on the opening day of free agency. Now, you can quibble with the relative value of both Campbell and Huet, both of whom signed expensive, long-term deals with Chicago, but they were nonetheless part of a young Blackhawks team that revitalized the game in Chicago and advanced to the conference finals for the first time since 1996.
Now that he's locked up Hossa for a dozen years, Tallon's challenge going forward will be in being able to afford all of his top assets, including Patrick Kane, Brent Seabrook, Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith. Look for Tallon to try to find a taker for Campbell, whether it's today or down the road.
The move makes the Blackhawks a definite power in the Western Conference, regardless of the fact that Hossa had a disappointing postseason in Detroit. With Kane and Toews to shoulder the load in terms of media and expectations, the soft-spoken Hossa should thrive as he did in Pittsburgh after the 2008 trade deadline and in Detroit during this past regular season (he had 40 goals).
The move takes another impact forward off the market and will ramp up interest in players like Martin Havlat, Mike Cammalleri (his agent, Ian Pulver, was too busy to take a call about an hour ago), Marian Gaborik and, of course, Dany Heatley.
The move also puts more pressure on teams like Montreal, Los Angeles, Minnesota and the New York Rangers, all of whom are looking to add elite forwards.
Joy Russo (2:20 p.m. ET): The Hawks just put out an official release on Hossa and also announced they signed center Tomas Kopecky to a two-year contract.
Said GM Dale Tallon: "To add Marian, an elite and world-class player, and Tomas, a Stanley Cup Champion, to our exciting young core reinforces our commitment to try to win the Stanley Cup."
The Hawks surprised many by reaching the Western Conference finals, where they fell to the Detroit Red Wings (Hossa's former team) in five games.
LeBrun (2 p.m. ET): The Chicago Blackhawks have signed star winger Marian Hossa to a 12-year whopper deal. Sources tell ESPN.com the deal is worth an average of $5.2 million a year.
LeBrun (1:50 p.m. ET): Nothing is done yet, but sources confirmed to ESPN.com that the Thrashers and Maple Leafs are in talks about possibly trading Pavel Kubina to Atlanta. A source close to the deal said things were still in flux.
The Thrashers were hoping to add a top-four blueliner and a top-six forward this summer and originally expressed interest in Leafs blueliner Tomas Kaberle last week at the draft.
Burnside (1:35 p.m. ET): The long-awaited arrival of super Swedish netminder Jonas Gustavsson, who is being pursued by four NHL teams (Colorado, San Jose, Toronto and Dallas), will have to wait a couple of more days.
"He's just not ready to make up his mind," Gustavsson's agent, Joe Resnick, told ESPN.com on Wednesday afternoon.
Resnick said he's not worried that one or more of the teams interested in the services of the man they call "The Monster" will look elsewhere on the free-agent market to find goaltending help.
"I'm confident we'll be able to find him a home," Resnick said.
"We're working on it," he said.
LeBrun (1:20 p.m. ET): Well, the Toronto Maple Leafs got their tough guy. GM Brian Burke promised to make his team tough and he did Wednesday by signing enforcer Colton Orr to a four-year deal worth $4 million in total. Orr left the New York Rangers via free agency.
LeBrun: (1:05 p.m. ET): Despite speculation that Alexei Kovalev will probably stay in Montreal, his agent told ESPN.com on Wednesday that his client is very much an unrestricted free agent.
"He's on the market," said Scott Greenspun. "We're getting calls right now. We haven't closed any avenues with Montreal either. So we'll see what happens."
A radio report out of Montreal said the Habs re-signed Kovalev to a two-year deal, but Greenspun steadfastly denied that.
"It is 100 percent not true," said the agent. "Unless they've signed another guy named Alex Kovalev."
Also, a source from the Nik Antropov camp said the phone was ringing early and often after free agency opened at noon ET.
Antropov asked for $5.25 million a year over five seasons from the Rangers and got rebuffed by GM Glen Sather. Will be interesting to see where the big guy ends up.
BURNSIDE'S INSTANT ANALYSIS ON OHLUND SIGNING: For a team that has been all about chaos the past 12 months, the Tampa Bay Lightning brought in the epitome of stability in defenseman Mattias Ohlund, who had toiled faithfully for a decade in Vancouver.
The Bolts gave up term (seven years) in order to keep the cap number down (about $3.75 million annually). Provided Ohlund doesn't fall prey to the Lightning curse and stays healthy, he will be an important cog in the team's goal of returning to the playoffs.
The quick-strike signing denudes an already bare market for defensemen. With Jay Bouwmeester locked up in Calgary and Johnny Oduya returning to New Jersey, Mike Komisarek remains the top defenseman left on the market, and you have to believe the market for rock-solid Pittsburgh defenseman Rob Scuderi may never be higher.
Burnside (12:30 p.m. ET): Sources confirm to ESPN.com that Ohlund's seven-year deal is worth about $3.75 million per year against the salary cap.
LeBrun (12:25 p.m. ET): Veteran blueliner Mattias Ohlund has signed a seven-year contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning, the first player to change teams in free agency Wednesday. He leaves the Vancouver Canucks as an unrestricted free agent. The Lightning were in desperate need for defensive help.
Joy Russo (12:15 p.m. ET): Some numbers to digest from our ESPN Stats & Information group on the Sedin twins' impact:
A list of the most points from players drafted in 1999:
A list of players with the most assists since 2005-06:
Noon ET: Free-agency period is open
LeBrun (11:55 a.m. ET): What does July 1 mean for Vincent Lecavalier? It means peace of mind.
The trade rumors can continue to swirl all they want, but from now on, the Tampa Bay Lightning superstar center is in full control of his future. His no-movement clause kicked in Wednesday along with his 11-year, $85 million deal.
Only he, and he alone, has the final say on whether he ever gets dealt and where.
"Since December, there's been a lot of rumors, a lot of speculation and effectively a lot of uncertainty as to his future in Tampa," Lecavalier's agent, Kent Hughes, told ESPN.com today. "At this point, at least we have clarity as to his future. He doesn't have to wonder anymore. He can focus on being a hockey player."
BURNSIDE'S INSTANT ANALYSIS ON SEDINS' SIGNINGS: With the clock ticking down on the Sedin twins' time in Vancouver, the two elite players scaled back their demands for a mega-multiyear deal and agreed to twin (naturally) five-year deals worth $30.5 million as reported by ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun.
The number should allow Vancouver GM Mike Gillis to pursue another top forward or, perhaps more logically, a defenseman, assuming veteran Mattias Ohlund does sign elsewhere as expected.
The fact the twins will remain in Vancouver will be good news for Canucks fans, who believe their team is only a step or two removed from being a Stanley Cup contender. But the signing is bad news for Toronto fans, who had hoped the man who first brought the twins to Vancouver, GM Brian Burke, would bring the Swedish pair's hard-working act to the blue and white once the free-agent period opened at noon ET today.
This means Burke will be looking at a Plan B, a plan that could mean a run at defenseman Mike Komisarek to bolster the blue line. Other teams that might have been interested in the Sedins, like Minnesota or Los Angeles, will now be looking elsewhere for much-needed offensive help.
LeBrun (11:45 a.m. ET): Dany Heatley never said no. Not yet anyway.
Heatley's agent, J.P. Barry, who was in Stockholm with the Sedin twins, told ESPN.com on Wednesday that Heatley needed time to consider a possible trade to the Edmonton Oilers, but never rejected the deal outright.
The star winger will make up his mind today. A $4 million bonus is owed to him at midnight ET, so that is a deadline of sorts for the Ottawa Senators to deal him away.
A deal is in place with the Oilers to send Heatley to Edmonton in exchange for forwards Andrew Cogliano and Dustin Penner and defenseman Ladislav Smid. The deal could happen today if Heatley waives his no-trade clause.
Burnside (11:40 a.m. ET): Everyone assumes that if, as my colleague Pierre LeBrun is reporting, Montreal captain Saku Koivu will hit the open market at noon today, he'll likely end up in Minnesota. Now, there is no doubt Koivu, 34, and his younger brother Mikko, 26, are close despite the difference in age. Saku's battle with cancer a few years back certainly strengthened that bond.
But consider this.
Saku is very respectful of his brother and what Mikko is hoping to accomplish as a professional hockey player. If Saku joined the Wild, would he overshadow his brother? The desire to respect his brother's place as an emerging leader in Minnesota -- many believe Mikko will be named captain under new management -- may be a factor in Saku's deciding to sign elsewhere.
Of course, the idea of having two Koivus providing not just strength down the middle but also strength in the dressing room may also be an attractive notion for new GM Chuck Fletcher.
Food for thought.
LeBrun (11:30 a.m. ET): The twins are staying put. Two sources confirmed that Henrik and Daniel Sedin have agreed to separate five-year deals worth $30.5 million apiece to stay with the Vancouver Canucks. The deals also include no-movement clauses.
LeBrun (11:20 a.m. ET): Marian Hossa, get ready for the open market a second year in a row.
Just got a note from Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland, who said he spoke to Hossa's agent, Rich Winter, again this morning but, "I expect him to hit the market," Holland said via e-mail.
You never know, perhaps a change of heart by Hossa could happen at 11:59 a.m. ET, but it's a long shot. I would think Los Angeles, Montreal, Minnesota and the Rangers will lead the bidding on Hossa.
Burnside (11:05 a.m. ET): Is it just me, or did the possible three-for-one deal that would have seen Dany Heatley become an Edmonton Oiler late Tuesday night seem too good to be true for the Senators?
We know Dustin Penner hasn't turned out to be the guy then-Edmonton GM Kevin Lowe thought he was going to be when he dropped the offer sheet on Anaheim two years ago. Still, Penner is young, and with new Oilers coach Pat Quinn behind the bench, maybe Penner will take off.
The Oilers were also reportedly ready to throw in young defenseman Ladislav Smid, who came to Edmonton in the Chris Pronger deal, and Andrew Cogliano, the 25th overall pick in 2005. It all would have been a windfall for Ottawa GM Bryan Murray.
The deal may still happen; Heatley's $4 million bonus isn't due until midnight tonight.
But if I'm Edmonton GM Steve Tambellini, I'm thanking my lucky stars the deal didn't happen. There is a lot of high-priced help out there, most of it without the baggage Heatley brings to the table.
Still, if ever the City of Edmonton needed someone to embrace it and its hockey team, now's the time. Heatley's apparent snub comes on the heels of Michael Nylander's last-minute refusal to join the Oilers two summers ago and Pronger's famous departure after the team's run to the 2006 Cup finals. And then there's the money the Oilers threw at Jaromir Jagr and Marian Hossa last summer only to be rebuffed. Heck, Jagr even chose to spend the next couple of seasons in Omsk rather than sign on with the Oil.
It has left the fair Alberta city with a big self-esteem problem.
Burnside (10:50 a.m. ET): Pierre, I think you're right on with Mike Komisarek, but the guy I'm interested in today is Mike Cammalleri.
Here's a guy who can play wing or center and who scored 39 goals this past season, 34 two seasons ago and is, in some ways, off the radar with most of the talk centering on guys like Dany Heatley, Marian Hossa and Marian Gaborik.
No one talks about Cammalleri as a possible Olympian, even though he played for Canada at two world championships in 2006 and 2007. I know Canada is deep down the middle, but he's versatile. He couldn't get the deal he wanted in Los Angeles and then became redundant in Calgary when the Flames brought in Olli Jokinen at the trade deadline. (How did that work out, by the way? Just asking.)
Today, though, someone is going to land an offensive machine. How about Vancouver? Or maybe the Rangers, as they look for someone who can actually score?
LeBrun (10:45 a.m. ET): From the department of Captain Obvious, Marian Gaborik is indeed going to market in less than 90 minutes. A source in the Minnesota Wild front office confirmed the much-expected development.
I remember writing about this happening back in September, just like many hockey writers. We all knew he was headed to free agency and now here he is today. One has to think the Rangers, with their new-found cap savings, will be among the bidders, along with Montreal, Los Angeles, and other teams. Add in Vancouver, if the Sedin twins say no to the Canucks' final offer, and Edmonton.
In other words, plenty of offers coming Gaborik's way.
Still not sure what's happening with Marian Hossa. Wings GM Ken Holland was busy on the phone when I checked in this morning and I got this note from Hossa's agent Rich Winter: "Marian is a very private person. He will not discuss his business with other than those he is dealing with, as I have indicated."
For my money, he's the best blueliner available, although more of a defensive banger than an offensive force like Bouwmeester.
"It certainly gives a little more clarity to the market place having him there [Bouwmeester sign in Calgary]," Komisarek's agent, Matt Keator, told ESPN.com Wednesday morning. "But there's still other good defensemen out there like [Mattias] Ohlund and others. So Mike isn't the only one out there."
No, but he's the guy I would sign if I needed a top-four blueliner. He's going to play on the U.S. Olympic team and he's an absolute bruiser. Montreal isn't out of the picture, but now there's other teams involved come noon ET. I would think Toronto GM Brian Burke would be among those picking up the phone to call Keator.
But it's not just about money.
"Term, a no-move clause and location will all be factors," Keator said. "I've been through this with [Zdeno] Chara, [Michal] Handzus, [Ron] Hainsey and a number of guys over the past couple of years."
Pierre LeBrun (10:10 a.m. ET): A source tells ESPN.com that Saku Koivu is definitely going to market in a few hours. Koivu spoke to Montreal GM Bob Gainey personally this week, by the way. The Habs are not completely out of the picture, but, obviously, once the market opens, all 30 teams are involved.
Also, Penguins GM Ray Shero told me via e-mail yesterday that he believed defenseman Rob Scuderi was probably going to market.
Scott Burnside (10 a.m. ET): Don't assume Martin Havlat is going to hit the open market just yet.
Havlat's agent, Allan Walsh, and Chicago GM Dale Tallon were hard at it first thing this morning, trying to see if there was some common ground between the skilled forward and the Blackhawks.
Chicago has been looking at a one-year deal, while Havlat has been looking long-term. Complicating the issue is the fact that the Blackhawks have core players like Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith to lock up in the next couple of years. That said, Havlat wants to stay in Chicago and the two sides are working to see if that goal can be reached.
If the two sides can't reach a deal, Havlat will be coveted by a number of teams looking to add an impact forward, teams like Montreal, which brought in skilled playmaking center Scott Gomez from New York on Tuesday.
Walsh, a West Coast guy who has been in the office since practically the middle of the night his time, will also be talking to Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero this morning about Petr Sykora and Ruslan Fedotenko. With the Penguins signing Bill Guerin to a one-year deal, the belief is Fedotenko would be the team's next priority up front. Sykora is a proven scorer, but was a healthy scratch for much of the playoffs.
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