Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pens Sign Goalie Brent Johnson ...Prospect Camp Begins!!!....Sykora goes off on Bylsma?

Finally some Pens News as former Washington Capitals goalie Brent Johnson has now signed a 1 year contract sought to be worth around $650k. The exact terms are not yet known but they're roughly in that range. The Pens were after goalie Curtis Samford before he signed with Montreal a couple days ago. Shero was also in talks with goalie Kevin Weekes but Johnson turned out to be the best option. Johnson will compete with rookie goalie Curry for the backup spot this fall and this was the plan all along.

It goes underlooked that Johnson posted a 12-6-2 record with a 2.81 gaa and .908 save percentage. Now 32, Johnson has been a backup throughout his NHL career (Phoenix, St. Louis, Washington) and he has done a great job at it. Fleury will be getting a lot of playing time as expected this year and Johnson is a very solid backup to have. He's not Dany Sabourin who was exported to Edmonten earlier in the year and then for some god awful reason the Bruins signed him a couple weeks ago. Remember now, the only good game Sabourin had last year was in Boston when he stoned the Bruins in a 2-1 victory and had like 42 saves.

The Penguins prospect camp started on Monday and it will run until Sunday July 26th. Highly anticipated prospect Eric Tangradi will be participating although his wrist is not quite 100%. Tangradi was acquired in the deal that sent Ryan Whitney to Anaheim and Chris Kunitz back to Pittsburgh. He is expected to have surgery next week per writer Brian Metzer. Several other Pens prospects are getting high remarks, including Brian Strait, Luca Caputi, Dustin Jeffrey, Eric Tangradi, and '09 first round pick Simon Despres.

Strait will likely start the year down at WBS, he's a BU grad and a terrific looking defenseman. Jeffrey will compete for a 4th line spot on the roster and one name getting a lot of recognition is Ben Hanowski. He's a 6'2 200 lbs 19 yr old from Minnesota, who had 74 goals in 35 games his senior year of high school, pretty ridiculous. A very promising future for the Pens in Caputi, Tangradi, Strait, Despres, Kevin Veilleux, Nathan Moon, and now this Hanowski kid.

Last week a Czech newspaper had an interview with former Pens forward Petr Sykora. Some may call him Petr Suckora, especially with the last third of the season that he had. But Petr Gun has always been a sniper and an important player throughout his NHL career. He still had 25 goals last season even though it seemed more atrocious than Satan's, at least it ended up worse. Sykora got burnt out and couldn't adjust to Bylsma's uptempo system. But Bylsma's system involves both aggressive offense and responsible defense, as well as forechecking. Sykora is a terrible defensive player and he doesn't forecheck well. He's much older than he was in his days of greatness as a New Jersey Devil.

But Sykora said in the interview that Bylsma was out to get him from day 1. Bylsma was a 4th liner for Anaheim while Sykora was a 1st liner on that team when they played together 2002-2003. This is a ridiculous statement if he really thinks this. The reason Sykora got benched in the playoffs was because he wasn't producing. He wasn't doing the things he's good at, aka scoring goals when Geno finds him wide open in the slot. I can hardly remember Sykora even getting a shot on goal in the Philly series or the last 33 games of the reg. season (in which he had 5 goals). Everytime he would shoot it, his stick would break, he would get crushed by a hit or the puck would get deflected in the stands. This is because he's slow, old, and his hands aren't as quick as they once were.

Even when Sykora was inserted back into the lineup in the Detroit series (game 6), he had a 3 on 2 chance midway through the game, and Crosby dished him a pass, he was wide open and of course the shot was deflected god knows where and his stick broke, again. He did have an important block in that game which ended up breaking his foot. Sykora was an important player for the Pens, especially on the power play. But the new NHL involves a lot of speed and the teams that succeed have players that can play well in both zones. Look at Detroit, Zetterberg and Datsyuk will go down as two of the best two-way players ever when it's all said and done. Even Franzen, Helm, Filipula, and Hudler are all solid defensive players. Satan replaced Sykora because he was able to do the little things we needed from a 4th line guy: forecheck, hit, dump it in, and score some timely goals. Mind you the breakaway goal in Game 1 vs. Carolina was a beauty and a goal I'll keep in mind for many years to come.

But I have this to say to our old buddy, Petr Sykora: Thank you for your Game 5 goal in 3 OT against Det. last year and thanks for being such a classy guy and friend of Geno and the rest of the team. You had a great playoff run last year but this season things changed. Youth and speed defeated veteran savyness and experience. Now stop sounding off on Bylsma, pack your bags and go to the KHL aka The Retirement League, where they'll pay you $3-$4mil for doing exactly what you did here: break sticks, shoot in the stands, and miss wide open opportunities.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Back from Europe....Recap of Recent Pens Signings

Sorry for the lack of updates boys and girls, but I was away on vacation and slightly lazy. But here we are and I've got a boatload of updates.

Last week the Pens signed defenseman Jay Mckee to a 1 yr contract worth $800k. The Pens needed a D-man after Gill and Scuderi left and GoGo was the only one who took a spot. Mckee is a veteran presence at 32, he's been a leading shotblocker for many years in the league but he's had some injury problems of late. He did play 69 games last season with the Blues, but a combined 89 games the previous two seasons. He's an excellent shot blocker, can dish out some big hits, and is an excellent stay at home type guy.

The type of player Mckee is, in some ways reminds me of both Gill and Scuds. He does the little things very well defensively. He helped the Blues become a top 5 PK unit this past year. And comparing him to Gill, you can see that he's a big guy at 6'4 205 lbs, but he actually punishes people, Gill's to slow to do anything physically. Best of all, Mckee is used to playing in an uptempo offensive system from his days in Buffalo. He had his best years there, including a cup finals birth against Dallas in '99. Don't be surprised to see him switch numbers from his current #77 to his Buffalo #74.

Mckee wasn't concerned about how much money the Pens were to give him. After all, he's getting paid $2.67 mil by the Blues next year for not even playing for them. He was bought out by the team earlier this month and the Pens took advantage. This is a terrific bargain and in terms of what Dmen were left who could fill the void of Gill and Scuderi, Mckee was the best option. Boynton was a little too pricey, Alberts too slow, Semenov is not proven, etc.

-The Pens also came to terms yesterday with
defenseman Ben Lovejoy and Tim Wallace, both for two-way deals. Although Lovejoy's contract will be a 1 yr ($500k if he plays in NHL, $75k if in AHL) and Wallace will be a 2 yr with the same salary structure. Lovejoy has a real good shot at making the team but he'll most likely be the Pens 7th defenseman, the new Philippe Boucher if you will. Only Lovejoy has an immense amount of upside. Yes he's 25, but he had 31 pts in 76 games last season at WBS, and was constantly matched up against the opposing team's top lines. Wallace played in 16 games last season with the Pens and had a couple points. I like the grit and speed he adds to the team. He will drop the gloves and could land a spot on the 4th line this season.

Pens 2009-2010 Schedule update to come later tonight...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Pens Pre-Season schedule released...UFA Target Goes to Anaheim

The Pens Pre-Season schedule will be the following:

The Penguins’ 2009 pre-season schedule:

Friday, Sept. 18 Toronto AT Pittsburgh 7:30 p.m.

Monday, Sept. 21 Pittsburgh at Montreal 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept. 22 Pittsburgh at Toronto 7:00 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 24 Pittsburgh at Columbus 7:00 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 25 Columbus AT Pittsburgh 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, Sept. 27 Pittsburgh at Detroit 5:00 p.m.

Scary to think that the pre-season games will begin roughly 2 months from now. The 2 games vs. Toronto will be especially exciting to watch because of the nastiness the Leafs have added this offseason. Exelby, Komisarek, and Orr all play with an edge and it's likely that Bissonette will be in the lineup for the Pens as well as Godard/Rupp, I can't wait!!! It's also interesting to see us play the Wings in a pre-season game, unfortunately it's at Joe Louis, but it should be fun to see the young stars audition for a final time before the team's rosters are finalized.

Speaking of scary, the Anaheim Ducks signed defenseman Nick Boynton to a 1 yr deal at $1.5 million. Boynton was at the top of the Pens list in terms of UFAs after Scuderi signed with the Kings. He's a gritty veteran D-men, who plays a mean game and has offensive skills as well. Oh well, the Ducks only get better now as Boynton will try to replace the physical play of Pronger (who left for Philly last week). The Pens continue to covet Jay Mckee and word is an offer has already been made. Shero is also talking to Alexei Semenov and even Dennis Seidenberg. Seidenberg is looking for something in the $1.5-$2.5 mil range so that might be out of the question.

The New York Rangers signed winger Ales Kotalik to a 3 yr/$3 mil deal. It was surprising to see Kotalik still a UFA 9 days into free agency, but that just tells you how deep the class was. It's a nice signing by the Rangers who lost some of their scoring with Antropov to Atlanta and Zherdev who is likely headed to the KHL or some other NHL team.

TRADE TALK: The Senators have been involved in trade talks with the San Jose Sharks the last week or so. Distraught winger Dany Heatley would be going to SJ and winger Patrick Marleau will likely be headed to Ottawa. Senators GM Murray is still trying to find a suitor for Heatley after he rejected a deal that would've sent him to Edmonton last week.

NHL News and Notes...Un-signed UFA surprises

- One of the all-time greats, Joe Sakic is finally calling it quits. Sakic turned 40 in July but he could still play another a couple years if he wanted to. He was a class act, a great leader, a long-time captain and the face of the Colorado Avalanche. The Avs were originally the Quebec Nordiques, where Sakic played as well. Sakic won 2 stanley cups, a Conn Smythe trophy, league MVP, was part of 13 NHL All-Star games, and was the MVP for team Canada during the 2002 Olympics (when they won).

Sakic finished his career with 625 goals, 1016 assists and 1641 points. A snow-blower accident earlier in the year broke his hernia disc (in his fingers) and allowed him to only play 15 games. There were few players that showed as much class and leadership as Sakic, he will easily be remembered as one of the all-time greats.

- Earlier in the week the Toronto Maple Leafs signed defenseman Francois Beauchemin to a 3 yr/$11 mil deal. Beauchemin is a premier 2-way defenseman who really honed his skills with the Ducks organization the last 4 seasons. He won a cup under GM Brian Burke (now GM in Toronto) in Anaheim and he's showed great leadership qualities which will be important for a young group of Maple Leaf defenseman. The Leafs also came to terms with da Monster aka goalie Jonas Gustavsson to a 1 yr/$900k. The Monster was coveted by several teams including the Stars and Avs.

-The Ottawa Senators signed winger Alexei Kovalev to a 2yr/$10 mil deal. Ridiculous to think that Kovy, at the age of 36 and coming off a down year, would get $5 mil the next two seasons. The Sens need depth in their top 6, especially with a Heatley trade on the horizon. Mike Comrie, another guy in their top 6 last year, has not been approached about a new contract so he's still a UFA. Nevertheless it could be interesting to watch Kovy alongside Alfredssonn and Spezza next year, but the Sens need more scoring depth.

- Former Habs Captain Saku Koivu will be joining his good friend and fellow Fin, Teemu Selanne in Anaheim next season. Talk about two good scoring lines: Getzlaff Perry Ryan, Lupul Selanne Koivu, that's really scary. The best of Team Canada and the best of Team Finland. The Ducks will miss Pronger and Beauchemin no doubt, but Luca Sbisa will be a stud and maybe Ryan Whitney will actually learn how to hit.

- The Tampa Bay Lightning signed defenseman Kurtis Foster to a 1 yr deal and added winger Stephane Veillux. Both former Wild players are solid defensively, especially Veillux who constantly plays on the penalty kill and in important defensive situations. Foster is more of an offensive threat, and although he was injured for most of last year, he's got great wheels and could be a power play quartback later down the line. Impressive job by GM Brian Lawton this off-season, instead of overpaying for scrubs (Vrbata/Rechhi/Roberts/Malone(not a scrub but overpayed)) he went out and solidified the Lightning defense which was one of many problems for them. Ohlund is very solid even at 33 and Walker is underrated and plays a mean/consistent game from the backend.

Surprising Un-signed UFAs: wingers-defense-goalies

Dennis Seidenberg, Mike Comrie, Jason Williams, Ales Kotalik, Maxim Afinogenov, Alex Tanguay, Travis Moen, Derek Morris, Mathieu Schneider, Paul Mara, Andrew Alberts, Manny Fernandez, Marty Biron.

I'm very surprised Seidenberg hasn't been signed yet. Maybe he's looking for too much money but still he's only 27 and had a breakout year with Carolina. Comrie was overpayed last year by the Islanders for $3.75 mil on a 1 yr deal, and now no one wants him LOL. A good, skilled, and gritty little player. His success has been in Ottawa, i'm surprised he hasn't re-signed there yet. Kotalik is a sniper but he's soft, Afinogenov has attitude problems but has high potential, Tanguay is asking for too much money and it's risky after several average seasons. Moen is one of my favorite players, great middle-weight and PKer. The Rangers traded some good players for Morris at the trade deadline and now no one wants him. Fernandez split duties with Tim Thomas in Boston last year and he was a terrific backup. Any team looking to use two goalies: Colorado, Dallas, Florida, Atlanta, Chicago? Should consider this guy.

Here's a clip of Letang and Kennedy doing the Weather on Channel 11:


Sorry for the lack of updates, I'm on vacation.

Stay tuned later for more rumors on PensBuzz...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Talbot out 4-5 months...What happens on wing? Plus UFA rumors

Bad news has finally reached Pens nation, as game 7 hero Max Talbot will miss 4-5 months of hockey beginning now. RDS reported last week of the possibility of Max missing time, and his blog made mention of it as well. Max will miss the first month of the season (October) and likely miss some time in November. He'll be recovering from shoulder surgery which he had today at UPMC, and it was very successful. After Petr Sykora's failure to do anything offensively/defensively in the last quarter of the season and the first couple games of Round 1 vs. Philly, Max was inserted onto the 2nd line alongside Geno and Feds. He fit right in. He provided grit, energy, great defense, and clutch scoring. His presence and his lively lockerroom personality will be missed for the first month but the Pens will be just fine, I assure you.

Last year Crosby and Fleury were both injured for the majority of the season, but it was Geno Malkin who emerged as a superstar and Ty Conklin's superb goaltending helped ride the Pens to the top of the Eastern Conference. This year it was a little different. Ryan Whitney was injured for the first couple months and the Pens were doing well without him and Gonch. But as time wore on, the absence of Gonch on the power play and his calming presence proved hard to cope without for the Pens. But a coaching change, a couple trades, and a Gonch recovery later, the Pens were on fire once again.

Sure we hate to see Max not play the first month, but the Pens are deep. Highly touted prospect Luca Caputi, will get a strong look in training camp and on the 2nd line. He showed signs of offensive skill in the few games that he played for the Pens this year. If he can get a little bigger/faster, he'll be a great player. Talbot's injury also diminishes the likelihood that Shero will trade Dupuis. Dupuis has proved in his short tenure as a Pen that he can play on all 4 lines. He's a great defensive player and brings a lot of attributes that Max does: speed, energy, grit, and sometimes skill. His hands are beyond atrocious and can't even compare to Max's, but he's still a useful player to have.

What defenseman is Shero targeting?

Shero has been looking
into a number of guys the past week. Two names that continue to come up are Jay Mckee and Nick Boynton. The St. Louis Blues have elected to buyout Mckee's contract, so they'll be paying for most of it anyways. Mckee is a great shot blocker and can play physical as well. He had a great career as a Sabre but since signing with the Blues he's continually been injured and hasn't found his mojo yet. Boynton had a shaky relationship last year with Coach Deboer of the Fla Panthers, but he plays with an edge and can play the point on the power play. He stands up for his teammates and always makes his presence felt. If the Pens can get Mckee for $1.2-1.6 mil, it would be a great pickup.

A couple other guys Shero is looking at are Andrew Alberts and Alexei Semenov. Alberts is a mean nasty type guy who I love watching play. He played for Philly last year and he rocked Hartnell from behind as a member of the Bruins a couple years ago. If we could get him for $1-1.3 mil, he'd be worth it. Semenov is a huge/physical guy who loves to fight as well although he's not too good at it. He's similar to Hal Gill but he's more agile and moves faster than Gill. The Pens need to get nastier from the blueline but also get someone who can play sound defense. Greg De Vries could be the answer there. But he's 36, Semenov and Alberts are younger, as are the other two guys. Mark Eaton will be on the shutdown defensive pairing, and it would be nice to get a guy like Alberts who played well against the Pens this year or a guy like Boynton who has experience and is capable of matching up against other big players.

We should see a signing very soon, stay tuned on PensBuzz...

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Fedotenko re-signs for 1 yr deal....Pens still searching for defenseman

It was once sung that breaking up is hard to do, breaking your hand on Colby Armstrong's nose (above) is even harder to do. But Ruslan Fedotenko's signing on Friday showed that he is ready to take on any challenge for another chance to win a cup. Feds signed to a 1-yr deal for $1.8 mil. He made $2.5 mil last year. Word is that Feds didn't have any great offers. The Minnesota Wild and New York Rangers were said to have considerable interest, but that's questionable when you consider what contract Feds ended up re-signing for. If there was an offer from those teams, the contract undoubtledy would've been in the $2 mil- 3 mil range, possibly more. Regardless, Feds decided to come back on a 1 year deal for significantly less money. This shows the character and class this young man has.

Feds's regular season was up and down at the very least. 16 goals was a little under his usual amount of 20-25. But in the big games in the playoffs, Feds had those goals that got the Pens back in the games. Flashback to game 6 vs. Philly in Rd. 1: the next shift after Talbot get's beat up by Dan Carcillo, Geno drives to the net and it's Feds who ends up poking a lose puck through Biron. Flashback one more time to game 5 in Washington (Rd. 2) with the series tied at 2-2, the Pens were down 2-1 heading into the 3rd and Feds rifled a wrist shot from a soft pass from Geno just a few minutes into the period. The score was now 2-2 and the game changed dramatically after that.

Besides a couple huge goals in games which the Pens ended up winning, Feds was a constant threat on the ice every shift he got on. The best shift he had in the playoffs was one on which the Pens didn't score, the last minute and a half of game 7 in Detroit, Feds was cruising around with the puck looking like Jagr on drugs. As girley as he may look sometimes, as pissed off you may get because of his rosey red cheeks, Fedotenko is a playoff player. He shows up for the big games and the crucial moments when the team needs him the most. A la Max Talbot.

With their 2nd line winger signed, the Pens last hole to fill is that on defense. A guy I've loved ever since his Boston Bruin days has been Nick Boynton. Boynton plays an in your face game, loves stepping up for his teammates if he sees any hits he doesn't like, etc. I also like that he's right handed. Tanger is the only other righty on the current 5 man D unit (excluding Lovejoy). I have no idea why Dennis Seidenberg hasn't been signed yet. He had a career year last year in notching 30 pts (5 g 25 a) for Carolina. But I noticed his play from a defensive side, especially in the Pens series I thought he did a good job against the Geno unit. Remember Geno's hat trick goal in game 2? Yeah the one with the impossible backhand which went roof daddy on Cam Ward, well Seidenberg was the one defending Geno and it wasn't bad defense. Seidenberg likes to hit and he was 16th in the league in blocked shots. I know 16th isn't that amazing of a number but Rob Scuderi was only a couple spots ahead of him and it seems like Scuderi blocks shots non stop.

At the right price I believe Seidenberg would be a nice fit with the Pens. He's only 27 and I find it cool that he was a junior tennis champion in Germany at 16. But I think Shero is after a veteran type guy, aka Boynton, Mckee, Skoula, or maybe Beauchemin. The last one there might be too pricey, but you never know. What's wrong with bringing Philippe Boucher back? I thought he played great in the playoffs and had a decent regular season. He also developed a close relationship with Kris Letang. I'm not pro-gay marriage but I'm just saying some mentoring is nice to see. For some reason there seems to be a lot of depth on the fourth line. And Shero even added in the presser yesterday that he thinks one of Bissonette/Jeffrey/Wallace has a legit shot at making the team. How? We have Godard (ok he might be a healthy scratch some games), Dupuis (a $1.4mil healthy scratch?), Adams (ok maybe), and Rupp (doubt he's getting out). I definetely see the Pens trading Dupuis sometime soon, maybe in hopes of acquiring a defenseman. Can you say Ruslan Salei? He's a fun, underrated guy to watch. Always hits hard and makes his presence felt. Dupuis and a pick/prospect should get that done as Colorado is trying to shed some salary.

Congrats to Master Shero on a wonderful job so far. Guerin to $2mil, Rupp to $825k, and now Feds to $1.8mil. Keep it going and lets see a nice defensemen signing.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Pen Nation Sits as Scuderi Flocks to Mannywood

All is quiet on New Year's Day, to quote the great U2 song from the 80s. Unfortunately, today was the day after New Year's day, but regardless the Pens were quiet. The last two days Pens fans have watched the giant tree that is Hal Gill leave for the French Canadien hotbed known as Montreal for $2.25/yr. Then only 24 hours later, "the Piece" or Rob Scuderi was signed to a 4 yr/$3.4mil a yr deal with the LA kings. The Pens could only offer him $2.2mil/yr, no more. After failing to sign Scuds, Shero shifted his focus to winger Ruslan Fedotenko. Feds is interested in a 3 yr deal somewhere in the $3mil per yr range. Shero isn't willing to comply with neither the years nor the salary.

So as day 3 approaches the Pens are without a scoring winger for the 2nd line and without a defenseman. Not only that, but our shutdown defensive pairing throughout the season and the playoffs is now gone. I'm referring to Gill and Scuderi. Are they replaceable? Time will soon tell, but I say yes they are. Now the market for defense isn't so widespread now that most of the good ones are gone. Rob Rossi is reporting that Shero is exploring trade options to satisfy the last defensive hole. But trades are hard to come by and it will be interesting to see where that goes. Some free agent defenseman Shero is already talking to include: Nick Boynton (I love this guy), Jay Mckee (injury prone but solid), Martin Skoula (can you say durable?), and Andrew Alberts (hard hitter). All four bring a little something different to the rink. I like Boynton and Alberts the best because I feel like we need some more jam especially on the backend. Not enough toughness outside of Orpik. If you're going for a solid 2-way defenseman, Skoula is the way to go.

On a positive note the Pens did sign enforcer Mike Rupp on Wednesday. This basically guarantees us another Stanley Cup next year, right? Wrong. It could signify that Godard is most likely gone, but that doesn't look to be the case. Only 3 years ago, Rupp was playing in the top 6 for the Devils and playing a big part in hitting people and creating havoc in front of opposing goalies. Reading Shero's presser after the Rupp signing, he wants Rupp to bring that back into his game and not be as much of an enforcer as he has been the past two years. Godard is a heavyweight, Rupp is just heavy. He's 6'5 and 245 lbs, but he can skate and check like no other player at his build. Seeing how scrappy Philly just got with the additions of Laperriere and Pronger (including Asham, Carcillo, Hartnell, and Cote) Shero wanted to get some more jam incase anything breaks out between the two teams. I'm guessing that's one reason they got Rupp, but he's also a terrific faceoff guy, winning slightly over 51% of his draws last year.

With the Rupp signing, does this mean Pascal Dupuis is a goner? Most likely yes. He's our only trade bait if we are to pursue a defenseman via trade. Dupuis is at least a 3rd liner on most teams, but we don't have room for him on any of the top 9. I mean we do, but we won't be winning Stanley Cups if you slide him with Geno on the 2nd line. Look for something juicy to get done tomorrow (Friday). Master Shero is creating his plan and all I ask for you to do is sit patiently and admire the artistic display the Master unravels. Fedotenko should make his decision and it will likely be Minnesota. Kotalik, Tanguay, Kovalev, and Afinigenov are still out there. The last name is a gamble but he might come at a reasonable price.

Get it done RAY!


No updates until later today...

-Hey guys, sorry to inform you but I will be traveling all day and won't have any updates until 7 or 8pm tonight.

- The Pens are shopping Eric Godard/Pascal Dupuis. With the acquisition of Rupp, this makes Godard somewhat expendable. Although you never know what Shero is thinking, considering he sees how much tougher/nastier the Flyers got with Lapierre and Pronger, keeping both Godard and Rupp wouldn't be such a bad thing. Except for the fact that our 4th line will be slower than 20 George Laraques.

- For the recap of yesterday's news and notes read down below for all your updates.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Late Night Signings and Pens Rumors

UPDATE (10:40 pm): The Wild have signed coveted forward Marty Havlat to a 6 yr/$5mil per year deal. Chuck Fletcher has made a great signing here and they are still interested in Ruslan Fedotenko, who ironically has the same agent.

UPDATE (9:48 pm): The Hawks agree to a 1 yr/$2.75 mil deal with shutdown forward John Madden. The Flames signed forward Fredrik Sjostrom to a 2 yr/$750k per year deal.

-The Pens have had a pretty quiet day thus far. They signed enforcer/faceoff guy Mike Rupp to center the fourth line. This signing does signify that Eric Godard is likely on the out. Dupuis/Godard have been discussed in a trade to Calgary. We need to clear some cap if we are to sign Scuderi and a good winger, who's hopefully not Fedotenko.

- GM Ray Shero has been talking to the agents of Tanguay, Kovalev, and Kotalik. Those seem to be the best next tear of free agent wingers. Kotalik would go for the lowest price. Kovy is seeking a 3 yr deal and I doubt Shero wants that. As I predicted, Shero has showed some interest in Nick Boynton and Andrew Alberts.

NHL Free Agent Frenzy has begun....Updates at top of page

UPDATE (8:45 pm): Rob Rossi says Scuderi will wait until Thursday to make a decision. He has a number of offers on the table including the Pens, Wild, and Stars. Meanwhile Chris Neil has signed with Ottawa on a 4 yr/$2 mil per year deal. This is a surprise considering the Oilers, Rangers, and Maple Leafs were the front runners earlier in the day.

UPDATE (8:38 pm): The Canadiens have signed forward Brian Gionta to a 5yr/$5mil per year deal. This is another ridiculous contract by the Habs for this type of player. Gionta has a lot of upside and he'll be re-united with former teammate Scott Gomez, but still $5mil wow.

UPDATE (8:22 pm): TSN is reporting the Rangers have signed winger Marian Gaborik to a 5 yr/$7.5 mil per year deal. This is a huge signing for the Rangers, and it was expected after the Rags dealt Gomez yesterday. Columbus has agreed to a 2 yr/$1.2mil per year deal with former Pens backup Mathieu Garon. The Gaborik deal comes at a huge cost, but the Rangers have been eager to land him all afternoon.

UPDATE (7:06 pm): Chris Neil has narrowed it down to 3 teams: Oilers, Rangers, and Maple Leafs. He will make a decision soon. Nik Antropov is being pursued strongly by the Habs, Kings, Blues, and Thrashers. I'm getting dinner/haircut be back in about an hour to get you caught up.

UPDATE (6:23 pm): The Blue Jackets have signed defensive forward Sami Pahlsson to a 3 yr/$2.65mil per yr deal. After losing out on re-signing Manny Malhotra, they needed a shutdown center type guy, and Pahlsson is a terrifc one.

UPDATE (6:12 pm): Some minor deals to mention but: Vernon Fiddler signed with Phoenix ($1.1 mil per 2 yrs), Steve Begin signed a 1yr/$850k deal with Boston, and enforcer David Koci signed a 1yr/$575k deal with Colorado. One pretty big deal: Steve Sullivan re-signs with Nashville to a 2 yr/$3.75mil per year contract. Sullivan was one of the players Shero had interest in.

UPDATE (6:04 pm): Komisarek signs to a 5 yr/$4.5 mil per year deal with Toronto. Great defenseman and that price was to be expected. The Wild have signed defenseman Greg Zanon to a 3 yr/$1.66 per year deal. Zanon was targeted by Shero if they lost out on Scuderi. Scuderi was apparently waiting to hear about the Komisarek deal, could affect where he goes.

UPDATE (5:54 pm): The Maple Leafs have signed coveted defenseman Mike Komisarek, details will come in a couple seconds. The Penguins are planning to shop Eaton/Dupuis/Godard to another team. Talks continue with the Flames continue about a deal for Dupuis/Godard package. Mike Rupp is a nice addition. He's an enforcer and was 51.1% on the faceoff circle, nice replacement for Ziggy.

UPDATE (5:30 pm): The Habs signed Mike Cammalerri to a 5 yr/$30mil deal. Finally a good signing by the Habs, but the price is huge. The Maple Leafs have traded high priced defenseman Pavel Kubina and the rights to forward Tim Stapleton to defenseman Atlanta for Garnett Exelby and Colin Stuart. God knows what Atlanta is thinking. Kubina is getting old and slow although he still owns a booming shot. Exelby is a real nice pickup by Burke, he's physical and in your face. On top of that Stuart has a lot of upside.

UPDATE (4:48 pm) PENS SIGNING: the Pens have signed enforcer Mike Rupp to a 2 yr/1.65 deal. The Rupp signing means Godard is likely going to be traded somewhere. Calgary? Trade talk with the Flames did take place earlier in the day involving Dupuis/Godard. Mike Rupp was the game 7 hero for the Devils in the 2003 Stanley Cup final. I like that he can skate and screen the goalie real well, Godard can't skate/hit to save his life.

UPDATE (4:45 pm): The Habs have signed Pens defenseman Hal Gill to a 2 yr/$4.5 mil deal. This is insane that Gill will be getting over $2mil a year, but hey it's the Habs, they're going CRAAAZYYYYYYY. Gomez for $7.3 mil, Spacek for $3.75 mil, and now Gill LOL.

UPDATE (4:41 pm): The Flyers signed pesky veteran Ian Laperierre to a 3yr/$3.5 mil deal. Laperierre was a guy the Shero targeted at the deadline. He'll fit into Philly's smash mouth hockey approach. How many enforcer types do they have? Asham, Carcillo, Laperierre, and Cote. Do you really need anymore stupid players on your 3rd/4th lines? I don't mind Lappy but whatever they'll still lose next year.

UPDATE (4:35 pm): The Panthers have signed goalie Scott Clemmensen to a 3 yr/$3.6mil deal. He will earn around $1.1 mil per year. Clemmensen was the starter for much of last year for the Devils while Marty Brodeur was injured. Clemmensen has proven he can start and he'll compete with the starting job with Tomas Vokoun.

UPDATE (4:08 pm): The Canes have re-signed forward Eric Cole to 2 yrs at $2.8mil the first year and $3mil the 2nd year. This is a great bargain by the Canes, as Cole could've got close to $4mil if he waited around some more. He wanted to play in Carolina after a dissapointing 1.5 yrs in Edmonton.

UPDATE (3:58 pm): The Oilers have signed goalie Nikolai Khabibulin to a 4 yr/$15 mil deal. The Bulin Wall was the best goalie available and Edmonton needed a goalie badly after Roloson left for New York. Sources say Eric Cole is close to a 2yr deal with the Canes. Pierre McGuire has been talking way too much on TSN, more Dreger/Mckenzie less Pierre please.

UPDATE (3:35 pm):
The Flyers have agreed to a deal with former Flyer goalie Brian Boucher to a 2yr/$1.85mil deal. He'll be backing up Emery. The Habs have signed veteran defenseman Jaroslav Spacek to a 3 yr/$11.5mil deal. This insane money for a 35 yr old on the downside of his career. Mark my words, Bob Gainey will be run out of town sometime this year.

UPDATE (3:12 pm): The Ducks re-signed Scott Niedermayer to a 1 yr $6 mil deal. His brother Rob is being coveted by a number of teams: Devils, San Jose, and Dallas. The Predators re-signed Joel Ward to 2 yr/$1.5 mil per season.

UPDATE (2:55 pm): The Capitals have signed gritty forward Mike Knuble to a 2 yr/$2.8mil per season. Great deal by the Caps, they need a front of the net presence in their top 6. Pens are now out of the running unfortunately. Other options: Cole, Kotalik, and Tanguay. The Rangers have signed enforcer Donald Brashear to a 2 yr/$1.4 mil per year deal. They lost Orr so they needed a replacement, this deal makes sense.

UPDATE (2:42 pm): The Penguins have made a 1 yr offer to Mike Knuble with a NTC. Knuble is reportedly seeking a 2 yr deal but he still might accept this. The Buffalo Sabres have signed defenseman Steve Montador to a 2 yr/$1.55mil per season. Montador was a guy I wanted the Pens to target if Scuderi were to sign elsewhere. The Panthers have signed defenseman Ville Koistonen.

UPDATE (2:25 pm): The St. Louis Blues have signed backup goalie Ty Conklin to a 2 yr at $1.3 mil. The Islanders have signed goalie Dwayne Roloson to a 2 yr/$5mil deal. This guy is 40 and he's getting this money, Wow is right Darren Pang. Dipietro isn't fully healthy, they just want to be safe. The Hawks have also signed Tomas Kopecky from the Red Wings.

UPDATE (2:04 pm): The Hawks have signed Marian Hossa to a 12 year!!! 5 mil per year. It might be a little over $5mil, I'll get that to you in a little bit. The Lightning have signed defenseman Matt Walker to a 4 yr/$1.7 mil per year contract. I like Walker a lot, very solid 5/6 defenseman, I wish the Pens could've targeted him. But wow how scary is Chicago going to be? Kane, Toews, Hossa, Ladd, Byfuglien, Sharp, etc. Scary team out west. Say goodbye to Havlat and look for Samuelsson to re-sign with Detroit.

UPDATE (1:54 pm): The Hawks are close to a deal with Hossa per TSN. Confirmation will come in a second. The Avalanche signed goaltender Craig Anderson to a 2yr/$3.6mil deal. Anderson shared goalie duties with Tomas Vokoun in Florida, and he is capable of being a starter which is what they'll try to do with him in Colorado.

UPDATE (1:45 pm): The Leafs are close to trading defenseman Pavel Kubina to the Atlanta Thrashers. This would be a nice cap clearing for Toronto. The Habs have offered Kovalev a 2 yr/$8.4mil deal. The Panthers have re-signed David Booth to a 6yr/$25.5 mil contract.

UPDATE (1:34 pm): Rob Scuderi is being offered a 4 yr/$14mil deal from the Stars. The Islanders are strongly pursuing Komisarek and Moen.

UPDATE (1:22 pm): The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed enforcer Colton Orr to a 4 yr-$1mil per year deal. Orr is one of the few enforcers who can actually skate well and check.

UPDATE (12:58 pm): The Penguins are talking to the Flames about a trade for forward Curtis Glencross. Could Dupuis be going the other way? We would save $200k, not sure if that makes a huge difference, stay tuned.

UPDATE (12:46 pm): The Blackhawks are close to a deal with Marian Hossa. You can say goodbye to my favorite Hawk, Marty Havlat. On a minor note, the Panthers re-signed forward Raded Dvorak to a 2yr/3.4mil deal.

UPDATE (12:35 pm): The Penguins have inquired about forward Eric Cole and Todd Bertuzzi. Cole as we know, is best friends with Brooks Orpik. By best friends I mean that Orpik broke Cole's neck three years ago.

UPDATE (12:28 pm): The Canadiens are very interested in Hossa and Gaborik. The Kings have inquired about Havlat. The Rangers, Wild, and Stars are talking to Scuderi's agent.

UPDATE (12:14 pm): The Tampa Bay Lightning signed defenseman Mattias Ohlund to a 7 yr $3.75 per year contract. Ohlund is a great veteran presence who's played his whole career with Vancouver, look for him to be a mentor to newly drafted Victor Hedman.

UPDATE (11:35 am): The Vancouver Canucks have re-signed Henrik/Daniel Sedin to 5 yr $6.1 mil per year contracts. The Sedin's wanted a deal that was a bit longer but they took this and they'll be staying in the city they've played in their whole careers.

UPDATE (11:08 am): Edmonton Oiler goalie Dwayne Roloson is testing the market. He is looking for a $2.5-3mil per yr deal.

Heatley Rejects trade to Edmonton, for now....Latest Pens Rumors

UPDATE (1:18 AM) :
Darren Dreger of TSN is reporting that Heatley hasn't completely nixed the offer, but he is sleeping on it and will get back to the Senators tomorrow with a final decision. The $4 mil bonus Heatley is scheduled to make on July 1st won't take into effect until 11:59 PM tomorrow night, not tonight. This mysterious story continues and i'll keep you guys updated.

- Senators forward Dany Heatley rejected a deal that would've sent him to the Oilers for forward Andrew Cogliano, defenseman Ladislav Smid, and forward Dustin Penner. This would've worked out well for both teams because the Oilers need a sniper, let alone it's nice having a 50 goal sniper. And the Senators would get speedy youngster Cogliano who will be a great player, and Penner is also a nice part of that deal. He's been buried by Canadien media the last couple years but he's still capable of playing well. He does have an ugly $4.25 mil/yr contract.

- Penguins UFAs Fedotenko and Scuderi will test free agency tomorrow and give Shero a chance to match that offer. This is a chance for Scuderi to make a very nice payday. Teams will be offering $3.5-4mil and he could be this years Jeff Finger LOL. Scuds has been making $750k as a Pen and what an increase he could be seeing. If Scuds doesn't re-sign, that money could go toward bringing in a better winger (pending Feds doesn't re-sign). Feds is seeking more money and one more year than the Pens are willing to give him. He'll likely attract $3-3.5mil on the open market. Rangers, Wild, and Habs will target him. Scuderi is more likely to re-sign with the Pens than Feds.