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From the Pressbox: Kovalchuk Walks Away

Paul Bruno

Paul Bruno

Paul is a 22-year veteran of the STATS INC reporter network, scoring play by play for the Blue Jays and Maple Leafs. He is also the creator of the statistical platform which evolved into the NHL's Real Time Scoring System, which was unveiled in 1992. You can also hear him on XM Sirius and nextsportsstar.com, talking hockey and baseball.In addition to all of Toronto's teams, he is also a big fan of the Dallas Cowboys.

Today, From the Pressbox:

The free agency frenzy has diminished but there are still some interesting names available. We will note a few of the recent signings and some remaining names and also look at the salary cap room of the teams to see which clubs are still likely to be active.

The retirement of Ilya Kovalchuk from the NHL and his subsequent signing with a KHL club has certainly opened up a new possibility for hockey players. I will share my view of this new frontier and the potential impact on the NHL.

Recent Free Agent signings

DATE PLAYER 2013-14 TEAM PREVIOUS TEAM DETAILS
JUL 23 F Trevor Lewis Los Angeles Los Angeles Read story ››
JUL 23 F Luke Adam Buffalo Buffalo Read story ››
JUL 23 G Matt Hackett Buffalo Buffalo Read story ››
JUL 22 F Anthony Peluso Winnipeg Winnipeg Read story ››
JUL 22 D Carl Gunnarsson Toronto Toronto Read story ››
JUL 22 F Bryan Little Winnipeg Winnipeg Read story ››
JUL 22 D Colby Robak Florida Florida Read story ››
JUL 22 D David Rundblad Phoenix Phoenix Read story ››
JUL 22 D Patrick Wiercioch Ottawa Ottawa Read story ››
JUL 22 F Nicolas Deschamps Washington Washington Read story ››
JUL 22 F Sam Gagner Edmonton Edmonton Read story ››
JUL 21 F Jordan Nolan Los Angeles Los Angeles Read story ››
JUL 20 F Paul Byron Calgary Calgary Read story ››
JUL 20 D Zach Redmond Winnipeg Winnipeg Read story ››
JUL 20 D Blake Parlett Columbus Columbus Read story ››
JUL 20 F Spencer Machacek Columbus Columbus Read story ››
JUL 19 D Nick Crawford Buffalo Buffalo Read story ››
JUL 19 F Brian Flynn Buffalo Buffalo Read story ››
JUL 19 D Michael Kostka Chicago Toronto Read story ››
JUL 19 D Theo Peckham Chicago Edmonton Read story ››
JUL 19 G Michael Hutchinson Winnipeg Boston Read story ››
JUL 19 G Edward Pasquale Winnipeg Winnipeg Read story ››
JUL 19 F Chris Stewart St. Louis St. Louis Read story ››
JUL 19 F Zac Dalpe Carolina Carolina Read story ››
JUL 19 F Brandon Yip Phoenix Nashville Read story ››
JUL 19 D Paul Postma Winnipeg Winnipeg Read story ››
JUL 18 D Mark Cundari Calgary Calgary Read story ››
JUL 18 D Thomas Hickey NY Islanders NY Islanders Read story ››
JUL 18 D Denis Grebeshkov Edmonton KHL Read story ››
JUL 18 F Mike Hoffman Ottawa Ottawa Read story ››
JUL 18 F Dustin Jeffrey Pittsburgh Pittsburgh Read story ››
JUL 17 D Chris Breen Calgary Calgary Read story ››
JUL 17 F Kyle Beach Chicago Chicago Read story ››
JUL 16 F Dustin Penner Anaheim Los Angeles Read story ››
JUL 16 F Patrice Cormier Winnipeg Winnipeg Read story ››
JUL 16 D Brendan Smith Detroit Detroit Read story ››
JUL 16 D Ryan Stanton Chicago Chicago Read story ››
JUL 16 D Mark Barberio Tampa Bay Tampa Bay Read story ››
JUL 16 F Eric Tangradi Winnipeg Winnipeg Read story ››
JUL 16 F Jared Staal Carolina Carolina Read story ››
JUL 15 G Jacob Markstrom Florida Florida Read story ››
JUL 15 D Mat Clark Anaheim Anaheim Read story ››
JUL 15 F Josh Bailey NY Islanders NY Islanders Read story ››
JUL 15 D Alec Martinez Los Angeles Los Angeles Read story ››
JUL 13 F Ryan White Montreal Montreal Read story ››
JUL 12 F Harry Zolnierczyk Pittsburgh Pittsburgh Read story ››
JUL 12 F Marcus Kruger Chicago Chicago Read story ››
JUL 12 F Benn Ferriero Vancouver Minnesota Read story ››
JUL 12 F Brandon Defazio Vancouver NY Islanders Read story ››
JUL 12 F Erik Condra Ottawa Ottawa Read story ››
JUL 12 D Jon Landry Minnesota NY Islanders Read story ››
JUL 12 D Jonathon Blum Minnesota Nashville Read story ››
JUL 12 D Jake Muzzin Los Angeles Los Angeles Read story ››
JUL 11 F Matt Halischuk Winnipeg Nashville Read story ››
JUL 11 F Tim Kennedy Phoenix San Jose Read story ››
JUL 11 F Aaron Palushaj Carolina Colorado Read story ››
JUL 11 F Lauri Korpikoski Phoenix Phoenix Read story ››
JUL 10 G Alex Stalock San Jose San Jose Read story ››
JUL 10 F Brian O'Neill Los Angeles Los Angeles Read story ››
JUL 10 G Tuukka Rask Boston Boston Read story ››
JUL 10 F Matt Pelech San Jose San Jose Read story ››
JUL 10 F Peter LeBlanc Washington Washington Read story ››
JUL 10 F Mikael Backlund Calgary Calgary Read story ››
JUL 10 F Troy Bodie Toronto Anaheim Read story ››
JUL 10 F Joe Colborne Toronto Toronto Read story ››
JUL 10 D Karl Alzner Washington Washington Read story ››
JUL 10 D Marek Zidlicky New Jersey New Jersey Read story ››
JUL 10 D Matt Corrente Carolina New Jersey Read story ››
JUL 10 F David Dziurzynski Ottawa Ottawa Read story ››
JUL 10 D Alex Grant Anaheim Pittsburgh Read story ››
JUL 10 F Matt D'Agostini Pittsburgh New Jersey Read story ››
JUL 10 F Gabriel Dumont Montreal Montreal Read story ››
JUL 10 D Justin Falk NY Rangers NY Rangers Read story ››
JUL 10 F Carl Hagelin NY Rangers NY Rangers Read story ››
JUL 10 D Mark Borowiecki Ottawa Ottawa Read story ››


Remaining Free Agents

There are still some intriguing names on the unrestricted free agent list three weeks after the start of the offseason feeding frenzy. Unfortunately for them, most of these players have little hope of earning what they did last year, simply because most of the NHL clubs are very close to filling out their rosters.

Consider the following names with their positions, age and 2012-13 cap hits noted below.

Ilya Bryzgalov G 33 $5,666,667
Mikhail Grabovski C 29 $5,500,000
Tim Thomas G 39 $5,000,000
Tim Connolly C 32 $4,750,000
Jaromir Jagr R 41 $4,550.000
Ron Hainsey D 32 $4,500,000
Rick DiPietro G 31 $4,500,000
Teemu Selanne R 43 $4,500,000
Tomas Kaberle D 35 $4,250,000
Brendan Morrow L 34 $4,100,000
Nik Antropov C 33 $4,062,500
Ryan Whitney D 30 $4,000,000
Flip Kuba D 36 $4,000,000
Tom Gilbert D 36 $4,000,000


Some of the notable Restricted Free Agents include:

Alex Pietrangelo D 23 $3,166,666
Blake Wheeler R 26 $2,550,000
Zach Bogosian D 23 $2,500,000
Nazim Kadri C 22 $1,720,000
Cody Hodgson C 23 $1,666,666
Magnus Paaajarvi L 22 $1,525,000
Jared Cowan D 22 $1,295,000
Cody Franson D 25 $1,200,000
Marcus Johansson C 22 $900,000


Now let's look at the salary cap room for the teams and assume that a full roster constitutes 23 signed players (Teams not listed are at 23 signed roster players):

Cap Space Available Spots
Philadelphia -$2,053,522 -2
Boston -$1,101,310 1
Pittsburgh -$498,333 1
San Jose -$406,667 1
Edmonton $1,348,333 -1
Chicago $2,008,205 2
Tampa $2,609,523 2
Minnesota $2,784,466 1
Nashville $4,672,024 1
Carolina $4,885,000 4
Vancouver $5,147,222 4
Washington $5,665,705 3
Toronto $6,570,833 3
Phoenix $6,908,333 3
St. Louis $8,824,167 1
New Jersey $9,879,166 1
Buffalo $10,504,643 2
Ottawa $11,314,167 1
Winnipeg $13,629,000 3



Clearly these tables reveal some interesting possibilities.

The fact that Ilya Kovalchuk retired, walking away from the last 9 years of his contract with New Jersey, may be a path toward another option for many players to consider bolting to the KHL. Not since, 1972, when the World Hockey Association was able to sway Bobby Hull into spurning the NHL, has such a big name left to join a rival league. Many of the veteran European players who remain unsigned, are expected to take a look at the KHL option. One player, Mikhail Grabovski, has already stated his intention to explore NHL options. He has recently married his long-time Toronto girlfriend and they already have a couple of children, all of which hints strongly that they are entrenched in North America.

My view on the KHL alternative is that it will certainly be a quite alluring for the European players, who currently toil in the NHL and for the next few junior crops of players who have been migrating to North America. We will find out if the KHL model is sustainable. If it is, it may even lead North American born stars to consider the option.

Experts also predict that the NHL's salary cap figure will rise significantly over the next two years. That may help the NHL in fighting off the KHL. It's interesting that this is all happening with the Sochi (Russia) Winter Olympics in February 2013. You have to think that NHL representatives have voiced their concerns and tied them to North American involvement in that upcoming hockey tournament, which is always a focal point of the Winter Games.

The accompanying lists also point out serious cap issues for the Flyers, Bruins, Penguins, Sharks and Oilers, who have spent over the cap and/or must cut down to the 23 player mark. In addition, any of the other clubs, not highlighted above must drop/trade a player if they want to pursue the remaining free agents.

There appears to be something of a "gentlemen's agreement" that teams don't approach other clubs' restricted fee agents with an offer sheet. Imagine the war that would ensue if the Senators signed the Leafs' Nazim Kadri to an offer sheet. They are known to have coveted him going back to hos draft year and ordinarily would love to pry him from their arch-rivals. It's very unlikely to occur, though.

Rolling back the salary cap was a requirement of the most recent labor agreement and teams that had some latitude under the new cap limit of $64.3 M have done a lot better than their counterparts. Those clubs that were caught in the numbers game have paid for it with unprecedented amnesty buyouts and will need to trade more desirable commodities before too long.

Between that fact and the specter of the free-spending KHL owners there will be plenty of fine-tuning of rosters in the next few weeks.

I encourage you to circle back to this space to get my views on all the movement.

Paul Bruno has been writing about the fantasy sports scene for several years and is an accredited member of the sports media in Toronto for over 20 years. You are invited to send your feedback and you can follow him on Twitter (statsman22).

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