The Chicago Blackhawks have decided to walk away from Antti Niemi’s arbitration awarded $2.75M contract, and have instead signed veteran free agent Marty Turco to a one-year $1.3M contract. With the Blackhawks decision not to retain him, Niemi is now a free agent goaltender on the market and should attract some immediate attention.
Kris Versteeg has undoubtedly been the prize pick up for the Maple Leafs thus far this offseason. Youâ€™ve heard all the basics by now. Heâ€™s great in the dressing room, he plays all three forward positions, he produces under pressure and heâ€™s a back-to-back 20 goal scorer. At age 24, these are all impressive qualities, but now the real question is: how he will fare in the Maple Leafsâ€™ system?
As much of the league takes a post-draft/free agent frenzy breather for the Canada Day and July 4th long weekend, I figure I’ll spark some discussion with a bit of educated speculation. In talking to a source over the past week it’s been suggested to me that Brian Burke has a Â deal or two on the table for scoring help involving a Leaf asset he’s struggling with the idea of parting with. It’s said at this time Burke is hoping desperation on the part of the involved GMs reduces the price on a few top six trade options as the off-season continues.
Less than 36 hours to go until start of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, so here are some links to start your day:
- The Toronto Sun explains that Burke is very tempted to trade his way into Friday’s first round party if the price is right. He’s already turned down an offer of a late first round pick for a roster player (Kulemin?) and another team has also brought up Schenn’s name in trade talks but was quickly rebuffed. The Leafs were also kicking the tires on Horton and Byfuglien before they were dealt over the last couple days. Burke did stress that his trade options are not limited to simply draft weekend, unless it involves draft picks, so it’s quite possible that nothing major goes down in Los Angeles.
- The Toronto Star provides a quick update on the Kaberle trade talks, citing that the Leafs have received four “concrete” offers for the blueliner thus far with eight other teams expressing interest. Burke again reiterated that he could quite confidently get a first round pick back for Kaberle, but that he’s looking for different kind of assets in return because he wants to get better now.
According to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, the Chicago Blackhawks have traded forwards Dustin Byfgulien and Ben Eager along with defenseman Brent Sopel and prospect Akim Aliu to the Atlanta Thrashers in exchange for New Jersey’s 1st and 2nd round picks, top prospect Jeremy Morin, and forward Marty Reasoner.
Holy Blockbuster! Chicago has been demanding sky high prices all offseason and it looks like someone finally bit… Morin scored 47 goals in 58 OHL games for the Kitchener Rangers this past season. A steep, steep price. With this move, the Hawks have cleared $4.33 million in cap space (not including Eager who is an RFA).
There’s already some discussion going on in the threads, but let’s get all of that latest news out on the table:
- TSN’s Darren Dreger recently tossed out his list of top 10 candidates to be moved at this year’s trade deadline, with Matt Stajan and Alexei Ponikarovsky figuring in at the 4th and 5th spots respectively. He suggests that Stajan would perhaps yield “a decent prospect or drafts picks in return” and that Ponikarovsky would likely fetch a similar price. It’s always hard to gauge the trade deadline market as values fluctuate on a yearly basis, but I’ve got Ponikarovsky pegged as an Antropov comparable (2nd round pick) as a big body and 60 point player while Stajan may compare favorably to Moore (2nd round pick starting price) as a depth centreman who can put up some points in the right situation.
Not a whole lot of news coming out of the NHL ranks these last few days, as the few free agents still available are playing the waiting game (kind of surprising to note that Alex Tanguay’s still out there). As we try to make it through the last work day before the weekend, let’s touch upon more trade speculation out of Chicago, Leaf prospect Mikhail Stefanovich, early playoff predictions and the Leafs’ second annual Coca Cola Fans First Game.